Fine nib noob

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.

Esterbrook “J”, 9556 firm fine nib unit with J. Herbin Cacao du Bresil

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.

Pilot Prera Vivid Pink, fine nib with KWZ Ink Raspberry

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 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. —

Delike New Moon, extra fine nib with Noodler’s Dragon’s Napalm and Diamine Marine

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…

Sailor Professional Gear Slim Pink, fine nib with Noodler’s Ottoman Rose

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!


8 thoughts on “Fine nib noob

  1. I’ve done the opposite journey. I got my fine nibs to suit my small handwriting without any thought to other nibs. I couldn’t justify more pens with the same nib in all of them. But then my pen addiction blossomed and there were cool nibs to be tried. And ink!! Some of those inks with sheen demanded a big, wet nib. And so I got some stubs. And flexible nibs. So now I have a little bit of everything.
    It is fun to see other people’s pens and the road they take. And I still have that Delike on my watch list.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your reply, Lisa. So great to read about the pen journey of fellow addicts. I’ve always been convinced smaller writing can look great with wider nibs as well, especially stubs or italics that still have a fine line element in them. Keep enjoying your pens and inks! 😙

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I bought a Metropolitan at La Couronne and ordered a Pilot converter with it. I got a message back asking if I wanted the converter for that pen, as it wasn’t a good match because the Metropolitan takes standard cartridges/converters. They sent me a converter from another brand and…it didnt fit. But the pen did take standard cartridges. I bought a converter from a different brand and that one didn’t fit either! I also noticed the pen held the cartridge very tightly. I used the converters in other pens for a while and I’ve since managed to fit one of them (from Pelikan) into the Metropolitan. So, yes, the European Pilot Metropolitan takes standard cartridges, but it might be a tight fit at first.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Thanks for your interesting musings on nib sizes and the great photos!

    My journey was, as well, going the opposite route: I only liked extra fine nibs first but then discovered how exciting my inks looked in broader nibs. I still have no use for a rather boring F or M nib, but architect grinds, broad or stub nibs I enjoy now as a complementary part in my nib arsenal. Usually my pens now come in pairs, so among the handful I have inked I might have
    a SEF Falcon with a “serious” writing colour paired with MB Mozart (stubby) B with a bright colour
    or a Pelikan M300 EF & M320 M (that writes rather like a stubby B)
    or a KaWeCo Sport Luxe EF & an Art Sport with a DIY 0.9 mm stub …
    The fine nibs are for (flex) writing and German Kurrent-script whereas the broad nibs are for doodling, lettering, headlines and general pops of colour. This approach also eliminates the guess work about what pen to take with me as it is always a complementary pair, ink-wise, regarding the nibs and matching the style / outer appearance of the pen.

    It is funny though how the approach, preferences or habits can change in this hobby of ours!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hey Janine, nice post! I started out with and EF nib in primary school, and didn’t branch out into even M until very recently. And with the broader nibs, I still see them more as fun than actually useful for writing. Mostly because it’s what I’m used to I guess.

    I have both the MR Metropolitan and the Pilot proprietary one, and I vastly prefer the latter. It doesn’t look like I can leave pictures here but if you’d like I’ll try to make some comparison pictures and put them on Instagram. Like Caroline Groen already said, the MR is a bit of a weird fit with SI cartridges. The feed and inside of the section are different to accommodate the different shape, but it’s not the same as a normal SI cartridge converter pen would be. For one thing, the “nipple” it needs to go over is much longer than normally, maybe even 4mm (rather than the 1.5-2mm I’m used to on my other pens). It doesn’t really ‘click’ over it either, you really have to push it in. That’s the tight fit Caroline means I think. Because all the rest is loose. A normal SI pen will have the inside of the section fit the cartridge diameter, so it’s securely in place. For the MR, this is not the case, since size wise it’s still to Pilot cartridge size, which are wider. So the cartridge has the freedom to wobble (probably that’s why the extra depth is needed). I don’t like that at all. Same goes for the converter, though after I made a small dent on my (Pelikan branded) SI converter opening while trying to fit it into this pen I decided not to use that anymore. So cartridge only it is. A nice thing is that it DOES fit another short SI cartridge in the barrel for backup.

    This is in (not) so short the differences that I’ve noticed. (Besides that the MR is only available in M.) Since I love to try out different inks, the easily available Pilot converters make me grab my other Metropolitans much more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your thorough reply, I very much appreciate these shared experiences. This will certainly be helpful the future MR users and I will add a note to read the comments in the post. The Metropolitans are available in fine from Goulet and perhaps also from eBay sellers.

      Thank you for your very kind words, by the way. It gives me great pleasure to write this blog, so it’s so nice to read that other pen friends are actually enjoying reading it!

      Liked by 1 person

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