Allgemein · This and that

Ink consumption of a fine nib versus an italic 1.1mm nib (Lamy Safari -Z50)

Lately, I recognized on my wordpress-statistics that somebody from Mexico was hitting my page by entering the search phrase „how much more ink does m nib use compared to F“. Well, he or she obviously found my page and landed on it, but two things have crossed my mind regarding this: (a) be carefull what you search for when entering my webpage. And (b) the vistor had an interesting question, indeed. But I had no answer  to offer for this question, though. Sad enough … I wanted to get deeper into this. But how?

Here, I don’t want to bore my venerated readers too much. For those who want to read the results, please just scroll down to the „Results“-section. All others may just continue …

How I tested ink usage

For me it had to be executed as simple as possible, but also as reliable as possible. And not too time consuming. Unfortunately, I have not an exact scale and no access to it, either.

The only quite accurate measure I have is an injection and a cannula to fill a converter with an exact amount of ink.

The following considerations I also took:

What is a correct/reliabe and most of all reproducible measuremant of ink usage?

Well, obviously not the amount of pages written with a given amount of ink. Because it is impossible to write the same content twice or even more often in exactly the same way (same letter sizes, same distances between the words).

Therefore, I just have drawn lines with a defined length. Afterwards I counted the lines and multplicated it with the respective (constant) length.

  • In order to observe the biggest possible variation, I compared in this case a fine nib with an italic nib (1.1mm – since I have no broader ones).
  • I drew lines by holding particularly the italic (stubbish) nib leading to the broadest possible line width.
  • To make sure, everything is dependent only upon the nib size, I used a fountain pen capable of easy nib replacement (just the nib – not the feed). I found it in form of a Lamy Safari. Hence, I used exactly one exemplar and changed the nib, only. Well, we will see, that even this approach has its weaknesses, however.
  • For completion: The very common Z50-nibs were used. These are compatible to the Z51 nibs. The former ones are blank steel, the latter ones are steel nibs covered with black color. The compatibility is extended to the lx-nibs (Z52) as well as to the gold-nibs (Z55, 56, 57) which are much softer by the way.
  • I used the same ink (Lamy Green), coming from the same jar.
  • I used the same paper type from the same note book, expecting not too much variations of the paper from one page to the next. It was an Oxford desk book 90g/m2.
  • Since I used a relatively low amount 0,4ml of ink (due the fact I didn´t want to spent too much time with drawing stupid lines) I proceeded without any pause to prevent drying and or evaporation of the ink. If you have seen how quickly ink can vanish out of a cartridge or converter you will agree to this method.

Here the full procedure:

  • Cleaned and dried a Lamy Safari equipped with an italic 1.1mm nib (out of a pool with several 1.1mm-italics).
  • Taken an injection plus a cannula. Filled it with Lamy green ink (a not very wet ink). I took exactly 0.4ml (eye judgement from a 0.1ml-scaling – but I shot a photo to verify) and filled it into the converter. I also made sure no air bubbles were sucked up or persisted in the injection (this would reduce the amount of ink significantly at the given low quantity I used for this test). The ink was injected into the converter by pressing the piston slowly but exactly one time – I hope the amount of residual ink in the cannula has been the same for the attempts with the other nibs.
  • Mounted the converter into the pen and turned the piston until the first ink drop was visible in the feed under the nib.
  • Drawing lines, and lines, and ines … until no more lines where possible to bring to paper.
  • Before proceeding with the next nib, again cleaned and dryed everything.
  • Mounting another nib, and refilling the converter as described above (and comparing the filling level with the foto I shot – just to be sure).
  • Repeating the test with a F nib (and again an italic 1.1mm-nib).


Well, this section can be short: with a fine nib from Lamy you can get twice as much lines on the paper as with the Lamy italic 1.1mm nib. Or in other words: the fine nib uses half the ink compared to an italic 1.1mm. In an ideal world …

Fig. 1. Ink usage in meters when using a fine nib or an italic1.1mm-nib from Lamy (for a Lamy Safari). Note, the italic nibs must have shown a strong difference in wetness.
Fig.2. Diagram from the measurements shown in Fig.1.

But hold on! Obviously, a dryer nib, even though quite broad (also 1.1mm, that is), is capable to use as much ink as a wetter fine nib. How can that be? I would guess, since anything else in this test was in the same condition: one of the italic-nib was wetter than the other. The slit between the tines of the wetter nib was a bit broader than the dryer nib. Also possible, the contact surface between the rear side of the nib and feed was different. Generally spoken, the nib geometry was slightly different between both italic nibs.


What are the weeknesses of this test?

