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Thread: STEEL NIBS

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    Junior Member The Kalendar Prince's Avatar
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    Default STEEL NIBS

    A member here recommended that steel nibs should be given a try-out. A couple of questions this raises.

    1. Are there steel nibs to go for and steel nibs to avoid.
    2. Are the chances of a steel nib being bad any less than a gold nib being bad.

    What is wisdom of the crowd with regard to a good example of a steel nib. On the internet I can see that steel nibs can be acquired independently of a pen body. Is this recommended? Are steel nibs made by pen company or sourced from a central location or distributor?
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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    Quote Originally Posted by The Kalendar Prince View Post
    A member here recommended that steel nibs should be given a try-out. A couple of questions this raises.

    1. Are there steel nibs to go for and steel nibs to avoid.
    2. Are the chances of a steel nib being bad any less than a gold nib being bad.

    What is wisdom of the crowd with regard to a good example of a steel nib. On the internet I can see that steel nibs can be acquired independently of a pen body. Is this recommended? Are steel nibs made by pen company or sourced from a central location or distributor?
    1. Steel nibs that may disappoint are vintage steel nibs (e.g., Esterbrook or Wearever) when compared with modern steel nibs (e.g. Bock or Jowo).
    2. Vintage steel is more prone to corrode than gold; not so with modern steel nibs.
    A good example was the last steel nib I had, a Bock F nib that came from Conid with their logo inscription. It was as good as any gold nib with the same attributes. Mind you, I'm sure Conid applied their quality control before installing it in their pen.

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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    There are many blogs/posts on the differences between steel and gold fountain pen nibs. You will find a great selection by doing a Google search as that will give you results wherever you are in the world. Here's one

    It's usually a matter of personal taste. The chances of any nib not being perfect when supplied are no different whether they are gold or steel nibs.

    Most steel fountain pen nibs are not specific to the fountain pen manufacturer but are made out of house either by Bock or JoWo. They are both very good nibs. I've never had a problem with Jinhao nibs either.

    However, I simply prefer the feel and the feedback sound from gold nibs. If you use archival ink or Iron Gall ink you should be aware that while gold nibs will be impervious to the components in there some steel nibs will be marked and even pitted by those inks.
    Last edited by Chrissy; November 15th, 2022 at 06:11 AM.
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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    Quote Originally Posted by The Kalendar Prince View Post
    A member here recommended that steel nibs should be given a try-out. A couple of questions this raises.

    1. Are there steel nibs to go for and steel nibs to avoid.
    2. Are the chances of a steel nib being bad any less than a gold nib being bad.

    What is wisdom of the crowd with regard to a good example of a steel nib. On the internet I can see that steel nibs can be acquired independently of a pen body. Is this recommended? Are steel nibs made by pen company or sourced from a central location or distributor?
    If you have a spare $15-$20, order a Jinhao 100 in the acrylic finish of your choice. Three weeks later (if you order from China) you will have a beautiful pen in the style of a Parker Duofold and you can try a high-quality entry-level Jinhao nib. I recommend what they call "medium," although it writes like a western fine.

    Again, if you are in the US, you can order spare #6 steel JOWO nibs from Goulet Pens or Edison Pens. Fountain Pen Revolution also sells spare #6 nibs (as does Noodlers), but I do not prefer those.

    Your results may vary, of course.

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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    Thus far limited in inks to black and blue by Sheaffer. These suffice for daily needs.

    If there is no weight of observation to show that steel may be preferable to gold, or the other way round, and price is not an appreciable issue, then perhaps there is not a need to try steel nib after all. That is reasoning based on replies and current status. Thank you for the explanations.
    Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion. Bewilderment brings intuitive knowledge.

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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    If you have gold, you like writing with your gold nibs, and price is not an appreciable issue then there may be no need to try steel nibs. Unless you want to try a nib with a different tip width and maybe want to try it out in steel first to see if you like the difference.
    Last edited by Chrissy; November 16th, 2022 at 06:16 AM.
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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    There is no need to try fountain pens at all.

