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What Is Meant When One Says A Nib Is Boring?



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Posted (edited)

I have only used one nib that made me say WOW, a Mabie Todd #4 with a lot of flex, others have been impressive, some just do their job, nibs are just tools to move ink from one place to another.

 

It is the difference between a Honda Accord and a 356, Kim Bassinger and Dianne Keaton, 1AM and 1PM, interesting posters and the tedious, life sucking, painfull, painfull, painfull posters.

Edited by Parkette
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This 'just a tool' argument is getting tired I think. It doesn't explain why you are here on a fountain pen forum rather than using ballpoints. Fountain pens and their nibs are tools, but not 'just' tools.

Maybe we can look it from many angles.

 

When I'm using my Safari Umbra at work to take some notes, it's primarily a tool. When I use the very same pen at home journaling or doing some leisure-side project it becomes an enjoyment source.

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Posted (edited)

Regarding tools and use:

 

In times of luxury, some people ask: how can I enjoy the act of performing a task, and not just the end results?

One avenue for enjoying the act arises from the senses: touch, visual, auditory.

 

If the person is "sensual", a boring nib provides only enough tactile feedback to get the job done; there is no novelty to the physical sensation of putting ink to paper. They use words like: smooth, pencil, bounce/spring, etc...

 

If the person is "visual", a boring nib provides a uniform, monocolour, average line thickness; there is no novelty to the ink trail as it leaves the nib. They use words like: flex, line variation, precision, etc...

 

If the person is "aural", a boring nib provides a muted tone; there is no novelty to the sound produced by the nib. They use words like sing, hum, scritch, etc...

 

No novelty -> no dopamine release -> "boring".

 

For these people, you can use the tool, but you can also delight in the sensations associated with the tool's use.

If you don't prescribe to the senses for your enjoyment, or if you're only focused on the meaning of the words, then none of this will make sense.

Edited by JosephKing
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Echoing A Smug Dill, when I refer to a particular nib as "boring" I mean the UX (User Experience) of it.

 

Most boring nibs feel dead and uninspiring.

 

Don't take it wrong, such nibs might function perfectly fine or within acceptable parameters but they do not make me *feel* anything.

 

The "not so boring" or "exciting" nibs make me feel something positive when I use them.

 

With them things that might otherwise feel like chores (writing shopping lists etc.) become actually pleasant or even pleasurable occasions.

 

An inspiring and exciting nib makes me want to use that particular pen for... just for the heck of it. Doodles, scribbles and drawings, anything that gives me an opportunity to lay down ink on a page. And most importantly, they inspire me and make me want to write more.

It would actually be really interesting to do a study on this.*

My bold assumptions (or hypotheses as they are professionally known) on this issue are the following:

- most people who make the distinction between boring and not boring nibs are folks who have greater than average experience with a wider gamut of nibs and
- who actually also use their pens more than the average fountain pen enthusiast.

It would also be interesting to research how they categorize those nibs based on their perceived attributes. Are they the same for all? Are there trends that pop up based on for example the length/breadth/depth of experience? Or age or gender? Hmmm... might have to cook one up when I have time or am bored enough. :D

* Just finished a two week qualitative user study (usability testing & interviews etc.) of a piece of medical software. Am in kind of a research mode...

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This 'just a tool' argument is getting tired I think. It doesn't explain why you are here on a fountain pen forum rather than using ballpoints. Fountain pens and their nibs are tools, but not 'just' tools.

 

Muddy, I use an FP because my handwriting looks better, which shouldn't disqualify me from being on this forum. Also, I have restored a couple of dozen pens and paid to have others restored. I use an FP everyday for work and later at home. I write letters to my family and have bought FP's for my grandchildren. I have given away FP's to friends and colleagues.

"Respect science, respect nature, respect all people (s),"

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@ Esty Collector and MuddyWaters -- There are people on FPN who buy pens to put them into display cases. They are not using them as "tools" but as decorative objects (or, worse yet, as symbols of ostentatious wealth). In the Middle Ages, they would have been wearing clothing made out of lots and lots of luxury fabrics with huge wide sleeves and fur trim. Nowadays, those types of people would be driving a Maserati....

Then there are the rest of us.

