"Tipping Size" is a term that refers to the actual writing
surface provided by any given nib--the size of the part of the nib
that actually comes into contact with the paper. Not surprisingly,
nibs on the finer side of the spectrum have the smallest tipping
sizes, while broads, stubs, and the like offer the largest--but
that still isn't the whole story.
The tipping sizes on standard nibs differ from company
to company, and even from country to country. The Japanese standard,
for instance, is smaller than that used by Italian and German manufacturers.
The American company, Bexley, uses a German nib. Pelikan, meanwhile, offers
the greatest selection and ease of installation.
The numbers below were acquired through our own micrometer
measurements of the tips themselves; they are not intended to specify
the written line-widths each would produce, since these will vary
due to writing pressure, ink, and paper choice. We have even found
that there can be slight variations in tipping size between individual,
identically-labeled nibs made by the same manufacturer--but the
chart below still provides a useful reference point.
To avoid any potential
confusion, it should be noted that calligraphy nibs use a different
and much broader scale than fountain
pen nibs. A fountain pen fine, for instance, is much less than half
the width of a calligraphy fine.
Most vintage pens, on the other
hand, are found with extra-fine and fine nibs. Medium nibs are less
common in these pens, and broads are rare. Vintage fine and extra-fine
tips are even finer than most points made today.