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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    Quote Originally Posted by TSherbs View Post
    There is no need to try fountain pens at all.
    True enough. I sometimes regret having ever done so LOL But I suspect would have spent the money elsewhere anyway.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    I've had a fair few steel nib pens that I've enjoyed a lot. I'm not a big time Safari guy but do appreciate them as good pens. A Pelikan M205 was my main pen for a while. One of my first "good" pens was a Sheaffer Prelude. Right now I have the(somewhat maligned) modern Parker 51 in steel inked and I like it, although I like my gold nibbed one a bit better. With that said, the VAST majority of my pens are gold nibbed.

    Earlier this year, I ordered an Edison Herald Grand. I didn't exactly go cheap on it, as I bought it with the draw filler. Edison uses Jowo-sourced nibs, and I figured I'd give their steel nibs a try since Brian does adjust them to the buyer's request and ink tests them. I hedged my bets, though, and also bought an EF Edison 14K flex nib(also Jowo).

    The steel I bought was a BB adjusted on the wetter side and with a slight amount of feedback. I requested the exact same adjustment on the flex nib.

    The pen arrived and Brian had forgotten to pack the flex nib(he had one in the mail to me the next day) so I used the pen for a couple of days with the steel nib. Objectively it was a great nib. Subjectively it was just...meh. I can't pinpoint what exactly about it I didn't like. I certainly have stiff gold nibs(including a couple of Wahl Manifold nibs that are around a #6 size) although the Jowo #6 steel is VERY stiff. Most of my other #6 size steel nibs have been Indian-made flex nibs, which do need a heavy hand to flex but do have some perceptible bounce. Perhaps part of it too is that I prefer a big of stub character in point sizes that large. Still, though, there's something I can quite pinpoint that's not there and is there even in stiff gold. Perhaps I'm imagining it, but literally within 15 minutes of the flex nib I ordered with that pen coming in the mail, it went into the pen and it has stayed on the pen(and the pen has been inked quite a bit).

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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    I've heard all the commercials/comments about steel nibs and how they can be just as good as AU. Well, not for me. I've used multiple dozens of steel nibs through the years and nothing IMHO touches a real gold nib.... for my tastes anyways.

    Dave

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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    I have some quite nice Bock steel nibs, including on my Kaweco pens. And yes my Conid nib is really nice. If the nib is adjusted and broken in, I think it can be as good as anything. I notice the difference with Gold nibs mostly when I am using vintage gold nibs, because I love old flexible nibs. Some of my modern gold nibs are just as "boring" as my steel nibs. (This might be because I perceive modern nibs as being delivered with really close tines, making the ink flow pretty dry, and then I need to get them adjusted to be wetter, but that reflects my personal preference.)
    I also have a totally unscientific preference for Bock of Jowo . . . (nobody's perfect)
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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    Quote Originally Posted by Marsilius View Post
    I also have a totally unscientific preference for Bock of Jowo . . . (nobody's perfect)
    I've always wondered if there is anything specific that makes Bock steel nibs better or worse than Jowo? Does it always come down to only personal preference?
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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    Gold Vs steel nib is always a debate. If someone has not used a gold but a steel nib and as the other way around a person who has not used a steel sees no difference if you use both at the same time.
    I am not talking about Chinese steel nibs but good German steel nibs such as Jowo/ Limousine/ and other nibs from German supplier for the nib market.

    There are great steel nibs in the low range. As an Ex....one of my favourites pen /nibs is PELIKAN 200 EF STEEL NIB. I Have many Jowo. I like Noodlers Steel nibs. I like Indian "Fountain pen Revolution series Steel nibs" . They have many characters for many ways of writing types. I have many Pilot and sailor Gold nibs" and they have a good mono-line writing charters. If they have the same nails like nibs in Sharpe tines and on steel they definitely give the same type of experience.

