Steel nibs are part of dip pens. A dip pen typically has a steel nib, which is mounted in a handle. The pen has no ink reservoir, the dip is that it is all about. Dipping the tip of the nib into the ink, and then writing with the ink that is held onto the nib. It was in the 1800s that the use of dip pens occurred, replacing the use of quill pens.
There are a wide range of nibs that allow for countless variations of lines. Look at the beautiful swooping lines on the card on the right.
this Stiletto Pen nib is a flexible nib, and creates beautiful writing or drawing. That leads right into the story.
A'teef Meghji came to a recent meeting of the Vancouver Pen Club to talk about his discovery.
His grandfather, Gulamhussein, living in India, was a writer and an artist. His work took him on extensive travels across Indian, Africa and Europe. A'teef was told by his father, of the large collection of art that was found in a studio located on property, near Nairobi, Gulamhussein kept as a private sanctuary for his own creative work. Though hid writing and art he acquired a massive collection of steel dip nibs.
With the passing of his grand father, his art was donated to the Aga Khan Museum. But A'teef now has a massive collection of steel nibs. I use the word massive correctly. A'teef brought a number of large plastics bags fill with the steel nibs.
For the majority of the nibs Gulamhussein wrote out on a card the name and information of the nib, and a sample of its writing style. A sample of the Stiletto Pen nib is show as one of the images on the right. Look at those beautiful flex curves created with the nib. Steel nibs are known to have far greater flex than fountain pen nibs.
Using Dip Nibs
Why use them? Why not just use a fountain pen? Well, according to those that use dip nibs, they are more flexible, creating a more interesting line, cheaper because they are steel, and they come in a wider variety of styles. That last statement is become more important as fountain pen manufacturers, except for a few lines, seem to be make fewer nib styles.
The holders are what you attach the nib to. They come is a variety of styles. Some are made to hold a wide variety of nibs, others are designed for specific styles of nib. They all have a section that securely holds the nib until you pull it out. Typically a package of nibs around $5. My check of amazon.ca found there to be a range of prices. A single specific nib was $7.95 and other offers were for a holder and three or four nibs for $8.95.
It seems you have to try quite a few nibs. Some will be too stiff. Some will catch on paper. But it seems that after you go through a few you will be luck and fine a dip nib that works best for you.
You can try any type of ink you want. Yes, here the door is open to use the India ink that will kill the insides of a fountain pen!
You are probably not going to be using cheap office copy paper. It seems that good 80 lb paper will provide some very good results. Ready? Well dip the nib in the ink, just like a fountain pen, make a couple of test strokes, pulling the pen towards you, no attempting to put the point of the nib across the paper. Dip before the ink runs dry... often!
If you are into dip pens, and thinking that here is the opportunity to build an impressive collection, then send A'teef an e-mail. This is an opportunity to acquire a collection of nibs. I believe he will divide the thousand or so nibs into three or four package.