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Most of you are familiar with fountain pens and their exquisitely crafted traditional nibs where the ink flows out, but did you know that there are also different kinds of nibs available on the market? digs into research to inform you of the different shapes and sizes of the nibs and the purpose they serve.

Fountain nibs were invented sometime in the 1800s. Back then, the nibs were made of gold with a small piece of ruby attached to the edge to serve as a point. These nibs weren’t exactly used with the kind of fountain pens used nowadays but attached to dip pens, a predecessor to the modern fountain pens except that they don’t have ink reservoirs. By the 1830s, iridium and other platinum-based metals have been used to tip gold nibs, making it more resilient to stress and corrosive inks.

Nibs by Flexibility
Nibs are often divided based on its applications. Basically, nibs have a slit found at the center of its body, where ink is pushed down the nib even without the force of gravity. Nibs also have a breather hole (in the shape of hearts in some fountain pens) for easing the flow of air between the slit and the ink reservoir and prevent the nib from breaking over time.

Pens used in writing calligraphy and musical scores usually require broad nibs. Broad nibs can also be used for fast writers. The problem with broad nibs, however, would be the thickness of the strokes produced, which smaller writers won’t appreciate. Fine nibs, on the other hand, are suitable for slow writers and people who’d like a finer, spidery or feather-like handwriting.

The nibs also differ depending on the user’s habitual rotation. People who roll their nibs are usually advised to use oblique nibs. Oblique nibs are cut at an angle leaning to the left or to the right with the right oblique one more suitable for left-handed individuals. These nibs appear more angular instead of resembling a square.

Another type of pen nib is the italic nib which produces an italic script. The nibs are flat and wide and appear more like a chisel instead of the traditional triangular nib. The italic nib produces sophisticated, dark strokes but it requires some getting used to.

Nibs by Structure or Appearance
Nibs are also classified based on how they are mounted or fixed onto the fountain pen. There are countless subtypes of nibs based on this quality, although there are only four main types namely the integral nib, the inlaid nib, and the open and hooded nib.

Integral nibs, as the name suggests, are integral to the body of the fountain pen. These nibs are attached to the metal gripping part of the pen, extending its way into the writing tip. Inlaid nibs, meanwhile, are also similar in a way to integral nibs that they are mounted onto the pen’s gripping part. The difference, however, is that inlaid nibs are fitted into a molded cavity on the surface of the gripping part.

The last two types of fountain pen nibs are the open and hooded nibs. The open nibs are those found in the traditional fountain pens where the nibs are exposed and often intricately carved with sophisticated designs. The advantage of using open nibs is its flexibility although it is known to leak ink at times. Hooded nibs on the other hand are concealed inside a kind of plastic or metal shell. While less good-looking, hooded nibs prevent ink from drying up quickly and doesn’t leak ink as much as open nibs do.

Did you learn a lot from today’s article? Read our previous articles on writing instruments: Who Invented the Ballpoint Pen? and What Is The Origin Of “The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword?”.

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