Fash-nib-le?

November 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

Occasionally, we are asked for a pen with a hooded nib.  The request is usually based on prior experience, either directly or through the treasured possession of a family member. While there are a few refurbished Parker 51’s around, generally there is little to offer in this style. The nearest fit would probably be the Lamy 2000 but, despite its quality and track record, this tends to be too contemporary for an enquirer despite having been originally designed in the mid-1960’s.

Lamy 2000 Nib

Lamy 2000 nib-nearest to a hooded nib currently available

The question of nibs and fashion is intriguing.  Personally, my experience of hooded nibs was the ubiquitous Osmiroid during my school days.  Like most people, the experience of pens at school clouded opinion of fountain pens as a whole.  It was only later in life that I found the joy of writing with real ink.  The Osmiroid, in my hands at least, was not a positive experience recognising clearly that neither pen nor the user were quite ready for each other.  As a generalisation, the hooded nib was a passing, albeit lengthy, phase.  But why?  Is it fashion? The pens performed admirably, had the required presence and balance, and did not attract any significant price premium and yet are now generally unavailable.

The nearest similarly styled nib is the 18ct gold inlaid type favoured by both Sheaffer and Waterman’s Carene.  These offer a compromise between the hooded number and a full conventional nib.  Sheaffer have been using the inlaid nib in their top-end pens for over 50 years, currently offering it in their Valor and Legacy Heritage models. In both applications they offer a very pleasant writing experience with the nib length imbuing the writing tip with an inherent flexibility rarely found in conventional nibs.  The Sheaffer nib widths and ink flow are both quite generous and, particularly with the various limited editions of the Legacy Heritage, such as the Victorian and 1920’s, the presence of the pen is unquestionable.  The Valor series currently offers one of the most competitive entry-level 18 carat gold nibbed pens in our range. However, under commercial pressures, the disappointment is that the range of nib styles has been restricted to the standard small medium and large.

Sheaffer Legacy Heritage Nib

Sheaffer Legacy Heritage Nib - flexibility is its key

The Waterman Carene’s inlaid nib offers a smooth, comfortable writing experience but has not capitalised on the potential flexibility of the inlaid style nib.  Like almost everything fountain pen, it comes down to personal taste and the Carene is neither better nor worse than the Sheaffer; just different.  Waterman have a policy of offering a comprehensive range of nibs with all of their higher-end pens with the Carene starting with extra fine through to broad, stub, and obliques.

Carene Silver Nib

Waterman Carene Silver plated nib available in a range of styles

The question is that, having lost the once ubiquitous hooded nib, is the inlaid nib likely to go the same way?  I sincerely hope not.  Fashion is a fickle beast but difference surely lies at the very heart of fountain pen usage? As always, we recommend trying the options in our shop, where practical.

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