The Selfit Nib

Paul L kindly informed me about this Selfit nib which appeared as a replacement in a much better pen. I’d never heard of Selfit but as ever Stephen Hull came through with the information in his The English Fountain Pen Industry 1875 – 1975. Turns out the nib started life in a Wyvern Selfit pen of 1935.

This peculiar nib is plated steel. What makes it such an oddity is the presence of two tabs and a cylindrical base. These surround the feed and hold it in place. The feed (I assume it is original) is a very primitive thing for 1935, by which time feeds had come a long way.

Wyvern had been around for a long time by 1935 and was highly experienced in pen making. Why did they turn out such a crude nib for the Selfit pen? Did the pen require these unusual devices to hold nib and feed together because of poor tolerances? Was it just an experiment towards a new style of nib? How effective was it in delivering ink in its original pen? I have plenty of questions but no answers.

Though I can’t remember which pen it was I have seen a nib with tabs before, but never the cylindrical part. Considering that almost every other manufacturer managed perfectly well keeping everything together by the pressure of the nib and feed wedged into the section, where was the necessity for such a design? A patent might give us some answers.

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10 thoughts on “The Selfit Nib

  1. an interesting nib Deborah. Sheaffer had a longish history of nibs with cylindrical rear end designs starting with their 1940s Lifetime models and coming right through to Snorkels and Imperials.
    Waterman’s original 1950s CF has a cleated nib, though you can’t see this feature, unless you happen to break the forward end of the section!
    I’ve a really small Japanese Pilot f.p. which has a substantial cleat either side of the nib, which you can see as it’s an exposed open nib.
    But I’m sure I’ve another in mind, though don’t recall just now.

    I’d agree though, why should Wyvern turn out a crude nib when they were generally a quality maker.

  2. P.S. Just noticed that my Wyvern 303 has type of cleated nib. The pen has its original nib with logo, and where the sides of the nib recede back toward the section, so they curve down and appear to meet under the feed – the shape is attractive as the curve forms gently over a centimetre or so. Without removing the nib I don’t know if eventually it forms a closed circle around the rear end of the feed – am disinclined to remove it just now. This particular nib is slim/thin when compared to the size of an average open nib.

  3. Hi Deb
    The Selfit was part of the Orium range the cheeper end of Wyvern production. I believe this pen which is a button filler had screw in feed.I have a Selfit which has a patent no on the barrel 420064-418734. I have not researched these patents perhaps this should be my next job.
    Regards Alan

    1. Many historical patents are a doddle to research freely online, using Espacenet. No need to visit Kew, though I don’t think they hold full patent records either.

      Of the two numbers you mention, at a quick glance the first relates to the basic Selfit nib design (Mark Finburgh), the second relates to the threaded portion of the nib that can be seen in the top picture (David Finburgh), both dating to 1934. You are welcome to the pdfs of the original patents, you can contact me via the e-mail address on the englishpenbooks website if you would like me to send them over.

  4. relevant patent information will be available almost certainly at The National Archives, Kew (west London) – just enrol for a readers ticket . Wonderful source of data regarding Registration Nos. and Patents – though of course it helps if you live reasonably near.

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