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Best Handwriting Nib For Dip Pens...?


MiracleChild
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Hello

 

I’ve been using dip pens for handwriting for a very long time now, but I’ve either used whatever nibs the pens came with, if antique, or just picked from whatever nibs came with it if it was a modern calligraphy pen set.

 

I need to get a new one, and I’m trying to think a bit more systematically about nib selection. I handwrite a lot (I hate typing) but my handwriting is rather poor and scribbly, which is one reason I’ve used dip pens for so long - because they force me to slow down a bit and take greater care. I’m certainly no calligrapher.

 

Does anyone have any recommendations for the best nib type for general-purpose handwriting with a dip pen? I need something with a reasonable flow rate and not prone to spatter when writing quickly.

Thanks - suggestions much appreciated :)

 

 

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Zebra G, no contest. super consistent, never hard starts, quite smooth, modest flex, cheap, easy to obtain, extremely consistent.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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It all depends on what you like. There were hundreds of different styles made during the hey day of dip pens. I'm assuming you want a pointed pen. If you're looking for new, then Honeybadger's suggestion is a good one. If vintage, then there are a lot of different ones to choose from. You're in dip pen paradise there in England. More pens were made in Birmingham than anywhere else in the world, by far. And there are a lot still around to choose from.

 

If you had a choice, and you're just looking for a pen which is easy to write with, I would find a William Mitchell "Fine" "J Pen". The "J Pen" (and everyone made their own version, I just happen to like William Mitchell's the best, though Geo. Hughes made a nice one) was the best selling pen style in England, outside of maybe Gillott's 303. The Medium ones, I find a little large for regular writing, but then I write rather small. If you're a large writer, medium will work.

 

Look for any of the shoulder pens. They make great every-day writers. I like the Birmingham Education nibs that show up fairly regularly, and inexpensively, on the auction site. If you want no flex, then look for a Manifold pen. They were stiff enough to write through sheets of carbon paper, but their tips were also finished to be smooth since you're putting more pressure on the pen. It's basically a nail, but smooth.

 

Post Office pens were also meant for lots of different kinds of people to write with, so they are not too flexible, and fairly robust. Also any "spoon" pen or falcon pen is meant to be an everyday writer and should work well.

 

You can visit my glossary of pen shapes to know what I'm talking about with these shape names. https://thesteelpen.com/2018/12/07/pen-shapes-a-proposed-glossary/

 

Unless of course, you're looking for a stub. Then you have to go vintage. Pretty much any of the vintage stubs will be great. They were originally invented to be smooth and to facilitate rapid and continuous writing. I'm particularly fond of the Esterbrook 314, which was made both in the US and in England.

 

If you show an example of the kind of writing you do now, and if you have had a vintage nib you've liked, I can get very specific for vintage nibs. Modern nibs are more limited in what's available, and the Zebra G is probably the best all-around pen made now.

 

Glad to hear someone else uses dip nibs for everyday writing. Most of my collection and knowledge is focused on American dip pens, but you can hardly be completely ignorant of British pens if you study this subject for long.

 

Andrew

 

fpn_1557237114__2018_12_20_example_of_wr

 

“When the historians of education do equal and exact justice to all who have contributed toward educational progress, they will devote several pages to those revolutionists who invented steel pens and blackboards.” V.T. Thayer, 1928

Check out my Steel Pen Blog

"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."

-Montaigne

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Dear Andrew, Honeybadgers,

 

Thanks very much for the suggestions!

I do like the Massag 521, as I said above - it came attached to a Caran d’ache 114 holder that someone got me as a present from a second-hand shop. I managed to work out the make and found some unused ones for sale online, so I’ve been able to order some.

 

I’ll definitely give the Zebra G a go too.

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I’m also quite fond of this pen - I use it for marking books in green ink. My parents got it for me from an antique shop; the holder is Edwardian silver, I believe, and needs a thorough polish. I don’t know if you’d be able to identify the nib type....? I’m not sure if it counts as a stub or not, or if it is from the same time as the holder... Thanks!

 

fpn_1573650643__ada1a6cb-50b7-4dea-aa23-

Edited by MiracleChild
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that one in the silver holder is a J pen. You can see the "J" just sticking out. That looks like a "J" in medium size. You'd have to pull it out to see the maker.

 

These are great pens and very smooth to write with. The mediums seem more common, and the fine "J" is a little harder to find.

 

the Massag up above looks like a fairly stiff pen. I like Massag, they're well-made Czech pens. The manifold pens I mentioned before would write like this. I'm not as familiar with the British pens which would be firm like this. I do know the American ones. Esterbrook 322 Inflexible pens would be my preferred ones for this. I made a video showing a selection of the Esterbrook as well as a few other "Inflexible" pens and how they perform. I have posted up on my channel a few other experimental videos of different kinds of pens . Someday I'll add more.

 

 

“When the historians of education do equal and exact justice to all who have contributed toward educational progress, they will devote several pages to those revolutionists who invented steel pens and blackboards.” V.T. Thayer, 1928

Check out my Steel Pen Blog

"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."

