Next up on my list is the Esterbrook #2556 Firm Fine nib. Ok, actually I missed the #2550 because my aging eyes can’t tell a 0 from a 6 so I’ll circle back and get that one next time.
I have two Esterbrook #2556 nibs. One has the round feed that Esterbrook introduced in 1950 and used until the end. The other has a flat feed design. I think it was the first design (pre-1943) since it’s very flat. But I could be wrong since I haven’t seen any for comparison and it could be the wartime design, made between 1943 and 1950.
I don’t have a box, but in the photos I’ve seen the box is labeled both “Firm Fine” and “General Writing”. A catalog reproduction from around 1939 in the Esterbrook book by Paul Hoban also lists the nib for accounting, penmanship and fine writing.
The #2556 nib is a DuroCrome nib which means there’s no tipping material, just the rolled steel. Both my nibs are nice and smooth considering the lack of tipping material and their age. They’re not silky smooth but there’s very little feedback with either nib. Despite their age the nibs appeared unused, or at least only lightly used when I got them. The older, flat feed, nib is just a tad smoother than the newer nib.
For inks I used Rohrer and Klingner Salix (an iron gall based ink) in the newer nib and Waterman Serenity Blue (formerly Florida Blue) in the older nib. Both pens were stored nib up overnight and the nib with the Salix ink had a bit of a hard start the next day. It was fine once it got going.
In the writing sample the E020 and E036 just identifies the specific nib in my accumulation so I can keep track of them. E020 is the newer, post 1950 nib and E026 is the older flat-feed nib. While I did use different ink, there wasn’t any noticeable different in the ink flow between the feeds.
The nib design is basic and to the point. The name Esterbrook is engraved along with the nib number and “Made in the U.S.A.”, no fancy design or engraving. I like the look of the chrome nib as I write.
The Esterbrook #2556 is currently $10 at Anderson Pens and $12 and up on eBay although I did see it included in auctions for multiple nibs.
It’s always a crap-shoot with these old nibs, especially the ones without tipping material, but I my case I got two samples that put down a nice, smooth, and consistent line. Any nib that can be can be described with the words “firm” and “fine” has no problem getting my attention and this one is definitely worth keeping and using. The Esterbrook #2556 Firm Fine nib is equal to or better than many of the modern fine nibs in my accumulation.