Posted in Reviews, Stories

Eco Friendly Stuff, The Review

At the end of November on Cyber Monday, I highlighted some eco-friendly pen and journaling options. To be transparent, I do not have any vested financial interest in any of the products but I was intrigued and willing to try some out, thus I made some purchases.

For Christmas, my wife got me (she also got me a pen, imagine her surprise) eco-friendly pencils, a fountain pen, and a journal. Let’s see how well they did and what did they cost me.

Rainbow Recycled Paper Pencils, wood and plastic free.

The pencils write and act well… like pencils. I put one in an electric pencil sharpener, no issues there, it took a perfect sharp point. Some Amazon reviewers complained about this but I had no issues. I love the rainbow color. The pencil is made from recycled paper and is wood and plastic-free. The writing material is of premium #2 HB pencil lead, conform with EN71 and ISO9001. When I put the pencil to work, the point did not break (another popular complaint). I was sketching a plan for built-in bookcases, I feel I gave the pencils a good workout. At $1/pencil it’s not the cheapest alternative but I can find plenty of more expensive wood pencils.

Zenzoi bamboo fountain pen

The pen cost $24, is handmade, and is classified as a calligraphy pen! I’m not entirely sure why, as it came with a German medium iridium nib. In the Q&A section another purchaser described it as a medium-bold point pen nib, not flat like a calligraphy nib, it’s more like a Speedball B-6 nib. With a name like Zenzoi, yes it is made in China for Germany. The pen is considered eco-friendly because it is made from bamboo, which as we all know is grass.

Zenzoi, a bamboo pen in a bamboo case

The barrel has a smooth finish with just a slight textured feel. The two blind end caps are rough. I am fighting the desire to get out the Danish Oil and apply a finish to the pen.

The converter is the type that is just pushed into the section. At the end that operates the plunger-screw mechanism is easily detached allowing access for cleaning. In the spirit of being green, I inked it up with Bayou Nightfall by Papier Plume. The ink writes wet, no sheen, and minor feathering.

Bayou Nightfall by Papier Plume

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 145mm,
  • Uncapped length 123mm,
  • Barrel diameter 11.5mm,
  • Cap diameter 13mm,
  • Pen weighs in at 13g.

Decomposition Notebook

The Decomposition Notebook turned out to be a fake. I know Caveat Emptor but I got it from Amazon and assumed (yes I know about ass-u-me). The good news, is it only cost me $6 and it is no longer available. I recommend going directly to Decomposition where the books are 50%-100% post-consumer waste and printed with soy-based inks. I noticed a couple pocket or field journals, maybe I’ll get one, compare it to the fake, and review it.

On a side note, we have started using cloth unpaper towels in place of paper towels for most clean-ups. They are attractive, highly absorbent, and come in a pack of 10. Alternatively, I guess I could have used hand towels or dishwashing clothes but really, they aren’t as attractive, and honestly, they are not as absorbent.

The Unpaper Towels

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Posted in Pens, Restoration, Reviews

Handmade Mottle Ebonite Pen

“The mottled ebonite eyedropper fountain pen is resplendent of the magnificence of Indian craftsmanship for a reason … the hand turning of fountain pens is elevated to a form of fine art

Independent artisans working with a small lathe machine in a small apartment, produce high-quality handmade fountain pens that are sold all over the world. It takes between one to four days to make a single pen.

This brings us to my pen, unbranded, hand turned on a lathe from solid tan and brown mottled ebonite. The pen is in good shape, there is a small scratch on the barrel and ink stains on the cap around each air hole. The pen has a faint odor, this is common with ebonite, especially with indie pens from India. Hey, the pen is made from hard rubber and all rubber smells, it will fade with time. The feed is handmade from ebonite. There is a partial channel running along the ventral side of the feed, I’m not sure what function this serves.

The nib is a “Butterfly” brand medium nib, not a butterfly nib. Butterfly nibs are super cheap, they were popular in the early 20th century. They are missing tips at the end of the tines. Instead, each tine is bent under forming a writing surface. This nib has “Butterfly Medium” and the letters “PPM” in an oval engraved on it. The nib shoulders bet so that they form a tight fit around the feed much like a Lamy.

