Nib Notes: Esterbrook #3556 Firm Fine "Sunburst" Nib

Esterbrook 3556 Firm Fine nib

The Esterbrook #3556 Firm Fine nib is my only 3xxx series nib.These are often referred to as “Sunburst” type nibs due to their elaborate engraving on the nib.
These were the first Esterbrook nib that had tipping material, which Esterbrook called Osmiridium. Osmiridium is a rare alloy, although I haven’t been able to find out if Esterbrook used the natural alloy or made there own from osmium, iridium and maybe a little platinum. Later 9xxx series nibs were also Osmiridium tipped. According to Paul Hoban’s Esterbrook book “The Fountain Pens of Esterbrook” the #3556 nib was one of four 3xxx series nibs introduced in 1938. The osmiridum tipped nibs 3xxx nibs were identified with a red sleeve (the part that slides into the pen). The nibs were phased out by 1944. The 8xxx series nibs also used the Sunburst design but were gold plated and Palladium tipped. Some of the 3xxx series nibs were made in the UK, were gold plated and lacked the Sunburst design. although the #3556 is not one of these.
My particular Esterbrook #3556 is a smooth writer. True to its “firm” name there’s no spring to the nib. There wasn’t any skipping or false starts and it was a consistent writer.
My nib has the early flat feed design which makes sense since Esterbrook probably stopped manufacturing these when they introduced the wartime design feed. There was some nib creep, of sorts, ink liked to jump out to the wings of the nib as if following the rays of the sun.
While the tipping material may provide more durability, I found the untipped #2556 to provide just as good of a writing experience. And as to durability, I suspect even the untipped nib will outlive me.
The 3xxx nibs in general are hard to find and the Esterbrook #3556 is no different. I did see one listed on eBay for $50 and another being sold with a Dollar pen for $80.
The Esterbrook #3556 firm fine nib is a winner in my book simply because it has two of my favorite nib related words in its name. The Sunburst logo provides something to admire when it’s being used. But based strictly on the writing performance I find the #2556 to be its equal, despite the lack of tipping material.

Sunday Notes and Links

Franklin-Christoph Model 03 apped on mirror
My favorite pen of the last week – with Caran d’Ache Chromatic Infinite Grey

My favorite pen/ink of the past week has been my relatively new Franklin-Christoph Model 03 with an extra fine nib and Caran d’Ache Infinite Grey ink. It’s an expensive ink but it may just be worth it with this pen. Maybe not so much with other pens. I’ll have an review of Infinite Grey in a couple of weeks.

A Penchant for Paper: Rhodia Ice
Midori World Meister’s Note Vol. 4 “Katagami” Notebook Review | THE UNROYAL WARRANT
Edison Pen Company: Edison 2014 Limited Edition Group Buy Update….
FPGeeks | Montblanc 149 Meisterstück 90th Anniversary Fountain Pen – The Awesome Review
Golden Bear Pencil: A Review — The Finer Point
Gourmet Pens: Review: Pelikan Tradition M200 Clear Fountain Pen – Fine
Pilot Vanishing Point Review — Modern Stationer
Smart Travel Tips for Pen Geeks | The Well-Appointed Desk
Sailor 1911 Black Luster Fountain Pen – M Nib — The Clicky Post
Storied Pasts and Screwed Up Caps | My Pen Needs Ink
Write to Me Often: Photo of the day / Günün Fotoğrafı 39
Notebook Stories: Notebook Addict of the Week: A Four Year Old!
Pen Review: Lamy 2000 – The Pen Habit
Palimpsest: The Pencil Pen of Hinks and Wells

Ink Reviews

Noodler’s Ottoman Rose – Ink Review | Stationary Journey
Sailor Jentle Apricot ink review | Pens! Paper! Pencils!
Diamine Red Dragon ‹ inklode
Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Yama Budo — Alt. Haven

Currently Inked – June 28, 2014

Currently inked
Writing samples for currently inked pens

I didn’t do a lot of writing ink June and I ended up flushing a couple pens before they went dry so that only four pens are still inked from a month ago. A few Esterbrooks entered and left the rotation briefly so I could try some nibs.

