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Duke Mako


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#1 TMann

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 03:26

A few weeks ago, I was going through the forums at FPN, when I came across a post by Norman Haase of HisNibs.com. He was describing a new pen that had recently been imported from China, called the Duke Mako. Upon seeing the photos, I was immediately smitten by the pen, and promptly sent an e-mail to Mr. Haase, asking him to hold one of the brown models for me. I received it several days later, and was very pleased with my new "toy." :) Since, I have not seen any other Duke reviews here at FPN, I decided to post a short review of this somewhat unusual pen.

According to the HisNibs website, the Duke brand is produced in China by the Shanghai G. Crown Fountain Pen Co., Ltd, though much of the R&D comes from Germany. Thus, Duke pens are distinctive blend of Asian styling and German engineering. The Mako pen draws the inspiration for its design from the shark of the same name. It has a sleek, streamlined shape that looks as if it would easily cut through the open water. There are even some small slits in the sides of the cap, that mimick the appearance of "gills". It's a neat looking pen!

The Mako comes in three different color styles: a brown or green marbled pattern, or classic black. My pen is one of the brown models. The barrel is a deep brown color, with a rich marbled appearance. The cap is black lacquer, and the trim and nib are all silver. Very classy!

As to its size, the Mako is a full-sized, medium weight pen. It is comparable in weight to my Sheaffer Prelude and Parker Sonnet, though I would guess that it is slightly heavier. I usually write with my pens unposted, and the Mako feels very balanced in my hand. The best word that I can use to describe its feel is "substantial." Everything about it feels solid and secure. The cap clicks securely into place, and the all-metal connection between the barrel and nib section is very sturdy.

The Mako's all come with a fine-medium steel nib. The nib writes very smoothly, though the line is a bit less wet than my Lamy Al-star, or my Pelikan m215. The ink supply is stored in a large, integrated piston-filler that is permanently attached to the nib assembly.

In summary, the Duke Mako is a very unique pen that combines the best of Asian artistry and German design. It is solidly constructed, and has a look that is sure to elicit compliments from all who see it. And with a price of $65 from Norman Haase's HisNibs.com online store, the Mako is also a very good value.

TMann

Attached Images

  • Mako.jpg

Edited by TMann, 22 September 2005 - 03:33.


#2 TMann

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 03:35

Here's a small sample of the fine-medium nib on the Mako.

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  • Mako_writing_sample.jpg

Edited by TMann, 22 September 2005 - 03:37.


#3 Dillo

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 04:13

Hi,

That is a nice pen. :)

The Duke is completely designed and made in China. The Germany is a marketing thing.

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#4 TMann

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 04:30

Hi,

That is a nice pen. :)

The Duke is completely designed and made in China. The Germany is a marketing thing.

Dillon

LOL...Oh, well.

It gave me something interesting to use as a "subtitle" for my review. "Duke Mako...Asian Styling and German Engineering." I thought it had kind of a nice ring to it. :D

TMann

Edited by TMann, 22 September 2005 - 04:31.


#5 Maja

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 06:29

Nice review of a handsome pen----thanks TMann :)
The designers at Duke even got the number of gill slits right, as most sharks have 5 gill slits. I am a great admirer of sharks and was thinking of getting this pen some day, but I'm not looking for a heavy pen. How does it feel posted?
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#6 southpaw

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 14:12

TMann,

Thanks for the review. I saw this pen and was intrigued by it. Nice to see a review. Well done.

southpaw
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#7 TMann

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 15:05

...I'm not looking for a heavy pen. How does it feel posted?

I tried it out a bit with the cap posted and it feels pretty good. It's well balanced and definitely not top heavy, at least in my hand. And I have small hands for a guy...

TMann

#8 Matt

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 13:25

I am currently in China and recently bought a Duke Mako pen in a deep, dark, beautiful blue. It is a pretty substantial pen and write very nicely.

I have talked to three different Duke dealers here in China and they all claim that Duke is a joint venture company with a company in Germany and that the nibs are German made. The nibs do say Duke Germany on them. Of course the Chinese have always been good at copying things.

Regardless, it is a fine pen. It is very reliable, lays down a good line, and does not skip.

Many of the other Duke pens here are equally good, tough I'm not that crazy about their more expensive gold nibbed pens or their cheaper school pens. I think their best pens are the mid range stainless steel nibbed pens.

I think the Hero gold nibbed pens are better. They have a little flex to them and a softer feel.

