Two fude pens compared

Lately you might have caught me basically fan-girling over fine nibs. As it turns out, I really, really like writing with finer nibs, especially on densely written pages. However, that doesn’t mean that my crazy big wide “unpractical” nibs are forgotten. Far from. So for today’s post, we’re taking a look at two Asian pens with fude nibs. No, spelling checker, not dude nibs, nude nibs, fuse nibs or oude (Dutch for old) nibs… Fude nibs! Wait, I’ll show you:


A sideways close-up of fude nibs. As you can see, it looks like they took a nose-dive from my desk and folded over on impact. However, these nibs are bent like this for a purpose. Fude is Japanese for “writing, or painting, brush”. In Asian calligraphy, a brush was and is an important tool for drawing the characters. So as soon as the fountain pen came along and had proven its practicality, it was no more than logical to try and mimic a brush stroke with a fountain pen nib. In my opinion, by simply bending the nib, that effect has pretty much been achieved. Of course there are fountain pens with brush nibs available, but this is a very practical solution as far as I am concerned.


The two pens

The pens I am using in this comparison are the Jinhao 159 (bottom) and a Sailor Fude pen (top). Both pens are ” entry level” pens, both have steel nibs. Still, they are quite different, in use as in the resulting ink line. The Jinhao 159 Fude, as well as other Jinhao models with a fude nib, are available online through eBay and possibly through other mega-sellers as well. The vary in price from around $10-15. The Sailor Fude is more widely available through online pen dealers as well as brick-and-mortar shops. In Europe, it is around $25-29. Lucky me was gifted this Sailor by a wonderful pen friend at a pen meet. I am in his debt for this gesture as well as his encouragement to start this blog. Thank you, Dries!


Above a bird’s eye view of the writing samples of the pens side-by-side. I used a Rhodia soft cover lined A5 notebook for these writing samples. As you can see, the line width both nibs produce will differ a lot with the angle the pen is touching the paper. That not only goes for how you hold the pen, it also goes for the shape of the page. At the left of the page, where the paper tends to bulge a bit, your ink line will be wider because the paper embraces the nib and as such picks up a fat line of ink. The more you hold the pen upright on flat paper, the thinner the ink line becomes because less of the bent surface touches the paper. The lower you hold the nib, the more surface touches the paper, the fatter the ink line. It is a fun tool! Unfortunately, I have no Asian calligraphy skills, so I kept it to my regular architect-ish print. How did these nibs perform?

fullsizeoutput_467.jpegThe Jinhao 159 Fude

The Jinhao 159 is a big and heavy pen. It imitates the Montblanc 149 and it is a show-off kind of pen. The body is metal, the standard nib size is a #6. Which means you can swap with other nibs, if you want to use this pen for more regular writing as well. The pen usually comes with a standard international converter and takes standard cartridges as well. The standard Jinhao nibs are a bit of a gamble. You might get a decently functioning one or you might have to tweak it a bit. I have bought and used three Jinhao 159 Fudes and all functioned rather decently. The nice thing about Jinhao nibs – and that goes for the fudes as well – is that they have a decent amount of spring. Not flex, but a good deal of bounciness. So writing with the Jinhao Fude is nice, with a bit of spring for extra line width. This can result in railroading, as you can see in my writing sample. The plastic feed cannot keep up with the ink demanded by the nib. However, when you want your ink line to look like it is painted on with a brush, the odd bit of railroading just adds to that effect. So I did not mind but if railroading gives you the creeps, you are warned. The brush effect is also emphasized by the regular kugel (round) medium tipping on the tines. This slightly curvaceous tipped nib gives a bit of extra structure to the writing.


The Sailor Fude

The sailor Fude is a plastic pen, the size of a 1911 Standard, so quite a bit smaller and lighter than the Jinhao. The body is molded plastic, which shows by a “weld” line on the section where the two halves were stuck together. Considering the price point, this is not a major issue for me. The nib is a gold-plated steel MF Sailor nib with the tip bent upward. Where the Jinhao still has tipping, the Sailor is untapped and therefore produces a much smoother ink line, with quite a bit of width difference depending on your angle of writing – how high you hold the nib towards the paper – as well as on the angle of your writing stroke. The Sailor gives great definition to your ink line and shows off shading and sheen to the max. By the way, the Sailor is also – proprietary -cartridge/converter filled.

