Speedball (art products)

Speedball is an American company that manufactures art materials and other stationery items. The company, first successful with its dip pens, expanded its product line to other art areas such as painting, sculpture and printing press.

In 1899, C. Howard Hunt formed his own company and established it in Camden, New Jersey. The “Speedball” pen was developed and patented by sign letterer Ross F. George of Seattle. This pen had a square-tipped pen could make broad and thin lines. The original pen’s “A-style nib” developed by Ross had a square-tipped head that made broad lines, which worked well for some of Ross’ numerous lettering styles. The “B-style Nib” had a round section at the head of the nib that would round off the beginning and the ending of each pen stroke. The “C-style Nib” is the chisel-point nib that creates thick and thin lines depending on the angle the pen is held. The C-style nibs are a favorite of many calligraphers. The “D-style”, an oval shaped head nib, created an italic/gothic style to the letters that it produced. All of these nibs had Ross’ signature brass reservoir. The E-style was the steel brush. George took the patent to the C. Howard Hunt Pen Company in 1915. They manufactured each of the above nibs in different sizes and published the Speedball Text Book, a periodical manual written by George which contained updated samples of numerous lettering artists’ work, including Ross’ past instructor William Hugh Gordon. Following Ross’s death, there were only a few updates of the Speedball Text Book published. Speedball Division also fitted some of the B-style nibs with a reservoir that could be opened for cleaning. They called these nibs the FB-style, or Flicker. The “steel brushes” were made in four sizes, also chisel pointed, but in larger sizes than the C-Style nibs. The steel brushes also fit in the same size nib holders that are used for the smaller nibs. On 14 November 1997, CEO Walt Glazer led a buyout of the Speedball division during Hunt Corporation’s restructuring. Subsequently, Hunt pens are currently commercialized under the Speedball brand.

Speedball and other brands commercialized by the firm:

Speedball makes nibs for dip pens in a variety of sizes. The sizes for their C-series flat-tipped pens (such as for Italic writing) are given below:

The lines previously manufactured by defunct company C. Howard Hunt and currently produced under the “Speedball” brand:


Speedball and Hunt pens have been widely used by a legion of comic strip and comic book artists to ink their pages. Hunt pens were the choice of Walt Simonson, Dale Keown, Bob McLeod, Kevin Nowlan, Bill Sienkiewicz, Joe Sinnott, Mark Morales and Andy Lanning (#102 model), George PĂ©rez (#100), Mike DeCarlo (#103), Drew Geraci (#22) and Joe Rubinstein (#100, 103). Carl Barks’ wife lettered his comics with a Speedball A-5 or B-6, although Barks himself was an Esterbrook enthusiastic.

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