My Nib Collection

Tortured Tines and Splattering Sacrifices for Pen Presentations

I want to know a great many things whenever I am looking to buy new calligraphy nibs. Unfortunately a beautifully lit macro photo of a nib with just the name will not give me answers. Just hints and my next google search term, which will most probably throw the same macro picture at me and call it a success.

collection

Disadvantages of Buying Nibs Online

The problem with being a pen experimenter with slight hoarding symptoms is that you’ll be done testing the go-to calligraphy nibs you see all over Instagram within a few weeks. That means the actual source of seeing pens in action goes missing really fast. As soon as we are talking vintage nibs (that are not legendary and thus unavailable generally) or just lesser known models we hit the limitations of the internet. All we get is a meagre macro image and maybe - if we are really lucky - a piece of gorgeous calligraphy.

You know what the problem of calligraphy is? You cannot tell how the nib has felt when it wrote those letters. Whenever I go to a store and look at nibs I will pick interesting looking ones up. I’ll turn them in my hand, check for weird curvatures, see the actual size. Then I will inspect the tines, take my thumb nail and put the tines to it as if my nail was the paper. Apply pressure to the nib. Then I know how flexible it feels. I can see how much the tines spread, what the actual range is.

All of the above is impossible when you are forced to buy nibs online, which is the case for most of us, because most stores will not carry the exact nibs we saw our calligraphy idols use on Instagram. Or because we already got all of the available ones and are looking for exciting new shapes and brands we haven’t heard of.

I hate the fact that most nibs don’t even have a description when I’m buying them. I get a general idea from the shape, it’s at least an indication, another hint. But that’s just not what I want.

And that’s why I decided to write this post. I tortured my nibs to prove my point that providing more information on how nibs behave is something more people should care about. More people should do.

So this is what I did for every single one of my nibs.

  1. I got the name down, the thing that is stamped on the nib itself.
  2. I checked how the nib felt, it is obviously opinionated, but gives you a general impression of how much pressure is required.
  3. I showed the flex range. Yes, I pushed those tines all the way (NEVER EVER DO THAT IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR NIBS) and killed one of my nibs in the process.
  4. I checked if the nib fits into the Tachikawa holder with the two plastic rings because those holders are pretty cool, they don’t rust (plastic is not indestructible though, I damaged my second holder in the process of this post).
  5. Checked if the nib fits into a classic straight holder with the metal insert or if a quill pen was needed. (Oblique flanges can be adjusted to fit pretty much any nib, so no comment on that in this post).
  6. Wrote my personal opinion down if I recommend it for beginners or not
  7. Got my general impression
  8. Added comments on the general behaviour.
  9. Wrote “hello” with each of the nibs so you can see what writing with it would look like.

I am pretty confident that this will give you a general impression of each of the 45 pointed pen nibs discussed in this post. I wish I got this full pressure part for every nib, because I hate getting new nibs and finding out they don’t have range at all and the results look almost monoline.

I hope you guys find this helpful and the murder and torture of my nibs was worth it.

The Nibs

Okay, if you don’t feel like scrolling, here the short list of nibs to look at.

My Beginner’s Recommendations

beginners left to right

  1. G Nib (Tachikawa, Zebra, Nikko)
  2. Hunt 22
  3. Brause Blue Pumpkin
  4. Hiro 41

My personal favorites

faves left to right

  1. John Mitchell’s 0138
  2. Gillott 303
  3. Hunt 22
  4. Leonardt Principal

All of them, in no particular order. Samples were written on a Rhodia Dot Pad (5mm grid) with black Kuretake Sumi Ink.

Nib Scans

Nib

. .
Name: C. Brandauer & Co. Birmingham No. 180
Source: Flea Market (send me a message if you want some, I have some left I don’t need).
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): M
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): no
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): negative
comment: Is hard to get started, stops for fine hairlines, tends to snag a bit.

Nib

. .
Name: H. Bunzel Prag Freiburg I/B No. 143 Regist
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: medium flexibility, flows nicely, still hardly ever reach for it.

Nib

. .
Name: E. W. Leo Nachf Plagwitz 236 (Rose Nib)
Source: Got this at a Flea Market, haven’t found it online
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): no
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: quite scratchy, will pick up fibres sometimes, not as flexible as the Brause Rose, but way less annoying.

