This and that

Oblique Nibs

Below you find a synopsis of several oblique nibs over the last say 30 years. Of course this is not the complete picture – since I have no access to fountain pens from all possible companies and eras.

Anyway, what is an oblique nib? Well, see the picture below and this question will be answered …

In my opinion, oblique nibs offer with no effort, giving “character” to your handwriting. OK, it cannot outcompete extraordinary handwriting with a flex nib, but this is anyway art. I talk about everyday handwriting when taking notes or writing a letter (and not a birthday-card).

But there is a difficulty inherited to these kind of nibs. The fountain pens equipped with oblique nibs are not easy to hold. They need a certain contact angle on the paper. Holding it wrong leads to skipping. But the reward is a somewhat nicer looking handwriting – for those who like it, of course … Actually, oblique nibs are not necessarily made for line variation. They rather were made for those who hold the pens (and the nibs) in a certain direction. „Regular“ penholding is with the nib tip toward 11 or 12 o‘clock (right handers). But some people rather hold their pens toward 9 or 10 o‘clock, and than a flat nib tip – especially if it is broad – has no longer a good contact to the paper, which can be circumvented by a slanted cut of the tip. A flat grinding of the tip offers than again a very pronounced line variation.

Again only in my opinion, Montblanc produces the nicest oblique nibs, because they show the strongest line variation between the two strokes. And of course, the biggest effect is seen if the nib has a wide width (such as OB or OBBB rather than OM).

Obliques come in a wide range of tip-shapes (see image below). They can be almost flatt (like an italic) but also quite “bulky” (if this word make a sense at all since we talk about structures in mm to sub-mm size). The slanted cut alone does not lead to the above mentioned line variation. Like italic nibs, the aspect ratio between width and thickness (<1)  makes the line thickness. Although even fine obliques exist (I have seen it in old Montblancs), the smaller the nib grade, the less pronounced is the variation. Oblique nibs with “flex” also exist.

Unfortunately, Pelikan does not longer produces oblique nibs (unless you order the “Wünsch-Dir-Was-Feder” in which case the customer has to visit the Company in Hannover (Germany). In most shops the Pelikan obliques are sold out and in ebay they are offered to substantial higher price compared to the standard nibs (F, M and B). Montblanc does produce mostly F and M by default, but one can send the pen to the headquarter (in Hamburg) and ask for the non-standard obliques within six weeks after the purchase and will get a replacement for free. Lamy and Graf von Faber-Castell provide and sell still obliques by default, although it might be that the shops might not have them in stock.

Obliques come in a wide range of tip-shapes (see image below). They can be almost flatt (like an italic) but also quite “bulky” (if this word make a sense at all since we talk about structures in mm to sub-mm size). The slanted cut alone does not lead to the above mentioned line variation. Like italic nibs, the aspect ratio between width and thickness (<1)  makes the line thickness. Although even fine obliques exist (I have seen it in old Montblancs), the smaller the nib grade, the less pronounced is the variation.

Nib_structure
Top right: sketch of a regular nib and an oblique nib cut – view from top. Center: sketch of sideview of nibs. Right: sketch of the resulting lines when using an oblique nib. Bottom: images of diverse oblique nibs from different producers and from different years.
writing sample
Writing samples from various fountain pens (and one italic nib by Pelikan on the bottom).

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