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Duke Shark


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#1 French

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 19:56

Introduction & First Impressions

Before I start the review proper, my apologies to The Noble Savage for my blatant copying of his review format. TNS, the saying “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” holds true here. Your reviews are well organized and a joy to read. Hopefully I’ll approach that standard as I get more practice writing reviews.

Ever since reading TMann’s review (here) I had the Duke Mako/Shark on my short list of pens to acquire. I really liked the look of the pen the things that TMann and Norman Hasse (hisnibs.com) have written about the pen. In my mind there were 3 drawbacks to the shark: converter filler, steel nib, price. Last week I was looking at isellpens.com, with the purpose of getting a Wality Eyedropper, and I found the Duke Shark being sold for $18.99. I thought for less than $20, why not try the pen, if it doesn’t work for me, there is always the marketplace.

The pen arrived 2 days after I placed the order, and inside was another budget pen (Baoer) and the Duke Box. I opened the box and was pleasantly surprised at the appearance and size of the pen. The green shark is 5.25” capped and 4.875” uncapped. I don’t usually post, so I didn’t measure the length posted. Filled with ink the capped weight is 43.5g, the weight of the uncapped pen is 31.6g. However, the pen is well balanced so it feels lighter when writing.

Appearance, Fit and Finish 4.8 out of 5
Posted Image

(image taken from isellpens.com -- my own pictures uploaded to a Yahoo! photo album gave errors sorry about that)

The pen is good looking. The green in the resin on the barrel really catches the light well and changes in appearance as you move rotate the barrel. I used to focus on black pens because I thought they were understated, and this pen is both understated and visually interesting. The fittings are metal, the pieces fit together well, the pen just feels solid.


Design, Size, Weight 4.0 out of 5

This is described as a full size, medium weight pen. I’ll agree with that. My preference seems to be full size lighter pens (I like my Wality 52, Lamy 2000, and DaniTrio raw ebonite Densho). While the Shark is a bit heavier than my normal daily users, the weight is not unwieldy. In the hand this pen is very well balanced, I haven’t used it for marathon writing sessions, but last night after a normal length journal entry, I didn’t notice any abnormal hand fatigue. Duke did a fine job in the design of this pen, ensuring the 31.6g is well balanced so it really doesn’t feel that heavy.

Nib Design and Performance 4.5 out of 5


The Shark comes with Duke’s Steel nib. The nib on my pen is on the finer side of medium, and that is what I asked for when I placed the order. I’m satisfied with the thickness of the line, kudos to the customer service at isellpens.com. I have read in other reviews the nib is the heart and soul of the fountain pen. I agree with that sentiment. The nib on my shark has remarkable soul, it is very smooth (not the buttery smooth of a Dani gold nib), better than I expected from a $19 pen. It has the Duke crown logo and an intricate design engraved on it. Just enough adornment to give some visual interest, not so much that it is a distraction or it makes the pen seem pretentious. The line is fine and neither wet nor dry, very similar to the line my Lamy Al-Star fine nib would put down with the same ink (Noodler’s black).

The Filling System 4 out of 5

Integrated piston converter. I am partial to eyedropper and piston filler pens. I had read different things about the filling system before buying a Shark. One site says the converter is non-removable, another says you can use either the included converter or international cartridges. On my pen it doesn’t seem as if the converter is removable. This works well for me, since I prefer bottled ink. The converter holds a fair amount of ink.

Cost 5 out of 5

A huge value at $18.99. I would say this pen is a good value at $60 to $70. Very well made, lots of metal, good writer. While the weight may be a concern, this pen really packs some value.

Conclusion

I took a chance on this pen. I’m very happy I took that chance. The pen is a good looker, good writer, and good value. It will be a member of my daily rotation for some time.

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#2 winedoc

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 20:04

Nice Review. Seem like a good value. Thanks.

Kev
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#3 French

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 20:06

Hi Kevin,

Now that I've got the first one done I should probably work on reviewing the two pens I've gotten from you!

#4 JRodriguez

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 03:09

Great job on the review. I'm tempted to order ...

#5 Slush99

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 03:33

Thanks for the review.

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#6 peterc

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 08:29

Nice review, just ordered one myself :D

Regards

Peter

#7 BobR

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 19:51

Thanks for the review, I've been wondering about this pen. It does seem a bit too heavy for me as I always post. Well done!

