I call this post “Battle of the Broads”. It’s actually my attempt to put some kind of order and perspective on the stub nibs in my fountain pen collection, as well as a more general discussion on “stubs” possibly the most unpractical and puzzling nib width in the fountain pen arena), in general. I’m defining “Stub” here to mean Double Broad and wider…
Here is the complete list of my stub nib fountain pens;
- Omas new style Paragon Resin, BB Mottishaw stub, 18ct gold
- Danitrio Genkai, “S” factory stub nib, 18ct gold
- Visconti Homo Sapians Lava, 1.3mm Masuyama stub, 23ct Palladium
- Montblanc Karajan, BB nib ground to a boxy stub by unknown 14ct gold
- Franklin Christoph #5 1.4mm SIG nib, steel
- TWSBI Eco 1.1mm factory stub, steel
- Nakaya Naka-ai BB Motishaw stub 14ct gold
- Lamy x Line Brown (Safari) 1.1mm factory stub, steel
- Conid Kingsize Bulkfiller stub (Conid nibmeister), Titanium
So, 9 stubs in total.
I’ll jump straight to a writing comparison of all the stub nibs…
Battle of the Double Broads (and beyond)…let battle commence!
I love the way my handwriting looks with stub nibs, but can I read it? Which brings me to the first category in this Battle of the Double Broads;
1. Most ‘practical’ Stub
Are stub nibs practical? By practicality I really mean legible.
When dealing with stub nibs, one might ask the question:
Does my handwriting look fat in this?
And so we start this battle of the Double broads (and beyond), with the question of practicality. I, as many, started out in the fountain pen hobby with a steel extra-fine nib. I then steadily moved onto fine, with a few Mediums thrown in, mainly because of its availability. I have never bought a factory Broad nib, largely because I think my handwriting would look completely ridiculous and round- like writing with a crayon. Since those early days, I have moved very firmly towards stubs. Not only are they more pleasant to use, I think they make handwriting look a lot more sophisticated. A far cry from the big round handwriting from my fountain pen- wielding Primary School days (when fountain pens were mandatory in all schools). But modern times lean very much towards the cheap and the ugly- predominantly in the shape of the Bic biro. But is there a stub nib out there that one could use as regularly and reliably as the good old biro? why yes there is, step forward the winner of…
Most ‘practical’ Stub category: Lamy x Line (Safari), 1.1 factory stub (steel)
I currently have two Lamy Safari’s in my collection; the 2015 and 2016 Lamy x Line Brown Safari’s.
Here is the 2015 version;
I went for the Extra-Fine stealth look for the 2015 edition.
And here is the 2016 version;
Of course Lamy nibs are interchangable, but I have the 2016 version fitted out with the 1.1mm steel stub nib pictured earlier. Not only does it have all the practicality of a Lamy Safari i.e. lightweight, plasticky enough to just through in your pen case without worrying about it, not prone to leakage or any kind of malfunction (this is a German pen were talking about here), long lasting long cartridges or decent 2ml capacity for converter, the list goes on. As to the nib itself, mine is nice and smooth and wet, with zero hard starts or any issue at all in fact. I cannot not say that even of my TWSBI’s (which can be dry sometimes). I like to keep this 1.1mm stub inked up with none other than that old favourite, Parker Penman Saphire (cartridges) that I found on eBay one day. Here’s a quick sheeny sample…
Wow. Just look at that sheen. Thats another advantage of this particular Lamy/nib combo- it will bring out the sheen in almost any ink. I’m very happy with my Lamy Safaris’ and even considered getting the other line characters, namely the yellow duck and white rabbit, but was fortunately able to restrain myself.
*I couldn’t help but split this battle into 2- a practical and economical option, and a higher end dare I say more fancy option, that remains nevertheless practical. Step forward the Conid Kingsize Bulkfiller. Here is mine…
As you can see I went for a Titanium nib with this Conid. The main reason for that was I had read that the Titanium nibs had a mice springiness to them, and figured that combined with a stub would be an awesome combination. I also requested an 8/10 ink flow. I must say I have loved using this pen ever since I got it.
This is an incredibly well engineered fountain pen- precision engineered in fact as it is made by a Belgian engineering company. Even though it is at the pricey end, Iwould have no qualms about throwing this into a pen case, and not really worrying about it. I wouldn’t do this with my Nakayas. Another note on practicality; although this is not a Caiso version of the Bulkfiller, if you do buy this option which has a small markup, then you will be able to take this fountain pen with you on flights. Same principle as Visconti Homo Sapiens, but different technology.