  • It does not tell you much about the number of pages or words you can write more with a fine nib compared to broader nib. Because any finish of a word (or even non-connected character) increases the ink usage – that is what we notice as (and like so much) shading.
  • We have to take into consideration the line variation of an italic nib: in a usual writing procedure the strokes are thinner and therefore less ink consuming in diagonal bottom left to top right direction than in direction orthogonal to this (for a right hander). For this test I only prepared the broadest possible strokes.
  • It is the test of just three nibs.
  • Possible innaccuracy due to low ink amount.

What one may can say is, in case of a comparable nib-wetness the ink usage of a nib with a width of 1.1mm is maximum twice as much as for a fine nib. In practice, in the real worls, that is, this difference will be much smaller due the the thinner lines an italic is capable of.

Also, in real world a fountian pen enthusiast might have two pens of the same type (say Platinum President in F and B), but will not see any difference in ink consumption since the fine nib is may be wetter than the B-nib.

All in all, I would say, everything is dependent upon the wetness of nib and feed. The nib width gives only a small (but also unreliable) hint upon how many words more can be written with a finer nib.

This and that

Ink Capacities …

… for various fountain pens and converters.

I gathered numerous fountain pens (own ones and those from friends) and measured their ink capacities. I also took a couple of converters – proprietary ones such as for Lamy or Sailor as well as standard international ones (SI). This list cannot be representative since it does not contain any eyedroper pen …

The measurements were performed quite simply: With the respective pen or converter, I sucked up water from a little container and spilled it into a little bottle with a scale (the little blue thingy in the title picture filled with blue substitute). I spilled out as much as possible (by turning the twisting turning knob of the pens and converters several times), but of course, a little bit of ink was always left in the feed. Anyway, the measurements give you quite precise impression of how much ink can be hold by each fountain pen or converter. Therefore, the measurements are sort of the minimum one can expect (I would guess anyway that the feed can hold max. 0,1ml, depending on its size – but this is only a guess, nothing more).

It is not a surprise that the converters have quite low ink capacities (around 0,6-0,8ml), but it is actually a surprise that the big and girthy pens do not hold enormous ink amounts, either. Eg. the Montblanc Meisterstück 149ers or the Pelikan M1000 – as these two are the flag ship pens of the respective pen brands. In turn, some of the smallest and thinnest pens hold quite much ink, eg. the Montblanc Meisterstück 14 from the sixties as well as the MB 24. Both hold 1,6ml and 1.5ml, respectively. Also the rather small Pelikan M200/400 hold 1.3ml/1.4 ink which is comparable with the significantly bigger pens M600 and M800 from the same brand (both 1,3ml).

Very low ink capacities are shown in the Heritage Rouge-et-Noir-Series by Montblanc. I had two of them for measurement and both hold not more than 0,6ml of ink … even a Montblanc converter or an unbranded one (standard international which fits into old Montblanc Noblesses or Slim Lines or even into modern Graf von Faber-Castell converter-pens) hold substantially more ink (0,8-0,9ml). That is a bit dissapointing. Similarly behaving the converters from Sailor and Platinum (0,6ml). The Kaweco converter holds least ink of all the converters checked here, but this one has to fit into a very small Kaweco Sport – a very small pen … What do we learn from this? Size doesn’t matter …





Pen ink capacity [ml]
Kaweco Converter (for KW Sport) 0,5
Montblanc Heritage R&N Coral 0,6
Montblanc Heritage R&N Tropic Brown 0,6
Platinum President Converter 0,6
Sailor 1911 Large Converter 0,6
Lamy Converter (Al-Star, Lx, Safari) 0,8
Cleo Skribent Ebonite 0,8
Montblanc 3-44 G 0,8
Pelikan Converter (threads) 0,8
No Name Converter (“SI”) 0,8
MB Converter (looks “SI”, for Slim Line and Noblesse) 0,8
MB Converter black-gold (threads and spiral) 0,9
Graf von Faber-Castell Converter (for all FvF-C) 0,9
Visconti HS Lava (oversized, Bronce) 0,9
Visconti Wall Street Converter 1,0
Lamy 2000 Macrolon 1,1
Montblanc 32 1,1
Lamy 2000 Metal 1,2
Pelikan Souverän M1000 Black 1,2
Montblanc Meisterstück 149G 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 Ultra Black 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück WE Daniel Defoe 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück WE Agatha Christie 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück WE William Faulkner 1,3
Pleikan M800 Tortoise Shell 1,3
Pelikan Souverän M600 1,3
Pelikan Souverän M200 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück 149P 1,4
Montblanc Donation Pen Johannes Brahms 1,4
Montblanc Writers Edition Alexandra Dumas 1,4
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 Burgundy 1,4
Pelikan Souverän M400 1,4
Pelikan M1000 Demonstrator 1,5
Noodler Flex Pen 1,5
Montblanc 24 1,5
Montblanc Meisterstück 14 1,6
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 …

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.

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).