When you don’t have an opportunity to try a pen out, it can sometimes be difficult to know what nib size you want.
If you’re new to fountain pens, here are some considerations to think about:
1. Size of your handwriting: if you have smaller handwriting, or frequently need to write in smaller spaces, then consider a smaller nib size.
If you would like to use your pen to express your handwriting with more ‘character’ you may also consider a broader nib, as you will be able to get slightly more variation with it.
2. Dry time of ink, or when and where you’re writing: if you’re on the go or need to move quickly, you will probably benefit from having your writing dry faster. While ink and paper are pretty important factors in how fast your writing dries, the finer the nib size, the faster it will dry as there’s less ink on the page.
On the other hand, if you’re writing letters or journaling at home, the dry time may not be as big a factor for you.
3. Smoothness of writing: of course there will always be buttery smooth EF nibs and scratchy B nibs, but in general with all things similar, an EF nib may be just ever-so-slightly scratchier as it’s …an extra fine point on your page. There’s less lubrication from the ink, so the nib may not glide quite as smoothly – but it also does have to do with the maker. A beautifully made Sailor EF nib may end up better than a B nib from a poorer company.
4. Calligraphic or italic nibs: these are designed specifically for calligraphy and have a straight across cut as opposed to a rounded edge. This enables you to draw a consistently fine line in one direction, and a consistently broad line in the opposite direction.
5. Left-handed: Lamy does make a left-handed nib, which I would put at between a fine and a medium. The nib is slightly more rounded than the other nibs, to make it smoother as you ‘push’ into the paper from the left side. While it is not vastly different from writing with a regular nib, but each person’s writing experience can be quite personal.
The Lamy Safari is a terrific pen to start with. It’s durable and consistent, isn’t prone to leaks or cracks, and is pretty forgiving in maintenance. The added bonus of being able to buy and swap out just the nibs as you get used to fountain pens is also nice.
You can look at the samples to get a sense of how wide the line will be, and compare it how you generally write.
The nib size samples above were written with Noodler’s Burma Road Brown.
You know your own handwriting and what you’re doing best, but if you really have no idea what size nib you’d like, I would suggest going with a Fine nib. It’s a good standard nib size for everyday writing, and Lamy nibs are smooth, with good flow.