Here is the Bulkfiller in action. The ink is Pen & Message Cigar…
I think the practicality questions vis a vis stub nibs is an interesting one for fountain pen newbies, and those on a tighter budget, as often the most legible stubs are also the most economical. Below I have ordered all my stubs from most to least ‘practical’. By practical here I really mean legible. You can check the results yourself against my previous writing sample;
- Lamy Safari, 1.1 Steel
- Twsbi Eco, 1.1 Steel
- Franklin Christoph, 1.4 SIG Steel
- Conid Kingsize Bulkfiller, Titanium
- Omas Paragon, BB 18ct gold (Mottishaw)
- Danitrio Genkai, “S” 18ct gold
- Nakaya Naka-ai, BB 14ct gold (Mottishaw)
- Visconti Homo Sapiens, 1.3 Palladium (Masuyama)
- Montblanc Karajan, BB 14ct gold
2. Biggest Stub
If I were to rank my stubs from most favourite to least favourite, it would basically be the inverse of the above list i.e. from largest and least practical to most practical. As much as I love my reliable Lamy’s, can they really compare to the big beasts in my collection? Which brings us to the winner of the next category…
Winner: Montblanc Karajan, ‘Boxy’ BB Stub
Here is a moody picture of the ‘biggest stub’ category winner, resting on its writing sample; showing off that boxy stub in action….
This is one of my favourite fountain pens. Aside from the piano design around the cap, which looks super cool to me, the Karajan is a decent Montblanc 146 size, with a lovely classic looking snowcap finial. I play the piano a bit (total novice), and so the piano design also spoke to me. The pen has a flat-top design. Although I had seen pictures of the pen on instagram and the like, I wasn’t actively looking for this pen. I believe it was released by Montblanc as part of their donation series in 2003. All the donation series pens have the dove design on the 18ct gold nib, and part of the proceeds of each sale go towards Music schools or Music charities.
I’ll admit I had not heard much about Herbert Von Karajan before, but after digging around google a bit I discovered he was a famous conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the most prestigious orchestras in the world. I understand Karajan started out his career as a pianist, hence the design. There is also a conductors baton on the clip- a neat touch. It seems Karajan was a somewhat controversial figure. But as mentioned, I didn’t set out to by this particular fountain pen, I happened to find it at an EXTREMELY good price on-line. I bought this pen second hand but in ‘good condition’. Most importantly it came pre-gound to what was described, if I remember correctly, as a ‘boxy’ stub. As someone who lives in the UK, it’s always exciting to find a pre-ground fountain pens to avoid the hassle, worry and massive expense of sending it out for nib work. The name of the nib-meister wasn’t provided. I love to use this ink filled with BunguBox Saphire or Ishida Bungu Hakodate Twilight. Both inks in the Parker Penman Saphire vein. As you will see, it’s hard not to fill a monster stub nib with anything other than a monster sheening ink.
3. Most beautiful stub
We started this Battle of the Broads with Lamy Safari- winner of the most practical category. I think it’s fair to say, as much as I love my Lamy Safari, I doubt it would win here.
Most beautiful stub winner: Danitrio Genkai, “S” factory stub
Wow, thats something isn’t it? I think Danitrio’s new nib design is probably the nicest out there. A lot of people praise the old fireball design, but for me it is no match for this. The Danitrio nibs are interchangable (assuming you are swapping for nibs of the same size). The Nib here is the #8 size. They are made of 18ct gold and have ginormous ebonite feed which soaks up the ink nicely and makes for very juicy writing instrument. My Danitrio stub is on a Genkai, which uses the shut-off valve system. It takes some getting used to, but feel it works quite well on the big Genkai.
Here is the Genkai in action. I like to have it filled with Iroshizuku’s Syo-Ro, a lovely teal ink with red sheen which is a nice contract to the unpolished shu red of the Danitrio.
5. Nicest Handwriting
Stub nibs are a lot of fun to use, but they don’t always make for the neatest handwriting. You can draw your own conclusions from my rather slap dash writing sample. But for me, the stub that produces the nicest handwriting is…
Omas new Style Paragon, BB Mottishaw stub
Like the Montblanc Karajan, I found this fountain pen used but in good condition. It is in the large new style Paragon size and has a large 18ct gold BB nib. This one has been customised with a Mottishaw stub. This nib is a joy to use. A true stub in the sense you can write at any angle and there is no snagging whatsoever, yet you will discover that miraculously, all your letters will have a neat little edge to them.
