11 phenomenal stubs and italics for any budget

Stubs and italics are taking over my pen collection. Why? Well, I like line variation and, being a lefty, flex is not easy for me. But I have a light touch and a fairly consistent writing angle, so it’s easy for me to skate even the sharpest italic across the page.

You can make pretty much any nib into an italic or a stub, if you know a friendly nib-grinder, or have the guts to grind away at a nib yourself with a little care. Not many factory options exist nowadays — maybe we should all be happy with F, M, B? — but if you know where to look, you can still track down some pretty special nibs, whether your budget is £20 or £1,000.

Let’s take a look at some of the options.

JoWo 1.5 mm stub

This is the entry-level option, alongside the 1.1mm. It’s steel, untipped, and pretty unsophisticated — but cheap. Mine’s Edison branded, but you can get these anywhere, and they’re cheap enough that you can play with them without worrying about screwing up.

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Nemosine 0.6mm stub

Nemosine sells both 0.6mm and 0.8mm stub. I’ve had two 0.6mms and both have been rubbish out of the box, but with a quick tune, they perform nicely, and the imprint on the steel looks distinctive. Again — cheap and cheerful. A great size for daily writing.DSCF6474

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Franklin-Christoph Music Nib

This JoWo-fit steel nib is untipped and has three tines, spanning 1.9mm. The sunburst-effect imprint is cool, and mine is in “shadow” finish, so it’s gunmetal grey. I have it installed in an Opus 88 Demonstrator with Edelstein Star Ruby, and it’s my show-off pen.

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Mike Masuyama fine cursive italic (JoWo)

Mike Masuyama takes orders via Franklin-Christoph — a great reason to buy one of their pens! This is a JoWo fine steel, cut to a cursive italic. It’s smooth, wet, and crisp. I love it.DSCF6469

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Conid fine cursive italic (Bock)

It took Conid two goes to get me a working cursive italic, and this one still has an off-centre slit — I blame Bock for that, though. It writes smoothly and wet, and it’s narrow enough to use every day. It started as a cheap Bock steel, of course, but the pen attached to it is on the pricier side…DSCF6464

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Pelikan Italic Broad

Ah, what a beauty, especially with Kin-Mokusei in its veins! Surprisingly this is not the widest nib here, but it’s a personal favourite, and I am sad that Pelikan has discontinued this nib.DSCF6467

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Pilot #15 BB stubbed

I believe this was stubbed by Pablo at FPnibs, but it started out as a #15 size BB in a Pilot 845. It’s wetter than the usual Pilot nib, and while the line variation isn’t as great as some of the nibs here, it’s great fun.DSCF6477

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Aurora italic (modified)

I already posted about my experiences with this one. Worth a read.DSCF6473

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Nakaya cursive italic (John Mottishaw)

A Nakaya will cost you a fair amount of money, and John at nibs.com charges an additional $55 for an italic grind. I think it’s money well spent. This sharp little nib is a perfect writer.

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Montblanc BB

Send any new Montblanc in for a nib exchange and you can get a fat BB installed, just like this one. The line variation is great (although it’s not officially called a stub), and it’s a beautiful chunk of metal.

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Kaweco vintage OBB

I had to include this one, although you’ve not got much chance of picking one up! I borrowed this vintage Sport from a friend, and it came with this tiny, wet, flexible oblique double broad. It lays an incredible line. They don’t make them like this any more.DSCF6478

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Take your pick

If you want a tipped factory italic only? Well, as above there’s Montblanc and Aurora. Also worth a mention are the range of italics from Conway Stewart back in the day. Platinum, Pilot and Sailor all do Music nibs, too — I’ve used a Platinum one and it’s very nice.

Don’t mind a steel, untipped nib? Lamy sells a range from 1.1 to 1.9, and there’s the JoWo 1.1, 1.5 and Franklin-Christoph Music that I showed above. Kaweco also do special calligraphy nibs.

And for grinding? FPnibs in Spain (but only for nibs you buy through them), John Sorowka in the UK, Conid, PurePens and others grind when you buy from them, and there’s a wealth of nibmeisters in the US: Dan Smith, John Mottishaw, Richard Binder, JC Ament and others. The world is your oyster.

Know of a great stub or italic, or a preferred nibmeister? Please let me know in the comments!

13 thoughts on “11 phenomenal stubs and italics for any budget

  1. Where did you hear that Pelikan has discontinued the IB nib? I can’t find any word of that that isn’t an ancient thread by now. I was discussing with John S about making mine a bit slimmer so it’s more practical but maybe I’ll keep a hold of it and pick up a spare fine nib.

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    • I have an Italix Parsons Essential with broad crisp italic (1.3mm) and mostly happy with the writing experience. Just a bit drier than I expected. Also Opus 88 with 1.4 Jowo italic. Also very good, wet, but not as sharp as Italix. Would love to know your opinion on both.

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  2. Italix is definitely another brand to consider – huge range of nib options (stubs, CIs and full italics) on pens as low as £50.

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  3. Very comprehensive. I would just add a shout out to Mr Pen’s brand, Italix with an exhaustive list of nib options. In particular I am a fan of his Captain’s Commission pen with a Fine Italic nib which is wondrously smooth (when you keep to the sweet spot) and the pen is only around £50. I have bought three.

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  4. Another US nibmeister is Mark Bacas (www.nibgrinder.com). I’ve got a CI from him that is one of my favorite nibs of all time. I’ve also seen good work by Kirk Speer (www.penrealm.com) on Instagram and Reddit. I’ve recently sent two pens off to him, but haven’t gotten them back yet so I can’t speak to quality yet.

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    • One more name: Greg Minuskin, also US-based. When it comes to retipping, he’s second to none. Have a Parker ’51’ retyped to a custom stub, my most favourite pen ever.

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  5. What a lovely roundup. I’d suggest that also in Pelikan the “highlighter” m205 is a double broad. Sailor’s highlighter is more like a chisel with lots of tipping (fun but not a glassy contact, as a result) and Platinum has a music nib as well as a “coarse” which is double broad. At the inexpensive end, Noodlers writes like an italic stub when used normally without flexing, and there’s a three tined music nib as well. Beyond italic and stub nibs you can also play with architect nibs and fude nibs (custom grinds/specialty nibs or inexpensive versions from China which work just as well eg. Hero fude).

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  6. Pingback: Sunday Reading for July 7, 2019 | Desk Accessories

  7. Pelikan IB for the M800 series isn’t discontinued. Got mine last April, very happy about it. M400 IB (one available in their Brown Tortoise limited edition) is sadly missed although.

    Leonardo Pens offer two excellent stubs (actually, smooth cursive italic nibs): 1.5mm (steel) and 1.3mm (14K). Probably too broad for everyday writing, but just perfect for calligraphy & lettering.

    Mr. Pen’s Italix nibs have been already mentioned above. Got his #6 broad stub, one of my best nibs ever.

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  8. Pingback: Sunday Reads: Edison, Italics And A Crush | An Inkophile's Blog

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