Changing Preferences

I stole this subject from Fountain Pen Geeks. I think the original question was “How have your preferences changed?” My starting point as an adult was not chosen. I was made a gift of a Sheaffer Targa which had a firm medium nib. I used it for a few years and it was a great pen. Then I picked up an Onoto with a very flexible stub. That was the pen of choice for ages though I acquired lots of other pens both vintage and new. There’s so much on offer and every pen is different so it takes quite a while to work out what one’s preferences actually are.

I stuck with flex for quite a while though I began to realise that it slowed me down. It also covered a lot of sloppy handwriting. Eventually I went the other way and for years I only used firm fine or EF. That’s a configuration I still like.

Paper began to drive my choice of nib. I like paper with some texture – in fact I can’t abide absolutely smooth papers like Clairefontaine Triomphe. However the more textured papers don’t work well with fine nibs. I began using mediums more for correspondence though I stick with fine firms for drafts and note-taking. That allows me to use some of my older Conway Stewarts and my Osmia 223 which even has a little flex.

While I will never be a calligrapher I do enjoy playing with handwriting. For years I has eschewed the dip pen after early bad experiences with it. In the last few months I have tried again, initially with an Esterbrook Relief nib: no flex but lots of stub character. Since then I’ve tried other nibs. At the moment my dip nib of choice is the M Myers and Son Round Writer, a stub with lots of easy flex.

All that has developed over thirty-odd years. Some people may work towards that one pen or group of pens that become their lifetime choice. I think that I find something I like, stay with that for a few years then move on to something else and I probably always will. There will never be a lasting end point for me. A new thing will always come along and rock my boat now and again. And that’s a good thing!

9 thoughts on “Changing Preferences

  1. Thank you for such a wonderful post. I have used, and have been a fan of, Broad nibs for quite some time. But, recently, maybe in the last couple of months, I have begun using more Medium nibs. I am born with this quality of a doctor’s handwriting. Still, the handwriting is in the readable category. (No offense, dear doctors.) I was under an impression that Broad nib writers might conceal my bad handwriting and make it look presentable. But, I was wrong. Now my handwriting looks (a lot) less cluttered. Meanwhile, I’ve also had the privilege of experimenting with flexes and oblique nibs. But I reserve those for leisurely writing. I agree with you; there might just never be a “lasting end point” in my case, too.

    1. Thank you, Suyog. I’m sure you are improving your “doctor’s handwriting” with practice. Mine used to be totally, absolutely dreadful. Now it’s only dreadful.

      1. Yes 🙌 it has become just a little bit more readable. I think I’ll stick with Mediums for a bit longer… just the sweet spot I need, as of now, between the Fine and Broad worlds!

  2. Very interesting read. I started with F and EF nibs primarily to counter the effects of cheap paper. Now I make use of medium and broad nibs exclusively. These nibs force me to slow down while writing effecting better scribble. I’ve developed an interest in Osmiroid nibs that screw into vintage Esterbrook. May favorite nib for some time is the Pilot CM for daily use. I can play with the handwriting or simply enjoy the style.

      1. Very good question. I was skeptical but reviews convinced me to give it a go. The nib writes similar to an Osmiroid, yet surprisingly it glides across paper. It writes best on smooth paper. It is 1mm wide at the tip and the corners are rounded enough they don’t scratch. The feed side is polished and rounded. I enjoy the variety it gives the letters without have to press the nib for flexibility. Very little pressure starts the ink flowing.

  3. Thanks for a very good post. Under your tutelage I have gradually weaned myself from dreaming about super-flex. I have learnt that I can write well with a firm nib. At the moment I am becoming familiar with a Conway Stewart DURO nib, and can see why it has been so popular.

  4. Any skill, including handwriting, is subject to continuous improvement. Salvador Dalì is supposed to have said (in Spanish of course) “do not be afraid of perfection, you will never reach it”. I have been trying to improve my handwriting for a few years now, and in the process have discovered that certain pens no longer fit my hand (or my writing style), and that others (which I had put away as unpleasant or unusable) turn out to be fine writers. I do hope and expect that, as long as I continue to practice, there will be no lasting end point for me, either. >

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