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Comparison Of Steel Stubs: Twsbi, Kaweco, Lamy


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Some people can wield a big, fat stub and get amazing results. Not me. I'm a sloppy writer and still learning basic penmanship. I rotate my pens and stubs don't like that. I write fast, and stubs don't always forgive me for it. Just for fun, I made a quick comparison of the stubs that I have in my collection at the moment.





^---normal writing speed at left, slow in the middle, fast at right


The TWSBI 1.1 stub

I've personally got three of those, in two pens: the Eco and the Go. One is nice (in the Eco), one is okay (in the Go), one is sharp, scratchy, dry, unusable and out of rotation. They're the only ones in this comparison that have a small amount of bounce and they're not very sensitive to rotation (which is good news for me). They're dry-ish when writing at speed, as can be seen in the writing sample. In terms of line thickness, both their vertical and their horizontal strokes are the widest of the 1.1 nibs in this comparison. Crispness is OK but not exceptional. No hard starts (good). No railroads (good).

Pens: TWSBI Eco with 1:1 mixture of J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier and Diamine Sunshine Yellow and TWSBI Go with Noodler's Burgundy.

Verdict: a nice, all-round, rather forgiving stub.


The Lamy 1.1 italic

Lamy offers cheap 1.1, 1.5 and 1.9 replacement nibs that you can slide on to your Safaris and such. I can't even wield a 1.5 (see below under Kaweco) and therefore a 1.9 is way out of my league, so I bought the 1.1. This nib, which is an italic, offers you a hard deal: absolutely wonderful crispness at the cost of rotation sensitivity and scratchiness. I love the look of the text on paper, it's so nice, so crisp, so disctinctive... But with my unsteady hand, I can only use it with pleasure when writing slow. At normal writing speeds, I can tolerate it. When writing fast, it feels like an abomination. This nib could be a true gift to people who have a steady hand and good penmanship. No hard starts (good). No railroads (good).

Pen: Lamy ABC with Lamy Blue ink, but it will also fit the Safari and some other Lamy pens (and supposedly even a Platinum Preppy!)

Verdict: amazing crispness at the cost of forgiveness... Choose, because you can't have your cake and eat it too.


Kaweco #2 1.1 stub

One of the many charms of the Kaweco family is that the Liliput, the Sport, the Dia2 and the Special all sport the same #2 screw-in nib/feed collar, so instead of buying a dedicated pen for each nib size you can buy one nice pen and swab nibs in under 60 seconds. I'm not exaggerating: pull out the converter, unscrew the nib/feed collar, screw in the new one, pop in the converter, prime the feed and you're off to the races. Among other models I have a Dia2, which in my opinion is one of the best modern pens being sold today around its price point, and I've got several nibs to use with it, including the 1.1 stub. Its line width is slightly less than that of the TWSBI 1.1, in both directions. It's also slightly more crisp than the TWSBI, which I like, especially since this crispness does not come at the expense of smoothness or rotation sensitivity. Compared to the Lamy, the downstroke is slightly wider and the sidestroke slightly more thin. This is a nib that offers both smoothness and good crispness (though nothing near the exceptional crispness of the Lamy). In fact, it's smoothness is incredible and needs to be felt to be believed. Performance is flawless: it always starts, it doesn't railroad. The TWSBI stub seems to offer more shading, though.

Pen: Kaweco Dia2 GT with Iroshizuku Shin-Kai.

Verdict: an amazingly smooth and forgiving stub without sacrificing too much crispness, solid performance, a good mix of qualities and clearly a notch above the TWSBI.