The pen is made entirely of lathe-turned mottled ebonite. You can just make out the lathe marks on the section. The cap has a single ring cut into it and a silver plate clip. The clip has pyramided rectangle boxes running the length of the clip. The clip is attached to a silver-plated ring and held in place by a blind cap.

I was able to remove the ink stains from the cap with a Sunshine cloth, and cleaned the insides; purple was the past ink of choice.

Time to give it a try, I got out the Serenity Blue and filled the barrel. Had to prime the nib, but once it got started no problems. I stored it nib up for hours, introduced it to paper and ink flowed without missing a beat.

Now for the scary part, I’m going to lay the capped pen on my desk in the hope it doesn’t leak.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 128mm,
  • Uncapped length 112mm,
  • Barrel diameter 11mm,
  • Cap diameter 13mm,
  • Inside barrel diameter 7mm,
  • Inside barrel depth 61mm,
  • Pen weighs in at 13g.

Geek alert! For giggles, doing the math (yes I cheated and used an online calculator) but the volume of the inside of the barrel (less the section) is nearly 9,300 cubic mm. This pen can hold just north of 9ml of ink.

The Verdict

I have a thing for mottled pens let’s focus on the pink elephant, I was leery of the nib. Image my surprise when it wrote so well. Once upon a time, I was a fan of fine-tipped nibs (to compensate for cheap paper) and this pen writes closed to fine than to medium making this a great choice. The nib is firm, bordering extra firm – ok it is so firm you could use it in a game of darts, which may not be agreeable to all. The pen did not leak when left lying horizontally but it did have an issue after the weekend. When I tried to use it after it lay horizontally over a weekend nothing, no ink. I applied the nib to the paper with a bit more force than normal and a gusher ensued.

Final thoughts, this pen is not elegant, it’s not fancy, it’s simply functional. With the huge ink reservoir, I’ve filled it with as much Serenity Blue ink as I dare, now let’s see how long it lasts. Kudos to the Indian artisan who made this pen.

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Posted in Collection, Pens, Reviews, Stories

The (Wish) List

I usually acquire pens based on impulse and circumstance (i.e. dumb luck), which has introduced me to a variety of odd pens. Some contemporary, some vintage, but all speak to me. The pens on this list are not pens to finish my collection. Nope, these are pens that have caught my eye, struck my fancy, and now I have a penchant for owning them. Oh and BTW, I love lists. Without further ado, in alphabetical order, let’s start the new year with a wish list ….

Benu – Silver Skull

“Silver Skull Fountain Pen is inspired by our childhood dreams of piracy and adventures. Rebellion and daring design is created for those who share the same ideals. Skillfully crafted by hand from glossy resin with its hand-friendly shape and shining decorative ring the Silver Skull Pen is a stylish accessory and a real pleasure to use.” – Benu Pen.com

I just thought this pen is the coolest. Why? Well I have a fondness for black pens, plus I have a fascination for Día de Muertos and who doesn’t like pirates. There are many “skull” pens on the market but this is the one for me.

Benu Silver Skull

Irish Pens – Black Carbon Fiber

“At 66 grams, Rhodium and Titanium wrapped in Black Carbon Fiber and with a Peter Bock nib at the business end this is a serious fountain pen, a fountain pen that will feel at home in the most exclusive boardroom, business setting or in your personal writing space, its gravitas will not go unnoticed whenever it is used. When the written words really matter! this is the fountain pen to use.” – Irish Pens.ie

Irish Pens, an Irish indie pen company specializing in pens made in County Cavan, Ireland of Irish native woods. I originally was drawn to their pens made from bog oak, but I saw this one! You have to admit, it takes your breath away. No surprise, this pen is the most expensive on the list.

