We frequently are asked which pointed pen nib is the best or which one a customer should use. Unfortunately, there will never be one correct answer to that question because pointed pen nibs are truly a matter of personal preference. Using the wrong nib can cause immense frustration and can make you feel as if you will never see success. Pointed pen nibs vary greatly in flexibility, and finding the one with the right give for your hand can make a tremendous difference. Our copperplate sampler allows you to try twenty-five of our more popular nibs to help you find the best fit.
To illustrate the difference in opinions and results, we asked three of our customers, all young and talented professional calligraphers,to test the nibs in the copperplate sampler for us. Schin Loong, Bailey Amon Rivera, and Arney Walker all graciously agreed to participate and submitted wonderful sample writing along with their thoughts on each nib. Remember, opinions on nibs vary greatly. We’re not presenting these opinions as factual information about the nibs. Rather, we’re presenting them to allow you to see users’ experiences as they tested the various nibs. In fact, we encouraged all three ladies to be candid in their responses to the nibs by simply writing informal notes while they used each nib. Below you will find every nib in the sampler, along with writing samples and the thoughts of each calligrapher. These three ladies have different styles of writing, and each produced lovely, unique work. While even their insight can’t guarantee that you will select the perfect nib, seeing the various results and differences in opinions may be a helpful starting point.
Gillott Nibs are manufactured in England and are among some of our most popular nibs, particularly the Gillott 303 and 404. They are a distinctive dark blue color, and many are quite small. Flexibility ranges.
Schin: Pretty good nib I guess
Bailey: This is a nice and easy nib. Nice thick “thin” strokes for digital reproduction.
Arney :Not sharp at all, not very flexible, thick hairlines
Schin: Hate this nib! UGH
Bailey: Good but a little difficult to write with
Arney: Flexible and sharp, fairly easy to write with, felt more comfortable to use
Schin: Hate this so much. Ew. Ugh!
Bailey: Very scratchy and difficult. Hard, especially on up strokes.
Arney: Very sharp, very difficult to write with.
Schin: Love it! Popular favorite.
Bailey: Nice but a little difficult to use. Nice swells.
Arney: Very sharp and mildly flexible. I used to use this, but it was tricky.
Schin: Love it! Crowd favorite!
Bailey: This is great! A little hard to start, but I think it would wear in well.
Arney: This is not as sharp as the 303 and had mid-range flexibility. Not a bad nib for a beginner; I think I used this one starting out, too.
Schin: It’s okay I guess.
Arney: Very stiff nib. There’s not a lot of difference in thick and thins. Another good nib for beginners.
Schin: Okay when it works.
Arney: Very thick hairlines. Not as flexible.
Brause nibs are manufactured from cold steel and special tools are used to press out the specific models. The EF66 is one of the most popular in this line.
Schin: Always loved it and always will!
Bailey: I still like this nib. Why don’t I use it more?
Arney: This is my preferred nib, so I’m very comfortable with it. It’s not as sharp, and it gives you slightly thicker thins.
Schin: I love it! Brause is great.
Bailey: Love, love, love!!
Arney: Medium flexibility, not too sharp. I really liked writing with this one.
Schin: Pretty nice nib. Really comfy.
Bailey: Pretty nice to write with. Very delicate.
Arney: Very, very stiff. Thicks and thins not as pronounced; probably a good beginner nib.
Hunt nibs are manufactured here in the United States by Speedball. This line offers a wide variety of choices and remains quite popular with our customers.
Schin: Pretty nice!
Bailey: Quite lovely. A little delicate, but not hard to use.
Arney: Slightly more flexible than the Hunt 56.
Schin: Pretty good! Love it.
Bailey: Pretty nice. A little scratchy on the upstrokes.
Arney: Very stiff. Probably another good beginner nib.
Schin: Love it! Scratchy, though.
Bailey: Weird…maybe for flourishing? Hard to make letters with.
Arney: Not sharp at all. All thick strokes. A bit awkward to write with.
Schin: Kinda like it…sorta.
Bailey: Wouldn’t write.
Arney: Very, very, very flexible and sharp. Tough for a beginner to use.
Schin: Almost as good as the Leonardt Principal but much scratchier.
Bailey: I like this nib. You have to be super delicate with your pressure, so it lends itself to very fine, delicate letters.
Arney: I like this one. It had medium flexibility and was a nice kind of sharp.
Schin: Hate! Scratchy.
Bailey: Difficult to write with. Very flexible.
Schin: Lovely delicate thing.
Bailey: Such a tiny nib. A little weird to write with; kind of scratchy. Good for tiny, thin writing.
Arney: Not a big difference in thicks and thins; needs a lot of ink; very small nib; not flexible.
Schin: Great flex but scratchy.
Bailey: Interesting. Nice juicy swells, but it drops ink easily so you must develop a rhythm.
Arney: Very, very flexible nib-probably too flexible for a beginner. Feels very fragile when writing; super small.
Schin: Stiff and boring.
Bailey: Pretty nice. A little monoline even with pressure.
Arney: This is a very, very big nib. It’s also very stiff; hard to maneuver and write with.
LEONARDT and HIRO NIBS
Leonardt nibs are manufactured in England by Manuscript. Several of these are a bit newer to our inventory, but the Hiro 40 and 41 remain two of the tried and true favorites.
Schin: Railroads a lot. Otherwise good.
Bailey: Loose, drops ink so you have to write slowly. Good for precision and classic lettering.
Arney: I really liked this one. It holds ink really well and just the right amount of flexibility for me.
Schin: I know it’s popular, but I don’t like it much.
Bailey: Nice. Creates interesting letters. Different.
Arney: Thicker lines. It gives you a more square top to your letters.
Schin: Kinda stiff…MEH!
Bailey: Must be very light on upstrokes but nice to write with.
Arney: Not very flexible; no thicks and thins when I wrote with it.
Schin: Love it! Nice and easy.
Bailey: Like. Good response. Thins are thick enough for reproduction.
Arney: More flexible. I liked this nib.
Leonardt 300: (This is actually a ballpoint nib; the tines flip up on the end.)
Schin: I think I got a dud. 😦
Bailey: Very strong. The tip is flattened which makes for an almost squared off line.
Arney: Very strange to write with. Bent tines.
Chrome nibs are very sturdy and hold up well for beginners.
Schin: Oldie but goodie. One of my favorites.
Bailey: My favorite nib. It is durable and the thicks and thins are perfect for reproduction.
Arney: I use this one a lot for more delicate work. It’s a stiff nib, and it gives you great hairlines.
We appreciate the time and effort Schin, Bailey and Arney put forth in testing the sampler. Upcoming articles will feature all three ladies individually so that you can learn more about them, their favorite products, and their respective businesses. For more information about pointed pen calligraphy, be sure to read our article on getting started.