Which of these I prefer? If I want a nicely ruffled brush line and I don’t have to use it for prolonged writing, I grab the Jinhao. If I want a pen that is more comfortable for me, grip wise as well as weight, with a slightly smoother ink line, I whip out the Sailor.  I use these nibs for ink swabbing, the odd high-lighted/faux hand-lettered name on envelopes, headers in journals. Not your everyday writer, but if you want to see what your inks are capable of, if you are a lettering artist or make art work with ink, journal or make mixed media art, investing in (one of) these affordable fun pens is something I heartily recommend.

Before I forget, you can also write with the nibs flipped upside down!


This produces a finer line. The Jinhao however felt a bit rubbery on the upstroke, very weird. The Sailor gives a nice line, but the sweet spot is very small and deviating from it results in scratching your paper. A look at the reversed nibs:


Fingerprints… yes, the inevitable result of using one’s pens… One more to look at the upturned nibs side by side.


Once more, in short, a recommended pen (either of them) of you want to play with inks, make inky art, journal or want to hand letter envelopes in a jiffy.

Thank you as ever for reading and until the next post!


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!


My first Sailor

Or, a careful step towards a Sailor Specialty Nib…

Oh, those Sailor specialty nibs… every now and again I will go through SBRE Brown’s Sailor nibs writing sample YouTube videos, or window shop in an online store, pretend-deciding which nib I would buy, if I could spend as much on a nib as on a bike…

But first things first. Let’s start with a short look at the brand. I’ve always wondered why Sailor is named “Sailor” and only took the trouble of looking that up when I did some research for this blogpost. The Sailor Japan website tells us that in 1911, a respected engineer by the name of Mr. Kyungoro Sakata, met with a British sailor who introduced him to the concept of the fountain pen. Mr. Sakata was so impressed with this tool, that he vowed to produce them in Japan with the best engineering and design possible. He started a fountain pen company in Hiroshima. This is still the company’s home town today.


Sailor offers a wide range of pens, from simple plastic bodies with steel nibs for school use or to get acquainted with fountain pens, up to collector’s items with artful Maki-E and Urushi lacquers. The nib range for most pens is quite versatile, from EF through Broad, Music and the enormous Zoom nib. But there is more… the Sailor company employs Master Nib Designer Nobuyoshi Nagahara, who has been with the company for over 60 years. He re-introduced the Naginata – Togi nib (“long sword”) and began combining multiple tipping points to arrive at nibs that have crossing ink slits to put down an impressive ink line. Stunning nibs that are great for hand-letterers and (Eastern) calligraphy artists. Not your everyday note taking nibs. But then again, why not? More about the nibs on the UK Sailor Pen page.

So now for the disappointing bit… I do not own or can show you the use of any of the specialty nibs. Believe me, I wish I could. I have had the immense fortune and pleasure to try some of a pen friends’s impressive Sailor collection during a pen meet – for which I am still grateful! Should you be reading this, Marco, many thanks for trusting those beauties to my trembling hands. What I came away with that nib tasting session that although I always thought a Cross Point would be at the top of my wishlist, but it got knocked off by a Cross Music nib. The even more narrow nib stroke of the Cross Music makes it more usable for everyday writing in my hand.

Anyhow, back to my first Sailor. After having ogled the SBRE Brown Sailor nib videos many many times and traipsing around the internet for good places to hunt for decently priced Sailors, I came across a video on YouTube of John Mottishaw, grinding a very different nib on a very different pen – a stub on a Pelican I believe – and took a look at the site. I was happy to find decently priced Sailors with the possibility of an in-house nib grind and decided to go for a Sailor 1911 Standard Transparent with the zoom nib (check the tab Service Price List on the site, if you want to know more about their services), to be reground into an architect or Hebrew nib shape. The pen arrived about two weeks after placing the order and I was very impressed with that relatively short processing and shipping time.


The Sailor 1911 Standard is a relatively small pen, with a total capped length of 134 mm, a section width of 9 mm and the broadest part being the cap band with 14 mm. The pen is made of PMMA with gold-plated metal trimmings (which sort of clash with the steel of the converter, if you care about these matters) and weighs a mere 19.8 grams capped. The 14k nib comes in sizes EF, F, M, B, Music and Zoom. The Zoom was the basis for this regrind.