    The flexibility and softness suppleness is another aspect of writing and (some( not all ) contemporary gold nibs have those characters and has a promise of the durability in their use.... , to my knowledge. I am sure many find the gold nibs complement those slight softness to writing.
    Many generic Steel Nibs come from the same German supply chain I hear . JoWo , Bock , Knox, Limisin, Schmidt, are all have the same quality.
    But I must add ' VINTAGE GOLD NIBS ARE NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS DEBATE. They are completely in another level of Dimensions of writing .
    Last edited by Cyril; December 10th, 2022 at 10:16 AM.

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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    Searching online reveals a business in Spain where nibs are re-cut to preference no matter if gold or steel. Can not find comparable businesses in other countries. Are there any? Perhaps with zero online footprint? It is of interest when lot of modern pen companies do not offer many variations in nib cut.
    Last edited by The Kalendar Prince; December 12th, 2022 at 02:28 AM. Reason: replace of word
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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Gold Vs steel
    But I must add ' VINTAGE GOLD NIBS ARE NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS DEBATE. They are completely in another level of Dimensions of writing .
    Agreed 100%!

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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    I have both gold (14 and 18 carat) and steel (or octanium) and honestly, for me it’s more about how the nib behaves than the alloy that it is comprised of. I like different nibs for different papers and inks. The nibs that feels bad on linen finish might do well with smooth paper. If the nib is too wet a writer for the ink, I note it and fill with a drier ink next go around. I don’t think I have any Jowo or Bock nibs in my arsenal, so I can’t really comment on those. I also don’t have any 21k Sailors, but I did try a Naginata Togi once and am seriously considering buying one next year.

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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    One of my favorite steel nibs is the one found on the Platinum 3776 Balance PTB-5000B. I bought one with an F nib second hand, not aware of the model and not looking closely at the nib markings, mistakenly thinking I had found a great price on a gold-nibbed 3776. So I was disappointed to discover my mistake when it arrived. But, as soon as I started writing with it, my disappointment went away.

    It looks to be an identical design as the gold 3776 nib. It has a different 'feel' than the gold 3776 and I couldn't say if it is 'objectively' better or worse. I do prefer the gold version but I wouldn't hesitate to buy another steel version (at a good price).

    No longer a current production model, I don't think.
    Last edited by PithyProlix; January 1st, 2023 at 08:38 PM.
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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    I have several steel nibs that were tuned by the seller and they are the best steel nibs I have.

    The nibs are hard, so there's not a lot of line variation. In my experience, there is not so much difference between most modern 14K nibs and steel nibs.

    If you want flexible nibs - I find that I usually get it more with 18K nibs (but not all) as the softer metal is more pliable. Vintage 14K nibs tend to give me the same flex that I get with 18K nibs today.

    It varies across the brands, and there are some flexible steel nibs coming out in fountain pens today, that weremn't around 5 years ago.

    Steel nibs make perfectly respectable writing tools - Faber Castell, Italix (if they are still going), Cross and Diplomat offer wonderful (hard) steel nibbed writers from £25-£100 that will last a lifetime.

    Once you get past the £150 price you get a choice - pretty resin materials such as the Van Gough with a steel nib, or a fairly restrained design with a gold nib - such as the Platinum 3776 or Pilot Falcon.

    You pay your money and make your choice. I have not been disappointed by my Visconti Van Goghs - they cost £170ish and came with steel nibs that were tuned by the seller. However, the £200 Pilot Falcon gave me a gold nib that was something else entirely. A new pen with a nib that came with vintage springiness? Wonderful.

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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    Quote Originally Posted by The Kalendar Prince View Post
    A member here recommended that steel nibs should be given a try-out. A couple of questions this raises.

    1. Are there steel nibs to go for and steel nibs to avoid.
    2. Are the chances of a steel nib being bad any less than a gold nib being bad.

