Next up in my Esterbrook nib list is the Esterbrook #9788 Flexible Medium nib. Like all 9xxx series nibs it’s one of the nibs Esterbrook called a “Master DuraCrome Nib.” It’s osmiridium tipped. Osmiridium is what Esterbrook called the tipping material although it’s probably mostly iridium. At that time osmiridium wasn’t clearly defined and was an alloy of different metals. Iridium was one of those materials although there wasn’t any standard for the mix of metals.
Esterbrook promoted the pen as being for “shaded writing”, at least on nib charts from the 1950s. The box I have is labeled both “Flexible Medium” and “Shaded Writing.”
There is some flex in the nib, as the name implies. I’m not proficient at using flexible nibs so I’m not the best judge, so take this for what it’s worth. It’s a steel nib so there’s not a great deal of flex. The tines do spread with pressure and variation in line width is possible. Ink flow is excellent and I didn’t have any problems when flexing the nib. I also found the nib enjoyable to use normally (no flex). I’d pick it over the #9668 that I have. There’s slightly more ink flow and I like the line better. Of course, I may say the opposite with a wetter, more free flowing ink.
My particular nib has the final feed design and the Esterbrook name and nib number are engraved the length of the nib. Aesthetically I prefer this lengthwise engraving over engraving across the nib.
My particular nib was an eBay purchase and was new-old-stock (NOS) and arrived with the box. Prices seemed to have spiked since I got my nib. I found current eBay buy it now prices of $75. Anderson Pens prices the nib at $45 but it’s out of stock.
As I also said with the #9688 nib, the #9788 is a very nice medium. I’d pick the #9788 over the #9688 if price wasn’t considered. With the Esterbrook #9788 currently selling for five times the #9688 I’d be hard pressed to justify it’s purchase unless my skills with flex nibs dramatically improve. I’d also think skilled flex writers could do better with some other vintage flex pen for about the same money. So my Esterbrook #9788 Flexible Medium is a keeper, but not one I’d replace if it’s lost or damaged.
This is the last of my Esterbrook nibs, so the last nib notes. At least until I find some more. You can find all the, nibs and links to their nib notes on my Esterbrook Nibs accumulation page.
I’m getting near the end of the quest through my accumulation of Esterbrook nibs. It’s time for the Esterbrook #9668 Firm Medium Nib.
Like all 9xxx series nibs it’s osmiridium tipped. Nib charts from the 1950s list the nib as being for “general writing.” It’s a basic, middle of the road nib that’s not very exciting. This one has “Esterbook” and “9668” engraved the length of the nib, with Esterbrook on top of the nib number. It’s a nice clean design which I like.
My particular nib was in a batch of nibs I bought on eBay, I didn’t have a box but did appear to be in mint condition. The nib is a nice smooth writer that puts down a wide medium line. It helps that the nib is wider than the fines so it doesn’t dig into the paper fibers. There’s good flow and no hint of skipping. While it does have “firm” in the name it doesn’t feel as nail-like as the fine nibs. I’m becoming more accepting of medium nibs and this one has a nice feel to it.
It’s a basic nib that was probably pretty popular in its time. But it is a Master DuraCrome which were more expensive, so it isn’t a bargain basement nib these days. An eBay search finds one with a $15 BIN price. Anderson Pens lists it for $20 although it is out of stock.
It’s a nice medium nib. That’s not exactly a raving endorsement from me since I prefer fines and extra fines. Despite that it’s a nice writing nib and I may find myself inking it up in the future as medium nibs seem to be growing on me. The Esterbrook #9668 Firm Medium is a keeper.
9668 Nib Sample Writing – The Esterbrook Forum – The Fountain Pen Network
I didn’t notice until posting the photos that I refer the the nib as a firm fine in the writing sample. I had fine on the brain. The nib is a firm medium.
Next on my Esterbrook nib parade is the Esterbrook #9556 Firm Fine nib. It’s very similar to last week’s #9555 shorthand nib. The #9556 feels just slightly less smooth, although it is still very smooth. I really have to use the nibs together to notice. The difference is so minor it could be a manufacturing variation or age and the nibs could be intended to be duplicates. Although, logically the Gregg certified shorthand nib would be expected to be smoother out of the box since it’s intended to be used for shorthand. (Both nibs came to me as mint.)
