top of page
Biblioteca vecchio stile


A curved metal plate, with a tip of different type and width, cut in the center for a certain length; a support straw on which to attach it to be able to hold it while writing. This, in a nutshell, is the nib from its origin, well before the appearance of fountain pens.

Already from the early nineteenth century the metal nib became the main device for writing. The nib was dipped into the inkwell containing the ink and, thanks to the ability of the surface of the curved metal to retain a few drops of the colored liquid, three or four words of medium length could be traced on the paper. At this point the operation was repeated: the nib was dipped in the ink again and the writing continued.  With various expedients both in the shape of the nib and in the perforations and in the addition of metal plates (known as "reservoirs"), an attempt was made to increase the writing autonomy for each intinction, which however remained extremely limited. And always with the risk of seeing the ink drip onto the paper: the greater the quantity of ink collected by the metal foil, the greater the probability that the slightest vibration would create a stain.

These nibs were normally made of carbon steel. A very flexible material, comparable to a spring, but subject to very rapid oxidation, especially with the humidity of the ink. The nib on its support straw therefore had to be replaced very often because it was already unusable after a few writing sessions. This was until the advent of the first gold nibs

The use of the gold nib in dip pens began in fact around 1850, when it became possible to strengthen the gold by soldering a small iridium sphere to the tip of the nib. This solution was made necessary by the fact that gold, in itself too soft, was subject to wear rapidly with friction on the paper during writing. Thus, to the softness and flexibility of gold it was possible to add the extreme hardness provided by iridium or alloys of osmium and iridium.

of a nib

Each object has its own names and in the case of the nib it is important to familiarize yourself with its components, which already constitute an ideal path to understanding its functions and manufacturing methods.

Tip (carbide) ; 

Right wing and left wing; 

Air hole;

Right shoulder and left shoulder;


Indication of the metal alloy;

Main body; 


Central cut.

nib anatomy_edited_edited.jpg
I print ok_edited.jpg
nib stiflex_edited.jpg
Nib OK1_edited.jpg

Gold nibs and their manufacture

Thanks to its intrinsic softness and flexibility, as well as its durable qualities, gold is the ideal material from the point of view of writing performance. From the point of view of the aesthetic value of the pen, then, the gold nib fears no comparison. On a practical level, the dimensions also came to represent a way to underline the social condition and wealth of the user.    


At the beginning of the last century, the undisputed capital of gold nib production was New York. Many of the European manufacturers, when they launched their production in this era, preferred American-made gold nibs. Indeed, they announced the fact with pride, as a symbol of distinction. As production volumes began to increase, some manufacturers explored the possibility of using nibs from the A. Morton firm of New York.

In 1909, Kaweco bought the Morton factory and moved it to Heidelberg in Germany, thus starting an all-European manufacture of gold nibs, which still today - as well as in Germany - continues in Italy with very few companies, including Stipula.

The Stipula nib and its production by hand

In 2013 Stipula undertook the recovery of the artisanal system with which the historic Globus company of Cavaliere Mario Cecchini of Bologna had created ebonite nibs and feeders for fountain pens starting from the 1930s.

Globus produced gold and steel sheets with around 200 artisanal molds for most of the major international writing brands of the time.  At the end of the 1960s the Globus nibs stopped being produced and Cavaliere Mario Cecchini arranged to store the equipment in an old cellar in the center of Bologna, where they were found by Stipula after his death and later restored and made new functioning.

Thanks to this restoration work, today Stipula is able to guarantee the production of very high quality nibs. The profoundly traditional conception of Stipula nibs makes them totally revolutionary today for the writing performance that they guarantee.  

Stipula's Sti-Flex nib is made based on the ancient manufacturing criteria of the early 1930s, which are now completely forgotten. The Sti-Flex, thanks to the very particular combination of thicknesses, cut and refinement of the tip, is an authentic flexible nib from the beginning of the last century and as such can fully fit among the few nibs today capable of excellent expressiveness on paper.

The Stipula nib is laminated from precious and semi-precious alloys with specific thickness gradients; it is sliced to obtain the shape of the sheet; follows the shaping, the welding of the sphere of very hard and resistant material (normally an iridium alloy); cutting the tip with micrometric saws and refining the tip, to obtain the type of stroke desired in writing. 

Nib blanking 1
Nib cutting 2

The ink supply system

To integrate the nibs, Stipula - thanks to the ancient Globus equipment - has also recovered the production of ebonite feeders, a necessary accessory for the most excellent features of fountain pens.