Nib

. .
Name: F. Soennecken Bonn 075F
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): XL
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: I like the 075 nibs in general, it is quite a big nib, smooth and a very big flex range.

Nib

. .
Name: Baignol & Farjon No. 803
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): M
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: scratchy nib, beautiful hairlines, nice shades

Nib

. .
Name: Sommerville & Co FABon ANGLAISE PLUME GAULOISE No 750 EF DEPOSE
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: doesn’t start super easily (mine has been used with Iron Gall so it’s a bit corroded) but feels nice once it’s writing

Nib

. .
Name: Plume Chicago No 993
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): large
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): no
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: I love the fine point of this nib, like it.

Nib

. .
Name: Baignol & Farjon VELLEDACEMENTEE No. 2436 EF
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): large
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: Very smooth, very soft

Nib

. .
Name: Carl Kuhn & Co Wien No 516H
Source: Flea Market find again, haven’t found online yet.
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): M
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): n
holder (standard, quill pen): standard, small nib
beginners (yes, neutral, no): no
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: this is a small nib that can be fitted into a standard straight holder due to it’s curvature. Because it is made to write very fine, it snags easily

Nib

. .
Name: Esterbrook No. 354
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): brushlike
flex range (S, M, L, XL): M
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): no
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): negative
comment: I don’t like this one. It is tiny, and is extremely flexible. Me and that nib just gon’t get along.

Nib

. .
Name: Leonardt England 33
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): brushlike
flex range (S, M, L, XL): XL
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): no
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: A super flexible nib, I find it quite hard to control and hairlines rather thick, nice for larger letters

Nib

. .
Name: Leonardt England 40 (Steno)
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): M
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): no
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: I and this nib have a total love-hate relationship. Some days it blobs like crazy, some days I adore it.

Nib

. .
Name: Leonardt England IIIEF
Source: I got it online, but seems that all online stores have run out of it.
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): rigid
flex range (S, M, L, XL): S
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: It’s just a rigid nib. I’m not the biggest fan of those generally, but for its kind it’s a good one.

Nib

. .
Name: Leonardt England 30
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): S
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): no
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: on the more stiff side, my first pointed nib ever, likes to blob.

Nib

. .
Name: Leonardt Hiro England 41
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): M
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): yes
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: I like this one. It has a distinctive feel that I liked the minute I first used it.

Nib

. .
Name: Leonardt EF Principal
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): XL
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): favorite
comment: one of my favorites, sometimes picks up fibres from the paper but so nice.

Nib

. .
Name: Blanzy-France HENRY’S SUPERIEURE No. 605
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: Nice hairlines, smooth writer

Nib

. .
Name: Blanzy Poure & Cie. France No. 135
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): rigid
flex range (S, M, L, XL): M
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: pretty rigid, very nice hairlines

Nib

. .
Name: Blanzy Poure & Cie. (blue)
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): no
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: no number on there, looks and behaves similar to 075F nibs, a bit bigger though and a bit more rigid

Nib

. .
Name: Brause & Co. Iserlohn No 513
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): no
holder (standard, quill pen): quill pen
beginners (yes, neutral, no): no
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: this is a quill nib so very small, very fine lines, easy to snag.

Nib

. .
Name: Brause & Co Iserlohn No. 66 EF
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): XL
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard, small nib
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: this small nib is powerful

Nib

. .
Name: Brause & Co Iserlohn No. 67 EF
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: I killed this nib on full pressure, literally exploded, which was my fault I went to fast. It’s an awesome nib, I ordered backup for the broken one.

Nib

. .
Name: Brause & Co Iserlohn No. 76 (Rose Nib)
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): brushlike
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): no
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): negative
comment: We basically just hate each other. Splatters, hard to get started. Just a no from my side.

Nib

. .
Name: Brause & Co Iserlohn No. 361 (Steno, Blue Pumpkin)
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): M
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): yes
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: This is the unstressful version of the leonardt 40, a little less flexible, but a solid writer and a good choice for beginners.

Nib

. .
Name: Brause & Co Iserlohn No. 323 EF
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): Soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): M
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): no
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: quite a big nib with an open curve, sometimes hard to get into a holder, but very nice to use.