Kaweco #2 1.5 stub

This stub matches the smoothness of its smaller cousin, but that's where the similarities end. Perhaps it's me; perhaps I'm not ready to play with the grown-ups yet. After all, I also couldn't really befriend the Pineider La Grande Bellezo stub, nor the Leonardo 1.5 stub. To me, 1.5 feels as wide as the Grand Canyon and I really struggle to get something nice out of it. This Kaweco 1.5 is no exception to that, despite its amazing smoothness. Personal shortcomings aside, I do notice less crispness in the lines (the worst of this sample) and it's a severe hard-starter. To be specific, after capping the pen and putting it away, it doesn't write when you want to continue, especially on smooth paper. Not just on downstrokes either, it just doesn't write at all after a pauze and takes quite some effort to get going again. In terms of line width, this stub is wide enough to make standard line spacing in a notebook too small (in this case an Oxford 90 g/m^2 notebook with 8 mm line spacing). This is one big nib and it requires lots of space - that's how it was designed, so no criticism there.

Pen: Kaweco Dia2 GT with Iroshizuku Shin-Kai.

Verdict: very smooth and forgiving stub, but at the expense of crispness (at least when writing at normal and fast speeds). Obnoxious hard-starter, prefers rough paper. Should not be confined to the limitations of ordinary notebooks - this nib really wants to do calligraphy.


The outsider: 1948 Onoto 5601 with #3 ST nib

I added this Onoto for the sake of reference and comparison, not as a contender. This is a wonderful, narrow stub and they just don't seem to make 'em like that anymore. This is one of the few stubs that make me forget about the pen so that i can just focus on writing. Ink: J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage,


Summary: Those who can handle the Lamy 1.1 italic will be highly rewarded by its amazing crispness. As an all-round, forgiving, wonderfully smooth steel stub that does not sacrifice much in terms of crispness, Kaweco's 1.1 is a thing of beauty and as such is the overall "winner". The TWSBI 1.1 is a solid all-round stub that lacks some of the finesse and smoothness of the Kaweco 1.1. The Kaweco 1.5 might be the ticket for those who require a really smooth nib for calligraphy purposes.


(When I find the ultimate stub for me, I'll let you know. At the moment the chase seems to be even better than the catch.)


EDIT: corrected the text about the Lamy 1.1, which is an italic.

Edited by TheDutchGuy
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Lamy 1.1 correction: I was under the distinct impression this was an italic, but was told that it was a normal stub, and I mistakenly accepted that. As it turns out, the Lamy is indeed an italic. I've corrected that in the above comparison.

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I have a 1.5 Lamy nib on a Lamy Joy, when I do fiddle around with drawing calligraphy letters...practice, I like it, in I see my mistakes easier than my smaller Osmiroid Italic nibs.

That 1.5 appears CI enough for me...not as crisp as my Osmiroid nib set....but close enough.


I would think the 1.9 to be too wide also. I have an OBBB vintage Pelikan 500 (pure signature pen) and a BBBB Manuscript nibbed pen. Only good for headings. The only reason to keep the Manuscript was to make sure I didn't get stupid a second time with a more expensive pen. BBBB is too wide to write with.


I do have vintage factory stubbed BB nibs, one on a nail Parker Vac, the other on a maxi-semi-flex Australian Snorkel. In German vintage, stubbed semi-flex in B, OB and OBB


I think some day I'll get that 1.1 Lamy nib............been thinking about it too seldom for close to a decade............once I actually start learning Italic calligraphy. I have DJ copper Estie and the Osmiroid cursive italic nib set. BB, B, M, F, F/EF, EF.


Though I find EF and F/EF very narrow for cursive script. More for someone who knows what one is doing, than a beginner, in with my 1.5 Lamy I can see easily the mistakes in drawing a letter.

Edited by Bo Bo Olson

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:


The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.




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Thanks, Bo Bo. Given that the Lamy italics are so affordable, no doubt I'll get them at some point. In general, I'm struggling with stubs... always too much of this or not enough of that... I've gradually learned to accept the TWSBI 1.1 and the Kaweco 1.1 so far seems very promising.


All four types of nib side by side. From left to right: the Kaweco 1.5, Kaweco 1.1, TWSBI 1.1 and Lamy 1.1. (The Kaweco 1.5 seems to be asymmetrically cut and the Kaweco 1.1 doesn't appear to be a stub, but these are optical illusions because the camera was somewhat angled.)



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