The pictures above give an impression of the regrind shape. The nib stroke gives you a thin down stroke and a wider side stroke, depending on how high or low you hold the section. A couple of writing samples, because those tell more than a thousand words (so I’m trying to keep this blog under 900 words, haha):

Holding the pen almost perpendicular to the paperfullsizeoutput_421

Holding the pen at a regular position on the sectionfullsizeoutput_422.jpeg

Holding the pen rather flat to the paper, so very near where the section meets the bodyfullsizeoutput_423.jpeg

This nib will be a joy if you like achieving different ink lines and seeing some versatility in your writing. This pen is nearly always in my daily carry, it is a wonderful pen for note taking as well as writing a special message with a bit of expression, even on paper that tends to feather. Then you just hold the pen a bit more towards the nib to get a thinner ink line.


One of my all time favorite writers and the inspiration to try my hand at grinding a couple of my easily replaceable steel nibs into architects, something I love trying my hand at every now and again. as you will no doubt have noticed if you follow me on Instagram.

As ever, thank you for reading and if you have any questions regarding the above or other writing matters, please like, comment or send me a message.

Freshly inked and first impressions

It’s a lovely sunny, activity-filled Sunday, so a quick post of some freshly inked pens and a couple of first thoughts of pens that came in over the last couple of weeks.


From top to bottom:

  • Pen: Aurora Optima Burgundy, medium nib. Ink: Aurora Black. I love this pen-and-ink combination, I have started using it as my bujo pen and ink, because I find that the simple bujo style in black suits me best. More on that next Sunday when I’ll update you on my bujo experiences.
  • Pen: Bexley Gaston’s Angels, stub nib. Ink: Noodler’s Lexington Gray. I needed a bulletproof ink in one of my pens, but I will not hang on to this combination. The Lexington Gray is just too wet in the Bexley, even for my taste. Might try it in the much dryer-writing black Kaweco later.
  • Pen: Montegrappa Fortuna Mosaico Marrakech, medium nib. Ink: Private Reserve Lake Placid Blue. I really like this pen and ink combination, the ink complements the blue hues in the lovely material of the Marrakech. The ink tends to run dry in the nib pretty quickly, so it needs to be used regularly.
  • Pen: Kaweco Skyline Sport Black, medium nib. Ink: Graf von Faber-Castell Deep Sea Green. I bought this pen because I wanted to try the medium Kaweco nib. I was not happy at all with how it wrote out of the box. Dry, scratchy and more like a fine. So I rinsed the pen, flossed the tines and feed with a brass sheet. Didn’t help. Then I stubbed the nib and the ink line has slightly improved. Next ink in is the Noodler’s Lexington Gray, to see if that will give a better ink flow.
  • Pen: Sailor 1911 Standard, Zoom nib, ground to an architect by John Mottishaw. Ink: Blackstone Barrier Reef Blue. Another great shading and sheening Blackstone ink in this pen after the Sydney Harbour Blue I had in it before. I only have samples of both inks, so now I’m contemplating which to get as a full bottle…
  • Pen: TWSBI Eco Clear 1.1 stubby italic nib. Ink: Robert Oster Signature Forest Green. A lovely combination, I think. The ink sloshes around like a lovely jewel in the piston filler and the flow is excellent. Nice calm green, good shading but not much sheen on this paper (G. Lalo Verge de France).
  • Pen: Pilot Prera Vivid Pink, fine nib. Ink: KWZ Ink Raspberry. This is my now favorite modern fine steel nib. It feels just right, this is definitely a fine nib that suits people with largish handwriting like I have when writing in this style. Great pen for office use on not so great paper. The pink of the body is very hard to capture in photos, so if you are one for hot pink pens, this is one for you. I love the combination with the bright yet still eye-friendly pink Raspberry ink.
  • Pen: Pelikan Twist Jungle, medium nib (comes in only this nib size) which I ground into a fine-medium architect. Ink: J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune. The soft violet ink combined with the light taupe of the pen is a combination that speaks to me. The Pelikan writes very well for an 8-9 Euros pen. I liked it so much, I ordered the final pen in this list not long after…
  • Pen: Pelikan Twist Bronze, medium nib. Ink: Kaweco Caramel Brown. I have not worked on this nib, because I like it as it is. And you cannot grind all your nibs into architects. That would not be sane… right…? Anyway, this nib has a slightly stubby feel to it so there is some very slight line variation. I love the Kaweco ink in this pen. The cola-colored ink suits the bronze Pelikan very nicely. It’s a nice pen if you are looking for an ergonomic grip but you are not after a kiddy-colored pen. Even though those are darn cute as well! This grip suits both right- and left-handed writers, by the way.

Would you like to know more about these or other pens or inks on my blog, be sure to send me a comment. Have  great week and thank you as ever for reading! As always much appreciated! OK, one more pic…