Matt

#9 Apollo

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 22:21

Joint venture with a German company, eh? Interesting. Any clue as to who that German company might be?
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#10 Matt

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Posted 05 October 2005 - 01:21

The literature for Duke that comes with pens claims that the Duke brand was founded by Mr. York Wekheim in Germany and that the owner of the brand in the Asia-Pacific region is Shanghai G•Crown Fountain Pen Co., Ltd. The name of the company as registered in Germany is:

German Duke Lux Pen GmbH

I wonder if anyone out there knows anything more than this. Perhaps Norman Haase could shed some light for us.

I always take this kind of think (in China) with a grain of salt. As I said previously regardless of the originof the pen, the Duke brand seems to be pretty good.

Matt

#11 His Nibs

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Posted 06 October 2005 - 23:53

Hi all,

I can only go by what DUKE in Shanghai, with whom my supplier deals, says as to the corporate structure. Matt has correctly laid out the same information that I have. As to rumors that it's not true....what can anyone definitively say from this side of the planet? :)

Having dealt with Hero for many years, what I can say is that the overall quality and 'fit and finish' of the DUKE line is much more in line with European standards at each comparable price-point. This is not to denigrate Hero, as they *do* have some wonderful models. I'm speaking overall. The feedback that I've had from my customers since I introduced the line to the U.S. at the Philly pen show last year has been fantastic. Additionally, I've found that this high standard of quality remains consistent across the board, model to model.

For many years I've been cajoling Hero to pay more attention to the expectations of western pen collectors as to design, quality, nib size, etc. It's largely been a case of hitting my head against the wall (as exemplified by my decision to no longer carry the Hero '100' last year -- by far the most popular model -- as the quality of the plastic on the hood had deteriorated from previous years, and Hero was not willing to rectify it). Hero is satisfied with the many millions of customers that they have in Asia and eastern Europe. Their position has always been that if I can demonstrate a large market for their pens in the U.S., they'll make changes. My position has always been that until they make changes there won't be a large market in the U.S. for their pens! A classic 'Catch-22'.

That's why I was so excited to discover DUKE and Uranus last year. It's as if a Chinese company had been eavesdropping on my communication with Hero all these years and finally decided to heed my suggestions! Even the decision to broaden their nibs to what I call a 'light-medium' from the typical Chinese x-fine or fine was an important step. I'm *still* trying to get them to offer nib-size variations, but the wheels move slowly. :)

So, I have no *inside* information about their corporate structure, but if they're not actively partnering with a German firm, they've certainly taken advice from European design sources!

#12 Maja

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 04:08

Norman,
Thank you for the detailed (and timely!) response. I like the Duke pen (the "Mini Torpedo") pen I got from you; it's a nice writer. :)

Thank you also for your efforts to effect some positive change (a choice of nib widths, better QC, etc.) with regard to Hero pens. Maybe some day soon we will see an offering of pens made by that company in broad, italic, stub, etc!

Cheers!
~Maja

Edited by Maja, 07 October 2005 - 04:10.

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#13 His Nibs

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 05:11

Hi Maja,

Glad to hear that you're enjoying the Mini Torpedo. Let's hope that some progress can be made with nib sizes...but don't hold you breath! Dealing with DUKE has been a bit easier than with Hero, but only a bit. :)
Regards,

Norman Haase
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#14 arvadajames

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 19:19

I just recieved this pen from isellpens.com. Beutiful pen, good writer, but I can't keep the cap posted. It pops off or just falls off. Any sugestions. I do not like writing with an uposted pen, so the pen is currently of little value to me.

James

#15 Macuser

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 20:51

I am curious to hear other people's impression of this pen.

I have ordered from Norman before and can attest that he is top notch!

#16 French

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 21:59

Macuser,

I posted another review of the Duke Mako/shark here

This was my first review, so please be tolerant ;)

french

#17 His Nibs

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 22:12

Deleted....I think :bonk: , as I posted this in the wrong thread!!!!!

Regards,

Norman

Edited by His Nibs, 28 July 2006 - 22:15.

Regards,

Norman Haase
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#18 His Nibs

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 22:17

I am curious to hear other people's impression of this pen.

I have ordered from Norman before and can attest that he is top notch!

Macuser,

Thanks for the kind words! :)
Regards,

Norman Haase
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#19 bdngrd

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 13:41

I have a duke mako in green, and as I had not used it for a while, I took it out for a spin the other day. It was one of the first pens I bought, and I inked it right away, but was more interested in other pens at the time. Now, after I have used a bunch of others, I am more impressed with it than I was at first. It took some dishsoap and water cleaning, some nib flossing, but now it writes and starts every time. It is a big, glossy, heavy, and impressive looking pen and it is fun to use. Nothing special about the nib, though. Also, a minor gripe I have is that the cap spins freely when it is capped, it feels loose. otherwise I like the pen a lot. I think it would make a great gift to a new user, and you can't go wrong for the price.
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