The Franklin-Christoph Model 03 with Caran d’Ache Infinite Grey was my favorite pen/ink combination of the month and was re-inked for this month.

I was on a definite Sheaffer kick when I picked pens to ink up. Three of the Sheaffer are new (to me) and I picked three others from my accumulation. A Sheaffer also hold the only vintage slot among the pens.

Pens inked for the month ahead…
Franklin-Christoph Model 66 Stabilis Desk Pen (extra fine)R&K Blau-Schwarz LE // Kaweco AL Sport Stonewashed (extra fine) – Black Kaweco cartridge // Franklin-Christoph Model 03 (extra fine) – Caran d’Ache Chromatic Infinite Grey // Pilot Custom 823 (fine) – Pilot Blue-Black // Sheaffer Triumph Lifetime (fine) – Montblanc Bordeaux // Sheaffer Crest (extra fine) – Sheaffer Skrip Red // Sheaffer Targa (fine) – Sheaffer Skrip Blue-Black //  Sheaffer Legacy I (stub) – Montblanc Racing Green // Sheaffer Custom Legacy (extra fine) – Caran d’Ache Chromatic Infinite Grey // Caran d’Ache Ivanhoe (fine) – Pelikan Edelstein Ruby cartridge // Sheaffer 300 (fine) – Sheaffer Skrip Black Cartridge

Pens For Sale

Three pens for sale
Three pens for sale

I just added two pens to my accumulation so I’m offering two pens for sale and dropped the price on the one remaining from the previous thinning. I’ll entertain reasonable offers, especially for multiple pens, but I’m not looking to trade. Paypal only. Pen boxes and accompanying paperwork is not included with any of the pens.
Shipping in the U.S. is $6 per order (any number of pens in one shipment) and includes tracking. You can contact me for a price on international shipping. You can use the contact form on the For Sale page or email me at ray [at] A firm “I want it” along with your paypal address and I’ll send a paypal invoice and then will send the pen(s) within 2 days of receiving payment.
Stipula Model T with the Titanium nib. The pen is reviewed here. The pen is the Malachite (green/black) design and includes the converter and the eye dropper. The barrel is hard to unscrew from the section, I often need to use gripping material. The pen is in excellent condition. The o-ring for eye dropper conversion is still in the pen the and in good shape. (I’ve never used the pen as an eye dropper.) SOLD
Sheaffer Intensity Carbon Fiber with a fine nib. This pen was reviewed here in April and hasn’t been used since then. I can’t believe I’m selling a Sheaffer, a carbon fiber one no less, but that metal and relatively thin section keep me from using the pen. SOLD
Sailor 1911M in Yellow with gold trim and black tips. It has a 18K broad nib. The nib is engraved “H-B”. The pen was purchased in 2005. There are dots of ink stains on the threads which I’ve tried to show in the photo below. There’s some minor blemishes on the clip. Otherwise the pen is in excellent shape. A converter is included. SOLD
Additional photos for the Sheaffer and Stipula are in their respective reviews. The Sailor 1911M is below.

June Ink Sample Giveaway

The comments are closed. There was a winner.
I reviewed four inks in June and thought it would be a good idea to let someone else try them out. So I’m giving out sample vials of each ink to one winner. The vials have about 3 ml of each ink. This is open internationally but I will use the absolute cheapest delivery method so it may take awhile (read that as many weeks) to get to some countries.
The inks I reviewed in June were:
Franklin-Christoph Black Magic
Montblanc Midnight Blue
Diamine Syrah
Montblanc Mystery Black
To enter – add a comment to this post before 11:59 PM EST on July 4th that tells us what your favorite ink is. I will post the winner on July 5th and you’ll have 14 days to contact me.
WordPress comments do require a an email address but his address does not have to be valid. If it’s not valid I would ask you use something you remember so I can use it to verify it’s really you and not someone trying to hijack your prize. I’ll never share your email address or use it for anything other than this giveaway.
One entry per person please.
All comments are numbered 1 to whatever in the order they appear under this post. I’ll use to pick the winning number.
Good luck!