Esterbrook #8440 Nib

Esterbrook 8440 nib

The latest addition to my Esterbrook nib collection is the Esterbrook #8440 Superfine nib. This was a special purpose nib and Esterbrook’s most expensive nib back in their day. The scarcity and price has made this the most expensive Esterbrook nib these days, by a large margin.

My #8440 is well used. Much of the gold plating is worn off, although it remains in the engraved lettering. There’s also ink staining on the white base. While the photos make it look like the gold plating is worn unevenly, to my naked eye it looks like the gold remains inside the engraved letters and lines while the raised areas have a slight gold sheen. It looks like it belongs this way rather than being worn down.  I debated a bit as to whether this was worth the price and decided to buy it when a comparable specimen (probably worse, hard to tell from photo) sold on eBay for significantly more than I paid Anderson Pens for this nib. The Anderson Pens price was at the very top of my budget and I decided I’d have to be very lucky to get a better nib for less.

The nib was promoted as a map making nib and is often described as a cartography nib. The nib is engraved “Superfine” so that’s what I’ll call it. I don’t have the original packaging but photos show it labelled for map making, super fine and special posting, with a emphasis on map making.

As expected, the nib is needle sharp and stiff as a nail. Both good things in my book.

Considering this is such a thin nib it’s remarkably smooth. I put the nib on an Esterbrook J and filled it with Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz to give it a try. The nib glides smooth and easy over Rhodia No. 16 Dotpad paper. There’s a bit more feedback on Doane writing paper but just enough to be reassured that it’s writing. I do need to keep a light touch but as long as I do the nib moves easily and puts down a consistent line, pressure does cause the nib to catch on the paper.

While I did write the draft of this article using the nib, this isn’t a nib I’d use for every day writing. I’d use it more for marking up other documents or writing notes when space is limited. While writing with a light touch isn’t a problem for me, I start getting careless when I start writing fast and the nib can catch on all but the smoothest paper. I have the same issue with other needlepoint nibs, so it isn’t unique to this nib.

I didn’t have any problems with Rhodia, Doane (Jotter & writing pads) or Field Notes (Original and the “Drink Local” editions). No skipping or false starts and a smooth writing experience. Well, smooth within the parameters of a needlepoint nib that needs a light touch. It writes better than a couple modern needlepoint nibs that I have.

Despite the thin nib, and limited ink on its tip, I find it takes surprisingly long for the ink to evaporate off the nib. I can consistently put the nib down for over 2 minutes and its still wet when it meets the paper again. So far, only R&K Blau-Schwarz ink has been used, other inks may evaporate faster.

I have two nibs that are similar to the #8440 nib, the Esterbrook #1550 and #2550, and used them in the sample for comparison. Both are “Firm Extra Fine” nibs. Viewed through a loupe the #8440 is clearly thinner than the other two. The #9550 is also similar and has tipping material but I don’t have one of those. You’ll see two #1550s in the writing sample. The first one just didn’t seem to be writing right so I tried a second that I had (it’s a very common nib) and it was much better.

Wrapping Up

The 1550, 2550, and 9550 could all be purchased for a fraction of an Esterbrook #8440. The writing experience isn’t all that different. I want to say the #8440 is smoother but that could be my brain wishing it to be. It is worth mentioning that these are all old nibs and there could be variations in performance even within the same nib type as seen in the two #1550s I used in the sample.

Esterbrook #2314F Nib

Esterbrook 2314F Nib stiub tip photo
Esterbrook 2314F Nib stiub tip

The Esterbrook 2314F nib was my first Esterbrook stub nib. It’s main attraction was that it was a fine nib. After using it I sought out the wider “B” nib and ended up with the 9314B. There are differences between the two nibs besides the size of the line they put down.

My nib appears to be unused, or lightly used, before it reached me. It’s a smooth writer but since these are all old nibs, manufactured decades ago, other nibs may vary.

The box is labelled:

  • Relief Fine Stub
  • Fine Stub
  • Solid Durachrome Renew-Point
  • Made in the U.S.A. Esterbrook Camden N.J.
Esterbrook 2314F Nib box photo
Esterbrook 2314F Nib box

It’s a left-oblique nib, but unlike the 9314B the so-called “sweet spot” covers a large angle so it’s easy to get a good flow when writing with the nib. It’s very forgiving if the pen is rotated while writing.

It’s a thin nib so shading is minimal at best. There is some slight line variation in the line which adds a little character. Additional variation is probably possible by rotating the pen while writing. But even when I experimented with different angles, I kept the same grip for the writing session.

Characteristics

  • Very slight line variation
  • No shading
  • Much wider “sweet spot” than the 9314B
  • Wrote consistently on all paper types used

Esterbrook #9314B Nib

Photo of the 9314B nib
Esterbrook 9314B Nib

Esterbrook pens are nice and are built like tanks, holding up well over the years. But what really interests me with Esterbrooks is the variety of nibs.

