Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

Conklin “All American” – yeah right

I decided to add some variety into my collection and acquired some contemporary pens. As I didn’t want to simply invest in good quality expensive pens, I thought I’d make things interesting and challenge myself to find budget friendly decent pens. Today I present the first in that group. It has a MSRP of $95, generally retails for $76 but I got it for less than half that price, at a mere $35.

The Company

The Conklin company was established in 1898, and. Came to prominence when Mark Twain began his relationship with them in 1903, becoming their spokesman. During the Great Depression, Conklin launched a collection that was priced to be affordable to the public – The All American. This collection was offered in a variety of sizes, filling mechanisms, and finishes.

Fast forward to today, inspired by the original depression era models, Conklin has developed a new All American collection. These pens are crafted from handmade European high-grade resin, but it is named “All American!” OK, well anyway, I picked one up at a significant discount in the Yellowstone resin. The modern Conklin Company is part of the Yafa Brands group, having been revived in 2009.

The Pen

The first impression was OMG this is a “fluffy” pen (we don’t use the adjective “fat” in this family, we don’t want anyone or thing to develop a complex). It is by far the fluffiest pen I have. The Conklin website doesn’t provide dimension so I will. Capped the pen is 5-5/8” (142mm) long and the barrel has a 5/8” (16mm) diameter. Did I mention it is a heifer, weighing in at 31g. As for the overall appearance it is a BEAutiful pen. The pen has decent weight to it, which feels good in my hand but posting the cap on the end makes it feel very awkward. Overall the pen feels solid like a quality product, but damn it is fluffy.

Oh and did I mention the walls of the pen barrel are a whopping +3mm thick.

I can’t stress how BIG this pen is. Now I have short stubby fingers so this is NOT the pen for me or anyone with small or dainty hands. I know sounds like I just contradicted myself.

The pen included an ink converter which screws into place. A feature I really like. It sports a German made JoWo #6 steel nib, they also offer an option to choose the JoWo Omniflex steel nib. Did I mention the pen is called the “All American?”

(L-R) Phileas, All American, Meisterstuck, Hemisphere

Performance

Let’s take it for a jot. Got out my bottle of Waterman’s Serenity Blue – the general purpose ink of choice. In went the nib, down to the section and I gave the converter a twist, expecting to hear it bubbling as the plunger descended but nothing. This is odd, I reversed the plunger and no ink. Hmmmmm. Did this three times, same result. So I got out two backup converters and got the same result. Are you F@&$ing kidding me? The damn thing won’t ink up. To say I am annoyed is an understatement. I know I normally focus on vintage pens with ink sacs but I used converts in my Hemispheres and Phileas for over a decade so I know how they work.

I hate to admit defeat so after pouting for a couple days I took the nib and feed out of the section. Eyeballed each for defects then put it back together. Tried to ink up the pen again and SUCCESS it took ink. The nib is stiff, not an Omniflex. I’ll let you know if it leaks.

Opinion

There are many comments in the FPN forums bashing Yafa Brands and retelling horror stories about their support. I chose to ignored the “negative Nancy’s” and learned the hard way. Sorry to say this pen is not the pen for me. I know lots of people prefer fluffy pens, sorry they are not for me.

If you have had a different experience or a strong opinion about Yafa Brands or if you are interested in buying a fluffy pen. I’d love to hear about it – don’t be shy.

Revision/Update

After using this pen exclusively for a month it has grown on me. Still feels like I am writing with a cucumber but I’ve grown to appreciate the feel for the nib. It is doing a fine job on cheap paper, I also used it to create a sketch in a 100 gsm art book with textured paper. The difference in nib performance between the cheap smooth paper and the more textured sketch book paper was significant. Cant say I will use it for sketching any time soon. Back to the update, overall I am pleased with the pen, the size is still an issue but that is lessening with each passing day.

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