Vintage nibs debunked

With calligraphy enjoying a renaissance it’s time to clear up some myth’s surrounding vintage nibs. Nibs are disposable tools and they are just that, tools. Whatever nib chosen the chance is; it will have little effect on the quality of calligraphy produced. It’s fair to say that not all nibs are created equal but, vintage nibs are not the Holy Grail in calligraphy. Many new calligraphers’ chase down vintage nibs believing that they will improve the quality of their calligraphy to the point that, the nibs are skyrocketing to exorbitant prices. No nib is that good! They’re not investments but tools to be used and disposed of. There is no sense in spending £20 + for one disposable tool that could be worn out in a fortnight. Depending on what ink you use if could be worn out in a matter of hours. It’s just not feasible. There are many modern “Dream-Points” that are just as good if not better than their older counterparts. I’m not saying that you can’t under no circumstances use a vintage nib, you can; but only if you come across them at a reasonable price or say for instance if you’re browsing the wonderful flea markets of Paris!

There are plenty of exceptional modern nibs available on the market for under £3. If you’re heavy handed but long for thin elegant shades the Zebra G or Nikko G nibs are excellent nibs (the titanium covered Zebra G is a tank, will last for ages and is practically indestructible) or if you want the opposite and want dramatic thick shades the Brause Rose nib is definitely worth a try. The Leonardt EF Principle is considered as one of the best modern nibs on the market (favoured by a lot of calligraphers) and comes in at around £2.35. One of my personal favourites is the Hunt Imperial 101, it’s a great springboard to more flexible nibs as you become more light handed in your practice.

Depending on the kind of work you want to produce you have to choose your nib carefully. If for instance you want to scan and digitize your work a nib that produces a slightly thicker hairline is a better option than a nib that produces whisper thin hairlines that are likely to lose their quality or disappear entirely when scanned and digitised/vectorised. (Ink/paper also plays a factor in this choice but, experience will determine these combos)

My advice to a beginner calligrapher would be to buy a selection of nibs and experiment. Everyone is different. There might be a nib that you initially hate and can’t use but, after time as your skills advance go back to that nib and you might find it becomes your new favourite. Whatever nib you end up choosing it is only practice, practise, practise that will improve your calligraphy skills.

Recommended nibs: