Some More Nibs

Upper Left Swan Minor No 1

Upper Right Swan Safety Cap No 2

Lower Left Swan 3130

Lower Right Swan 3120

There’s a close resemblance between the 3120 and the 3130, especially when you allow for considerable straightening work on the 3130.  That said, the application of the tipping material is different on them all.  This may be down to the fact that different operatives had their own signature style, perhaps.  Once the tipping is affixed the tips are ground to the required shape.  Maybe it’s me but I think there is beauty in these nib tips.


7 thoughts on “Some More Nibs

    1. That’s an interesting article. Of course the fact that much vintage tipping and almost all modern tipping is not iridium is old news that has been discussed and verified many times. Almost everyone knows that we talk of “iridium tipping” as a verbal shorthand, like “Hoover” for a vacuum cleaner. What took my interest is the mention of tipping corrosion which I have seen myself (on a couple of Conway Stewarts) and as yet have seen no detailed explanation for it. Yes, it’s corrosion but what corroded it?

  1. Deb, having seen many docos about the fate of the Titanic, one thing ‘they’ constantly bring up is that the quality of steel in the day was not what it is today , and that …’inclusions / impurities’ would have rendered the material subject to forces that ‘better’ steel might have resisted.

    Perhaps there were inclusions in some vintage iridium that were not resistant to the various inks of the day, or even inks in general ?
    I’m no metallurgy expert, but I’ve seen ‘corrosion’ like that on nibs I have ,so it’s relatively common.

    Some of Mr Minuskin’s close up pics of nibs show identical surfaces.
    His excellent re-tips definitely don’t, although he probably doesn’t use actual iridium !

    1. Yes, it must be fairly common. Inclusions must almost certainly be the answer but what are these inclusions and what is the agent of their corrosion? This gets a little difficult. At the temperatures that platinum-group metals melt, any inclusions will be totally subsumed within the tipping as an alloy, not left as particles which can be corroded separately from the ruthenium or whatever the tipping material may be. Or so I have read. I’m not a metallurgist though I sometimes play one on the Web.

  2. Hi Deb,

    interesting post once more…
    One interesting thing about Swan tippings is that the hard alloy (“iridium”) is often appiyed like a cap over the gold point.
    This way when a nib has to be adjusted / rebent close to the tipping it is less prone to loose it.
    Is this a common experience, or was it just good luck so far?


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