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Do I need a left-handed nib on my fountain pen if I’m a left-handed writer? – Writer's Bloc Blog

Do I need a left-handed nib on my fountain pen if I’m a left-handed writer?

I am a left-handed writer and the first time I used a fountain pen I had no idea left-handed fountain pen nibs even existed. It didn’t occur to me that there would be any problem using just a regular nib and I didn’t notice any problems. Years later, I’m back to using fountain pens regularly and have discovered that there are a few nibs out there specially designed for lefties. Many ask the question: Is it really necessary to have one of these special nibs if you are left-handed?

Left-handed fountain pen nibs are generally more rounded on the tip with the idea of producing a smoother writing experience. This particularly applies to languages such as English that are written from left to right. When left-handed people such as myself write, the pen is often angled in such a way that the pointiest part of the pen, the nib, is being pushed along paper made of fibers that are not impervious to tearing and which offer some resistance. It’s like taking a sharp nail or a pin and pushing it along a piece of paper at a 45 degree angle with the pointy end facing the direction it is being pushed. Likely you’re going to end up piercing that piece of paper with your pin! In contrast, try taking that same pin and pulling it along that same piece of paper with the pointy end facing away from the direction it is being pulled. It feels smoother as you pull it and it is much less likely that you will pierce the paper. That would be more like the experience of a right-handed writer. So as you can see, pen nibs of all kinds have a huge influence on whether or not a lefty has a good or a bad writing experience.

I personally find that a good writing experience for a lefty does not stop at the kind of nib on the pen. It is extremely important to me that whatever ink I’m using dries quickly or else I’ll smear it all over the place. The type of paper I use is also important since this affects the drying time of the ink. In addition, if paper is of very poor quality or tears easily, I may find myself poking holes in the paper with my pen or pencil. Each writer needs to experiment with different combinations of pen, ink and paper before discovering what works best for them.

I own many fountain pens with a variety of nibs, and three of them happen to have left-handed nibs. I personally find that the left-handed fountain pen nibs aren’t necessarily any better or any worse than using a regular fountain pen nib. I’m not sure if you will have the same experience. I must say though, that I can’t go wrong with my left-handed Pelikano Junior fountain pen. I don’t always want to write with such a broad nib, but I appreciate its smoothness when I use it.

(Pelikan Pelikano fountain pen with a left-handed nib compared to a Pelikano with a regular nib. Note the modified grip and the rounded nib on the left-handed pen.)

For the left-handed writer that is new to fountain pens, I would suggest starting out with a nib that is middle-of-the-road, perhaps something like a LAMY Safari with a left-handed, fine or medium nib. You might find extra-fine nibs to be too sharp and “pokey” at first, and broad nibs may lay down so much ink that you are smearing your writing too much. Another pen that I felt was easy to write with from the first time I picked it up is the Platinum Preppy with a fine nib, or for a nicer version of this pen with the same nib, the Platinum Plaisir fountain pen. If you get a chance to purchase a fountain pen with a left-handed nib, it is worth giving it a try. The Pelikan Pelikano and Pelikano Junior are both readily available with left-handed nibs. The Pelikan Pelikanos also have a grip that is modified to fit a left-handed writer. I’ve also heard of some lefties sending in their expensive nibs to be customized by a nibmeister, but I’ve never felt the need to do this myself.

Are you a left-handed writer? What kind of pen or fountain pen do you like to write with? Do you own any fountain pens with left-handed nibs?


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8 Replies to “Do I need a left-handed nib on my fountain pen if I’m a left-handed writer?”

  1. I’m left-handed, and I’ve got to say that I don’t really notice any difference between left-handed nibs and “normal” nibs. They all feel smooth to me!

  2. I’m left-handed and I have two Lamy LH-nibbed pens. I love them dearly. I’ve used other’s F-nibbed pens, and I basically couldn’t write with them using my normal grip (under writer).
    However, my sister writes left handed in the “hook” style and uses a F Lamy.
    So I think it strongly depends on how you hold the pen. There’s a lot more variation in left-handers. I’ve certainly found that writing has become a lot easier since I switched to fountain pens.

  3. I just got a new Lamy Vista with the LH nib as well as a Lamy Safari with an XF nib. I find the LH nib tends to skip badly when try and write in my normal, left handed under writing fashion with my paper turned about 45º clockwise. I’m pretty sure it’s not a nib defect, the slit looks just fine, nor is it a feed issue, but rather due to the somewhat oblique shape of the nib, because if I force myself to write in a hooking fashion, which I find extremely uncomfortable, the skipping issue disappears completely and, indeed, the pen writes rather wet. I can also “solve” the issue by holding the pen with the nib rotated about 30º anti-clockwise which is rather difficult due to the grip design on the Lamy.
    So, the left-handed nib isn’t the solution for every left-handed writer, fortunately the Lamy, with its easily changed and rather inexpensive nibs is an economical way to try this out.

  4. Ed –
    Thanks for sharing your personal experience with the Lamy LH nib. I personally like my regular Lamy fine nib over their fine LH nib, but I’m sure it has to do with the way I hold the pen and position the paper. I agree with you that it’s worth a try since Lamy makes inexpensive replacement nibs readily available.

  5. Interesting! But here’s my question: what about the writer who is right-handed but writes back-handed? Meaning, letters leaning to the left.
    Would a left-handed nib work better this way? Or would a normal nib?

  6. Hi RF –
    That’s an interesting question and I’ve never read any comments about nibs from this kind of writer. There are many different variables involved as well as personal preferences, so I would suggest trying out an inexpensive pen to see how it works.

  7. In answer to RF’s post.
    I’m a righty but I write back-handed due to a bad broken arm as a child and I have found that the Left-handed Pelikano Jr writes the easiest for me. I find the right-handed ones I am constantly repositioning my grip to find that “sweet spot” on the nib to prevent stuttering, but not so with the Pelikano Jr. Try it and see if you get the same results.

  8. I’ma leftie but have never had difficulty with regular nibs. I’m sure this is because, although a left handed writer, I don’t ‘hook’ my hand, nor write from the top. I write left handed, but just as a right handed writer writes. I remember, back in grade school in the sixties, it used to particularly amaze one of the nuns who would continually stand behind me and watch me write.

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