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Gillott 604EF (Extra Fine)

The 604EF, not quite as fine nor as flexible as the Principality, is a superlative pen. It too, was
quite popular on this side of the Atlantic and spawned a few clones, as well. Most notable were
the Musselman Perfection and the Drake Colleges of New York and New Jersey (no number),
all made by Gillott.

Old Hunt No. 99 (left) and later, ca. 1930, Hunt 99. The later nib has the large 99 whereas the earlier pen
has the smaller No. 99. The earlier pen is less flexible, but sharper, probably in the Gillott 303 class. Later
99s are super flexible and belong with the Principality-type pens.

Another pen of similar age and design was the Spencerian #1, an excellent pen probably more
in supply today than the 604EF. However, recent Ebay auctions have seen onegross boxes of
the #1 go for over $300. Ouch. The Spencerian line was made by Perry & Sons, who also made
the Spencerian #5. This is slightly less flexible than the #1, but a great writing instrument.
Similar to the Spencerian #1 is the Sprott #1.
In my estimation, one of the fin est pens in this class was the Hunt 20 Century Pen, the best nib
Hunt ever made. Its flex and snap rivals the Gillott 604 in every way. The present day Hunt 56 is
another fine pen to look for.
Another pen of exceptional quality was the Esterbrook A1 Professional. For me, this was the
late Esterbrook Pen Companys finest effort and that is saying something about a firm that
made outstanding pens of all shapes and sizes. It also rivals the 604EF though may be slightly
less flexible. Other excellent Esterbrook pens in this class are the #358 Art & Drafting Pen and

the #128 Extra Fine Elastic. These latter two appear to be far more available than the A1, but
still in the $1.75-$2.00 per nib class.
One more pen to look out for in the 604 class is the Mark Ferth Chilled Steel #3. I dont know
much about Mark Ferth Pens, as the company was called, but this pen is a dead ringer for the
Esterbrook 128.

Gillott 303
The Gillott 303 (modern 303s are blue) is a pen that will produce a finer hairline than the 604EF,
but the tines are not designed to spread as wide. As noted in the last IAMPETH Newletter, the
303 underwent some transformations after World War I that put the nib closer to the Gillott
604EF (though not as durable for thick ornamental penmanship shades) than to the present day
pen which is closer to the 19th century design, so be careful in any pur chase you make.

The Gillott 303 class of nibs. Left to right: Gillott 303, Gillott 404, Esterbrook 357, George Hughes 964,
Hunt 22, Mark Ferth #4.

Many fans of copperplate script find these pens ideal. Head of the class for most is the
venerable Esterbrook 357, another in their Art & Drafting series. Nearly every copperplate
scripsit I know covets this nib above all others. It has a superb fine point with excellent snap

(Snap: the point quickly returns to shape after spreading.) and a great overall feel. The 357 is
one of many reasons to mourn the passing of the Esterbrook Pen Company.
One more excellent nib is the George Hughes 964, a rival to the 357 and 358 in every way.
Hughes, once a Birmingham, England, company, merged into British Pens, Ltd., in 1961 along
with Gillott, William Mitchell, Perry, and a few others. Only the Mitchell and Gillott names
The Hunt 22 is another fine pen in this group. At this writing, a slew of vintage 22s (ca. 1930)
have come onto the market at fairly reasonable prices.
Gillott has another nib in the 303 class, the 404. The latter is not as fine, but a good nib for
copperplate. Like the 303, the modern 404 is blue.
Another nib to consider is the Eagle Pencil Company #E370 College Pen. It is somewhat stiffer
than the 303, but its extra fine point is an asset in small, delicate script. As with all pens, it will
soften with use.
One last nib is the Mark Ferth #4, a pen similar to the Eagle E370.

Gillott 170

The Gillott 170 class. Left to right: The Gillott 170, Esterbrook 356, Brause 66EF.

Ultra fine, very flexible, and smaller than the Principality, 604EF or 303, the 170 and others in
this class are excellent for small copperplate and engrossers scripts. All require a delicate
touch and are effective, but arent quite up to the challenge of the bold shades of ornamental
penmanship. It will break. Modern Gillott 170s are blue.
This is a small group, but another superb pen is the Esterbrook 356, part of the companys Art &
Drafting Series. I recently wrote over 100 small table place cards with the 356 in ornamental
script and it was terrific. I was careful not to tax the pen with ultra-thick shades.
The final nib in this group is the modern Brause 66EF. This is what used to be called an arrow
nib for its unusual shape. Most arrow nibs were larger and much stiffer. The 66EF is a
wonderful nib, well made with great snap and an extra fine point.

Mapping Pens

Mapping pens. Left to right: Hunt 100, Hunt 103, Esterbrook 354, Esterbrook 355.

Mapping pens are very, very small, smaller even than the Gillott 170 class. As their names
imply, they were used in fine drawing, particularly cartography. They are mentioned here
because there are some who like to write with them. I am not one. (For any time I could use a
mapping pen, Id prefer a crow quill. See following.) Besides being very small, they are
incredibly flexible and dont hold much ink. When I use them at all, I put them to work in touch
up or fine cross hatching. Mapping pens can render an unbelievably fine hairline.
Excellent mapping pens were the Esterbrook 354 and 355. The 355 has a much stiffer action.
They are black in color and are of typically good Esterbrook quality. At this time, there seem to
be a lot of them available on the open market. Hunt also made good mapping pens, the #100
and #103. Paper and Ink Arts (, 800-7367772) and John Neal
(, 800-369-9598) have both in their catalogues.

Crow Quills

Gillott 659 crow quill in a Miller Brothers straight holder (left) and the same nib in the PIA holder at right
from Paper & Ink Arts.

This is an interesting class of pens. The tubular crow quills can perform most, if not all, the
functions of a mapping pen. However, they hold more ink and have a nice point that allows for
good albeit tiny script in their traditional straight holder. To add to my interest in crow quills, last
year Paper and Ink Arts introduced its own Paper & Ink Arts Adjustable Oblique Holder based
on the Bullock design. Both the PIA and Bullock holders can handle virtually any size nib
including the crow quill. Heretofore, the only holders available for the crow quill (aside from
custom holders) was a straight penholder, but with the Paper & Ink Arts holder, the tiny crow
quill was in a position to write as other nibs in an oblique angle and thus needed a fresh look as
a script writer.
Crow quills had a variety of uses and, ironically, writing was way down on the use scale. They
were used for drawing, fine retouching, etching on limestone printing plates (early lithographic
printing plates, before photolithography, were made from limestone and very heavy). Architects
and engineers found them very useful. It is not unusual to find crow quills with the names of
technical firms such as Keuffel & Esser stamped on them.
They are very flexible with little variation between brands and all have extremely fine points. I
have found them easier to use than mapping pens in every instance.

The major nib manufacturers all made crow quills and they are all of fine quality. The Hunt 108
and Gillott 659 are still made today.