Here is a writing sample of the Omas in action…
Here is the Omas itself;
Unfortunately, after a few years use the piston of the Paragon stopped working. I’s sure I could send this off to a pen restorer in the UK to get it fixed and I’m sure it’s nothing major, but still. That has relegated this pen to the draw, to be taken out and used as a dip pen when mood takes.
6. Punches above its weight
Again aimed more to the practicality camp, here I look at stubs that punch above their weight. Here I’m looking at a practical fountain pen which is also relatively affordable, easy to use, repair, clean, and produces beautiful classic looking handwriting. For this we turn to Franklin Christoph and their steel SIG nib. My SIG nib is the tiny #5 size which I have fitted on my LE Pocket 40. It comes in the 1.4mm stub. Talk about punching above its weight!
These are very cute pens, easy to thrown in your pen case and not worry too much about (though mine is in a super nice custom acrylic so I won’t be doing that anytime soon). Try doing that with a Montblanc or Danitrio. They don’t take converters but only small international cartridges. For me, this fact just makes this pen even more practical. It’s very much a no fuss fountain pen with a no fuss nib. and now to the handwriting, now I’m no caliigrapher, and would best describe my handwriting as ‘wobbly’, but even I think my handwriting looks fancy here…
Here is the Pocket 40 atop its writing sample…
I like to keep the Pocket 40 with 1.4 SIG nib inked up with Montblanc Boheme Blue ink, which is what I used in the sample above. This nib and ink pair extremely nicely, and the nib glides across the paper like the best of my gold stubs. I would highly recommend FC if you are looking to get a really nice stub for your collection. It’s definitely a cut above the likes of Lamy and TWSBI.
Talking of smooth, the reason most people (ok fountain pen people), rave about stub nibs it their ease of use. Whilst an italic is extremely crisp and sharp and can make for extremely beautiful old fashioned handwriting, they are also completely impractical and verutually impossible to use, unless you are very skilled. Cursive italics are the port of call for those who want the look of an italic, but with the ability to, you know, write in cursive at anything faster than snails pace. However, some cursive italics can also snag when turning around corners. Solution? the stub nib. This nib is smoothest of them all. Using a stub is about as easy as using a round Medium nib- i.e as easy as it gets, except when you look down, you will find your handwriting has all kinds of attractive angles on it, making you look as though you’ve been practicing calligraphy for an age, when you are in fact new to the hobby. Having said that, usually the smoother the stub is, the less legible it can look. In the end you sacrifice some of that italic flair for ease of use and speed of writing. So it is with this turn to our next category….
7. Smoothest Stub category winner: Nakaya Naka-ai, BB
The Nakaya Naka-ai is one of my most recent purchases. I bought it new from Classic Fountain Pens, and asked for the BB rhodium nib to be ground to a smooth stub with 8/10 ink flow. It does not disappoint. Here is my Naka-ai…
And here is the Naka-ai in action…
Is smoothness sacrificed for legibility here? I have it filled here with Hakodate ink- I just love to use this ink with my stub nibs to bring out that awesome sheen.
Clearly, this is not a scientific experiment as the nibs used here are not made of the same material; some 14ct and 18ct Gold, some Titanium, some Steel. Some have been created by nibmeisters and some are factory stubs. As a result the flow of the nibs are all different.
Different inks have also been used…yes NOT very scientific AT ALL. Perhaps this post should be called not “Battle of the Broads” but rather, “a wander around some of my nibs that can be generally classified as ‘stub'”. Alas, not as catchier title.
A point about nib material, if we look at the sample you can see the steel nibs are the thinnest stubs of the bunch. That is to be expected as steel stub nibs of the TWSBI, Lamy variety are, though commonly described as “stub”, more like cursive italics, and are as a result much thinner, due to the metal itself.
The definition of “stub” here is similarly broad, ranging from BB, all the way up to the Franklin Christoph 1.4mm steel SIG nib. But by lumping them all together, one can see how a 1.4 steel stub nib is in fact much thinner than a Asian (Nakaya) BB stub of the Naka-ai.
Which brings us to our final category: My Favourite Stub. Despite having some wicked Double Broads (and beyond) in some fine writing instruments, my favourite stub award still goes to…
Visconti Homo sapiens Lava, 1.3 Masuyama Stub
Here it is…
Here is a close up of Visconti in action- the ink here is Caran Dache Caribbean sea….
I’ll leave you with a crappy doodle of my current Stub collection…