My fountain pens ARE tools. Just really nice tools -- because I *deserve* really nice tools, right? ;)

@ JosephKing -- You've got a very interesting take on this thread and I think it may describe the whole debate very well. Although one can still get that dopamine surge even with a uniform line, if the nib is a very smooth writer (thinking of the 1980s Pelikano I paid five bucks for at a pen show a couple of years ago -- it's a nail, but MAN! What a smooth nail...).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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MadAsAHatter, your question makes me suspect that you have not yet tried a nib that makes you think, "Oh, this is how writing with a fountain pen can feel!" I smile to think of what the future holds for you and hope that you will share those discoveries with the rest of us.

 

Now for some more words, and with apologies in advance to readers who deem my response a waste of time. I don't think I have ever described a fountain-pen nib as boring, but I have some pens with nibs that provide a distinctly lovely experience of writing, some that I find taxing to use, and some that function well for practical purposes but evoke neither pleasure nor regret for having purchased them.

 

For example, yesterday I received a Sailor 1911 pen with a medium nib and found myself inspired to scurry to my writing desk at 5:30 this morning, because the unique feedback from that nib made me want to use it for a particular project of mine. Later today, I will try it on a range of papers to discover which combination of nib and paper I like best. My Parker Victory has a semi-flexible nib, utterly different from the Sailor, that I find enhances the flow of certain types of thoughts. It is perfect for writing letters. My Parker 51 always makes me wonder at the ease I feel when I write with it; it turns even a tedious writing task into a pleasant experience.

 

Examples of nibs that draw attention to themselves in ways that detract from the writing experience are my Kaweco Sport fine, my Monteverde stub, and my Pelikan 140. The Kaweco feels flimsy, the Monteverde makes me feel I am writing with a trowel, and my Pelikan 140 tends to drag along the page even under my light hand. My practice with such pens is to look for an ink that mitigates the annoyance, effectively raising the nib to the category of those that do not draw attention to themselves.

 

Examples of pens that, to my mind, do the job without drawing attention to themselves are the Pilot Prera, the Platinum Balance, and the Lamy Safari. They are eminently serviceable pens for scribbling marginalia in a book or making notations in my planner, but they do not put me in the frame of mind I prefer for creative work or letter writing. My guess as to what many people mean by boring is "not bad, but also not different enough from the pens I already have to warrant adding them to my collection."

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@ Esty Collector and MuddyWaters -- There are people on FPN who buy pens to put them into display cases. They are not using them as "tools" but as decorative objects (or, worse yet, as symbols of ostentatious wealth). In the Middle Ages, they would have been wearing clothing made out of lots and lots of luxury fabrics with huge wide sleeves and fur trim. Nowadays, those types of people would be driving a Maserati....

Then there are the rest of us.

My fountain pens ARE tools. Just really nice tools -- because I *deserve* really nice tools, right? ;)

@ JosephKing -- You've got a very interesting take on this thread and I think it may describe the whole debate very well. Although one can still get that dopamine surge even with a uniform line, if the nib is a very smooth writer (thinking of the 1980s Pelikano I paid five bucks for at a pen show a couple of years ago -- it's a nail, but MAN! What a smooth nail...).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

 

Hey, I have a Maserati!! and forget what Joe says, it doesn't do 185.

 

Must admit that a few of my pens are in display cases, more accurately a purpose made 100 pen cabinet but what else do you do when you have a strong collection.

 

I don't mind boring nibs, my two daily drivers have reliable, always work, never blob, start every time, easy to use, smooth as a lotharios chat up line, very boring nib. The pens are anything but, they are easy on the eye.

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My Waterman Exclusive is my longest pen, so it's a multi-tool. I write with it and I use it, closed, as a back-scratcher.

I love the smell of fountain pen ink in the morning.

 

 

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Although one can still get that dopamine surge even with a uniform line, if the nib is a very smooth writer (thinking of the 1980s Pelikano I paid five bucks for at a pen show a couple of years ago -- it's a nail, but MAN! What a smooth nail...).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

It seems as though, in this instance, the Pelikano appeals to your sense of touch. And thank you.

