William Mitchell (Calligraphy) Ltd is a UK-based company that has been making quality metal pens for nearly 200 years. In the 1820s William first worked with his brother John Mitchell, who pioneered the mass production of pen nibs. The Mitchells have been credited as the first to use machines to cut pen nibs, greatly speeding up the process. In 1825, William established his own firm in Birmingham, England, and it soon became one of the leading companies making dip pen nibs. William Mitchell presently manufactures broad dip pens for calligraphy and lettering, and pointed nibs (sometimes called “pen points”) for drawing and pointed-pens scripts: Copperplate, Spencerian, and the less-formal Modern Calligraphy.
This advertisement for Mitchell Nibs was in the back of an early edition of Writing & Illuminating & Lettering by Edward Johnston. The Mitchell Round Hand pens (nibs) shown are still available in regular and left oblique versions and are still much used by calligraphers. The Art Pen shown in the center is no longer made.
Mitchell Calligraphy Nibs
Round Hand Nibs. Dip pen nibs for broad-edged calligraphy hands such as Italic, Foundational, Carolingian, Blackletter (Gothic, Old English) and the like. Chisel edge, cut straight across (left-hand version has left-oblique cut). Flexible (for a broad pen). Currently available in 10 sizes: 0, 1, 1½, 2, 2½, 3, 3½, 4, 5, 6. Size 0 is the widest and Size 6 is the narrowest (the sizes don’t indicate a specific measurement). In the past, more half-sizes were available. (While supply lasts, the JNB LH Mitchell Set includes a free 5½ nib.) Slip-on reservoir fits on the bottom; it is sold detached. These nibs are also referred to as Mitchell Rexel Nibs and Mitchell Roundhand Nibs or perhaps most commonly as simply “Mitchell Nibs.”
Mitchell Slip-on Reservoir. This ink reservoir fits on the bottom of Mitchell Round Hand Nibs. Made of softish, brass-colored metal, the reservoir’s wings can easy be bent for a snug fit. The Mitchell Reservoir does not fit on Mitchell Scroll Nibs.
Mitchell Scroll Nibs. The writing end of these dip pen nibs have a cutout or slit, which produce split-stroke broad-edge letters. The nib width and the position (and width) of the slit vary, and each of the 6 different Mitchell Scroll Nibs creates a different scroll-stroke pattern. The “sizes” are 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 (these numbers are labels and don’t reference nib width).
Mitchell Witch Pens. This pen comes with nib, reservoir, and holder as a single unit. Its nib has a folded over design which can be used for lettering and calligraphy on uneven or textured paper surfaces. It is available in five sizes: 1, 2, 2.5, 3 and 4. Size 1 is the narrowest and Size 4 is the widest (the sizes don’t indicate a specific measurement).
Pointed Nibs for Script
Mitchell Elbow Nib (Mitchell 0742F). This dip pen for Copperplate and other pointed pen scripts has an unusual offset design that allows you to write script with a straight (not oblique) holder. These have a larger base than most nibs. Fits holder Mitchell #53 Penholder, JNB item code H83.
Gillott Nibs. In 1961, the Birmingham-based Joseph Gillott pen company (founded in 1827) was absorbed into William Mitchell. Joseph Gillott’s nibs are all pointed nibs that are used for calligraphic scripts (Copperplate, Spencerian, Modern Calligraphy), pen-and-ink drawing, and medical illustration. They vary in size and design, sharpness of point, and flexibility. These nibs include Gillott 170 Nib, Gillott 303 Nib, Gillott 290 Nib, Gillott 291 Nib, Gillott 404 Nib, Gillott 659 Nib, Gillott 1950 Nib, and Gillott 1068A Nib. See the Joseph Gillott page for details of these nibs.
Perry & Co Nibs. In 1961, the pen businesses of Perry & Co. were taken over by William Mitchell’s parent company. In 2019, William Mitchell revived one Perry & Co. nib, Perry's Viaduct 120EF Nib (JNB item code N163). This nib has an exceptionally fine tip, allowing for exquisite hairlines and great cross hatching. No other Perry & Co. nibs are being manufactured.