The 9314B is my latest acquisition and came to me as NOS (New Old Stock) along with an Esterbrook SJ pen. Being a 9xxx series nib it’s part of their “Master Point Series” which are iridium tipped. “Relief” is what Esterbrook called their left-oblique nibs. Richard Binder’s site discusses left-obliques among other nib types. This particular nib is a left-oblique broad stub. Since this is an old nib, even if it is NOS, performance between nibs of the same type may vary widely and your experience may vary.

Printing on the box includes “9314B Relief Broad Stub”, “Master Durachrome Renew-Point”, and “Made in U.S.A. Esterbrook Garden N.J.”

Photo of all 4 sides of the 9314B box
Esterbrook 9314B Box

I prefer extra-fine and fine nibs, but a broad nib seems better suited for trying out an oblique nib so I wanted to give it a try. I’ve used Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun and Noodler’s Habanero so far.

It took a little practice to find the sweet spot of the nib. The pen is rotated counter-clockwise about 45 degrees (just a guess) from my normal position (I’m a righty). My grip is the same, I just rotate the pen. It seems like I have to rotate the pen a little more than I’ve seen in some videos, such as this one by John Mottishaw, but it’s where I get the best performance.

I did use the nib briefly with the SJ pen but found that the pen was just a little too small for my tastes. It was a bit difficult to keep the oblique nib aligned properly as I wrote. But that was because the pen was just too small for me, nothing due to the nib itself. It’s perfect in the full size Esterbrook J pen.

Close-up of the Esterbrook 9314B nib tip
Close-up of the 9314B oblique nib tip.

The oblique nib provides a little more excitement than a plain old broad nib and it’s nice change from the safety of thin nibs. Although I can’t really use the nib for note taking a work. I typically jot down quick notes and it’s too cumbersome to have to find the right nib position each time I pick up the pen just to write a quick note. It’s not difficult, but the nib isn’t forgiving. Plus, as I reach around a keyboard, books, coffee, etc… on my desk to write notes my writing posture isn’t always conducive to the proper alignment of the this nib.

I did enjoy using the nib for longer writing sessions. My writing needs to be a little bigger with the large nib but it’s not too different than normal. The nib isn’t a gusher, at least not with the inks I used, but it’s wet enough for me and the flow is consistent.

I did have some issues using Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun ink on Maruman Eco Spiral Note paper. At first I thought I was having problem finding the nib’s sweet spot, but it was skipping even when held properly. Switching to Doane Paper without changing my grip resulted in proper flow from the nib. Noodler’s Habanero didn’t have the same problem with the paper and Fuyu-syogun worked well on other slick papers such as Rhodia.

Characteristics

  • Some nice line variation although subtle with my normal writing.
  • The nib needs to be used properly aligned to its sweet spot.
  • Can skip if the nib doesn’t stay properly alight while writing.
  • The nib is more finicky on slicker fountain pen friendly papers such as Clairfontaine

Despite being a broad nib, I expect use this nib more than my other broad nibs.

Last Week’s Ink: The Nibs

No new carries this week. The Esterbrooks from last week will be around for another week. Since all were new nibs for me I figured I’d recap my initial impressions. These pens will stay my daily carry throughout the coming week.

These are all vintage pens and nibs, so there’s likely to be variations even among the name nib types, so these can’t really be considered reviews,  just my experience.

Click on any of the pictures to get a higher resolution image of the nib. All pictures are straight from my Penvelope 6 case and the nibs reflect any ink spattering or creep that has occurred.

Esterbrook J with nib #2668
Esterbrook J with nib #2668
Esterbrook #2668 nib
Esterbrook #2668 nib

Even though the #2668 nib is listed as a “firm medium” and I prefer fine nibs, it looked looked to be on the thin side of medium. so I figured this would be my daily writer and I filled it with Montblanc Bordeaux, my favorite ink.

I liked the nib. It was a smooth writer without any skipping or hard starts. Unlike some of the other nibs it wrote immediately whenever I pulled it from the case. The longest it went unused was about 2 days.

The line put down is on the thin side of a medium, very nice, but nothing spectacular. This will make a good daily writer which is how I used it the past week. I used it to take work and meeting notes.

Esterbrook J with #2442
Esterbrook J with #2442
Esterbrook #2442 nib
Esterbrook #2442 nib

The Esterbrook #2442 nib is listed as a Falcon stub and I didn’t know what that meant. I’ve also seen it listed as being used for backhanded writing. When I looked that up it seemed to refer to a grip used by lefties. I’ve also seen this described as a firm smooth nib that was popular with executives. No offense to lefties, but it doesn’t seem like a nib for lefties would have been popular with execs sixty years ago. So I was confused and anxious to give this nib a try. I filled it with another favorite but discontinued ink –  Montblanc Racing Green.

