The Art of Re-Tipping a Nib
One of the things that most fascinated me about the fountain pen world when I first got involved was this idea that a pen was actually something more than a disposable piece of plastic that could be chewed on, stepped on, and thrown away when it stopped working. As a fairly young person (and an American to boot), I have grown up in a largely throwaway world. It’s rare to come across something that is intended to last for decades like a well-made fountain pen.
The idea of permanence in fountain pens really resonates with me when you start to talk about the art of the nibmeister. To think that there are people in this world, albeit a very few of them, who make their livings by resurrecting fountain pen nibs is, to my mind, truly fantastic. It’s a very rare and fascinating bit of artisan skill, and one that highlights the immediacy and intimacy of the fine writing instrument to a great extent.
Someone on the FPGeeks forum posted this video today, and I had to share it here. It’s so fascinating.
I have to admit that every time I see something like this, my first thought is, “Man. I really want to learn how to do that. I want to be a nibmeister.” I start looking around for training programs and equipment. I try to tackle repairs that are better left to the professional. And eventually, I realize that, while I am perfectly capable of learning that skill, there is a great deal of enjoyment in simply basking in the transcendent skills of another. I would love to be able to work on these nibs, to bring old pens back to life. And I’m sure I’ll continue to improve my skills in this area.
But, I’ll never be a nibmeister. I will probably rise to the rank of skilled amateur, but it will never be something that I’ll be able to do professionally. And that’s okay. I’m just thrilled to know that there are people out there who still strive to keep these old traditions alive so people like me get to enjoy 85-year-old fountain pens for many more decades. Three of my pens are currently on the way to California to be re-tipped and custom-ground for me. Can’t wait!