Lamy’s standarized fountain pen nibs aren’t particularly complex, but there are some basics concepts to know if you want to get the most out of them. Additionally, there are some long lists of details you might want to refer to that aren’t worth memorizing but will help you with your purchase.
This article will help you get your head around Lamy’s steel and gold fountain pen nibs.
Lamy Nib Basics
Here are the absolute basics that you’ll want to know.
- Lamy’s nibs are modular, which means the same nib will fit on almost all Lamy pens. The notable exception is the Lamy 2000 fountain pen and any of the vintage pens, like the Lamy 27 or Artus pens
- Most of Lamy’s nibs are made of steel
- High-end Lamy nibs are made of 14K gold
- The main gold nib is the Z55. This is called “bi-color” or “two-tone” because it’s silver but has a gold strip in the middle
- The Z55 is being phased out and replaced with Z56. This is also two-tone but it has some small differences from the Z55
- The nibs are sold in black as well. These nibs used a physical vapor peposition (PVD) process to coat the outside
- The black steel nib is the Z52. It is primarily seen on the Lamy Lx
- The black bi-colored gold is the Z57. This is a rare nib made for the Lamy Imporium
- The gold is 14K. It marked with a”585″ because it’s made from 58.5% gold.
- The nibs are made of folded metal that slides on to a plastic feed
- There are no flex nibs!
Lamy Nib Sizes
If you are in the market for a fountain pen one of the most important decisions you need to make is for the nib size. If your pen uses a swappable nib (like Lamy does) this isn’t as big of a decision, but if you are buying a pen with a fixed or very expensive nib, this is critical selection.
Common Nib Sizes
The most common sizes you’ll see Lamy nibs are listed below. We’ve follow the size with the measured width of each nib and it’s range of possible sizes, as per Lamy’s quality control guidelines. This sizing is true for both Lamy’s steel and gold nibs.
- Extra Fine: 0.36 mm (+/- 0.06 mm)
- Fine: 0.46 mm (+/- 0.06 mm)
- Medium: 0.56 mm (+/- 0.06 mm)
- Broad: 0.675 mm (+/- 0.7 mm)
You’ll note that because of the closeness in size from one nib to the next — about 1/10th of a millimeter — and the acceptable tolerance levels, it’s possible to get an Extra Fine nib that is larger than a Fine nib! Assuming Lamy’s nibs are created along a normal distribution, this would be a relatively rare occurrence, but it’s quite possible to have both a 0.41 mm Extra Fine and a 0.41 mm Fine nib!
Uncommon Nib Sizes
Lamy has a number of less than common sizes that are still sold as well. These are:
- Double Broad – The Lamy 2000 fountain pen technically is still sold in a BB, but the modular nibs are not!
- Left-handed – This is not exactly rare, but you don’t see it too often. You can buy this on a Safari but it’s mostly sold as a standalone steel nib.
These aren’t popular any longer, but they are still sold. They are generally used to correct for a slanted grip or to add interesting line variation to fancier writing.
- Oblique Medium (OM)
- Oblique Broad (OB)
- Oblique Double Broad (OBB)
- 1.1 mm
- 1.5 mm
- 1.9 mm
These are only sold in steel.
Lamy’s Gold Nibs
Lamy sells a 14K gold nib in silver-and-gold bi-color as well as black-and-gold bi-color. These are sold both on the aftermarket and included with some models of higher-end fountain pens, like the Imporium, Scala, and Studio.
These nibs are expensive but add more line variation to your writing. They generally not smoother than the standard nibs, but a bit softer. They are more interesting to write with than their steel counterparts, plus they look great.
The gold nibs are sold in all the common and oblique nib sizes above.
Lamy Z55 vs Z56 14K Nibs Compared
The Lamy Z55 and Z56 gold nibs looks almost exactly alike, so why the change in model nib? They are both silver-colored 14K gold nibs, so they are quite similar, but differences do exist.
The Z56 is the newer nib, but it’s not necessarily better or worse. The Z56 does not have the breather hole like the Z55 and it has laser-etched engraving on the top surface. There have been some complaints about the Z56 being less springy and fun to use than the Z55, but any differences from one to the next are quite subtle.
The Z57 is technically a PVD-coated Z56, not a Z55.
Lamy Nib Variants
Lamy nibs are almost entirely standardized but there are some interesting variants available if you are watching closely.
Z53 – Lamy Aion Nib
The new-ish (released in 1997) Aion is sold with Lamy’s steel nib, but it actually looks different than the standard Z50. The Aion’s nib is swappable for the standard nib, so it’s just aesthetically different from the normal model. This special design was said to be a request from the pen’s designer, Jasper Morrison.
Older Lamy nibs that use the standardized design are often blank. These old blank nibs came in all black or polished steel and they have no logo or size information on them. The are interchangeable with modern nibs, but use and older design and set of materials. The black on the older nibs is not a PVD so it will fade and wear out over time.
Since old Lamy nibs were blank, the company still needed people to be able to tell gold nibs from steel ones (both are the color of polished steel). Lamy marked the gold nibs with “585” which is the percentage of gold found in 14 carat gold.
Lamy Nib Models and Prices
Lamy nibs have model numbers are seldomly used but can be helpful from time to time…
- Z50: Polished steel, silver color, the standard nib
- Retail: $14
- Z52: Polished black, PVD coated steel, the standard nib on the Lamy Lx
- Retail: $14
- Z53: Polished steel, silver color, round profile, the Aion nib
- Retail: $14
- Z55: 14K gold bi-color, mostly silver colored
- Retail: $125
- Z55: 14K gold bi-color
- Retail: $135
- Z57: 14K gold bi-color, mostly black
- Retail: $135
How do I change a Lamy nib?
See the full article and video on swapping Lamy nibs. This works with just about every Lamy fountain pen except for the Lamy 2000.