#8 southpaw

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 21:00

Excellent review French. Should give you the confidence to do those others now - we'll be eagerly awaiting them :D
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#9 Univer

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 13:48

Hi All,

Hope nobody objects to the resurrection of an old thread.

I picked up one of the green resin Sharks not long ago, and I find it a smooth writer, and a nice pen all around. I thought I might share one comment, and ask two questions.

The comment: I found the cap a little hard to post - the operation required more force than I'm usually comfortable with. And after just a couple of writing sessions with the cap posted, I discovered that the black finish at the end of the barrel was worn through (a thin line of white metal showing where the barrel sides meet the barrel bottom). Just a word to the wise: you might want to use this one unposted.

The questions: has anyone else found that the pen dries up after a few hours of sitting idle - requiring some fiddling with the converter to get the ink flowing again? Could it be that the cap isn't airtight, and that's what's letting the nib and feed dry out so completely?

And has anyone else found that this model is very sensitive to differences among inks? The drying problem described above was most noticeable with Diamine Grey; the pen really did not care for that ink. PR Velvet Black is better; but the most successful ink by far has been Quink Black.

For what it's worth, I haven't encountered these issues with any of my other Dukes - a 2017, a Crane, a Blue Spyder and a Beijing Opera. So far (knocking on wood), they've all been wonderful writers.

Cheers,

Jon



#10 bdngrd

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 21:33

My Duke Shark loves Waterman Blue-black, but refuses to write with Pelikan brilliant-black. It is as if it is a different pen!

Edited by bdngrd, 28 March 2007 - 21:33.

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#11 brutalbassman

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 02:39

thanks for the review! i've had my eyes on this for a while, though i like the black finish better. i reeaallyyy love dukes, especially at the price
Of asphodel, that greeny flower, I come, my sweet, to sing to you!" -- William Carlos Williams

#12 handlebar

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 02:41

Nice review.I especially like the colour.I have long wondered about Duke pens.I finally had a chance to pick one up and write a little at the LA Pen show.Seem like a nice pen for the price.Good value.

JD

#13 Univer

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 19:31

QUOTE(Univer @ Mar 28 2007, 01:48 PM) View Post
has anyone else found that the pen dries up after a few hours of sitting idle - requiring some fiddling with the converter to get the ink flowing again? Could it be that the cap isn't airtight, and that's what's letting the nib and feed dry out so completely?


Bad form, I suppose, to follow up on one's own question. But with apologies...

The cap of my green-barrel pen did indeed have a serious air leak. I managed, after a fair amount of fiddling, to seal it - good success with the melted-candle-wax trick - and the drying issue is an issue no longer.

Apparently this problem exists throughout the "Shark" range; the cap of my larger model (the one with the shell inlay ring) had an even worse air leak. Candle wax didn't work on this one - multiple applications of Tryphon shellac were necessary. But the cap is now airtight.

Nice pens, the Dukes. They have an issue here or there; then again, so do many of my more costly modern pens. In light of their value, I find it much easier to forgive the Dukes' imperfections.

Edited by Univer, 07 May 2007 - 19:32.


#14 bdngrd

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 01:37

Please explain what the melted wax trick is, or what you did with the shellac?
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#15 Univer

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 18:08

QUOTE(bdngrd @ May 8 2007, 01:37 AM) View Post
Please explain what the melted wax trick is, or what you did with the shellac?

Hi,

Happy to oblige, with a disclaimer: there are other folks here who are much more experienced, and much more adept, than I am. Here goes...

The "melted wax trick" involves the application of melted (or half-melted, partially-cooled) candle wax in order to seal up air leaks. Sometimes it's possible literally to drip the wax from the candle into the cap, "aiming" at the spot where the leak is located. I have never had any success with this method.

In the case of the green-barreled Shark, I applied half-melted wax (let the candle burn until there's a pool of liquid wax, then extinguish it; dip some kind of applicator into the wax while it's still warm and pliable) from the outside, working it into the area under the clip attachment point with a toothpick. Several applications were required. The final result is invisible; the wax is all up under the clip. I wasn't as neat as I might have been, so I did have to scrape off some excess wax when I was done.

The shell-inlay Shark was a stubborn pen, and it resisted all efforts to seal the air leaks from the outside. Looking into the cap, it seemed to me that the problem was at the clip attachment point; but that point was inaccessible because of the plastic inner cap. Because that inner cap did not seal tightly to the outer cap, air was able to pass freely in between.

