the flex and the nail

I carry different fountain pens for different purposes, always having at least one flexible and and one firm-nibbed pen with me when I go out.

These pens are a c. 1920s Moore vest pen, one of the flexiest I own, and a firm-nibbed Sailor 1911 Demonstrator that I finally had the courage to ink, something I had been putting off since I acquired it last January.

The Sailor contains dregs of Private Reserve Arabian Rose, while the Moore runs PR Copper Burst. I got a bottle of Cross ink and opened it to see how brilliantly blue it was, and tested some Paper One 80 gsm paper that I’ll have bound into notebooks.

The Tarot cards are Alex’s. It’s a Golden Dawn deck from Lo Scarabeo. She doesn’t read cards; she was just attracted to the lovely artwork.

I love the Nine of Pentacles card; the lady in the illustration could be me, with the voluptuous curves and love of pink. I wouldn’t mind looking like the glamazon on the Strength card, though.


Here’s a closeup of the Moore’s nib with its heart-shaped breather hole. This shot was taken with available light to show the texture of the paper and the gradations of the ink.


The Moore’s celluloid barrel has wonderful patterning. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore, more’s the pity. It’s a lever fill. To ink, pull down the lever with a fingernail; this forces a pressure bar inside the barrel against the inc sac, forcing air out. Dip the nib in ink, and release the lever to allow ink to rush into the sac.


The Sailor is fitted with a converter. To fill, screw down the twister to the bottom. Dip the nib in ink, and screw the other way. The ink will creep up inside the converter. A long cartridge can hold more ink but isn’t as interesting to fill.


Its 14k nib is a work of art.


The Sailor has a firm fine (F) nib with no flex, and writes thinner than Western Fs. In a Western pen, this would be XF, or even XXF.

The wide variety of fountain pen nibs is one aspect that fascinates collectors and users.


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4 Comments on the flex and the nail

  1. TAO
    9 April 2009 at 5:55 pm (4109 days ago)

    I love the Moore! Great nib on it. I wonder if anyone back when it was made would have thought that in the future we’d be admiring something that was just another utilitarian object in their mind?

    The Tarot cards are beautiful. I know nothing about tarot but I do check in with this “card of the day” blog once in a while:

    Oh, who said “the weird never stops?” Wise person, indeed.

  2. wella
    10 April 2009 at 9:36 pm (4108 days ago)

    Beautiful photos! Love the blue of the ink. The tarot cards are pretty, too.

  3. Jenny
    11 April 2009 at 1:46 pm (4107 days ago)

    @TAO: Yes, thanks for the quote, you wise person, you. :) The “Card of the Day” link is great! There’s so much beautiful artwork out there.
    As for the Moore, I think it’s wonderful that somehow, it survived the decades and passed down to us, to admire and use.

    @Wella: Thanks! Oh, for the writing samples, the best source is Leigh’s blog at She has lovely pens and does marvelous calligraphy with them. :)

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