Monday, February 14, 2011

The Majesty of the Italic Nib

I imagine this was a reasonably cheap pen, because
of the simplicity of its design, but the value of the basement-found
pen is ridiculous!
To the best of my knowledge, this Sheaffer fountain pen is just a generic pen. There is nothing special about the body of the pen or the clip or the weight balance or even the nib.  Basically, this pen is about as normal as can be.  The one difference that this pen has from any of the other pens that I own is that it has an italic nib. The difference that the nib makes in my writing is unbelievable.

What makes this pen write so differently is that instead of coming
to a point, the nib is wide and flat. Genius.

Having been in love with fountain pens for a while now, I'd become fairly comfortable with how I was using mine. Schoolwork was getting done and inks were fun to play with, but I'd never really looked too much into calligraphy, mostly because it was more time consuming and for the most part impractical for my uses. Among the fountain pens that I found in my basement however, was an italic nibbed pen, and I can't believe how much fun it has been!

It isn't that my handwriting is lacking too much, or isn't "pretty" but as far as calligraphic styled writing goes, the italic nib makes a world of difference. After trying a couple times with my Noodler's Nib Creaper Flex Pen, but getting very few results for calligraphy, I tried using this pen and found that this type of nib simply forces you to write "prettier". By widening the lines of the downstrokes and narrowing pretty much all horizontal strokes, your handwriting can very easily look pretty.
Noodler's Axmatoba on plain notebook paper.
The nib isn't scratchy and writes reasonably wet, but I've only used it as a dip pen because I don't think I could ever pick just ONE color to use in this pen. I believe this pen would easily convert to an eyedropper because the barrel just seems to screw on.  If I could find some ink that I absolutely loved (Black Swan in Australian Roses most likely) then I would probably just leave it inked all the time and enjoy the absolutely huge ink reservoir at my disposal.

Writing with this pen has been so much fun. I strongly recommend that anyone who has not tried writing with an italic nib to do so. Even if you're not interested in calligraphy, I'm sure you'll find it just different enough to be fun.


  1. Do you have any idea what size that nib is? It's funny because I just got the italic nibs I ordered for my Lamy today. I got all 3 sizes: 1.1mm, 1.5mm and 1.9mm. The 1.9 seems to have some flow issues but the other 2 are very nice.

    I do agree that using an italic nib is fun. I have yet to get a Noodler's Flex.

  2. Peninkcillin - Looks like a Fine Italic to me based on the picture and the way the writing looks. They tend to write a little more broad than one would think. The Fine Italic Sheaffer I have writes more broad than my Medium Italic Pilot Plumix.

    I have a few of the Sheaffer NoNonsense pens. One was bought NOS and the other two were from a thrift store. They really are fun to write with. It helps to use an ink that is good at shading. I personally enjoy using Noodler's Zhivago in mine, but I bet some other inks like Black Swan in Australian Roses would look fantastic in it as well.

  3. I'm not sure exactly what the millimeter measurement is on the nib, but I hope I remember to find out!

    I've recently tried this nib with Noodler's Red-Black. It's fantastic. Darker colors tend to have crisper lines as is evidenced by the fantastic response this pen has to Bad Green Gator!

  4. It's great to have some inexpensive pens around that you don't have to worry too much about if they fail at some point, but it is even better when they write well like this one seems to.

    I've had a few economy level Sheaffer pens, and they have been great. The Noodler's Red-Black is definitely an ink that I will pick up after reading your review of it.

  5. I couldn't agree more. An italic nib really "dresses up" my writing. But they can be a little tricky to write with. One has to be more careful about maintaining the correct contact with the paper and write a little slower, generally. Otherwise, it's easy for the ink to skip on smoother papers.

    I've tried stubs, too. While they are easier to write with, the line variation isn't as obvious, so they are somewhat less fun, in my opinion.

    I've found it easier to write with my narrower italic nibs ( than wider ones (1.9mm).

    It is inexpensive to get started with an italic nib. Italic nibs are available separately that fit the Lamy Safari and AL-Star (and any other pen that takes the same nibs, which I believe include the Nexx and Studio, but I'm not sure). They are available from The Writing Desk in the UK and Jet Pens in the US (no affiliation with either, just a happy customer of both) for around $10.

  6. For the Lamy nibs I recommend The Writing Desk. They are cheaper than Jetpens, even with the international shipping. Only downside is that it takes a while (about 10 days) to get them. (No affiliation to them :)

  7. "just a generic pen"? Blasphemy! j/k Actually, the NoNonsense was Sheaffer's modernized take on their own Flat Top pens. Made of plastic instead of celluloid, cartridge instead of lever filler, steel nib instead of gold, etc. Still a great pen, which can (obviously) be had with those italic calligraphy nibs or standard tipped nibs, both available in F, M, and B nib sizes. There's even a funky three-tine nib for these pens. The NoNonsense eventually morphed into the Viewpoint, which is still the pen they package in their calligraphy sets.