Lacking an inner-cap-pulling tool, I opted for a brute-force approach, and simply brushed shellac all around the lip of the inner cap, letting it drip down, between inner and outer caps, toward the clip attachment point. Let me be clear: I glopped a lot of shellac in there, and it took a long time to dry (I kept the cap upside down in a vertical pen rest during the drying process). Again, here, multiple applications were required. But ultimately the cap was sealed. Because the repair was effected from the inside, it is entirely invisible.

I'm sure there are other ways to accomplish the same result, and I have the distinct feeling that more experienced (or more dextrous) people would have gotten to the same place with far less mess and effort.

I hope the foregoing is helpful, and I trust that the expert repairpersons among our members will correct any misinformation I may have inadvertently passed along.

The Sharks were nice writers to begin with. Now that the drying issue has been addressed, they're even better.

Cheers,

Jon

#16 Chris_PA

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 18:22

Nice pen and review! That's a heck of a value for $19!

#17 isellpens

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 19:28

I am closing out and discontinuing several Duke models including the Shark starting at $14.99 on my website at: www.isellpens.com . My supply is going fast so don't wait too long especially at this price.

#18 ximhot

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 22:48

Discontinuing Duke? I found them the best Chinese made pens below $30. Please don't...

QUOTE(isellpens @ May 9 2007, 07:28 PM) View Post
I am closing out and discontinuing several Duke models including the Shark starting at $14.99 on my website at: www.isellpens.com . My supply is going fast so don't wait too long especially at this price.



#19 ximhot

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 00:59

My Shark is starting to have the dry ink problem. Thanks for all the information. Now I will just keep using it and try not to let it sit for too long.

QUOTE(Univer @ May 8 2007, 06:08 PM) View Post
QUOTE(bdngrd @ May 8 2007, 01:37 AM) View Post
Please explain what the melted wax trick is, or what you did with the shellac?

Hi,

Happy to oblige, with a disclaimer: there are other folks here who are much more experienced, and much more adept, than I am. Here goes...

The "melted wax trick" involves the application of melted (or half-melted, partially-cooled) candle wax in order to seal up air leaks. Sometimes it's possible literally to drip the wax from the candle into the cap, "aiming" at the spot where the leak is located. I have never had any success with this method.

In the case of the green-barreled Shark, I applied half-melted wax (let the candle burn until there's a pool of liquid wax, then extinguish it; dip some kind of applicator into the wax while it's still warm and pliable) from the outside, working it into the area under the clip attachment point with a toothpick. Several applications were required. The final result is invisible; the wax is all up under the clip. I wasn't as neat as I might have been, so I did have to scrape off some excess wax when I was done.

The shell-inlay Shark was a stubborn pen, and it resisted all efforts to seal the air leaks from the outside. Looking into the cap, it seemed to me that the problem was at the clip attachment point; but that point was inaccessible because of the plastic inner cap. Because that inner cap did not seal tightly to the outer cap, air was able to pass freely in between.

Lacking an inner-cap-pulling tool, I opted for a brute-force approach, and simply brushed shellac all around the lip of the inner cap, letting it drip down, between inner and outer caps, toward the clip attachment point. Let me be clear: I glopped a lot of shellac in there, and it took a long time to dry (I kept the cap upside down in a vertical pen rest during the drying process). Again, here, multiple applications were required. But ultimately the cap was sealed. Because the repair was effected from the inside, it is entirely invisible.

I'm sure there are other ways to accomplish the same result, and I have the distinct feeling that more experienced (or more dextrous) people would have gotten to the same place with far less mess and effort.

I hope the foregoing is helpful, and I trust that the expert repairpersons among our members will correct any misinformation I may have inadvertently passed along.

The Sharks were nice writers to begin with. Now that the drying issue has been addressed, they're even better.

Cheers,

Jon



#20 Univer

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 16:18

QUOTE(ximhot @ Jul 19 2007, 12:59 AM) View Post
My Shark is starting to have the dry ink problem. Thanks for all the information. Now I will just keep using it and try not to let it sit for too long.


You're very welcome. If you can manage the drying issue without recourse to wax and/or shellac, so much the better. But if you decide to try one of the sealing procedures, I think you'll find that it's not terribly difficult.

Cheers,

Jon






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