Nib

. .
Name: John Mitchell’s Improved 075
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: this is the fine point version of the 075. Not as flexible as the soennecken one, not as smooth.

Nib

. .
Name: John Mitchell’s Improved 075M
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): M
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: the medium point version of the 075. I like my hairlines, so this is not as nice as the fine point ones in my opinion.

Nib

. .
Name: John Mitchell’s 0286 (Rose Nib)
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): M
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: my third rose nib. All of the ones I tried are different. This one is smooth, I just wish it had more contrast.

Nib

. .
Name: John Mitchell’s Improved 0419
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: I was looking for a similar nib to my absolute favorite, the 0138, this is nice and smooth, but not as flexible.

Nib

. .
Name: John Mitchell’s 0138
Source: If you find it, let me know immediately!
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): brushlike
flex range (S, M, L, XL): XL
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): favorite
comment: My absolute favorite, impossible to find online. I got 5 on a flea market. Will probably cry when I killed all of them. Buttery smooth, beautiful flex. I love this one.

Nib

. .
Name: John Mitchell’s Celebrated G
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: A G nib, not the most exciting. The modern asian ones have finer points, I’d go with one of those.

Nib

. .
Name: Nikko G
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): yes
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: G nibs are not the coolest, but they work reliably and good for starters.

Nib

. .
Name: Zebra G
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): yes
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: This is one of the most popular G nibs, it’s nice and a bit softer than the nikko one.

Nib

. .
Name: Zebra G (Titanium, gold version)
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): yes
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: It costs more than the chorme plated one. I don’t feel a giant difference, it’s maybe a tad less flexible.

Nib

. .
Name: Tachikawa G
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): yes
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: This was the first G nib I tried and it’s probably my favorite of the Gs.

Nib

. .
Name: Tachikawa Maru
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): medium
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): quill pen
beginners (yes, neutral, no): no
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: it’s a quill pen, so super fine lines, tends to snag easily.

Nib

. .
Name: Tachikawa No. 600EF
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): rigid
flex range (S, M, L, XL): M
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): negative
comment: rigid af. I don’t like it.

Nib

. .
Name: Perry & Co. London No. 28 EF
Source: Got quite a few at a flea market. Online: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): XL
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: I like this one. Nice and flexible with a big range.

Nib

. .
Name: Perry & Co. London No. 7011 EF
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): brushlike
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: quite a big nib. Nice fine lines and very soft.

Nib

. .
Name: Hunt 512EF
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): rigid
flex range (S, M, L, XL): S
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): no
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): no
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): negative
comment: also very very rigid and annoying to put into holders for the curve it has.

Nib

. .
Name: Hunt 101
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): brushlike
flex range (S, M, L, XL): XL
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): no
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: I got this very early and had lots of problems because it’s a flexible nib and snags easily. But the lines are beautiful once you learn how to use it.

Nib

. .
Name: Hunt 99
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): brushlike
flex range (S, M, L, XL): XL
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): no
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): no
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): positive
comment: I love this one. It’s great, but has quite a flat curvature so a bit annoying to get into a holder, but sooo soft!

Nib

. .
Name: Hunt 22b
Source: Link, vintage version is niche too.
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): yes
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): favorite
comment: Also amongst the first nibs I ever tried. Super reliable, beautiful hairlines, nice shades, not too flexy, almost never snags. A great nib all over.

Nib

. .
Name: Gillott 404
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): soft
flex range (S, M, L, XL): L
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): yes
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): neutral
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): neutral
comment: A lot of people like it, a lot of people use it at the beginning. I don’t know, I never really warmed up to it, even though there is nothing wrong with it.

Nib

. .
Name: Gillott 303
Source: Link
flex feel (rigid, medium, soft, brushlike): brushlike
flex range (S, M, L, XL): XL
tachikawa holder fit (yes or no): no
holder (standard, quill pen): standard
beginners (yes, neutral, no): no
general opinion ( negative, neutral, positive, favorite): favorite
comment: This nib was my enemy when I first got it. Because it is so fine it snags and it is super flexible so pressure control is hard. It is my most used nib now, I just love the hairlines and shades.