Irish Pens Carbon Black

Kaweco – Student Pen

“Nostalgic fountain pen in soft green with golden details made of precious resin. The Student 60’s Swing impresses with a soft and organic green. The combination of green and golden elements is harmonious and underlines the series’s nostalgic, bulky shape. It matches the motto of the Swinging Sixties: Harmony and peace. The Student fountain pen with its curved pen body made of high-quality resin guarantees a haptic and visual writing pleasure.” – Kaweco Pen.com

Germans are known for their over engineering not for their simplicity, this this pen is the exception. The design, aesthetics, complimentary colors of ivory and green – beauty in simplicity. I do wish the section was not gold, but rather the same color as the cap.

Kaweco Student

Parker – 51

“When it introduced the “51” in 1941, the George S. Parker Company knew it had a winner. The pen was stylish but not flashy, durable but not clunky, and reliable but not overengineered. Over the next 31 years, the pen proved itself immensely popular. Tales are told of people who, unable to afford a whole pen, would purchase only a cap to clip in a pocket, giving the appearance of a complete pen.“ – Richards Pens.com

Parker 51 is the one vintage pen everyone should own, or so I have been told. After reading tons of accolades, this pen is worthy of the distinction. It is an attractive pen, unique in design. I am looking for an acceptable 1941 pen but they are not common. I fancy the Cedar Blue color but as mentioned I’m sure dumb luck will prevail and I’ll get what I get.

Parker 51

**** Update, a 1941 or maybe it’s a 1944 (more on this at a later time) is in the mail and of course it is not Cedar Blue.

Scrikss – Heritage Black GT

“Launched in 2014 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Scrikss company, the Heritage range is intended to be emblematic, a flagship of the brand Scrikss. The painstaking design is a combination between traditional and modernism, having as inspiration the aqueducts model that surrounded the old city of Istanbul in the past. It is created by the Turkish designer Kunter Sekercioglu.” – Scrikss Pen.com.tr

I stumbled on this pen after I bought a Scrikss 419. A lovely metal pen, with laser etched scrollwork. I feel like there is an elegance inspired by Instanbul. I have not found a US dealer as yet.

Scrikss Heritage GT

Posted in Pens, Reviews

The Hero 395

Company Backstory

The Shanghai Hero Pen Company has been manufacturing high-quality fountain pens since 1931. They began as Wolff Pens but changed their name to Hero in 1966. Hero pens are popular with users in China and India.

My Pen

This is not my first Hero pen, I was impressed by the Kaigelu 316A (which resembles the Parker Duofold Centennial). As a general rule, the Chinese do a good job imitating American and European products – including pens. Often these imitations have a tacky appearance and suffer for quality. This pen however is a legitimate original design with some interesting aesthetic considerations.

The pen has a metal barrel and cap, heavily patterned, copper or brown in color with a very subtle lacquer or antique finish. The pattern is either imprinted or acid etched and is intended to make the pen look aged.

The cap clip has a wave to it and attaches to the cap with the company floral logo imprinted on it. The barrel ring has “395,” “Doctor,” the company floral logo, and Chinese characters etched on it. The blind caps as well as the clip and barrel ring are finished to appear as “aged” metal. I assume they are made of stainless that has been treated to appear aged. Vinegar or a chemical wash or heat staining are options to age stainless. I can’t put my finger on it but the quirky end of the pen is very aesthetically …. well …. pleasing.

The pen comes with the stiff press bar converter filling mechanism – hated by many. I agree it is stiff, and with my fat fingers, depressing the bar is a challenge, but I managed.

The stainless nib has a gold plate center, with scrollwork etching including the company flower logo. Put nib to paper and ink begins flowing without delay. The nib is not a flex nib, or is it stiff – it is semi-flex if there is such a thing. I like it better than any flex nib I’ve ever run into.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 133mm,
  • Uncapped length 122mm,
  • Barrel diameter is 12mm,
  • The cap diameter is 12mm,
  • Pen weighs in at 29g.

Cons

My biggest complaint has nothing to do with the pen. As always, I bought it used. The previous owner must have loved it, the dark antique finish on the barrel is worn to a light color while the cap retained the original coloration. Then there is the filler mechanism, it is a PITA if you have fat fingers but it can be replaced.

Opinion

I am impressed by this pen, it is a great pen and at a mere $14 it is a steal, but wait, the same pen is on eBay now for $11 and the antique finish is not worn off on the barrel.

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Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup?

