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Special nibs

May 28, 2020 3 min read 1 Comment

Special nibs

There are not two people in the world with the exact same handwriting. The way we write is something so unique and personal that there is even a science, the graphology, which analyses the physical characteristics of handwriting and links the author to a certain type of personality or psychological traits. The most celebrated brands of writing instruments are well aware of this phenomenon, and so we can find a wide variety of nibs which adapt to the needs and preferences of each one of their clients.

The way a nib writes can be determined by many factors. The most important ones are its size, its shape, the materials of which it’s made, and its flexibility. The most standard sizes for a nib are extrafine (EF), fine (F), medium (M) or broad (B). When choosing the ideal nib for your fountain pen, please notice that Japanese fountain pens have a slightly finer line than western ones. This is because Japanese handwriting is way more complex, and so it requires of a more precise nib. In that sense, a M Japanese nib would be roughly equivalent to a western F one. Get to know more about the different sizes available for a nib here.

Different size nibs

Another key point when choosing a nib is the material of which it’s made. Nibs can be manufactured in stainless steel, solid gold, bicolor gold, rhodium plated gold or ruthenium. Gold nibs are usually more flexible than steel ones, while rhodium and ruthenium are materials used to strengthen the nib. The flexibility of a nib is determined by how the tines move when pressure is applied, increasing or decreasing line-with variation. Finally, the most common shape for a nib tip is rounded, although it is possible to find other options, such as the straight tip shape of an Italic nib.

That being said, many of the most popular brands of writing items have pushed the boundaries and created unique shapes for their nibs. Find here what are the most uncommon nibs available in the market.

The Goccia (drop in Italian) nib has an additional ball of iridium at the tip. The result is a nib that provides for narrow downstrokes and broad cross-strokes, a modification that can add distinctiveness to many writing styles and is also particularly appropriate for Arabic and Hebrew calligraphy.

Italian brand Aurora is responsible for the creation of these nibs which can be purchased paying an extra to the original price of the pen.

Aurora-Optima-365-2020-Lim Ed.Goccia Nib -996-LGI

A Zoom nib can look like a Goccia. It also has a small ball at its tip, which provides a thick broad stroke when held at a normal angle (almost of 1mm), and a finer one at a higher angle. Japanese brand Sailor is well known for manufacturing Zoom nibs, in addition to their celebrated Special Nibs (find out more about Sailor here).

Sailor-Professional-Gear-Slim-Gold,-Black,-11-1221-420 (1)

Music nibs are especially useful for writing musical notation, since the nib’s normal stroke creates the wide part of the notes and turned vertically, the stems. Some Japanese brands do manufacture them, being Sailor (with the original two-tine design) and Platinum (which sometimes offers a three-tine Music nib) the most popular ones.


Soft or flexible nibs are used to achieve line-width variation by varying the pressure while writing. These nibs are also position-sensitive and provide a less smooth writing experience than standard hard nibs. The tines on a flexible nib move independently and are more exposed, tending to catch on the paper. This scratchiness will surprise many, but is actually a desired feature for artists, calligraphers and writers looking to add a touch of distinctiveness to their writing worldwide.

One very particular kind of soft nib pen is the Pilot Justus 95, whose nib adjusts from hard to soft simply by turning the tension adjuster at the top of the gripping section.


Montblanc-Meisterstück-Solitaire-Calligraphy,-Gold,-119700 (1)

Stub nibs, just like Italic ones, have a flat tip instead of a rounded one. These two types of nibs may look similar to the naked eye, but the Stub nib provides much less line-with variation than an Italic one, since its tine tipes are slightly more rounded.

You can find even more special types of nibs at Iguana Sell, such as the ones of the Namiki Emperor fountain pens or the oblique nib (OB, OM), similar to the Stub but whose tip is cut diagonally instead of in a straight line. Oblique nibs can be found cut to the right (particularly appropriate for left-handed writers) or to the left (for right-handed ones).



If you need any help when choosing the nib that best suits you, do not hesitate in contacting us!

1 Response

Chip Kahn
Chip Kahn

May 30, 2020

Very informative, thanks for the insights!

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