Yet Another Osmiroid

I’ve always liked Osmiroids. The 65 and 75 are very basic pens, almost an afterthought by Edmund Perry, the manufacturer of the excellent nibs. Therein lies their great practicality and even charm. They are there to write with and nothing else. They are not objects of admiration or collector’s items. Nowadays, they are regarded purely as calligraphic pens but that was not always so. My husband used one as his everyday pen in his schooldays.

A kind friend gave me this Osmiroid 65. It comes fitted with a soft medium nib, the kind you would use for ordinary writing, and a very good writer it is too. It can even be induced to provide a little line variation. I’m sure I have other Osmiroid nibs somewhere and I must hunt them down.

The Osmiroid writing system is often compared with the Esterbrook. They will accept each other’s nibs, which is handy. The nibs will fit some Burnhams too, as well as a few German school pens. Looking at the pens themselves, the Esterbrook is the clear winner. Whereas both 65 and 75 Osmiroids are subject to plastic shrinkage, the Esterbrook is generally stable. It is better made and comes in more attractive finishes.

When we come to the nibs, it is by no means so clear which is the better. The build quality of both is good though the Esterbrook may have an edge. I am no calligrapher but some of those who are tell me that they prefer the Osmiroid nibs. I can’t really go into why this should be so, being a shade ignorant of the subject. It isn’t a silly nationalistic thing though, because some of those who favour the Osmiroid nibs are American. If you would be interested in following this further, the search facilities of the pen discussion groups will assist.

A good 65 with no shrinkage, like this one, is a real asset to the calligrapher. The later versions of the Osmiroid, though no longer compatible with the other pens, have their followers too. The later filling systems, squeeze and cartridge fillers, may attract some. The cartridges are becoming hard to find.

I suppose that those 65s and 75s whose plastic hasn’t shrunk so far are likely to remain stable. If that’s the case the 65s will go on forever, just needing the occasional sac replacement. So far as I know, the piston system of the 75 can’t be repaired but it doesn’t seem to need it, provided the barrel hasn’t shrunk. It doesn’t have a huge capacity of ink but being so easily filled that probably isn’t a serious failing.

The other calligraphic system, popular in its day, was a Mentmore product under the Platignum name. The screw fitting of the nibs to the section is different from that of the Osmiroid/Esterbrook. Those pens, or at least nibs, still have their users though nowhere near so many. The various Platignum models which accept them vary in quality though most are undeniably poor. The nibs lack the clean, sharp edges of the Osmiroid. Nonetheless, some splendid calligraphic work has been done with them.

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