Wow, a new month upon us again heralding the last month of the year. This month I thought I’d give the Ambassador a-go. If you remember the pen impressed me when I completed the refurbishment so now it gets the opportunity to prove me right.

Just did a quick check and I have 6 pens inked up, about twice the norm. Which ones you ask, well there is the Duofold, Esterbrook SJ, the “fluffy” Conklin All American, Airmail Wality 69LG, and Lady Sheaffer Skripsert VI. It’s good to have options.

So what are you writing with this month?


Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

Airmail Wality 69LG Eyedropper

Company Back Story

Airmail Pen Company (Est. in 1951) is one of the oldest pen companies in India. Renown for producing the best Indian fountain pens. They market pens under 2 brands – Wality and Airmail both manufactured in Mumbai. Wality Pens are generally not readily found in the northern part of India. Surprisingly, even in Mumbai the availability of the pen is limited to select areas of the city.

Initially, Airmail manufactured completely lathe turned ebonite pens, thus continuing with tradition, the 69 is a completely lathe turned pen made of swirled Acrylic. The feed is made of ebonite and requires heat setting of the nib for proper ink flow. The quality of the acrylic used in this pen is far better than the other Wality pens, which are known to omit a pungent odor.

My Pen

My interest in Indian pens came about by accident. I was intrigued in eyedropper filling systems after I acquired the 2 Gold Starry pens. But my focus was now on Mabie Todd Black Bird eyedropper pens. Research on the eyedropper filling system quickly leads to inks and the necessity of eyedropper fillers because of the impact of weather (heat and humidity) on inks, then to Asian pens.

I paid $14 for the pen, which is a normal price for this pen. First impression, the pen felt solid, it’s a big pen but not too thick – just right. The section is made of the same acrylic as is the cap and the barrel. There is a large gold plate band on the cap with “Airmail Regd” engraved on it.

The clip is gold plate, with pyramided rectangle boxes running the length of the clip. The clip is attached to a gold plated ring and held in place by a blind cap.

It is an eyedropper pen. When I unscrewed the section it took 9 full turns to remove it from the barrel and the cap took 2 complete turn to remove. To prevent ink leakage, the threads on the section need a small amount of silicone grease to seal the pen or maybe the addition of a small O-ring.

It is called an “eyedropper” because you use an eyedropper to fill the reservoir in the barrel. If you don’t have one, a pipette or a straw if you are really cheap (wink-wink) will also work.

Generally the Wality nibs are known for bad behavior but this one writes well but needs to be heat set – ink drops form under the feed. But it still writes fine.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 148mm,
  • Barrel diameter is 13mm,
  • The cap diameter is 15mm,
  • Pen weighs in at 18g.

Cons

My only complaint which is not uncommon is how wet the pen writes – I need to heat set the nib. It is possible my ink flow issue is caused by the ink viscosity. This is expected at this price point. The tins on the nib are aligned and it writes well. Manually adding ink via an eyedropper (ok a straw who am I kidding) takes a bit of getting use to. I was hyper focused on keeping the open barrel facing up at all times while filling the pen. This takes some getting used to it, plus there is the fear of wearing the ink if a mishap occurs.

Opinion

For this price, you can’t beat this pen. It is attractive, feels solid, writes well. Readily available on eBay in a variety of cool colors. And of course, it is wallet friendly!

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Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

Kaigelu 316A

Company Back Story

Kaigelu is a brand of Lanxivi, a subsidiary of Shanghai Hero Pen Company. Hero has been manufacturing “high-quality” fountain pens since 1931. Initially known as Wolff Pens, they changed their name to Hero in 1966. Their pens are renown for their quality in Asia and are extremely popular with users in China and India.

I consider Kaigelu to be a “high-end” Chinese manufactured pen. I call them high-end because the typical Chinese pens sells for $7-$10 and this one sold for $26.

The Kaigelu 316 was initially released in 2014, and closely resembled the Parker Duofold Centennial. The pen is available in a variety of color schemes; however, I was interested in two, a golden brown/grey swirls called ‘Tiger Eye’ and white/black swirls called ‘Century Stars.’ I choose the white/black swirl. I am more inclined to say it resembles marble or pearl.

