More of His Nibs

20 01 2021

OK, so if you’ve been following, you’ll know I took receipt of half a dozen new dip nibs yesterday. If you missed it and want to catch up on the fascinating story, you can click here. If you didn’t miss it, you already know it was far from fascinating.

I’m sure I was not alone in keeping my nibs in a small Altoids tin with a bit of kitchen towel to try and keep them dry and rust free. Practical but not what you might call aesthetic.

A hint of minty freshness

I couldn’t help feeling though that perhaps my nibs were getting a bit muddled and even in danger of getting damaged. It was kismet then that I happened across an old blog posting by Anne Elser who described a “calligraphy nib book” she’d made.

Source: Anne Elser – Calligraphy Nib Book

I’d previously seen a similar concept using slices of corrugated card to sort and “file” calligraphy nibs, but Ms Elser’s version (allegedly derived from one used by her friend Victoria Lansford) was a step beyond.

Such good ideas take on a life of their own and want to multiply and develop beyond their origin. It’s a form of evolution. Really! It’s true – Richard Dawkins coined the word “meme” for it (French for “same”) in his book “The Selfish Gene” back in pre-Internet 1976, and look what happened there! Ironic that the very word took on a life of its own.

Source: Lifewire

So I did a tad more digging and found Ms Elser had even gone to the trouble of creating an instruction sheet with easy to follow, er, instructions.

Source: Anne Elser – click to go to original page

So simple in fact that even I could follow them!

I happened to have a scrap of Coroplast (the stuff “for sale” signs are made from – get one from the dollar store if you can’t grab one from someone’s lawn sign) which I thought might be a bit more hardwearing than ordinary corrugated card.

It was comfortably large enough (Ms Elser’s plans call for a letter-sized piece, 11″ x 8½”), and I set to work…

Neat nibs

The standard pitch of the tubes was a little too large for the crowquill sized pointed nibs I had (bottom/right in the photo). They disappeared down the bottom and held on petulantly to the duct tape they found there. Having recovered them with the aid of a cocktail stick, I found a neat solution by snipping off a centimetre or so of Q-tip and putting that in the slot first. The cotton swab stopped the nib dropping all the way to the bottom of the tube and the rolled paper stick stopped the nib rattling in the tube too. It actually held it quite firmly so it won’t fall out when tipped up.

If I were to make another (an evolutionary step), I’d make the folder a little less deep. An inch (pieces 2 and 4) is too fat for the 4 tiers of nibs. Either that or add more tiers I suppose.

The other tweak I’d make would be to make piece 3 slightly shorter (by the thickness of the card) and place the “pages” slightly higher on piece 1 (by that same thickness). That would allow the final flap (piece 4) to sit on the inside of piece 1, flush beneath the “pages” and keep things a little neater.

All in all though – a quick and easy way of storing your loose nibs and more easily seeing what you’ve got.



3 responses

20 01 2021
Wendy T

I put a dessicant pack in the tin with my nibs. I save them up from different things like crispy snacks and vitamins. I really like the NibNest and will consider making one!

20 01 2021
Quieter Elephant

Those little gel packs are useful for all kinds of things aren’t they? I’d love to see your own version if you do make one. Mine took about 15 minutes, but I’m sure someone with more artistic flair could do a much classier one!

21 01 2021
Wendy T-C

I have a small collection of vintage index card boxes. I use some of them to store vials of ink samples (18 per box). I think one of the boxes can hold nibs upright with the use of some corrugated something or other.


“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” — Katharine Hepburn

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