The purpose of the Esterbrook Project is to generate a complete list of dip pen nibs manufactured by The Esterbrook Company over the years. Contributions of information to further this are greatly appreciated.
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The following references indicate where I have found some of the nib numbers. Much of the information comes from what I have found on the Internet. I lost a lot of data and references because of a past computer crash. What you see here is a reconstruction of much of that data.

In general, the following criteria was used to determine if a particular nib number ever existed:

In some cases, all I have found is the nib number from a list with no further information or description. If that was the case, and I felt that such a nib may have existed, I included it in the list in the hope that someone would be able to provide more definitive information.

If I find a good quality photograph on the Internet, I consider that as proof that a particular number nib exists, somewhere. But unless I have permission to use the photo, it is not included here. Any photos on this web site are those I have taken myself or have obtained another's permission.

If I find a nib for sale or auction, I consider it to be proof that that particular nib exists. Usually,most sales and auction sites include photos. Often, I am assuming the vendor has correctly identified the nib. Quite a few nibs were very popular, greatly manufactured, and you can still find and purchase examples to this day. Most commercial Internet sites not only sell Esterbrook nibs but nibs from other manufacturers as well.

Ephemera such as nib boxes, catalogs, books and booklets, and advertising can give a clue to the existence of a particular nib number. Especially if a photo exists of this material, I consider it proof of the existence of that nib. Such material can give clues as to when a particular nib was on the market. I have not tried to trace any of that however.

If you know of other references I can add to this list, please send an E-MAIL


Esterbrook Pens and What They Will Do

This booklet is probably a hundred years old. It showcases the writing hand of C. P. Zaner using Esterbrook nibs. Mr. Zaner is famous for his penmanship school (next entry) in that era. Page images can be found at and thanks to them for the post. 

Zanerian Catalog

This is another booklet about a hundred years old. It shows many dip pen nibs from Esterbrook and other manufacturers recommended for use in the Zanerian penmanship courses. Page images are available at

Esterbrook Catalogs. The following Esterbrook catalogs have been found online at . The 1938 catalog has the greatest number of dip pens listed.
  1. Esterbrook Pen Catalog 1938
  2. Esterbrook Pen Catalog 1941
  3. Esterbrook Pen Catalog 1948
  4. Esterbrook Pen Catalog 1952
The interesting thing about these catalogs is the trend they show over the years towards more fountain pens and fewer dip pen nibs.

This website has pdf pages of their magazine. Included are many interesting articles about pen and ink nibs and calligraphy. The articles authored by Bob Hurford are well worth the visit.

1879 Trade Price List
The Trade Price List of the Esterbrook Steel Pen Company, The American Stationer, September 4, 1879, was contributed by Andrew Midkiff.. 1879 is believed the first year Esterbrook published a catalog of its pens.

1883 Esterbrook Catalog
This catalog was found online at in a document called, "The Publisher's Trade List 1884" (pages 255-278). The full title of the catalog is, "Illustrated Catalog and Wholesale Price List of the Esterbrook Steel Pen Company 1883". Whomsoever scanned this document left pages crooked and some images not clear. The images are engraved line drawing of the various nibs. But since the images are not all clear, I have not attempted to develop any description from the illustrations.

1918 Stationery Catalog
Cameron Amberg & Co. Stationery Catalog #85, May 1918, pages 67&68.  One and a quarter pages of this Chicago stationer's catlaog were devoted to Esterbrook pens. The first page shows line engravings of pens. (Contributed by Andrew Midkiff.)

1918 Announcement to the trade: Esterbrook Steel Pen Mfg. Co. Standardization of Esterbrook Pens.

This document lists the dip pens that were kept in production during WWI. I was not able to determine the number of one of the nibs listed.


Several photos of these interesting ephemeris are found on the Internet. Because of low resolution, it is possible to read only a few of the nib numbers. Where that is possible, I have referenced them.


This includes EBay, Etsy, Worthpoint, and others. Some bargains can be found and some vendors are mighty proud of their offerings. Usually only the more common nibs are offered. Usually photographs are included. Therefore, these listing are accepted as proof that such nibs actually exist. Where I believe the vendor may possibly have misread a number, I indicate that and tag the pen number as spurious.


A few collections of nibs have been found. This is usually a small batch of the more common nibs. Usually it is an artist who discovered a handful of nibs somewhere and decided to try them out. I hope their initial enthusiasm flourishes.

Chappy's Nib List is very interesting. A young man was settling the estate of his deceased grandfather and discovered his grandfather's collection of dip pen nibs, including Esterbrook and many others. (They are not for sale apparently) This is a straightforward text list with no photographs. But the young man did a very commendable job of reading the imprint of each nib and dutifully listing them. I would evaluate this as a very credible list short of having a hi-def photo showing the imprint in all its glory. This website is sometimes up and sometimes down. If you collect nibs, archive this list.

Whiteapple Multimedia Vintage Nib Display

I believe this Internet vendor has had a couple or more of these for sale over the years. The nibs are mounted on a custom vellum sheet with a design the vendor designed himself.


The following vendors (in no particular order) offer dip pen nibs for sale, usually the more common nibs.
  • (Snigom? Is that you?)
  • (mostly European nibs with some American made as well)
  • (gorgeous custom-made pen holders. I have a couple, hope to get more!)
  • EBay Vendors come and go and sometimes offer a lot of nibs and sometimes only a few.
You can also do a search for calligraphy suppliers on the Internet.


Brandon McKinney of WhiteApple Multimedia is working on a book about Esterbrook dip pen nibs. He hopes to have it ready for publication by the end of 2015. When further details become available, I will pass them on. Brandon knows a whole lot more about Esterbrook dip pens nibs than I do. I have given him permission to use whatever material he wishes from my website. (Read your emails, Brandon!) And I also wish him all the success in the world on this project.

I only mention this to embarrass him into actually completing the project.

UPDATE!  November, 2015:  I had a recent e-mail exchange with Brandon McKinney in which he stated that publication of his book is now planned for the Fall of 2016.

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