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By: Amy Rutherford

When picking a fountain pen, know your nib.

For six years I have owned a paper store and not until earlier this year did I get a fountain pen.  It’s my dirty little secret come clean.  What took me so long?  Well, they were intimidating.  The nib looks like it could break at the slightest amount of pressure.  Here’s the thing I’ve learned: It won’t.  Nibs are metal and sturdy – some even have gold in them – and are meant to take a beating.  Based on my writing, you can believe my pen gets abused quite often.  When it comes to picking a fountain pen, the nib is one of the most important elements for consideration.  I’m here today to walk you through the various nibs and to invite you to our Fountain Pen Test Drive event starting on National Fountain Pen Day, November 3 and runs through Sunday, November 5.  Come take some specialty nibs for a spin! We'll have testers from Esterbrook, Sailor, and Lamy available.

Round Nib:  Choosing a fountain pen is a very personal choice.  It depends on how you write and how the pen feels as you write.  The round nib is pretty much the standard for your average nib.  It usually comes in Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, and Bold.  If you are like my husband and write teeny tiny, then go for the fine or extra fine.  My handwriting is heavy handed – thus my anxiety about getting a fountain pen in the first place – so I went with a medium.

Journaler – One of the things Esterbrook pens are known for is creating custom pen nibs.  The Journaler is a collaboration with Gena Salorino, the nibmeister behind Custom Nib Studio in Los Angeles, just for Esterbrook.  (Yes, nibmeister is a real term.)  According to Esterbrook, “The idea is that it’s smooth and friendly enough for everyday use, gives your writing some flair, all without being too huge for practical writing.”  The Pen Addict gave it the equivalent of two thumbs up!

Needlepoint – The name pretty much tells the story with this nib.  It’s the finest point nib on the market.  Even finer than extra fine.  It’s for people who like writing really small and prefer, I guess you would say, an extra extra fine line.  Some planners and grids can be very small making this a great nib to use.

Flex – If you like a little line variation in your handwriting then this might be a good one for you.  As the name would suggest, this nib is much more pliable creating more variations in ink flow.  If you tend toward cursive and italic writing then this might be worth a try.

Scribe – This is another specialty nib from Esterbrook.  It comes from the creative mind of nibmeister Josh Lax of the Brooklyn based JJ Lax Pen Company.  The Scribe is his take on the Architect nib, also known as Hebrew Italic and Arabic nib.  Writing with this pen is characterized with thick horizontal strokes and thing vertical strokes.  Think architectural drawings and Arabic and Hebrew script.  

Techo – This Esterbrook specialty nib is all about the angles.  Created by Tokyo based CY of Tokyo Station Pens, this pen thicker lines at held at a lower angle and thinner lines at a higher angle.  The Techo gives the user a wide variety of abilities from sketching to journaling making this little guy a real workhorse.

Photo by The Pen Addict

Zoom – Inspired by the art of Japanese brush painting, the Zoom nib is a specialty nib from Japanese fountain pen maker, Sailor.  Sailor’s specialty nibs offer a ton of versatility.  As with the Techo, the Zoom is all about the angles.  What’s different is if you flip it upside down, you get a whole new set of angles.

Photo by The Pen Addict

Music – Never has a nib been more accurately named.  Do I even need to go further?  The Music nib’s entire purpose is to write music.  It allows for a heavy flow of ink to make the notes and all the flourishes that accompany them.  Now, it’s not solely for writing music.  You can certainly use it in your everyday writing.  For folks who like a thick line and have large sweeping handwriting then this might be a winner.

Hooded – The Lamy 2000 is a great example of a hooded nib.  With a hooded nib only a small part of the nib sticks out and the rest is encapsulated in the pen.  This pen is great for all purpose note taking because you can keep the cap off for an extended amount of time without it drying out.

If you’ve ever wondered about fountain pens or wanted to try some of these specialty nibs but couldn’t because they were only available online, then stop by and give these a whirl.  We will be taking special orders for whatever you find that fits your fancy.  This is the perfect opportunity to check a few folks off your holiday list and even grab a little something special for yourself!

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