Reader Cliff offered to send me an Esterbrook Falcon nib and I gladly accepted. What I didn’t realize until it arrived is that it is the same number as my favorite Esterbrook nibs — the #2442. It turns out that the #2442 is also called a Falcon nib or a Fine Stub. Needless to say, I was thrilled to have a second one as I have far more Esterbrook pen bodies than I do nibs but first, I needed to do a little research about what exactly made a nib a “falcon” nib.
As best I could glean from the Internet is that a Falcon nib was also a term used to describe a left-leaning italic nib which is also sometimes considered a left-handed italic. This does not mean only left handed writers can use it but that it does seem to benefit lefties who tend to write leaning a bit to the left.
At close inspection, the two 2442 nibs look a little different. The one on the left is the one I’ve had for some time and my go-to pen. The cleaner one on the right is the one that Cliff sent me and the tines seem tighter and the angled tip looks a bit sharper in the corners.
When I put them to paper side-by-side, a mysterious and slightly unsettling thing occurred. My older 2442 wrote like butter, like it was made for my hand. With the feathery-lightest of touches, it applied ink to the page. No scritchy noises, no snags or skips. When I put Cliff’s shiny, new 2442 to paper it revolted against me. It skipped, stuttered and behaved most uncivilized. How could this be the same nib? One would think the new nib would behave well and the old nib would be grumpy and fussy but no. It was the other way around. How could this be?
I pouted for days and grumbled and wondered. My instinct is that the new nib needs a little tuning to match my writing angle, to smooth the end for my somewhat wonky writing angle. It requires some pampering and adjustment to grow up to be as fabulous and flaw-free as the older 2442.
My takeaway from the experience is that not every nib, even from the same manufacturer, is going to be perfect, or perfect for me. We, as pen lovers, can either choose to pass it on to someone else who it might be perfect for, or tweak it, tune it or manipulate it to work with our needs. This is not the first pen that did not perform as I anticipated. I’ve had a vintage Parker that were actually broken and leaked like a sieve. I have had brand new pens from manufacturers respected for their craftsmanship fall short of my expectations (one due to an inherent flaw and one to do a user flaw). Over time though, I’ve learned not to let these experiences sour me on fountain pens. Each is a learning experience and what may be a jewel to you may not be for me. That’s part of what makes the world of pens and fountain pens so wonderful.
Feel free to share your own pen experiences in the comments, for better or for worse.
(Nib sent to by reader Cliff, aka Caleath. Thank you for your kindness. I will make this work!)