• A Guide to Pointed Pen Calligraphy Nibs

    This is a great post for calligraphy beginners! In it, you’ll learn about pointed pen calligraphy nibs and which one(s) may be right for you. You’ll also find out how to tell nibs apart and other very helpful tips such as how to prepare nibs for use!

    A Guide to Pointed Pen Calligraphy Nibs | The Postman's Knock

    When you first decide to learn calligraphy, you’ll find that the internet is rife with assumptions about what you already know. Many articles assume that you know about calligraphy nibs when, in fact, many people don’t realize that there’s a difference between any two given nibs. In this blog post, we’ll examine a few pointed pen calligraphy nibs, including where to get them and what to use them for.

    What are Pointed Pen Calligraphy Nibs?

    There are a few different types of calligraphy out there, but TPK focuses exclusively on pointed pen calligraphy. You create pointed pen calligraphy with pointy nibs, and those nibs result in letters that have elegant, subtle stroke contrast.

    A Guide to Pointed Pen Calligraphy Nibs | The Postman's Knock
    All TPK calligraphy styles are pointed pen calligraphy styles. This is an example of a Janet Style envelope.

    Other types of nibs include broad-tipped nibs, crow quill nibs, and monoline nibs. Again, the TPK blog and website focuses exclusively on calligraphy styles made with pointed pen nibs. You’ll know that you’re dealing with a pointed pen nib because the nib tapers to a pointed tip, and when you apply pressure to the bottom of the tip, the tines split.

    Brause Rose Nib | The Postman's Knock
    Pointed pen nibs such as the Brause Rose end at a point. However, when you apply pressure to the nib, the tines spring apart. The split helps you to create beautiful, thick downstrokes!

    Which Pointed Pen Nibs to Use

    It’s impossible to tell you which nibs are best because different people connect with different nibs. In general, I recommend that beginners start with the Nikko G nib (you can learn why in this article). Once you get the hang of calligraphy, start collecting all sorts of different pointed pen nibs! Sooner or later, you will find your nib … the one that you happily use for almost every project.

    Kaitlin Style Calligraphy | The Postman's Knock
    My nib of choice is the Brause EF66 nib, pictured here in an oblique pen. I used it to write this Kaitlin Style envelope! This nib creates a great contrast between thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes.

    I realize that “collect nibs and figure out which ones you like” is very vague advice. For a concrete list of nib recommendations, you can read the Which Calligraphy Nibs to Use and Why post. In that post, I suggest that you keep a Nikko G, a Brause EF66, a Leonardt Principal, and a Brause Rose nib in your artillery. That’s far from a comprehensive list, though. There are so many other wonderful nibs out there like the Hunt 101, the Zebra G, and the Brause Steno! The best advice I can give is that it’s best to collect and try, collect and try. You’ll eventually figure out which nib works best for you and the projects that you gravitate to!

    How Do You Tell The Difference Between Nibs?

    Nibs are easy to purchase online because the nib’s name is in the product title. If you’re shopping in person, however, you may be stumped on how to figure out which nib is which. Enter this handy nib anatomy cheat sheet:

    The Lowdown on Calligraphy Nibs | The Postman's Knock
    Most nibs can be identified by an engraving on the shank.

    As you can see, each nib is identified on the shank. This may seem obvious, but it took me a couple of years to figure out, so I wanted to mention it!

    Which Calligraphy Pen Should You Buy?

    If you’re just starting out with calligraphy, I’d purchase a straight pen with a universal insert. You can tell if a pen has a universal insert by looking at the bottom. If the pen’s bottom has four metal petals surrounded by a metal rim, then you’ve got a universal insert.

    A Guide to Straight Calligraphy Pens | The Postman's Knock
    Almost any pointed pen nib can fit in this universal insert! You can learn more about straight pens in The Beginner’s Guide to Modern Calligraphy.

    It’s important to have a pen with a universal insert because universal inserts will accommodate a variety of calligraphy nibs. You can switch nibs out and in as you please, which allows you to try a variety! (For a complete list of calligraphy beginner supplies, take a look at The Ultimate Modern Calligraphy Starter Kit.)

    Other Things to Remember

    I have mentioned this in several other TPK blog posts, but it can’t be said enough: clean your nibs when you get them. Really. Here’s the thing: nibs arrive with manufacturers’ oils on them. These oils keep nibs nice while in storage. However, when you go to use them, you’ll find that the ink tends to bead up on unwashed nibs. You can solve that problem by sticking your nibs into a potato, as per the video below:

    There are a few other important things to remember when using your calligraphy nibs. They include drying the nibs completely after every use, not applying too much pressure while writing, and properly storing nibs. You can learn more in the 5 Tips for Maintaining Calligraphy Nibs blog post.

    I know that many of the tips above are peppered throughout the TPK blog in various posts. However, I think it’s important to have them all in one place here, especially for beginners! Regardless of your level of expertise, if you have any questions, nib recommendations, or observations, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

    I hope that you are having a great holiday season! Don’t forget to check TPK social media on Christmas Eve (12/24) and Christmas Day (12/25) for a couple of special coupon codes. 🙂 You can find TPK on Instagram at @thepostmansknock, and you can find the TPK Facebook by clicking here.

    Thanks very much for reading, and happy holidays!


    Lindsey's Signature | The Postman's Knock