The nib seemed OK at first, then I started having problems, mainly skipping but with the occasional hard start. With some experimentation I found the angle of the nib affected performance. It performs better at a lower angle. I’m not a lefty, but the flow was good when I wrote with my left hand, of course my writing was terrible. It also wrote well when I used an overhand grip with my right hand above the pen, similar to the way some lefties write to avoid smudging ink.

As you can see from the pictures there’s ink all over the nib. It was carried with my other Esterbrooks and this is by far the worst. They all travel in my Penvelope 6 case but do bounce around in my computer bag as I travel.

One useless fact is that the nib is knife sharp. I accidentally stabbed myself through the fingernail with it but the nib seems no worse for wear. Short story – I reached for stuff sliding off a table with the pen in one hand and it found the fingernail on the other hand. That was after all my experimentation so it didn’t affect my experience.

Esterbrook Dollar Bandless with Nib #1554
Esterbrook Dollar Bandless with Nib #1554
Esterbrook #1544 nib
Esterbrook #1544 nib

I put the #1554 nib in my Esterbrook Dollar Pen. It’s listed as a firm fine nib used for clerical and shorthand writing. I expected to like this pen and picked R & K Sepia. A newer ink for me but one I’ve liked in testing.

This was my most problematic nib. The nib was dry after being unused overnight and it took some coaxing to get going the first time I pulled it out each day, even if it was first thing in the morning.

The nib was also rough and caught on and dug into the paper while writing, even smooth paper like Rhodia. Rhodia was better but that was relative, it was still a rough writer.

Not a pleasant nib to write with.

Esterbrook J with nib #9128
Esterbrook J with nib #9128

When I pulled this pen out to use the #9128 nib the first time at work there was ink all around the cap threads. I figured it was leaking but when I got home and took a good look I saw it was a blue-black ink, not the light green that I filled it with. This is the pen that had all that old ink in the cap. The pen was ink free when I did the initial writing samples a couple hours after inking it. So I took the pen apart thinking there might be ink in the body. But it seemed ink free. So I’ll give the pen another thorough cleaning and try again.

Because of this I haven’t used the nib.

Esterbrook J with nib #9048
Esterbrook J with nib #9048
Esterbrook #9048 nib
Esterbrook #9048 nib

The Esterbrook #9048 nib is an extra flexible fine nib which I’ve seen described as for shaded writing, I’m not experienced with flex nibs so flex nibs are lost on me. Still, it’s a fine nib so I wanted to give it a try. I picked Noodler’s Apache Sunset for this nib since even I can get some shading from this ink.

There is some flex to the nib, even though it’s a steel nib and I did get some line variation. I won’t go as far as to say there was any shading to speak of. The nib also seems suited for general writing. I didn’t have any flow problems with general writing.

With flex I did have some railroading and some inconsistent ink flow. But this is from an inexperienced flex writer so it could be me.

Esterbrook J with nib #2048
Esterbrook J with nib #2048
Esterbrook #2048 nib
Esterbrook #2048 nib

The Esterbrook #2048 nib is referred to as a Flexible Extra Fine Falcon and a Flexible Fine (shaded). It’s a thin nib so I’d put it in the extra fine category. After the experience with my other Falcom nib (#2442) I expended some discomfort using this nib, I was wrong.

I picked Diamine Oxblood ink for this nib since I like it in my thin nibs. I don’t see shading in this ink with my thin nibs and didn’t see any here. I did get some line variation when I varied the pressure but it wasn’t really noticeable since the nib is so thin.

This nib was a joy to write with. My favorite of the batch. It seems to glide along the paper and it’s not a nail. It helped that I really like Diamine Oxblood as I’m partial to burgundy inks.

Esterbrook SJ with nib #2314F
Esterbrook SJ with nib #2314F
Esterbrook #2314-F nib
Esterbrook #2314-F nib

The Esterbrook #2134-F nib is another one I was looking forward to using. It’s a fine oblique nib also called a fine stub.

The nib took a little practice. It provides the best shading when I hold the pen normally but rotate the pen counter-clockwise about 15 degrees so the nib is at an angle to the paper.

I used Iroshizuku Fuyo-syogun (gray) ink. Despite the thin line there’s some nice shading from light to dark gray, This is another nib that performed well without any skipping once I rotated the nib,

I’m beginning to enjoy stub nibs the more I used them and I think this is one I’ll grow to like more over time.

It’s been an enjoyable week getting to know these Esterbrook nibs. It’s the many nib selections that piqued my interest in Esterbrooks and it’s been fun exploring them.