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@ Esty Collector and MuddyWaters -- There are people on FPN who buy pens to put them into display cases. They are not using them as "tools" but as decorative objects (or, worse yet, as symbols of ostentatious wealth). In the Middle Ages, they would have been wearing clothing made out of lots and lots of luxury fabrics with huge wide sleeves and fur trim. Nowadays, those types of people would be driving a Maserati....

Then there are the rest of us.

My fountain pens ARE tools. Just really nice tools -- because I *deserve* really nice tools, right? ;)

@ JosephKing -- You've got a very interesting take on this thread and I think it may describe the whole debate very well. Although one can still get that dopamine surge even with a uniform line, if the nib is a very smooth writer (thinking of the 1980s Pelikano I paid five bucks for at a pen show a couple of years ago -- it's a nail, but MAN! What a smooth nail...).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

I'm with you, I've got some really nice tools as well. :)

"Respect science, respect nature, respect all people (s),"

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Since the topic is about the use of a pen, what else could it be considered if not a tool? If the OP had asked about the fit and finish of a pen being boring, then we know they are not addressing the pen as a tool. I do, however, understand your point that a pen can be enjoyed for other reasons besides use.

 

You insist on such a narrow range of thinking, a paucity of imagination. What of a piano? Is it not built for the purpose of pressing keys to strike strings in relation to dots on a page? Is it not a tool?

 

I don't want to belabor the point, but the fact is that we started the entire discussion regarding a nib being boring. At the most simplistic level, a nib transmits liquid onto a surface, and if that is the *only* thing that *you* want to do with it, fine. Perfectly fine. But you can't say that is all it is - a tool. It can be, and is, much more than that if one simply views it and uses it as such. A piano is a mechanism that causes hammers to strike strings in varying velocities - a tool. If no one had ever thought any more than that, glorious music from pianos wouldn't exist.

 

The analogy is a bit stretched, but I hope you can understand my viewpoint: how you look at that pen is not the only way it can be viewed or used, and to make light of people viewing a pen in a different manner (i.e. not merely a tool) is a rather narrow view of these writing instruments.

"When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

~ Benjamin Franklin

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The job of a piano is a tool to make notes, it is the person who is playing the piano who makes music, the job of a chisel is to remove wood, it is the person who decides whether that is the bottom of a door or the creation of a Chippendale staircase, the job of a drumstick is to make a noise, the job of the drummer is to try and keep up.

 

The job of a nib is to place ink on paper, it is a simple tool but it is the person who makes the ink into art or literature or shopping lists.

 

I am just kidding with you, I agree your points even if you are wrong.

 

:D

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Posted (edited)

 

You insist on such a narrow range of thinking, a paucity of imagination. What of a piano? Is it not built for the purpose of pressing keys to strike strings in relation to dots on a page? Is it not a tool?

 

I don't want to belabor the point, but the fact is that we started the entire discussion regarding a nib being boring. At the most simplistic level, a nib transmits liquid onto a surface, and if that is the *only* thing that *you* want to do with it, fine. Perfectly fine. But you can't say that is all it is - a tool. It can be, and is, much more than that if one simply views it and uses it as such. A piano is a mechanism that causes hammers to strike strings in varying velocities - a tool. If no one had ever thought any more than that, glorious music from pianos wouldn't exist.

 

The analogy is a bit stretched, but I hope you can understand my viewpoint: how you look at that pen is not the only way it can be viewed or used, and to make light of people viewing a pen in a different manner (i.e. not merely a tool) is a rather narrow view of these writing instruments.

Narrowness of view, my learned friend? I am cut!!!

 

I contemplate my Crescent wrenches. Arent they much more than for twisting nuts?

 

Is my beloved third Suby less because it gets me to my destination? I protest that it should be more for than the very purpose for which it was made is its greatest value.

 

We can wax and wane about an FP. Ill surrender, however. 😂

Edited by Estycollector

"Respect science, respect nature, respect all people (s),"

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Posted (edited)

I thnk there are tools and then there are tools.

 

A violin is a tool for rubbing strings, and yes, the player makes it sound extraordinary... but I can knock together a violin that works, but it will never be an exquisite tool, even if it works. And I know someone who handmakes violins that are sought after by talented musicians who know his tool will make their work sound that much better (far better than my functional tool), but of course, his tool pales in comparison to the Stradivariuses (Stardivarii?!?) of that particular tool world, which, by virtue of the craftsmanship that went into them, do a far better job of doing their job than (shall we say) less boring tools.

