Of all of the functional parts of a fountain pen one could say the nib is the most important one. Why – because it is the nib that touches the paper thus effecting the written product. We have many choices when it comes to nibs in both vintage and modern fountain pens. Nibs come in different shapes and sizes such as the hooded nib of the Parker 51 or the cylindrical shape of the Triumph nib produced by Sheaffer. The tip of the nib can range in size from extra fine to broad. This allows us the ability to put down lines of different thicknesses. Additionally there are choices of stub or calligraphy nibs and nibs for fountain pen aficionados that are left handed. Nibs come in a variety of different materials. Gold, perhaps the most popular choice, allows a bit of flexibility. Stainless steel is less expensive and more stiff than gold. There are also some nibs made of alloys. For example the Octanium nib found on the Parker 51 Special and Parker 21 was introduced to lower the overall cost of the pen. I have pens with all of these various nib materials and enjoy writing with each one. One thing I do not have much experience with is flexible nibs. Flexible nibs allow the user to vary line width as you write. Essentially the tines of the nib spread as you apply a bit of pressure. So, as you can see, nibs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials and flexibility. There is a very nice summary of how to choose a fountain pen nib on jetpens.com so please check it out.
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