Speedball (art products)

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Speedball Art Products Co., LLC
PredecessorC. Howard Hunt
Founded1997; 22 years ago (1997)
FounderWalt Glazer
Area served
Key people
Walt Glazer (CEO) [1]
ProductsArt materials
Revenue$20 to $50 million [2]

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.[3]


In 1899, C. Howard Hunt formed his own company and established it in Camden, New Jersey.[4] 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.[5] Subsequently, Hunt pens are currently commercialized under the Speedball brand.[6]



Speedball and other brands commercialized by the firm:[7]

Brands Products
Speedball Screen Printing,[8] Block Printing,[9] Acrylics, Mediums, Calligraphy Nibs, Inks, pen holders, ceramic glazes, pottery tools and accessories, Palettes, Glass Markers, Empty Containers
Artista Pottery wheels
Athena Brushes
Bienfang Papers, Young Artist Paper line
Boss Pottery wheels
Elegant Writers Markers
Mona Lisa metal leaf, Adhesives, Sealants, Paint thinner, Brush Cleaners, art boards
Printmaster woodblock printing Inks, Printing Presses
Pink Soap Brush Cleaner and Conditioner

Broad edge nibs[edit]

A Speedball B-0 dip pen.

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:[10]

Nib size Width of nib
C-0 5mm
C-1 4mm
C-2 3mm
C-3 2mm
C-4 1.5mm
C-5 1mm
C-6 0.5mm
A-Style Sizes Nib Width B-Style Sizes Width D-Style Sizes Width E-Style Sizes Nib Width
A-0 5mm B-0 6mm D-00 7mm E-3/4 34 in.
A-1 3.5mm B-1/2 4.5mm D-0 6mm E-1/2 12 in.
A-2 2.5 B-1 3mm D-1 ? E-3/8 38 in.
A-3 2mm B-2 ? D-2 3mm E-1/4 14 in.
A-4 1.5mm B-3 2mm D-3 2.5mm
A-5 0.5mm B-4 1.5mm D-4 2mm
B-5 1mm D-5 1.5mm
B-5-1/2 ? D-6 ?
B-6 ?

Flexible point nibs[edit]

The lines previously manufactured by defunct company C. Howard Hunt and currently produced under the "Speedball" brand:[11]

Number Comm. name Point
22 B Extra Fine Medium
56 School Stiff
99 Drawing Extra fine
100 Artist Medium
101 Imperial Extra fine
102 Crowquill Very fine
103 Mapping Very fine
104 Finest Super fine
107 Hawk Quill Super fine
108 Flexible Quill Fine
512 Bowl Pointed Fine
513 EF Globe Extra fine


Model Type Used for nibs
9452 Straight #102, 107, 108
9454 Straight #100, 103, 104
9466 Straight Styles A, B, C, D, E
9451 Straight Styles A, B, C, D, E
9455 Oblique Copperplating [12]


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 Pérez (#100), Mike DeCarlo (#103), Drew Geraci (#22) and Joe Rubinstein (#100, 103).[13] Carl Barks' wife lettered his comics with a Speedball A-5 or B-6, although Barks himself was an Esterbrook enthusiastic.[14]


  1. ^ Speedball in Bloomberg Business website
  2. ^ Speedball in Manta website
  3. ^ Speedball Profile on official website
  4. ^ Hunt Pens history on DVRBS.com
  5. ^ History of Speedball
  6. ^ Speedball online catalog Archived 2011-03-20 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Speedball products
  8. ^ Screen printing products
  9. ^ Block printing products
  10. ^ "Catalog". Blots & Pens Ink Supplies. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  11. ^ 2014 Speedball catalog
  12. ^ Spencerian script, English roundhand, and other numerous styles.
  13. ^ Larry Dempsey's Comic Book Inking Survey
  14. ^ Carl Barks talking about pens

External links[edit]