 

This quote I read about a tool 30 years ago comes to mind now, about how some tools are just that, and others help you make magic.

 

 

" IF THIS TYPEWRITER CAN’T DO IT, then [darn it], it can’t be done.

This is the all-new Remington SL3... The burger served by the genius waitress. The Empress card.

I sense that the novel of my dreams is in the Remington SL3—although it writes much faster than I can spell... This baby speaks electric Shakespeare at the slightest provocation and will rap out a page and a half if you just look at it hard.

“What are you looking for in a typewriter?” the salesman asked.

“Something more than words,” I replied. “Crystals. I want to send my readers armloads of crystals, some of which are the colors of orchids and peonies, some of which pick up radio signals from a secret city that is half Paris and half Coney Island.”

He recommended the Remington SL3.

My old typewriter was named Olivetti. I know an extraordinary juggler named Olivetti. No relation. There is, however, a similarity between juggling and composing on the typewriter. The trick is, when you spill something, make it look like part of the act.

I have in my cupboard, under lock and key, the last bottle of Anaïs Nin (green label) to be smuggled out of Punta del Visionario before the revolution. Tonight, I’ll pull the cork. I’ll inject ten cc. into a ripe lime, the way the natives do. I’ll suck. And begin …

If this typewriter can’t do it, I’ll swear it can’t be done."

 

 

(edited for childproofing)

Edited by dennis_f
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I take my previous post back. The word tool should not be used to advance this discussion further. I bet many understand different things by the term and it is driving us away from the original question about the boringness of nibs.

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Posted (edited)

Ink and paper matter for all pens. I chase two toned shading inks, over boring vivid monotone inks........do have a few of them too.

 

I find nails to be boring and a hard ride....being only it's width 1X no matter what, outside of paper and ink giving a small touch narrower or wider. Heavy handed or not it's 1X.

 

Don't care much for semi-nails like my P-75*** or the modern post' 97 Pelikan fat and blobby 400 (don't have any thankfully/600 (have a wonderful W. Germany regular flex nib in the old 400 sized 600), which does 2X max tine spread if well mashed. Heavy hands can make the tines spread a small tad in regular writing....is a slightly better ride than a pure nail. (I don't use my P-75 much, so don't have it in my mind how it handles a shading ink. In spite of my P-75 being my third best balanced pen, because of the semi-nail nib, I seldom use it. The last ink I had in it was Parker Quink...not a shading ink.

 

3X times a light down stroke width max set, regular flex, semi-flex and maxi-semi-flex, all have a non-stressed max of 3 X a light down stroke. They all have character and are not boring.....right paper and ink helps.

 

I've been spoiled by the nice springy ride of a regular flex nib that can be mashed out to 3X. One can't write with the nib so mashed ... light line down, heavy line down. But if one's hand is heavy 2 X can be reached. 1 1/2, 1 1/4th with a bit of spring gives a comfortable ride and shading ink shades better in the nib is dryer than semi-flex nib. Call it a soft nib...the 200 and many Japanese nibs.

That is not a boring nib.

Regular flex :) use to be the issue nib a long, long time ago. Esterbrook had a regular flex nib along with a manifold/nail and a Esterbrook had a "semi-flex that most don't like in it was harder than most semi-flex nibs). Some old Shaffer's or Shaffer sub brands had regular flex. (some '50's Shaffers even had semi-flex.) There is a slight tad of line variation....(unless one has a real light hand) on the first letter perhaps.

 

I live in Germany and have 28-30 semi-flex pens. They are Soft + :drool: , they too have 3X max. Takes half the pressure of a mashed regular flex to get to 3 X tine spread. Therefore is a wetter nib. It is a nib for line variation .....On Demand. Because it is wet, shading requires a better balance of ink and paper.

 

I had wondered for many years why folks said they didn't like semi-flex because they wrorte too slow with it. (?????) I had no problems, until I found out they were trying to make a flair nib be a over stressed slow calligraphy nib...................which is is not designed to be.

There were folks abusing the nib out to 4&even 5X...............and then having the never to sell the clunker.

The pens you see on Youtube or Ebay, pre-sprung for you convince.

