Brian’s Mailbox #4

My email inbox gets a plethora of interesting pen related questions, and I spend a good deal of time crafting thoughtful responses to each person. A lot of times, the questions I get are good ones that I feel are worth sharing with others, so that’s what this post is for! Here goes:


I would like to obtain a TWSBI medium nib for my Diamond 540 ROC, but I would like the new Bock nib as opposed to the Schmidt medium nib that it came with.  Do you now, or will you soon carry one?  I understand that these pens just arrived, but to me the difference in the two nibs is like night and day, and I want to “upgrade” the one on the ROC.

The new TWSBI color 540’s that just came in all have Bock nibs, as well as the stub 1.1 and 1.5 nibs. The clear 540’s that are coming in a couple of weeks will have Bock in the EF and F nibs, the M and B will still be Schmidt. They will be switching everything over to Bock soon. We only got in whole pens this go around, not nib units which you’d probably want for your ROC. The nib units that are sold individually only come with a clear section (intended for the clear 540), but you can actually remove the nib from the section if you wish to put it in your ROC. However, I don’t have an official word on when the medium nibs in the nib sections that are sold by themselves will be switching over to Bock, for right now they are still Schmidt and I haven’t heard anything otherwise yet.

I’ve been waiting for the coming of the TWSBI 700 Vac.  I see it’s coming in blue and will order one when it comes in. Question:  I just saw a video on an Ink Filling Tool to fill the 700 fully.  Will you be selling these also?

The VAC 700 is set to arrive the end of February, so it’ll be a little bit of a wait still. As far as the filling tool, it’s basically like the TWSBI inkwell that’s out right now for the 540, except it’s made to fit the VAC 700. It’s still in prototype stage though, so there’s no estimated arrival date for them. The VAC 700 has been in prototyping stage for 2 years, so I wouldn’t get too excited about the VAC 700 filler just yet, it’ll likely be the end of the year before it’s ready, maybe longer! But yes, we will carry them whenever they’re available.

I have small hands, and I’m worried that the VP will be fat and heavy. Do other people (women in particular) with small hands find it comfortable to write with? 

The VP is hit-or-miss for most people, and you’ll know it the first time you hold it. I always have my wife hold all of the pens I use to get her opinion because her hands are much smaller than mine, and she uses 4 fingers to grip her pens, where I only use three. She tells me that she does like the VP, and that if there’s anything that is a nuisance for her it is the clip, but that has to do with her 4-finger grip more than the size of her hands in relation to the pen. The weight, balance, and diameter of the pen are all comfortable for her. The deal breaker for the VP is the clip, since most pens have the clip in the back and not where you would grip the pen. This clip is an obstruction for some men and women alike, so determine if the way you hold your pen would be interrupted by a thin clip on the top part of where you hold your pen. For me, it’s not in the way at all. It’s not a problem for most people.

I’ve read that the fine nib is ultra fine and can be scratchy. I like fine point pens, but I’m wondering if, in the case of the VP, I should go with medium. I’ve read that the medium is a pretty big medium. In other words, there’s not an in between that’s just right with the VP. 

The fine nib on the VP is really fine, actually finer than a Lamy extra-fine! It’s just how Pilot does it. You can actually compare the writing width of each nib for every pen we sell (including all the VP’s) in our Nib Nook: http://www.gouletpens.com/Articles.asp?ID=268
As far as if it’s scratchy or not, it really shouldn’t be. For some people who aren’t used to fine nibs, it can seem scratchy just because the finer you go, the less nib there is that touches the page, but it also means that the nib tine alignment is very important. Brian Gray of the Edison pen company has a great article about nib adjusting: http://edisonpen.com/page.cfm/IPGnibs2 

I prefer a medium nib for myself though. Unless you REALLY want a fine nib, then a medium is nice. The medium Pilot nib is about like most other fine nibs. Here are the VP nibs compared to each other (like you’ll see in the Nib Nook):

The jump from fine to medium is noticeable, but not overly dramatic. The jump from medium to broad is actually much more significant.

Why is Noodler’s La Reine Mauve sold in 1 ounce bottles (as opposed to 3 or 4.5 ounces, like the rest of Nathan’s inks), and why is it so expensive?  Is there something special in it?

The components used to make all of the 1-ounce Noodler’s inks are more expensive, and if Nathan was to make them in the regular 3-oucne sizes, they’d be over $30 each. Nathan wanted to keep the price attainable still, so he puts them in 1-ounce bottles instead. As far as exactly what is in them that makes them so expensive, that’s something that only Nathan knows as it’s proprietary information! It is a waterproof and UV-resistant ink though, so whatever gives it that permanence is what makes it expensive.

Hopefully these posts are helpful to you! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. Also, feel free to shoot me an email anytime, your question could end up in the next Mailbox! 

2017-10-11T14:02:53+00:00 January 31st, 2012|Mailbox Monday, Uncategorized|6 Comments
  • Freddy

    Brian, I have noticed, as in the question above, that there seems to be a lot of back and forth on the Schmidt vs. Bock nibs in TWSBI pens.  Is there really that much difference?  Does the one write significantly smoother than the other?  I am assuming that I have Schmidt nibs for my 540 as I purchased the pen with a fine nib and an additional extra fine nib from you several months ago.

    Again, thanks for another interesting Mailbox.  

  • Up until this most recent batch of colored 540 demonstrators, all of the EF, F, and M nibs coming in were Schmidt, and the B were Bock. Personally, I didn't notice a huge difference between the B Bock and other Schmidt nibs, they all write pretty well to me. The colored demonstrators that just came in have Schmidt M and B nibs, and Bock EF and F nibs, so I'm told. And the italics are Bock. I haven't yet done any testing to see if there's a big difference between the comparable nib size Bock vs. Schmidt nibs. Some people have written me saying they feel a huge difference, others don't. Bock is a little better known for making good nibs, so undoubtedly the move to Bock is of benefit to TWSBI (and ultimately us TWSBI owners), but I don't know if it's worth fretting about replacing your existing Schmidt nibs with new Bock ones. 

  • Gerald

    Hi Brian! This seems to contradict what you wRote above where you say all colour demonstrators are bock. What nib can I expect on my broad smoke? (what a funny sounding question)

  • I'm sorry Gerald, I was mistaken. I corrected my comment. The colored demo 540's that came in are supposed to all have Bock nibs, in all sizes. The clear 540's that are coming in will have a mix of Bock and Schmidt. I'll be honest, it's been very confusing to keep track of, even as a retailer for TWSBI. There is no indication on the nibs stating whether they're Bock or Schmidt, and it's very difficult to tell the difference. I'm relying on TWSBI's info saying which nibs are what, and as you can see, it's hard to keep track!

  • Kirtar

    As a note on the question about the vp's size, if you try one and feel line it's too thick, find an importer that carries the decimo. It won't fix the clip problem, but it is a bit slimmer.

  • Yeah, I wish the Decimo was regularly available in the US, sadly it is not. There are a couple of people that have them.