The pen is made of an acrylic celluloid (so they claim), something you don’t often see in contemporary pens. The celluloid has a lot of depth and complexity plus to my surprise it is semi-transparent. The pen clip, cap band and other accents are gold plate. The cap band contains an imprinted design with black inlay. The cap is topped with a jewel containing a kangaroo surrounded by a wreath, both in gold plate.

My pen is model 316A, the “A” designation I believe indicates a newer model, incorporating improvements over the initial pen. The seller called mine an “office gift pen.” I did a Duck-Duck-Go search and all of the 316 pens I found had black blind end caps and a black section, while mine has blind caps and section made of the same material and color as the pen. Maybe it is a “special edition.”

Other reviewers mention their pens are too heavy, tipping the scale at 46g, while mine weighs in at a mere 28g with converter. As I prefer pens with some heft to them, 28g is perfect. The pen feels solid in hand, and the construction seems sound.

The seller claimed it came with an iridium nib but it is stainless steel with gold plated accents. A kangaroo like the one in the jewel on the cap, scroll accent work, and the name “Kaigelu” is etched on the nib. The section is metal or brass, gold plated with “Kaigelu” and the model number etched into the opposite side.

The nib is labeled as Fine and it writes accordingly on 100gsm or better paper. On cheap paper the ink will flow.

The converter is attractive as far as converts go. It screws into the section but doesn’t appear to hold as much ink as other converters and contains a steel ball. I assume this keeps the ink “stirred, not shaken” which makes the pen rattle. The pen also accepts international converters as well as long international cartridges.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 137mm,
  • Barrel diameter is 13mm,
  • The cap diameter is 15mm,
  • Pen and converter weigh in at 28g,
  • The cap weighs in at 10g.

Cons

My complaints are: removing the cap did require 3 full turns, unscrewing the barrel from the section took a week (ok I exaggerate a bit), and the rattle the pen makes because of the steel ball in the converter. This is a feature to keep the ink from thickening up – a common occurrence for ink in Asia because of the heat and humidity.

Opinion

Unlike the experiences reported by others, the pen did not leak, it is not too heavy, the nib did not require smoothing or other fine tuning. I like the feel and weight of it in my hand. It wrote smoothly when I initially inked it up. I like it and for a mere $26 you can say I love it. Would I buy another – absolutely, maybe the tiger eye pen next.

In short, I liked the pen

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Posted in Pens, Reviews

Conklin Duraflex Elements “Fire” Limited Edition

Inspired by the wonders of nature, the Conklin Elements fountain pens feature semi-translucent bodies in dappled patterns aptly named Earth, Water and Fire. The Duraflex Elements are an extension of the popular Duragraph line. I got a deal on the pen at $39, it is discontinued by Conklin and available at most online pen dealers for $56. Of the different elements I though the “Fire” model was the most attractive. Considering the price I paid, this pen qualifies as a budget friendly pen.

My Pen

The pen ships in a clamshell box with an outer cardboard sheath brightly colored based on the “element” and printed with the Conklin Duraflex Elements label. The box itself has a cream faux suede interior, plus 2 ink cartridges and a converter.

First Impressions

I opened the box and was immediately struck by the color, it is as impressive as I hoped. The pen is partially translucent because of the dappled finish on a clear resin. The cap is removed with two quick twist (one complete rotation), revealing a stainless Omniflex nib, a plastic feed… wait the nib has wings? The pen feels good in hand, there is a pleasant balance without posting the cap. Capped, the pen measures 140mm, 13mm across the barrel and tips the scale at 24g (0.85 oz) with an empty converter.

The pen trim is chrome with a simple tear drop cap clip. The cap ring is engraved with “Conklin” on one side and “Duraflex” with moon shapes on the other. The barrel is etched with the collection name “Duraflex,” “Limited Edition” and “1505 of 1898.” Indicating I have pen 1505 out of the 1898 they produced.

Performance

Time to ink up the pen with Waterman Serenity Blue ink and see how well it writes. It started writing immediately, better first impression than with the All American. The nib is stiff, but writes smooth otherwise. I was unable to get the line variation expected with a flex nib.

