I must admit, I’ve caved to a pen or two. Have a look at the Catalogs. Some items are even reduced in older catalogs, which might make them a little more tempting (10% off). If you’re looking for flexible nibs, there’s flexy nibs aplenty!
Help me out here, folks. When does a pen qualify as vintage? Ten years? Fifty? The oldest pen in my collection is something like 101 years old, and I’d say that qualifies. Or is it not the age, but rather the material, filling system, and/or nib type that defines whether it is vintage or not? What do you think?
Waterman has been around for a long time, being one of the first companies to produce fountain pens (arguably even the first!). That’s one of the reasons I love vintage Waterman pens: they’ve been around for so long! My Watermans are definitely the oldest pens in my pouch.
Ink shading is something a lot of people look for when they are using a flex nib. Flex nibs tend to highlight shading because of the line variation – the variation in wetness and line size changes the saturation of the ink, resulting in shading. Personally, I love it. I know some people who hate it and want a solid line. If you are looking for an ink that will shade well with your flex …
Maybe you’re not interested in flexible nibs. That’s okay. I can look past that and still like you. However, vintage pens offer much more than just flex nibs! You can also fine hard nibs as well, like this Pelikan below with a hard extra-fine – it’s precise and crisp, much like the modern Pilot PO nib. The best of both worlds, of course, is having one of each.
If I really had to pick a few pens from my pen case to call my favorite, these four would be among them: a Waterman 12, a Waterman 94, a Waterman 42, and a Pelikan 400NN, all with flex nibs (to various degrees). I think they’re beautiful, interesting pens, and the nibs are out of this world.
Flexible nibs offer line variation. They can write from an extra-fine to a double-broad, or a fine to triple-broad, or just fine to medium. The line variation will depend on the nib, and how easy it is to achieve full line variation will also vary nib to nib.
If you’re looking for a flexible nib in a modern or vintage pen, you probably see a lot of nibs described as soft, springy, or extra-flessible. Although these offer some line variation and snap back from pressure, they are not full flex nibs, so be careful with how much pressure you apply. They are a lot of fun though, and add a lot of expression to ones writing!
I have a Waterman 12 that is a simple, straightforward pen. It doesn’t have a fancy, complicated filling system or an ornate nib. It’s as simple as a cap and barrel, a nib, and a feed. Fill the barrel with ink and you’re good to go. I love the simplicity. Easy to clean, easy to disassemble and maintain, and writes beautifully.
I have read conservative recommendations on the life span of an ink: one year. Wow. I have definitely used inks longer than one year, and own inks that are much older than one year old! If it doesn’t smell really weird, and if is clean (doesn’t have chunks or slime in it), it’s very likely perfectly okay. I like Sheaffer Skrip King’s Gold – it’s a legible yellow that shades nicely when used with a flex …