Starting Calligraphy – which type of nib?

If you have decided to use a dip pen or nib for your calligraphy the next decision to make is which nib to use.  There are a wide range of nibs available.  They fall in to 2 categories; edged nibs and pointed nibs.  The style of lettering you want to learn will determine the type of nib to use.

Edged nibs have a straight edge. Typically, the edge varies in width from about 0.5mm wide to 5mm wide.  In general, the wider the nib the bigger the writing.  Edged nibs are used for a wide range of lettering styles including Roman Capitals, Foundational Hand, Italics, Gothic and Uncials.  Edged nibs are usually cut straight across, but many nibs are also available cut left-oblique.  Left oblique nibs are cut such that the right-hand edge is higher than the left-hand edge i.e. the edge slopes down towards the left.  They are cut this way to help left-handed people hold the nib at the correct angle. So, right-handed people want square-cut nibs and left-handed people want left-oblique nibs.  The main ranges of edged nibs are William Mitchell Round Hand Nibs, Chronicle nibs, Brause Bandzug Nibs and Speedball ‘C’ Style nibs.  Some of these are cut right-oblique!  The most popular square-cut nibs are the William Mitchell nibs and Leonardt Round Hand nibs.


Leonardt Round Hand Nib





Pointed nibs have a pointed tip rather than a straight edge! In calligraphy a pointed nib is used for Copperplate and Spencerian styles of writing. They are also used for Ornamental Penmanship.  A wide range of pointed nibs are available.  The choice of Pointed nib is based upon how flexible it is and how thick the point is.  The more flexible the nib is the thicker the line can be produced when pressure is applied. The thickness of the point will determine the width of the line without any pressure applied.  The most popular nib for Copperplate and Spencerian is the Leonardt Principal EF nib

Leonardt EF Principal Nib





3 thoughts on “Starting Calligraphy – which type of nib?”

    1. Yes you can. But you will quickly run out of ink – probably at an inconvenient moment, which would be frustrating!

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