crow quill nib is a small metal pen tip that can be used for making very detailed drawings with ink on paper.
One end of the nib is simply a hollow cylinder. The other end, which is pointed, has a thin slit cut through it—running all the way from the tip to an oval-shaped opening punched out of the metal. When a crow quill pen is dipped in an inkwell (or filled manually), the liquid pools within the open area on the underside of the nib, thus forming a reservoir.
The two halves of the cloven nib fit together tightly when at rest, but will spread apart when the tip is pressed against a surface. As more pressure is applied, the further apart the halves will spread. And, as that distance increases, so too will the downward flow of ink and the width of the resultant line or mark.
In time, these nibs wear out; the tips become damaged or the metal grows too pliable for detailed work. But, with care and simple cleaning, a good tip can last for quite a while.
Crow quill pen holders come in a few different styles and are typically made of wood or plastic. All of them have either a hole or deep circular indentation into which a nib can be gently pushed (by hand) until it is held firmly in place.
The assembled pens are designed to be dipped into inkwells, but some bottles of ink come with droppers built into their caps (or tiny nozzles on top) so the nibs can be filled more precisely—with just one drop of ink at a time. •
All photos in this post © 2011 • Crow Quill Studio