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  • TheFox

Calligraphy reservoirs and cages: where to best spend your money

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

We’ve all been there, in the calligraphy ‘zone’ and suddenly you have no ink and some smart train tracks where the tines are trying their best, but they just have nothing to work with. So today let's take a look at some of the calligraphy reservoirs available in the UK, and I can let you know what I think is good value... and what isn't!

I noticed in a recent Penman Direct email they have started offering a range of popular nibs with an ink cage reservoir ‘permanently attached’ (soldered?) onto the back. For the eye-watering sum of ~£10. Ouch. And this pushed me to talk about the different options that are out there, and why this might not be the best option for you (unless you’ve won the lottery, then hey, fill your boots!).

Also on Penman, you can see a couple of other more ‘traditional’ reservoirs that are a far more cost-effective ~65p. While I personally have never used this style of reservoir I can imagine the problems. Nibs are a bunch of different sizes, and that slip-on variety will most likely not work with every nib at your disposal.

So what’s a calligrapher to do?

Personally, I’ve been having a great deal of fun with the One Dip Wonder from Tom’s Studio. If you have a look at the soldered nibs on Penman, they’ve attached a small spring. It’s the same principle as the One Dip, only it’s a spring that’s attached with a little magnet. For the far more reasonable sum of £4.50. And yes the downside is you do have to pay £4.95 for UK shipping with Tom, but his spring is reusable and it’s less wastage at the end of the day. And imagine if you had a duff £10 nib, I’m furious when one of my 70p nibs has been mis-stamped! With the One Dip you just attached to the next nib and off you go.

So let’s take a look at what the One Dip can do with the thirstiest nib I can think of, the Brause Rose.

The top line is where I tried to write 'No Reservoir' and you can see how far I got. The next line down is where I have the One Dip fitted. As you can see the One Dip has knocked it out of the park. Fantastic stuff!

So what’s not so great about the One Dip?

The downsides of this gadget for me are minor. For example, it doesn’t fit every sized nib, such as the EF 66 or the Blue Pumpkin; but if you like G nibs, the EF Principals or even the Gillott 303 or 404s you’re ok using this. And, obviously, the Rose is fine too. And the One Dip doesn’t get on with some of the Fintecs if you like working with those. But this comes down to what you find yourself doing all the time anyway, testing different combinations of nib, ink and paper and finding what works for us and what doesn’t.

Have any of you used the One Dip or any other reservoirs? Or do you have any other hacks that helps you hold more ink while writing? Share in the comments and let’s spread some know-how!


And in case you were wondering, this post is not sponsored and all goods mentioned have been purchased by me personally.

If you're interested in what calligraphy projects I've been working on lately, check out my calligraphy gallery, and this large-scale project is where I used a reservoir!

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