I must tell you, I am slightly confused and very much delighted at the same time. For more than a small handful of decades I have been a dedicated broad, stub, oblique, italic nib user. Yet I have always felt like missing out on something by not enjoying writing with finer nibs. It just somehow never clicked. Only recently, when switching back from a semi-cursive writing style to print lettering, and from starting this blog and doing ink swatches across the nib width board, I felt the need to give finer nibs another go. Only to find out I love them…
How did that happen? Well, first of all because I had to let go of many of the assumptions I had on fine nibs. That they would be scratchy, that my large handwriting would become wobbly and all over the place, that I would not enjoy my inks so much in them. The first extra fine and fine nibs I tried were the Lamy interchangeable steel Safari/AL nibs. However, I did not care for those and quickly changed to Platinum Preppies, which I liked a bit more. At a pen meet I got to try a fellow pen lover’s Pilot Metropolitan and Kaküno (thank you, Neseli!) and was surprised at how “friendly” the writing felt. Not too smooth, certainly not scratchy and I actually liked the ink lines they produced. So in the last couple of months I took some first steps into the world of the finer fountain pen nib. Let’s have a look at those I have tried so far.
Since most of us use pens for writing pages full of text, I thought showing a written piece would give you a nice idea the “read back” of these nibs. Esterbrook is a great pen in the first place. It is a widely available and affordable vintage pen with nib units in any shape or size that are interchangeable between all models. So the risk of getting one with a nib you do not like, is a calculated one, because you can always go for another nib (which are separately available through many places online). I already owned this Esterbrook with a 2284 stub nib, which is very nice and smooth, by the way, and recently was gifted this 9956 Firm Fine nib by a fellow Estie fan. I switched them out immediately and am loving this firm fine. It has a slightly architect-esque nib shape -as I found out many finer and extra fine nibs have- so just a nice hint of line variation. What I mean by that is that the nib has slightly elongated tipping, which makes for a thin downstroke and a slightly wider sidestroke. Very elegant, if only ever so slight in these finer nibs.
Having tried the Pilots at the pen meet, I tried to look for a fine Metropolitan but only found medium nib pens in the vicinity. Then I saw the Prera in a couple of videos online and looked around for one of those. I found a Japanese seller through Amazon.de that would ship them internationally at no extra charges. The pen arrived after about a week, which was surprisingly quickly. It had a complementary pack of cute tissues included as a “thank you for shopping with us” gift, a sweet gesture that definitely rings my bell. As described in the picture, I liked this nib from the start. It wrote straight out of the box. I had had no issues with the writing experiences so far. The only thing is that it didn’t come with a converter, which I ordered separately. I do belief that the Pilot MR (the European Metropolitan) is designed to take standard international cartridges/converters. Please leave a comment if you happen to know more about that. — In the mean time, readers have commented their experiences in the comments. I recommend reading the comments if you want to know how they got along with the MR, cartridge and converter wise. —
There is already a more extensive post on the Delikes on my blog if you want to read more about these pens. All I want to add here is that -for the money- these are lovely little pens. What I especially love about these extra fine nibs is that the inks I would hardly use because of the harsh read back a full written page would produce, I now love to use in these finer, thinner lines. So I will get more out of the inks that I do not like so much in my broader nibs! These are very much “inspired” by Sailors like the Lecoule and Pro Gear Slim, so I felt somehow justified to go after the next pen…
Oh, guys… this pen. I knew from having a 1911 Standard I would like it, but that nib has came to me meistered by John Mottishaw, so I was curious what an out-of-the-box fine would feel like. And I so love it. The feeling of writing with this pen is and sounds like a pencil. Writing with this nib is a pleasure to the senses. I have always found writing a very sensuous activity to begin with, but using a nib as tactile as this… It’s a very, very nice writing experience. Okay, you get my point. I can see more fine or extra fine Sailors in the future, perhaps even a Saibi Togi. Mama needs a new pen money jar, kids!
What I have found to enjoy most about the finer nibs is the read back experience, the look of a page after you have filled it with writing, as Brian Goulet has formulated it. Especially with brighter, bolder inks, the look of the page is much more pleasing to the eye, which also makes more inks office or work appropriate. Plus, the already widely acclaimed pro of writing on not so FP-friendly paper and writing in between printed lines for comments and editing. And I have always enjoyed writing on dot grid or graph paper, which means my big print is more easily legible with a finer ink line. So, in conclusion, I must admit at having been converted into finer nibs. That does not mean I love my broader, stubbiest, italic wide-a** nibs less. It just means there is more to love!
How about you? Have you changed nib sizes drastically at some point or do you stay true to one size? I would love to hear from you.
Thank you as ever for reading and until the next post!