Season’s Greetings

I do hope you all had a happy and safe Christmas despite the Omicron pestilence stalking the land. It was just us two and phone conversations with my mother in Pennsylvania and Gordon’s daughter in Cumbria.

I didn’t buy pens over the Christmas period as they would just get hung up in the madness of the Christmas mail but I’ll be hunting down Swans and Blackbirds come the New Year. I’ll also have some restored pens to upload to the sales website in the New Year.

This week I’ve been making use of my own pens, catching up on correspondence and just generally enjoying them. Best of course are my vintage pens of all brands and dates. I have two moderately expensive modern pens, a Waterman Carene and a Platinum 3776 Century. Both are good pens which work well with great ink delivery – no hard starting or skipping but both are too smooth and slippery for my taste. A little nib work is in their future. Some careful, gentle work with Micro Mesh will improve them to the pencil-like feedback I prefer.

I have several Sailors, Platinums and Pilots from the later decades of the twentieth century. The Japanese pen makers of those years understood that over-slippery nibs made for hard work. All of those pens that I have captured from that country and time write just the way I like.

I realise it’s just a matter of preference and choice but we are provided with so many pens, vintage and modern, that suit our hand so well, whatever our nib preference. And even those of us who hesitate to broach nib-work ourselves can find nib-meisters who can change a nib to suit exactly our requirements. I suspect that in previous decades people bought a pen with the nib of their choice – fine, medium, broad, stub or oblique – and just got on with it. Does that mean we are spoiled and pampered? I don’t think so. I think we’re lucky to live in a time when a nib can be customised to our requirements.


9 thoughts on “Season’s Greetings

  1. Merry Christmas to you, Deb. I look forward to more of your posts in ’22, which will see one or two of my own pens becoming centenarians. Our problems today must include the near disappearance of physical pen shops (at least in Oz) and the very limited range of nibs available. But there’s always my Osmiroid 65, still going strong for more than 50 years. It’s hard to believe that an un-tipped steel nib can perform so smoothly and reliably.

    1. The Osmiroid was great pen for school learners and the 65s and 75s have mostly lasted well. I would have to travel nearly 700 miles to get to a brick and mortar pen shop. Not so many nibs indeed, in modern pens, though the Japanese pens often have more options.

  2. Hi,

    there are so many variants when it comes to Swan nibs…, even exotic’s like a right food oblique xf.
    I wonder if some of them were costom made (bespoke) ones. Today it is hard to believe going into a shop and choosing your nib out of 30 variants.

    Just before christmas a Swan 1500 Manifold arrived from GB, took two weeks incl. customs delay.
    That’s ok.

    My best wishes to You and Eachan

    1. Hello Jens,
      I have (somewhere) or have been shown a list of all the nibs available for Swan pens and it included absolutely every possibility. You’re lucky to get four choices today.

      A manifold in a 1500? I would say that’s rather early for a manifold. Do you think it is a replacement?

      1. Hi again,

        my pen is a Mabie Todd & Co LTD, so made after 1914.
        It has no imprint on the barrel like 1513 but the word MANIFOLD instead.
        The nib is a hard eef like we would expect.

        Your list is highly interesting, if you find it, it would be great to see it here on your blog…


  3. I would submit that we are a lucky breed. Since (re)discovering fountain pens some seven years ago I have tried (most types of) nibs and points (ahem), both modern and (thanks to the author of this blog) vintage.

    The pen/nib that’s “right for me” has continued to evolve over that period. As I worked on improving my handwriting, I gyrated to ever finer nibs, and I noticed that I became much more sensitive to the smoothness of the tipping, the flow of the nib and the ink, and the texture of the paper. With numerous pens, inks, and paper types in my possession, the amount of potential combinations is very large. And the urge remains to continue searching for the “perfect” combination. Indeed in practicing with those pens/inks/papers, I gradually become aware of details that in the past would have escaped me. A very enjoyable process that former generations mostly could not afford, I suppose. So… I do consider myself a bit spoiled.

    Best wishes to all in the handwriting community.


    Hans Gilliams


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