Firm-Nibbed Pens

I don’t write well with a rigid-nibbed pen, so for that reason there are many pens that I admire for their quality that I don’t use myself. Many nibs are firm because they’re made from thicker material. Those nibs contain more gold, in other words, so they’re invariably among the higher-priced pens.

For years I kept a Swan Leverless L642 E/60, the early thirties straight-sided Eternal. It’s a beautifully-crafted pen but I couldn’t write well with it. Similarly, Conway Stewart’s Duro-nibbed 55, though not quite of the same quality as the Eternal, is a superb pen that didn’t work for me.

I also have great admiration for the quality of almost all pre-1965 button-filler Parkers, whether made in Janesville or Newhaven, but it’s very rare to find one that has any appreciable flexibility. If I were to find, say, a mid-twenties Duofold with some flexibility I would pretty much have my ideal pen. I know they exist but none has ever come my way. Though it’s a little small for complete comfort, I have a Televisor that has some line variation. It may be one of Parker’s more economical models but the build quality is superb.

Walter Sheaffer was a jeweller before he began manufacturing pens and it shows in the precision and attention to detail of the company’s pens right up until they were taken over and ceased to be real Sheaffers. Unfortunately they, too, are generally rigid-nibbed. I also have my doubts about the unnecessarily complex filling systems Sheaffer adopted at times, but never about the manufacturing quality which remained superb. I persisted with a fine-nibbed Vac-fil as a note-taker for a while because I could cram a lot of writing in a page and not have to fill the pen very often, but it was never my choice for any other form of writing.

None of those pens, then, are included in my collection of everyday writers but they are all pens I enjoy working on and feel I can recommend without reserve to those who like and can use a pen that produces a consistent line.

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