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!


Delike New Moon fountain pens

Had I not started this blog, I would not have thought twice about trying extra fine nibs. I have been a broad, stub, italic, gushing nibs user for most of my fountain pen life. But when writing reviews, you have to look past your own preferences. And when doing ink reviews I like to show what the ink looks like in most nib sizes. The hunt for the finer nib began. At first I got all Lamy nibs from EF through 1.9mm, but the quality of those nibs, especially the size accuracy on the EF through B nibs left a lot to be desired. Then I ordered three Preppies in EF through M. Those will do nicely for ink reviews, but I wanted to try more fine nibs to get more comfortable with them.

Then I saw a lovely Instagram pic by @pixiegeek and was smitten. Not only by her beautiful handwriting, but especially by the ink line from a particular extra fine pen she used, a Delike New Moon. It looked like the finest of architect grinds. And I love the line effect of the architect. Thank you for enabling, Christiana! I looked them up online and found a great deal on eBay, two pens, including shipping from China, for about 32 Euros. The color options included a mock celluloid material and a sky blue and pink solid plastic set. I opted for those. The close-ups of the nibs gave the impression of two very thin metal disks pressed together, indeed much like very fine architect grinds. Hardly any tipping at all! So for the blog’s sake, I ordered them straight away.


About two weeks later the package arrived and much to my surprise it also included a powder blue PU leather pen case. The pens were wrapped in individual plastic sleeves that mention “Hero”  but I am yet to find out if Delike is a Hero sub brand. Please comment if you know more about this. The pen case is quite nice, but the elastic strap offers only room for one and a half pen, so I usually put one in the strap and I let the other sort of roll around next to it. At this price point, I’m not too bothered about that.


The case also has a little top and bottom flap to protect the pen that is lucky enough to be put in the strap, from scratching by the zipper. Still, a nice extra and the great thing is, the case doesn’t smell too much like PU… I am afraid though that hoisting this around in my bag will make the edges fray so I will not use it as an office pen case. Plus, it looks nice just sitting at my desk.

On to the pens. Since there aren’t many reviews around about them, here are some measurements and statistics:

  • weight capped and filled: around 12 grams;
  • length capped: 123mm;
  • length uncapped: 110mm;
  • length posted: 135mm;
  • cap band diameter: 14mm;
  • section (grip) diameter: 9mm.



The pens have a screw-on cap, the cap posts pretty securely. I like the pens having the same color plastic throughout, so no black section or blind cap. The blind cap has a silver colored decorative ring. It does not screw off. The clip has enough spring to be functional and can be lifted up with the same hand while holding your pen. It is tight enough to secure your pen to a pocket. There is a slight hollow rim between the cap ring and the plastic but not enough to make it fragile or to be aesthetically annoying. The cap screw thread on the section has some leftover loose plastic bits from thread turning, but those are easily wiped away. The cap band has “DELIKE” stamped beneath the clip and “New Moon” on the opposite sight. A nice detail, let’s say “borrowed” from Japanese pen models. To which this pen bears quite a resemblance… So a nice pen to “fake it until you make it” as they say. All in all, this pen is about as refined as you might expect for the money. Still, refined enough to bring to school, uni or even the work place.


Another pleasant surprise was that the pens came with a converter. There is a small metal band around the nipple and a broad metal band with a nice flower stamped on above the turning nob. Pretty decently performing converters so far. I haven’t yet tried standard international cartridges in the pens, but judging from the converter nipple, those will fit.


For a size comparison, I put the Delike New Moon next to my Sailor 1911 Standard, which is already a relatively small pen. This makes the Delike a nice writer for people with smallish hands, like myself. So if the 1911 Standard is too small for you, you will feel the same about the Delike. Still, when posted it might just be comfortable enough and girth-wise they are the same.


The steel nib has a sphere-like engraving over “DELIKE” and “EF” under the breather hole. The tines end without any noticeable tipping and this makes for the very slight line variation effect. This also gives the writing experience a slight bit of feedback. I have not experienced either nib as being scratchy but with these very fine nibs I have found keeping a very light hand works best. Which is good practice for me because normally I write with quite a bit of pressure.

Delike writing sample in a lined Rhodia Soft Cover A5 notebook

I have found writing with both pens a pleasant surprise. These nibs are not the wettest writers as you can see from the smeared wriggles and I could feel the difference between the Diamine in the sky blue pen and the much more lubricated Noodler’s in the pink pen. The pink pen as a result writes a tiny bit more smoothly, but if I were to put a more lubricated ink in the blue pen, I bet I would get the same result. I love that these pens are comfortable for me when writing in my usual largish hand as well as when writing small. I am not good at small writing, and I bet experienced small writers can get these pens to write even smaller. Ideal pens for starters in the pen world who have to write on paper that they cannot choose themselves, for maths, bullet journaling or just to have around with some pretty inks in them.

In conclusion, I was very happy to be enabled in this starter’s investment into extra fine nibs. The only problem is -and don’t tell me you don’t recognize it- that now I am curious about other extra fine Asian pens. Well, that’s fountain pen life for ya! I’ll be sure to keep you posted on further extra fine experiences from this spot as well as on Instagram. And if you have any pointers on good (extra) fine nibs out there, be sure to share!