This, That And The Other

I’ve been busy arguing in Fountain Pen Geeks. I do like a good, nasty, spiteful argument and you’re never far away from one in the fountain pen hobby.

I had long been interested in the Nemosine Singularity, which seemed like a lot of pen for not a huge amount of money so I ordered two of them – a .8 mm calligraphy nib and an extra fine. Unfortunately, they’re demonstrators, something that I find aesthetically unpleasant, but they were cheap. They arrived today, or at least one of them did. Unbelievably, someone had opened the packet and helped themselves to the one with the extra fine nib. I hope it burns their fingers, the thieving gits. I’ll be writing about the Singularity in a day or two, I expect.

I have many, many requests for pens with flexible nibs. Quite a lot of those are looking for what they describe as “wet noodles”. I almost never have them and at any time I will only have a limited amount of pens with a decent degree of flexibility. I used to use flexible pens. In fact at one time I used nothing else, then I decided to start trying firm nibs and I have to say I enjoy them just as much if not more. A large part of the reason why I used flex in the past was that it tends to cover up the faults of your handwriting. I had a wonderful Onoto (I later foolishly sold it) that made my writing always look beautiful. I came to feel that I was cheating. I should make the effort to produce good handwriting using any pen; not just that one special pen that made everything look good. So I made the switchover to firm nibs and I have stuck with them ever since. In my ignorance I assumed that all firm medium or fine nibs would be the same. Of course they are not. Some just don’t work well for you at all whereas others are like an extension of your hand.

Leaving aside stubs and obliques which are a different matter altogether, what do you think about firm and flexible nibs?

16 thoughts on “This, That And The Other

    1. Yes, I think a lot of people work that way. Most of the writing that I do is note-taking, which is part of the reason why I prefer fine nibs. The other part is that fine nibs are unforgiving and it’s a challenge to write well with them. I sometimes manage it.

  1. (It’s me, Lee M., new blog) Being a left-handed overwriter, flexible nibs are wasted on me. The really floppy and flexy ones are actually a hinderance, digging in with even slight pressure. They make my writing look worse than it actually is.

    I prefer not a nail, but a firmish nib. Obliques are the nibs that make my writing look best, and with the angle I write at they work well for me. Other hooking lefties say the opposite, but then again I like the grip of the Safari so I guess I’m just Strange.

    1. I replied to your comment already and I don’t know where it went so here we go again: very nice blog and I will be following it with interest. As regards pens, it’s a case of whatever works. Glad that the Safari works for you. They are nice pens but unfortunately they don’t work for me.

    2. I am a reformed left-handed over-writer. Decades of enduring the pain of a bent wrist and sore hand from over-writing was motivation to literally and figuratively ‘turn the page’ and straighten up. Now, I still write left-handed but with the paper turned to an angle that allows me to write neatly, legibly, and most importantly, painlessly.

      Oblique and Italic nibs tended to gouge holes on the up or forward stroke when I was an over-writer. They do as well now so I don’t use them at all.

      I have two vintage flexible nibs, a Conway Stewart and a John Bull. Both produce nice lines when I use them. However, I prefer modern firm nib cartridge (or converter) pens for everyday use. I find they, especially with a medium nib, work very well for me.

  2. Well I enjoy iusing the flexible nibs I have and as you so rightly say, they do improve the appearance of one’s handwriting. Equally, however, I am quite happy with a firm stub as I find that stubs help my handwriting also. I have one truly firm nib in my collection – a Swan Eternal 4 in a 1920s ETN44. It is wondrous smooth but I have to admit it does my writing no favours at all!

    1. I do like a good stub, but I think that’s for another time. Swans, to my mind, along with Onotos are among the very best of the flexible nibs. I’ve had a lot of fun with them over the years.

  3. I often have one flexible nib among my edc’s but the rest are firm. For almost all of the writing I do the firm gets the call unless I am writing a cheque or addressing an envelope. The funny thing is that at the pens shows where I am selling virtually all of the younger buyers all ask for a flexible nib right off. The body of the pen doesn’t matter much at all as long as the nib flexes.


  4. Nearly all of my daily writers have some degree of flexibility, but in all honesty, I hardly ever actually flex the nibs. If a the pen can not write quickly and reliably without me thinking about it, then I do not bother to carry it with me. I enjoy my “wet noodles” but they remain at my home desk and rarely wonder far. Writing this down, it makes me think I should invest in more firm nibbed pens…I do like those inlaid nibs on the Sheaffer Imperials.

    My actual most used two pens: one of those fancy wahl eversharp adjustable nibs (factory stub 😉 ) on a modern body, and a sheaffer ballpoint with a reminder clip.

  5. I have flex nibs, stiff nibs, and everything in-between. I’m happy with whatever I’m using as long as the nib is well behaved. When I get bored with a particular nib, I’ll switch to another. I usually keep four to six pens with a variety of nibs inked and in rotation at any time.

    As for the stolen pen. In my country, I MUST import through the postal system with tracking. Otherwise, there’s a good chance I just bought some Government employee a new pen. Always use tracking that you can follow online.

    One exception is shipments from Goulet Pens in the U.S. Goulet Pens always puts a piece of candy in the box, a Tootsie Roll Pop to be precise. Tracking or not, 100% of all shipments I have ever received from Goulet Pens were opened and missing the piece of candy. This is a serious blow since where I live we don’t have Tootsie Roll Pops, and I miss them 😦

    Shipping theft can take place anywhere along the shipping path and is almost impossible to investigate. A modern exception is cellular phones. Stolen cell phones can be pre-loaded with software that “phones home” leading law enforcement to the location of the thief. Maybe someday we will have impossible to loose fountain pens like this 😉

  6. I only had firm gold nibs for years until I discovered flex vintage nibs and was totally smitten. Before discovering flex vintage, I wondered why people would want to use old pens. Now I seem to only want old vintage pens, as long as they have good flex nibs. I still like good firm nibs but I LOVE flex and cannot ever get enough of them..

    1. Having and using something historical is what attracted me to vintage fountain pens. The idea of holding and using something that was used by someone long before I was born to express his or her ideas, share emotions – love perhaps or anger – or even do one’s day’s work is to the sentimental historian in me very attractive. That is why pens from the 1920s and 1930s interest me so much.

      1. Yes I totally get what you mean.. Whenever I write with a vintage pen, I always wonder about its story, and its previous owner(s), and how it got to me. I love the late 1800 to the early 1900s.

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