My fascination with exotic nibs, or nibs that were different from your regular ‘M’ that was and is marketed by most manufacturers began back in 1984 when I discovered the Rotring Artpen.
These were offered individually as well as a set. I actually saw an ad for it somewhere and went over to my pen dealer who did not have it; but said he will get it. Sure enough he brought it in and I picked up a set. It was a fascinating experience and I used these pens on an everyday basis for quite some time.
Soon enough the search began for an italic nib on one of my regular brand name pen, like Montblanc, Parker and Pelikan. I just could not find a manufacturer at that time producing italic nibs in carat gold. During those days of the 80’s I also discovered the Pelikan MC 120 which came with 3 italic nibs. Again these were steel nibs plated gold. As my search progressed I discovered that there are individuals who will actually grind carat gold nib into an italic nib! The first store I discovered that had a ‘nib meister’ who grinded nibs in addition to fixing vintage and modern pens were Penfriend, in Burlington Arcade in London England. They were more than happy to grind any nib to your liking. One did not have to purchase a pen from them, although they preferred it so. It is here that I got my first Pelikan 800 broad nib grounded to an Italic. It was superb and most enjoyable. At around the same time I discovered Gustavo Rodriguez of NYC then and now Texas. He was a general consultant to pen stores in the greater New York area but also repaired and grinded nibs. Gustavo created an excellent italic nib for my Waterman LeMans 100. Interestingly enough both pens were later sold to customers who tried them as I used to carry it in my pocket! And then there was the ultimate ‘nibster’ John Mottishaw who came on the scene mid-nineties and he is an artiste at this. Over the years, I have got him to grind many nibs for my personal use as well as for a number of my customers. We continue doing odd transactions and keeping in touch. I first met Richard Binder when he was showing at the Toronto International Pen show in the early 2000’s and first got exposed to what he called Arabic/Hebrew Italic nib; a very fascinating nib grinding concept. John Mottishaw by the way calls it the Architects Nib. The Architect grind (also called Hebrew or Arabic grind) is a unique nib shape that creates thin vertical strokes and thick horizontals. The nib performance is the reverse of what you would expect from an italic or stub. And this nib went to become my all favourite nib of all time. I have a number of these nibs on different pens. While I started using these, I had a number of customers wanting to purchase them. The best solution I figured was to get a bunch of these grounded by Richard in the Pelikan 200 nibs which I would then sell separately or fitted onto a Pelikan 200 body. These nibs became a popular sale and along came Sean Gosse to whom I would send Pelikan 200 BB point nibs to ground into the Architect nib. He continues doing this for me to date although he does not do pen repairs on a full time basis anymore, but definitely sets up a booth at the annual Scriptus pen show in Toronto. Please look forward to more on exotic nibs in my next blog post.