-Montaigne

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  • 1 month later...

G nib is my favorite.

But I've also used the Falcon nibs, and a few others.

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California

www.SFPenShow.com

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There are many nibs.

 

But general consensus seems to be that the Zebra G or Nikko G are among the most recommendable for beginners. They are certainlly not as "powerful" as other, more advanced nibs, but hey, it's like any tool: you start with a jigsaw and end up with a chainsaw... Just take it easy and build up at your own pace.

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If you want to go the vintage route, Hicks nibs are rare but worth having. They’re not crazy-flexy but they have a huge sweet spot, which is what you want for handwriting. Check the nibs carefully - a lot of these old dears have been abused...it’s worse than pit bulls.

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for a dip nib that's less demanding of technique, I'd choose a "bowl pointed" type, rather than a pointed pen. They won't catch and spit ink on a botched upstroke and can be used on crummy paper without as many issues as pointed nibs.

David-

 

So many restoration projects...

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OTOH there is always "blunt end" italic writing. Nibs are also somewhat demanding (in that they may also catch on paper), but a lot less.

 

I'll have to try a Hiro 41 one day. Looks interesting.

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I see you are in the UK MiracleChild.

 

If you have access to "The Range" have a look in their Art and Craft section.

Manuscript pens do a starter pack with dip nibs which gives you about 4 or 5 different types of nibs and a holder. They are all pleasant and easy nibs to write with.

Perhaps once you try those and have more of an idea of what you would prefer to use, you could them make a more informed decision about what nib would suit you better

 

Mitchell and Gillott do mapping pens with a reversible pen holder so you can carry the dip pen around with you. However, a lot of mapping nibs are needle points but they do make some that are smooth and have a little flex just so you can have some sort of variation if you want. The nibs are also cheap as chips!

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The Zebra G is a little stiff for my taste.

 

My favorite nib for writing at a luxurious pace is the Brause Rose, but for carefree writing, I like the Eagle bulb point, which is slightly flexible.

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This may not catch your fancy, but there is the posibility of using a fountain pen nib and feeder in an easy friction fit holder. Ranga pens from India makes some of this in ebonite, although the design is a little bit garish. You can find them in ebay.

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This may not catch your fancy, but there is the posibility of using a fountain pen nib and feeder in an easy friction fit holder. Ranga pens from India makes some of this in ebonite, although the design is a little bit garish. You can find them in ebay.

 

 

Same for the vintage Esterbrook Dip-less pens, and there were others. The advantage of these is that the feed holds a huge amount of ink compared to a nib by itself. The disadvantages include, harder to clean, and you can't really get the good flex in one of these as in a vintage steel pen. It's a trade off.

 

The "bowl pointed" or "oval pointed" or whatever the marketing department decided to call it, are very smooth and easy to write with. They can't make terribly fine lines, but fine enough for regular writing. If I were going to introduce students, for example, to dip pen writing, I would use an Esterbrook 788. They're common as dirt (at least in the US) and easy to use.

 

Here's what a bowl point or oval point (same concept, different names) looks like up close. The last picture illustrates why these are smooth. The indentation creates a nice, smooth round shape where the pen meets the paper. This is from an Esterbrook 902, but this tip looks the same on all of Esterbrook's "Oval Point" pens.(#143, #145, #668, #787, #788, #789, #789, #802, #805, #902, #905, #968, #968, #987, #988, 5125, 5126)

 

 

fpn_1543454642__est_902_oval_tip_top2.jp

 

fpn_1543454617__est_902_oval_tip_side.jp

 

fpn_1543454666__spencerian_oval_tip_42_b

 

“When the historians of education do equal and exact justice to all who have contributed toward educational progress, they will devote several pages to those revolutionists who invented steel pens and blackboards.” V.T. Thayer, 1928

Check out my Steel Pen Blog

"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."

-Montaigne

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  • 1 year later...
On 11/12/2019 at 2:29 PM, AAAndrew said:

 

Glad to hear someone else uses dip nibs for everyday writing. Most of my collection and knowledge is focused on American dip pens, but you can hardly be completely ignorant of British pens if you study this subject for long.

 

Andrew

 

fpn_1557237114__2018_12_20_example_of_wr

 

I am strongly considering adopting the pointed pen for much more everyday writing.  I have this thing in my head about seeing the what what (especially relative to flex) of writing my American Cursive/Everyday Penmanship with a dip pen and flexible nib (as flexible as I can find today as I understand the hey day ones are almost non existent).

 

Thank you for this response AAAndrew!

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On 12/30/2019 at 9:28 PM, awa54 said:

for a dip nib that's less demanding of technique, I'd choose a "bowl pointed" type, rather than a pointed pen. They won't catch and spit ink on a botched upstroke and can be used on crummy paper without as many issues as pointed nibs.

 

 

Hmm, never heard this term before (ahem, then again, I am a newbie).  I am intrigued.  Wonder if I went out to John Neal or Paper something or other, if I searched that term would product come up?

 

L

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I like whatever this is

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