Monday, March 18, 2024

More on the overflexing of vintage nibs

I've been sounding the alarm about the abuse of flexible nibs for years now, and though others have also tried to spread the word, far too many irreplaceable vintage nibs are still being destroyed by being pushed far beyond their safe limits. The simple fact is that even very flexible vintage nibs were only meant to open up in routine use by a millimeter or so. 

A recent post by Otto Yang in the Facebook group Vintage Flex Fountain Pens rekindled the discussion in a big way. Otto shared a selection of 19th and early 20th-century handwriting in support of the observation that normal writing of the era was quite restrained when it came to line width variation, and that pushing vintage nibs to line width variations of 2 mm or more is far beyond what they were ever intended to handle. This was all well and good -- but things really blew up when, primed by this still-ongoing conversation, a seller was publicly called out for heedlessly posting in the same group an advertisement promoting the exact sort of extreme nib abuse under discussion. 

The pen community is small and congenial, and up until now the desire to keep the peace has prevented most such confrontations. Yet given that sellers have been given ample notice (though it may be that many never bother reading or otherwise participating in the groups in which they hawk their wares) such an intervention is long overdue. As long as sellers are allowed to brazenly mislead buyers about the capabilities of vintage nibs without being publicly challenged, the destruction of old nibs will continue.