The nib has “Esterbrook 9556” engraved the length of the nib on two lines which is a clean design that I like a lot. The ink flow from the nib is very good. Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun can be hard to read if the ink is thin plus it’s a fairly dry writing ink. The nib puts down a nice consistent, dark, even line even when writing fast.
Like all 9xxx nibs it’s Osmiridium tipped. So, in all likelihood the nib will outlast me.
My particular nib was an eBay purchase of a half dozen nibs giving it a nice low price. A recent search shows single nibs on eBay for $23 (BIN). It’s out of stock at Anderson Pens but they list it for $15.00.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – any nib called “Firm Fine” is OK in my book. Esterbrook also labelled this nib for “general writing” and “fine writing.” But whatever it’s called, I like the Esterbrook #9556 Firm Fine a lot and will keep the pen inked up so I can continue to enjoy the nib.
Esterbrook A101 w/9556 Nib – Fountain Pen Reviews – The Fountain Pen Network
I missed last weeks Esterbrook nib notes, but I’m picking back up up this week with a very nice fine nib. The Esterbrook #9555 Fine nib is listed in a 1955 nib chart as being for “Fine Writing” and includes shorthand marks. It’s listed in a 1959 nib chart as being for shorthand, no mention of fine writing and it’s not listed as a fine nib, just “shorthand”. Although it is listed between an extra fine and a fine nib.
The nib is 9xxx series “Master Duracrome Point” nib that is tipped with Osmiridium. Esterbrook called it Osmiridium which is an alloy of osmium and iridium. At the time the make-up of Osmiridium wasn’t clearly defined and it may have been more iridium than anything else. The nib has “Esterbrook 9555” engraved lengthwise on the nib which looks sharp and is a style I like.
My particular nib came with a pen and was in mint condition without any signs of use. I see the nib on eBay for just over $20 (buy it now). Anderson Pens lists it at $12 but doesn’t have it in stock so the price may change if they get some.
As I found when I researched the #1555 nib, Gregg Publishing licensed the name for pens (and nibs) that met their standards. Thin and firm nibs were preferred for shorthand because they allowed for quicker writing. But it looks like there were additional requirements beyond just a firm fine nib.
Like the #1555, this nib meets those requirements and is very smooth. I can see that it would perform very well with quick writing and frequent direction changes. The nib puts down a nice crisp, solid line with a good amount of ink. Even though Fuyu-syogun is on the dry flowing side, there’s very good flow from this nib.
I like the Esterbrook #9555 Fine nib a lot. It’s a relatively low cost 9xxx series Esterbrook nib which makes it even easier to like. I’ll be keeping this Esterbrook inked up and I’ll use it until it runs dry.
Next stop for the Esterbrook nib train is my Esterbrook #9550 Firm Extra Fine nib. As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite three nib related words are firm, extra and fine, preferably in that order. So this nib has a lot of promise.
Like other 9xxx series nibs the #9550 is osmiridium tipped and part of their Master DuraCrome Point line.
My particular nib has quite a bit of feedback, especially when writing on paper that’s not smooth. I say not smooth, rather than rough or coarse, because I don’t consider Doane Writing Pads to be coarse or rough paper. But the feedback on this paper makes the writing experience less than enjoyable. The line put down on Doane paper, at least the writing pads, is much thinner and I have to press harder to get a good solid line.
On the other hand, writing on smooth paper is a much more pleasant experience. It’s still a dry writing pen on smooth paper but a light touch can be used and the line is consistent. No skipping, but not an abundance of ink either.
There’s not much more to say about this nib, It’s name covers everything you need to know – Esterbrook #9550 Firm Extra Fine. I enjoy the nib on smooth paper but it’s not enjoyable on the types of paper I typically use during the day. It’s just too thin. Next time I ink it up I may try a more lubricated ink to see if it helps smooth the writing a bit. But I’m not hopeful. The Esterbrook #9550 Firm Extra Fine, at least the one I have, doesn’t live up to the potential of its great name.
This FPN thread mentions some smooth 9550s
Grandmia Pens shows an Esterbrook with the #9550 nib on YouTube. The nib is unveiled at the 4:48 mark.