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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Aurora italic (modified)
I already posted about my experiences with this one. Worth a read.
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.
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.
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.
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!