    What is wisdom of the crowd with regard to a good example of a steel nib. On the internet I can see that steel nibs can be acquired independently of a pen body. Is this recommended? Are steel nibs made by pen company or sourced from a central location or distributor?
    I've been pondering this thread since you first posted it, but haven't really formulated an answer. A lot of that is my opinion of various nibs.

    I'll answer your questions first (even though some already have been).

    Steel nibs to go for and/or avoid - If they're not stainless, they're going to rust. That's probably the only rule of thumb. Everything else is personal preference.

    "Bad" nibs (regardless of material). Depends on what's "bad", I suppose. As far as manufacturing quality, that the slit is centered and the tipping is decent is probably the baseline, and there are badly made nibs in steel and gold. Most everything else is subjective or dependent on something else.

    What's a "good" steel nib? One that writes, I suppose. Pilot Varsities are stamped steel nibs, and they work just fine. Everybody makes good steel nibs as far as function.

    Nibs being acquired independently. Most nibs (steel or gold) are made by the big producers. Bock, Jowo and Schmidt are the big German companies. Pilot, Platinum and Sailor are the Japanese. I don't know who makes the Chinese nibs, how many companies there are, etc... German nibs are easy to get online. Japanese and Chinese, not so much.

    So there's the basic facts, but there's a lot more. Biggest thing is that nibs vary widely. It's just a matter of determining what you like and what you don't.

    I like gold nibs, and honestly I can't justify it in any objective manner. Maybe it just makes me think the pen is a little more special. I dunno. I have pens with steel nibs that write just as well. I've been playing with Kaweco Dia II's recently, swapping between various size and shaped nibs in both gold and steel. There's not a lot of difference in how they feel or write, to be honest.

    I've got two hard as nails nibs. I've written with a 16p nail to do some quick math, so I literally mean nail. One is a Sailor 1911L with a 21k F/M. It's hard. It has zero give, bounce, and forget about flex. I like it, its pencil-like feedback, and its precision. The nib in a Faber Castell Ondoro is steel, and feels much the same.

    I've got flexy nibs. An old Omas Extra Lucens that redefined "flex" and "wet noodle" for me. I've got some old wartime Kaweco Sports with steel nibs that are almost as flexy. They're fun to play with on occasion, but I don't really like writing with them. I haven't developed the hand control required. Maybe someday...

    Playing with those Dia II's led to playing with a Visconti Classic I have. It has a Schmidt "Iridium Point Germany" steel nib that's perfectly serviceable and has been used for years. I just discovered that a Bock 180 fits the existing feed, and I like the way it looks better than the nib that came in the pen. I ordered a couple that aren't gold plated, just so it'll match the trim of the pen. I also found some Visconti factory steel nibs in a #5 size that I think will fit too. We'll see when they get here.

    I suppose my point to all that is: the fun for me is playing with the nibs. That's what makes them fountain pens, after all. This forum can be a little slow, but there's a wealth of collaborative resources here. If you're interested in playing with nibs, German made are more conducive to that. If you need sources or have something specific in mind (now or in the future), don't hesitate to ask. Maybe we'll learn something from your experiments.


    Here's what I've got:

    ViscontiClassicNibs - 1.jpeg

    Here's what I've got coming. I may order a 14k nib too.

    B54D6E4C-57EC-48F5-B161-0DFEFC970159_aa0cc785-7072-45e3-9053-8ad8d3ef562e_1080x.jpg
    bock-nib-with-bock-housing-5-polished-steel-extra-fine_T_1_D_416_I_273_G_0_V_2.JPG

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    Default Re: STEEL NIBS

    Even so. With price not being a factor, I arrive to the following conclusions:

    1. There is no significant intrinsic material-based differences between steel and gold nibs on a like for like basis to suggest one or the other as better choice.
    2. A particular pen may only be available with a steel nib, removing the choice at purchase even if the nib could be exchanged later.

    I did not reveal before that only modern pens are considered in this. Vintage has no interest to me.

    Once again many thanks for those whose generosity provided information for my consideration.
    Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion. Bewilderment brings intuitive knowledge.

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