Although already in 1881 there had been attempts in England to solve the supply of ink to the nib when this was fixed on a rudimentary reservoir, the problem of how to transport ink to the nib and at the same time send air bubbles back into the tank to cancel the pressure differences was solved only by Lewis Edson Waterman in the United States in 1884 (the official year of birth of the fountain pen in its modern sense, with the filing of the relevant patent in his name).

In the creation of his patented feeding system, Waterman applied the principle of capillary action: while a wider groove, engraved in the feeder, brought the air back into the tank, two other very thin grooves took the ink there, for the effect of capillarity. Compared to all the other products on the market at the time, this pen worked surprisingly well. But it still stained your hands and, if not carried very carefully, it still leaked ink inside your pockets.

An 1899 improvement to the patented feeder finally ensured a perfect seal for the fountain pen. In traditional pens, the heat of the hand or even the change in atmospheric pressure was enough to cause the air and ink contained within the body of the pen to expand, causing leaks. Spoon-shaped “overflow pockets” were cut into the new Spoon Feed feeder first developed by Waterman. From here the excess ink was sucked into the actual tank or consumed in writing.

This modified power supply has remained substantially unchanged from a structural point of view to this day.

Stipula still manufactures its traditional ebonite feeders completely manually. They are the power supplies with the greatest performance and with a higher level of customization in determining the quality and quantity of the ink supply.

In addition to ebonite, Stipula also uses molded synthetic plastics. In these feeders it is possible to enhance the fineness of the capillaries, solving in a very sophisticated way the game of ink dispensing and air recovery which has always been the basis of the functioning of the fountain pen.

The calibration
of the tip of the nib

The manual shaping of the writing tip probably represents the most delicate step in the entire nib manufacturing process. In fact, the iridium tip is finished by hand on special shaped wheels starting from a small sphere of appropriate diameter made of iridium alloy or another very hard metal.


The fine calibration of the tip in terms of response on the paper is then added to the grindstone finishing of the tip in the final phase of the preparation of the fountain pen, when the feeder is already coupled to the nib and therefore the fountain pen can be testedalivewith the use of ink.


Only a few particular hands, endowed with strong sensitivity and experience, are able to delve into this individual fine-tuning of the nib. With the aid of special microabrasive materials and using purely manual mechanical maneuvers, the optimal performance of the nib is achieved in this way. 

Shaping of the nib on the grindstone

The varieties of the tips
and the Stipula nib types

In principle, one can conceive as many different nib tips as there are users' hands and indeed as many possible uses of the nib by a user. So we are faced with a potentially unlimited variety of possible tips and optimizations of the ink delivery system of a fountain pen. 

In tradition however, due to the need to schematize the manufacturing criteria, some main basic points have prevailed. Among these Stipula manufactures the following classic "teardrop" profiling tips: 

  • Ultrafine UF approx. 0.45mm in width;

  • Extrafine EF approx. 0.60mm in width;

  • End F approx. 0.70mm in width;

  • Medium M approx. 0.80mm in width;

  • Wide B approx. 0.90 mm in width. 

Stipula also makes two nibsstub, i.e. calligraphic tips with iridium addition. They are slightly rounded and softened at the corners, although shaped for a wide/narrow writing register as typical of calligraphic art; but precisely because of their characteristic of softening the edges they can be easily used in more ordinary contexts:

  • Stubs 0.90mm;

  • Stubs 1.10mm.


In addition to the variety of basic nibs, Sitpula offers several different types of precious metal nibs for shape and curvature, specific alloy of the precious metal used for manufacturing, characteristics of cutting and rolling of the metal. There are two main types of stipulation: 

  • Sti-flex,Flexible nibs suitable for enhancing expressiveness, both in 14k gold and 18k gold;

  • Manifold, more rigid and precise as was typical of some areas of use, both in 14k gold and 18k gold.

All the precious Stipula nibs, both Stiflex in the two different gold carats and Manifold in the two gold alloys available, are always made by hand according to the dictates of the Italian masters of the 1930s, with the aid of the original Globus - Bologna equipment of the time. We therefore always start from mold casting of the virgin metal up to rolling, forming the sheet and refining the iridium alloy tips, individually welded with an electric arc. To end with the final calibration of the tips, their optimization at the feeder and the test with ink on paper.

nibs from sotto_edited_edited.jpg
Photo Pennini_edited.jpg
bottom of page