Back in the late 19th into almost the middle of the 20th century a dip pen and ink on paper was the standard media for black and white illustration. Every magazine at the time depended on the skill of those artists to bring alive various articles and also many advertisments. Companies needed them for illustrating their products. Many of the artists became famous in their own right. In this post I’ll be showing you a variety of pen and ink pieces with distinctive line styles. You can use them as an exercise to try some or all of them out. From my research, which I’ll be sharing in a future post, when I’ve been able to find out the brand of nib an artist used, they almost all used one of three….Gillott, a British company and Esterbrook or Hunt, both American, plus a small variety of other, lesser known, ones.
One can buy Gillott and Hunt nibs today, but be aware that they are now totally manufactured by machines whereas the vintage ones were manufactured by mostly women using hand-operated equipment for every step in the eight-step process. The steel was different also and different “recipes” were used for different nibs. All to say the new ones are just fine and are readily and easily available, but the vintage ones are special and worth hunting for. I sell sets of vintage nibs for artists at my Fox Studio Etsy shop. I’ve used every “model” of artist’s nib myself for both drawing and sketching. They range from fairly stiff and sturdy, like a family sedan, to very flexible and touchy, like a high end sports car.