Conklin Mark Twain Coral Chase

I can’t pass up a good deal when I see it, and these Conklins were going at a tenner during the London Pen Show!

Conklin Conklin Conklin: clip, cap band, and crescent.

It’s my first modern American pen, and though I’ve read about them online, I only got curious after being tipped off about the sale. I figured £10 couldn’t hurt, so I bought one — they’re £150+ new!

The colour didn’t initially appeal to me, though I’ve since grown to like the rather unusual combination. There was also a red/gold one available that sold out before I got to the table. Conklin’s Mark Twain designation is hidden on the back of the cap band.

Mark Twain and the two-tone nib. 

There are a number of unusual features in this pen which make it worth the money: the crescent-filler system is different from everything else out there, and the crescent-shaped breather hole on the #6 nib is a neat visual reference to it as well. The clip functions like half a clothes peg, and is a very simple and practical design. Lastly, the chasing on the body alludes to vintage hard-rubber pens, though none of them came in quite as bright an orange material as this does!

Close-up of the crescent filler.

The crescent filler needs a little more explanation. Unlike a lever, which has a complicated box mechanism hidden in the pen, the crescent protrudes from the body and is held in place by a ring. The ring itself is notched and turns around the body, so when the notch lines up under the crescent, the metal bit can be pushed into the barrel, compressing a little sac which then sucks up ink through the nib and feed. It’s very fast and simple to maintain, and is a nice homage to old filling systems while being absolutely modern in itself.

I did find the steel nib a little strange, however, sitting uneasily on the border between smooth and gritty. The feed works well and the pen writes a thick medium, but I have found it to require some pressure before it will write. Too light a touch and no ink flows. (This is a nib I’ll definitely be grinding to a fine…)

I haven’t used such a broad nib in a while.

Overall, I do like the pen. Is it worth more than £100? I would say no. For £10, though, it’s an absolute steal, and makes me somewhat regret not splashing out for the more expensive demonstrator version. Maybe I’ll buy a nib upgrade when Christmas comes around!

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