 

The semi-flex is a non boring nib, giving you that old fashioned fountain pen flair script, without you having to do anything. Flair not calligraphy.

 

Maxi-semi-flex....3x at half the pressure of a semi-flex, 1/4th the pressure to 3 X as a well mashed regular flex. Soft ++ :puddle: ...........it is not a superflex nib....it maxes at 3 X safely. One can make some fancy decenders at the end of a paragraph. Letters open up a bit more, line variation is a bit more than semi-flex.

Is rare I only have 15 compared to 30 semi-flex.....

 

IMO only German semi-flex/maxi-semi-flex are worth buying. Now those are very, very non-boring. Regular flex or nail are worthless in oblique unless one is left handed. Between semi & maxi, I have some 16 obliques.

I have had a couple nail obliques, one I sold, the other made into a CI which is a good line variation nib. A nail or a semi-nail can be made into a stub or CI and is not boring. One nail oblique I had made into a CI, the other I sold. It was useless cants the nib due to left eye dominance.

I have a W. Germany regular flex OM, and had hopes because that W. Germany nib is a tad more springy than normal regular flex, it would work. It don't...not compared to the real thing in semi&maxi.

 

I won't go into superflex, where due to ease and width of tine bend and spread, one can do calligraphy....but those that can write worry about speed of snapback instead of how wide the letter can be made.....a book does help. Must have 6-7 of those things, half landing on my desk unexpectedly. There were more around in the German '30-40's than I expected............all I do is scribble with them....too lazy to learn calligraphy. Just flair and a few decenders. :wacko:

 

**** in 1970 I knew nothing about nails, semi-nails or regular flex as terms.....didn't know about cleaning one's pen either. We were an ignorant bunch before the net. That was way back when money was real, a dollar could be turned into a silver dollar at any bank. The P-75 cost then $22, the silver ball point of the set cost a huge $18.

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.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

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

 

 

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I didn't know if boring referred to a plain looking nib with minimal design or boring as in the way it wrote. I think I'm starting to get an idea of what a boring nib can mean.

 

 

On the flip side, a nib that is not boring may also be unsuitable for one's purposes, displeasing to the user, or even outright defective.

 

A nib with an architect's grind, or otherwise puts down broader cross-strokes than downstrokes, is not boring to me per se. However, even where such an effect is slight, as with the EF nib on my Lamy 2000 blue Bauhaus, and there is nothing kinaesthetically 'wrong' with how the pen feels in my hand when I write with it, I feel my handwriting is worse off aesthetically for it, and so I don't like using pens fitted with such nibs. If I have to choose a pen for an enjoyable writing experience for a page or an afternoon, it certainly won't be that Lamy 2000.

 

The EF nib on my Leonardo Momento Zero 'Blue Hawaii' came with asymmetrically cut tines, not so much that it prevented the pen from delivering ink onto the page surface when required, but the imbalance in the thickness of the tipping material on the tines pushed one up further than the others, and sometimes caused a clickety-clack sound as the inner tines rubbed against each other. That's not boring, just imperfect in a bad way. I ended up having to reshape the tipping to make it more boring but more usable.

 

The Italic nib on an Aurora 88 Cento Italia I ordered just wouldn't write properly, but hard-started and skipped all over the page. I showed photos of it to the retailer and the staff there agreed that the nib was defective. Neither an Italic nib nor a defective one is boring per se, but that nib just didn't work. It was one of two instances, out of hundreds of purchases over the years, in which I had to return a defective pen to a retailer overseas; and not something I want to encounter when I order a pen.

 

Then there's the much-lauded Pilot #10 FA nib. There was nothing defective about the one that was on my Pilot Custom Heritage 912, and it was anything but boring, but it frustrated me so much trying to get the desired writing outcomes out of it and failing. I ripped the nib out of the gripping section and then snapped the metal with my fingers.

 

Gimme boring over any of the above any day!

 

I just ordered another Aurora Optima last night, and elected to have it with yet another 'boring' EF nib when most of my Aurora pens are already fitted with them. A Goccia EF nib, which was an option, would be much less boring, but I don't think it would endear the pen to me more for it, and especially when it would mean paying significantly more for what is likely to be a less suitable nib for my normal use.

As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.

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