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The pen with the marvellous nib | Conway Stewart Best Fountain Pen

Used in many of Conway Stewart’s advertising campaigns in the mid 20th century... ‘The pen with the marvellous nib’

May seem a little trite these days but on closer examination it highlights the most fundamental element every writer requires – a great nib. If the nib doesn’t do its job properly, no matter how good the pen looks and feels, it will be rejected by the writer.

So what makes a ‘marvellous nib’ in today’s world? How can we be certain that every Conway Stewart pen that leaves our workshops holds a nib that will perform to the very highest standards for you?

Let’s start with the materials...

99% of all Conway Stewart pens are fitted with 18ct gold nibs with an iridium tip. Not all major pen manufacturers fit 18ct gold nibs as standard; many now offer gold nibs as an option, and an expensive option at that!

Iridium is a very scarce metal.  It’s also one of the hardest and most corrosion-resistant materials known to man, so it is perfect to protect the end of the gold nib. Without an iridium point, the gold would quickly wear down and become unusable. But both gold and iridium are very rare materials so it’s no real surprise to find that the nib is the most expensive component of any pen.

A gold nib with an iridium tip provides the smoothest and longest lasting writing option but there are further options to consider. Why? Simply because everyone’s handwriting is different! Large and flowing, small and neat, left-handed, right-handed, sloping forwards, sloping backwards – there’s a multi-varied and complex collection of writing styles. That’s why Conway Stewart has developed a range of 18 carat gold nibs to accommodate the vast majority of writing styles.

You can choose from:

Extra Fine (EF) Suitable if you have very small handwriting or use figures a lot in your writing. With ‘normal’ writing pressure it provides a line width of 0.35 – 0.4mm.

Fine (F) Perfect if your natural style is to be neat and tidy and you like to have lots of control in your writing. 0.45 – 0.6mm line width.

Medium (M) A good option for most pen users and is always recommended if you are a newcomer to fountain pen use. 0.65 – 0.8mm line width.

Broad (B) Suitable if you have large handwriting and a flowing signature. 0.85 – 1.00mm line width.

But Conway Stewart’s range of nibs doesn’t end there! Certainly, the majority of pen users are covered by the options listed above. But what if you are left-handed, have your own individual style of writing or wish to create an artistic statement with your writing – perhaps with an italic or calligraphy nib? No problem!

Conway Stewart can also provide stub, italic oblique or calligraphy nibs to match your writing style. Better still, there’s also a personalised nib service, using one of the UK’s leading nib technicians, who will grind a nib to your exact specifications, perhaps with the use of a video of you holding a pen and writing with it to understand the mechanics of your writing actions. It’s detailed and it’s painstaking but it’s well worth it!

Nib Decoration

Conway Stewart’s 18 carat gold nibs are engraved in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham with the company’s distinctive ‘CS’ logo and the words ‘Conway Stewart’ or the Flag logo. Why Birmingham? Simply because it’s been the traditional home of pen nib manufacture in the UK for almost 200 years, so there is a great deal of expertise in the area. Each nib also bears an engraving for the nib style: F (fine), M (medium), B (broad) or EF (extra-fine), together with confirmation of its gold content: ‘18K - 750 ’.

[close-up nib pic showing engravings]

Assembly and Testing

All our nibs are hand-assembled in England by one of the world’s best nib specialists, John Sorowka. First, the nib is inspected to ensure there are no faults arising from the initial manufacture and then it is mounted onto the feeder and fitted into a threaded carrier. This is a highly skilled part of the process to ensure it is perfectly aligned so the ink flows smoothly and consistently through the feeder and onto the nib. Finally, once the nib has been mounted into a pen body, a writing test is undertaken to make sure the nib performance is 100%. It’s a long and detailed process but one which we believe ensures you receive a pen with a nib that meets all your expectations.

Here are just a few of the testimonials we have received which confirm our nib quality:

Special Nib Option

As mentioned earlier, our ‘standard’ nibs (F, M, B and EF) are suitable for most people. However, if you prefer to write in a more stylish way, with more line variation, it may be worth choosing the “Special Nib Option” where one of our standard nibs is custom ground to your specification.

Firstly, there is a Stub nib. This has an elongated profile which means your up and down strokes are wider than your sideways strokes, producing a stylish effect. You can order a stub version of either a medium or broad nib. The eccentricity of the ellipse isn’t too pronounced and the nib still has nicely rounded edges, so you can write with a stub nib just about as easily as with a standard nib. You can see a magnified silhouette of a stub nib below together with a cross showing the relative widths of the sideways and up/down strokes.

The second of our ‘special’ nibs is Cursive Italic. This has a much more elongated profile than a stub nib, so the difference between its broad up-and-down strokes and the narrower sideways strokes is much more pronounced, as you can see from the magnified profile below.  

We have also developed Oblique nibs which are ground so that the writing tip contacts the paper best when the pen is rotated in the writer’s hand. These are often used by left-handed writers.


Finally, on a more cosmetic note, let’s look at the 18 carat gold nib options available to you when you purchase a Conway Stewart pen. Most pens with gold trim are fitted with single-tone 18ct gold nibs which means the whole nib is gold coloured. On pens with sterling silver trim, we normally fit 2-tone 18ct gold nibs which have a rhodium plated edge that matches the silver trim. We believe this to be the best option visually, but you can always select an alternative when buying any of our pens – at no extra cost!

Calligraphy Nibs

Now you can put the ‘Wow’ into your penmanship by using one of our calligraphy nibs to write all those special messages to family and friends. If you use one of our standard nibs in your regular pen but would like to introduce an element of ‘character’ to your penmanship when writing those special messages, why not buy a calligraphy nib that you can swap with your regular nib? We can supply these calligraphy nibs ready-fitted onto a nib holder so you would simply unscrew one nib unit and replace it with your ‘special’. This year we are offering the following options:

This year we are offering the following options:

  1. 18ct gold nib Stub 1.1 nib - this nib does have sharp edges but it has a very nice line variation to give you that perfect Script hand writing. It is also the most luxurious of our calligraphy nibs being made in 18ct gold. 
  2. Gold plated steel 1.1mm calligraphy nib. This nib again gives a good line variation, and is less sharp so smoother.
  3. Gold plated steel 1.5mm calligraphy nib. This nib gives the widest nib variation.

Let's Shop: Calligraphy | Stub Nibs

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