Then I began noticing the ink bleeding on the paper. I know it is not quality paper but none of the other nibs, Fine, Medium or otherwise have bled on this paper. The ink flow is out of control.

Well . . . I would beg to differ, as mentioned this nib is stiff. Getting any flex out of it requires a good amount of pressure contradicting the Omniflex literature. That said, all I’ve gotten so far is too much ink.

Opinion

As Captain Lee would say, “Once is an accident and twice is a pattern.” Conklin disappoints me yet again. I really like the pen but hate how it writes. I’ve read other reviews involving Conklin Omniflex nibs and I’m not the only person with the same issues. Some reviewers replaced their Omniflex nibs with standard Conklin nibs as the solution to the problem.

If you like this pen or it’s cousin the Duragraph, make sure you DO NOT choose an Omniflex nib.

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Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

Scrikss 419 Piston filler

Company Backstory

Scrikss is a pen manufacturer based in Istanbul, Turkey – established in 1964. Yup they make fountain pens in Turkey. The company name is of Spanish origin, derived from the word ‘Escriure,’ which means ‘writing’ in the Catalan language.

During the Spanish Civil War, Scrikss started producing fountain pens in Albacete, Spain. In the late 50s, rights to the name Scrikss are sold to a Swiss company. Subsequently, all rights to the brand are sold to Turkish investors and Scrikss Maden ve Plastik Sanayi A.Ş. is born.

Since 1964, the company has been producing Scrikss ballpoint pens in it’s factory at Bahçelievler, followed by fountain pen production in 1966. Except for the nib, everything relating to the fountain pens was manufactured domestically in Turkey.

In 1974, Waterman agreed to a deal licensing the production of the Jif-Waterman fountain pen, cartridges and ink to the Scrikss company in Turkey. Jif-Waterman is credited with the first commercially successful ink cartridge, which was made of glass ink cartridges in 1936.

My pen a Scrikss 419

Scrikss pens are not generally available in the US; however, they can be found on eBay and at the odd pen retailer. In 2020, Scrikss re-introduced the 419 model with new colors, a piston filler, and an acrylic resin barrel. I picked up a red one because it was cheaper ($28 vs $32) and I don’t have a red pen.

First impressions

The pen came in a big box, trying to make a positive impression I guess. The pen itself is very light, topping the scale at 11g (or 0.40 oz). Not a surprise as it is only made of resin. Capped, the pen measures 125mm while the barrel is 11mm across. A couple twists (one complete rotation) removes the cap revealing a gold plated Scrikss medium nib with a plastic feed – pretty standard stuff. The cap band is gold plate and tapers down to the barrel, with the name “Scrikss” repeating on the band. The cap clip is also gold plated with a large “S” within a crest.

The pen comes with a piston feed, meaning it doesn’t accept cartridges or a removable converter. Simply turn the end-cap on the barrel and a piston moves down the ink reservoir. Dip the nib into the ink and turn the end-cap the other way, and the piston retracts filling the pen with ink. When the piston is fully retracted the cap fits snuggly against the barrel. Sorry I am the vintage pen guy and I got the biggest kick out of this feature. Plus the barrel nearest to the section is clear acrylic so you can see the ink reserves.

All inked up, time to apply pen to paper, it instantly began writing. I was surprised at how well the medium nib did on cheaper paper. There are far more issues with my bad handwriting than the pen. Because it is a medium nib the ink dried noticeably slower than let’s say the Conklin All American with a fine nib. Both test I used Waterman Serenity Blue ink.

Opinions

Other then the lack of weight to the pen, I really liked it. I enjoyed how the pen felt in my hand, I am not one to post the cap but the size was good. The lack of weight does give it a cheap feel, but I’m am biased towards pens with some weight to them. Added bonus, my wallet liked it! Would I buy another? Well let’s say I was searching for other models they offer and their Heritage Black GT caught my attention. The bad news is I could only find it at a pen dealer in Romania, selling for $178. I am adding the Black GT to my wish list of pens.

Other reviews

Awesome little, great pen!

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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