Five surprising facts about pointed nibs

Are you curious about why there are so many different nibs? What the purpose is of the various shapes, size and range of flexibility? I want to introduce you to some surprising facts that will help you to better understand the small, but temperamental pointed nib. 


 1- There is no such thing as too many nibs

This first fact could sound like the perfect excuse for me to keep buying pens, but no; or is it?. On one of my visits to The Pen Museum in Birmingham, I learnt that each nib has qualities that will make your work either a pleasure or a nightmare. They will be appropriate for your work or not, depending on what paper and ink you use and the pressure you apply to write. If I have had too much coffee or I am tired, I will go for a firmer nib. However, if I feel in control, I will choose a more flexible one. Don’t just take my word for it, try it yourself and you will see.

nib holder roll
A sneak peek of the nib holder roll I made with left-over fabric and ribbon. Instructions will follow in next week’s post

2- Shape helps the functionality

If you look carefully you will see that, not only is the metal used different for each nib, but shapes and flexibility give them their unique characteristics. If you are like me, sometimes pressing too much or not enough, having more or less flexibility helps me to find the necessary balance. Before starting any work, I try different nibs until I feel comfortable with their performance.

Another crucial fact is the curvature, it may be perfect for a pen holder but inconvenient for another one, so always remember checking before buying; it will avoid the disappointment of having a new nib and not being able to use it.

Nibs and pen holders
Oops! There is no such thing as too many penholders either

3- Holes and cuts improve the ink retention and flow

Another essential feature is the amount, shape and size of the reservoir. These are all the holes and gaps in the metal that help to load more ink every time to dip your pen. The easiest way of knowing the capacity of your nibs is by writing a line with each of them until the ink runs out. You will notice the difference. The test must be carried out with the same ink and on the same paper. The viscosity of the former and the absorption of the latter will vary the result. 

Different reservoirs on the nibs
The holes and gaps on the metal, not only help to retain more ink but to increase the flexibility of the nib

4- Not all the pointed nibs are the same

Even though all nibs may look similar to the naked eye, if you look at them with a magnifying glass, you will see the sharpness of its tip vary. The finer the tip, the easier it is to make thin upstrokes. However, it will be more difficult to glide upwards on the paper, making your writing quite wobbly. Some nibs present a rounded tip that makes that movement more manageable but creates thicker strokes. It is then your decision on how to work with these pros and cons to get the best results in your work.

Different tips on nibs
A magnifier glass helps to show the different tips of these two nibs

5- Nibs are playful too!

Now that we have looked at all those features as elements of the nibs’ functionality, it is time to appreciate the human need for beauty and aesthetic pleasure too. There are plenty of examples of nibs looking like the Eiffel Tower, turrets or hands, just for the sake of being novelties. These are usually more expensive and not always good for writing, but indeed they add playfulness to your collection.

novelty nib in the shape of a hand
I love this nib, it always put a smile in my face!

Finally, one warning – remember to look after your nibs! Water can irreversibly damage them. I’ve learned the hard way. Fortunately, Scribblers and Penman Direct have a speedy delivery service!

ruined nibs
These are some of the nibs I ruined for being careless. I keep them to remind myself not to do it again!

I hope you enjoyed reading our blog, only 6 more sleeps left until the next one. Remember, I will be sharing how to make a nib holder roll with materials you can find in your home.

See you next week!