Back in the long, long ago, when there was an Edward on the throne and you filled your brand-new, high tech fountain pen with an eyedropper, buyers were often quite fussy about the nib that they wanted in their new pen. Mabie Todd, like other manufacturers, wanted to be sure they were satisfying their customers’ needs, so they requested that they send in the dip nib that best suited their hand. This enabled Mabie Todd to choose the correct gold nib from their wide selection. Perhaps they adjusted the nib to further suit their customer but I don’t know that.
That this worked as well as it did was due to the almost unlimited range of dip nibs that had been made over the years. There was such a refinement of choice that every writer had the dip nib that suited him or her perfectly. Of course many writers just used the nib that their company ordered and weren’t too particular about it, but those who wanted Mabie Todd or other companies to supply them with the exact nib of their choice were those who knew exactly which dip nib suited them.
Oh happy days! Now most pen manufacturers offer three choices of nib. For some it is fine, medium and broad but others offer EF, F and medium. In any case the choices are very limited today. That’s a pity because the full range of dip nibs is still around today and a person can find what exactly suits them there but the fountain pen nib equivalent almost certainly does not exist. When I found that I could write with a dip pen – much to my surprise – I tried many different nibs. I had a good selection that I had almost accidentally built up over years and I was given a varied lot of nibs (thank you, Rob Parsons!) and though I could write adequately with many, the one that really flattered my hand is the Esterbrook Relief. It should be straightforward to transfer that to the fountain pen as Esterbrook made such a Relief nib. Problem solved!
Except it isn’t. Esterbrook’s fountain pen Relief nib isn’t at all like the dip nib. I also tried the oblique nib for the Osmiroid and it isn’t bad but it’s not quite right. The annoying thing is that I have had oblique Swan nibs in the past and I believe that they were perfect, but in the belief that there would always be another one coming along I sold them. Of course I haven’t seen one in ages!
It would be nice if I could send an Esterbrook Relief dip nib to Pilot as an example of the nib I want but that was a different time, a time when manufacturers were prepared to offer true service to their customers. Now it’s take it or leave it.
I could, of course, send an appropriate Swan nib to a nibmeister and he/she would grind it into the nib that I want. But that’s a very expensive way of going about it. With very great care I could probably make the grind myself but I am against altering vintage nibs. They’re not making them anymore. Best to leave them alone.
I suppose I’ll just have to wait until I get lucky and a sharp oblique Swan nib happens along.