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Thread: Why do nib sizes matter?

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    Junior Member Hernan Cortes's Avatar
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    Default Why do nib sizes matter?

    Hello all.
    I have been ordering some FPs lately and a question about the the size of the nib often came up when I was researching FPs in webshops. Why does the size of the nib matter? I gather that it will affect the writting, but will the size of the nib affect the durability or reliability of the FP? I understand im asking a really basic question so please appreciate the fact that im a begginer in FPs.

    Thank you,
    HC.

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    Default Re: Why do nib sizes matter?

    When you say size of the nib, do you mean the nib itself (#5, #6, #8, etc.) or the width grade (EF, F, M, etc.)?

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    Default Re: Why do nib sizes matter?

    I mean both the nib itself and width grade.

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    Default Re: Why do nib sizes matter?

    The point size (EF/F/M/B/BB) and the grind determine the line width and shape, so that is a key criteria.

    The size of the nib (5/6/7/8) impacts the price, as larger nibs will require more metal. Larger nibs also, especially in materials like gold, palladium or titanium, will be much springier, and have a very different feel on the page. Some people like this, others prefer a more rigid nib.

    In terms of durability, almost all nibs are tipped, and that tipping material will wear at the same rate, irrepsective of the size of the nib; and that rate is very slowly. Obviously, larger nibs, or nibs with larger points, will have more tipping, but you are unlikely to have to worry about wearing out tipping in your lifetime.

    Reliability? Modern nibs are always something of a gamble. Most will write well out of the box, but you do hear stories of people finding QC issues with nibs. You can always opt to purchase from reatilers that either test, or even tune, nibs before they ship.
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    Default Re: Why do nib sizes matter?

    Wow. Silverlifter just said everything I would have, and very well. I'll just add one tiny thing:

    Some people are very particular about the physical size of the nib (#6, for instance) because they want it to be in proportion to the pen, visually. A very small pen with a corresponding small nib makes perfect aesthetic sense, but a small nib in a large pen can look comical, and does not balance the overall picture. In this sense, the size is strictly a matter of taste, but on balance I think most people prefer the nib to be in good proportion to the pen itself. Minor point.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Default Re: Why do nib sizes matter?

    The configuration of the tip of the nib, as to width (EF,F,M,B) refers to the width of the stroke and the amount of ink deposited per linear measurement.



    It make sense to choose a width that corresponds to the way you write. If you cover a page with bold slashes on widely-spaced lines, or want a pen that produces a bold signature, then a Broad nib is your ticket. I don't own any, but this was written with a fat medium nib that lays down quite a lot of ink.



    Here, for comparison, is a piece from a fine nib.



    Another aspect is the flex. Under pressure, a flex nib leaves a broader line (since the ink goove opens up). Here's a flex nib from my box of scraps that I put on an old Moore pen that had a broken point. if you like writing with the vertical strokes broader than the horizontal, a flex nib might be the ticket.



    Another parameter is the shape of the tip. A rounded nib will produce an even stroke and write smoothly. A sharply angled nib (stub, italic) will yield a broader stroke on the pull and a narrow one going sideways, rather like a flex nib but less fluent. Here's some calligraphic lettering with an italic nib.



    If you have the chance, go to a pen shop and try various sortsó that's the quickest way to decide what will suit you.

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    Default Re: Why do nib sizes matter?

    In addition to the points made, some pens have interchangable nibs.

    That means you can change the nib should it get damaged, or if you want to write using a different width.

    The width of the nib - well it depends upon what you are doing.

    If you want to write a birthday greeting, you might want to use the widest nib.

    If you are writing a postcard you might want to use a smaller one.

    Other nibs, such as italics, music and stubs allow the writer to create different caligraphic effects.

    The size tells you which pens it will fit.
    The width tells you how wide the writing will be.
    The style tells you what "fonts" you can create with it.

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    Default Re: Why do nib sizes matter?

    The important part of the nib is the tipping material, the only part involved in laying ink on the page. The gold above it, with its slit, assists in getting ink to the business end but otherwise it's really just an advertising space and, with modern pens, somewhere to inscribe a few curlicues. The size of the nib, from the small 1 to the large 8 is largely irrelevant in the writing process. I find very large nibs awkward as they force my hand to an uncomfortable angle.

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    Default Re: Why do nib sizes matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by eachan View Post
    The important part of the nib is the tipping material, the only part involved in laying ink on the page.
    An oft-heard claim is that a nib has an iridium tip. According to reliable sources, that's mostly innacurate and in any event, a thing of the past. Here are a couple links to discussions.

    https://www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-wr...-about-iridium

    https://www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/wheres-iridium

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    Default Re: Why do nib sizes matter?

    Thank you all for your answers, this was a masterclass on nibs. Good night.

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    Default Re: Why do nib sizes matter?

    There is one final factor that I haven't seen mentioned yet. The over all size of the nib, in particular, its length, determines the distance between the section and the paper (assuming the nib is not hooded). This actually can be a factor in whether the pen is comfortable to write with or awkward, whether you hold the pen back on the threads, which can be uncomfortable or on the section as intended. If you have larger hands, a larger nib can mean the difference between gripping the pen where the design of the pen intends, or further up the section or even on the barrel.

    It can also make it easier (or harder) to put the nib at the ideal angle to the page. Granted, this is a fairly individual thing, and varies not just from pen to pen, but person to person. It is also not universally a factor as some pen designs compensate by giving you a longer section.
    "The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here..." -- Abraham Lincoln, 1863

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