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Vintage Conklin Crescent Model Numbering System


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#1 jde

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 19:32

Not sure if this is the proper forum. Please move it as appropriate? Thanks kindly, ye moderators.

Mind you, I don't own any vintage Conklin Crescent pens. Having obtained a modern Conklin Crescent, I’m intrigued by the original version of the pen. I’ve been very curious about the model numbering system.

Reading and searching through FPN gave me incomplete information and so I dug further. I found several Conklin catalogs through PCA, and a smaller number from Bill Acker’s website. All of these catalogs were illuminating and essential tools. My gratitude goes to those collectors who manage to preserve these materials.

It took me a long time to ferret out the model number system, and thus I’m sharing it for other geeks who might appreciate this kind of information. Use it only for vintage Conklin Crescent pens.

The experts among you reading this please, please, please chime in and kindly correct any misinformation or misinterpretation in this post. I'd appreciate it!

Cheers,
Julie

In a 1913 Conklin catalog I found "A Key to Our System of Numbering." (On page 32 to be exact.)

A Conklin Crescent model number seems to consist of two parts: a nib size and an adornment code. A third part is often found in the form of letters (e.g., "NL") and refers to the style of the holder. This information holds up until around 1920 when model numbers begin to grow and I could not find any further keys to interpret them.

Gold pens, filigrees, and pen and pencil sets have a somewhat different numbering system that is not covered here, but presumably the very first number will refer to the nib size.

If there is a readable imprint on the pen body, the model number should be there. Numbers may consist of two or three figures. They may or may not be followed by letters. Model numbers look something like these:

• 20
• 340NL
• 60
• 60NL
• 42
• 211PNL
• 521
• 40P

There were tons of model numbers, and the following numbering system should only be applied to the vintage Crescent pens. In examining Conklin catalogs from 1909 to 1926, the system worked pretty well for deciphering pen models up until around 1920/1921.

As stated in the 1913 catalog, "Each figure in the number of a Conklin pen has a meaning," designating the size or style of the nib or body of the pen. Some numbers have letters after a pen number (i.e.. 211PNL). The letters, of course, also have meaning.

The 1st Number
The first number represents the size of the nib. The literal size nib, not the point (fine, medium, etc.) of the nib. Conklin nib sizes range from 2 through 8, small to large respectively. Therefore, if the first number of the pen model is "2" you should expect to find a corresponding #2 nib on your pen. If the number on the nib is different then very likely it is not the nib original to the pen.

The Last Number
Generally, model numbers will contain 2 or 3 numbers. The last number, whether 2 figures or 3 figures, represents whether or not the pen has gold bands or trim. (In 1913 adornments were referred to as 18K gold filled. Bands or trim are 14K in other years.)
• 0 means the pen has no gold bands or trim.
• 1 means there is a 1/4" band on the cap.
• 2 means there is a 1/2" band on the cap.
• 3 means the cap has a chatelaine, or ring top, tip.

The above are the only numbers mentioned in the 1913 catalog.

A 1909 catalog reveals additional numbers:
• 6 seems to mean a 3/16" band
• 8 seams to mean a 3/4" band

What happened to 4, 5 and 7? I don't know! Here's what I have found:
• 4 shows up in a 1921 catalog but I could not define it.
• 5 shows up in the same catalog and I also could not define it.
Anyone know, for example, what is a 25 or a 75 model?

Exceptions to the "last number" rule per Conklin's 1909 catalog include:
• Silver Filigree pens #210 to #610.
• Pens numbered 211 to 611 and 321 to 621

The Suffix

A model number might have a letter or two at the end of it. Conklin refers to these letters as "the suffix." The suffix refers to the style of the holder. Known suffixes are:
NL means "Non-Leakable" style.
P means "Pocket" or shorter style.
PNL means a "Pocket Non-Leakable" style.

I have often seen respected collectors refer to an "S" suffix. I could not find it in any of the limited number of catalogs available to me. The "S" is believed to refer to the "Slip Cap" style of the cap.
Even though early catalogs showed off the Slip Cap there was not an "S" suffix in mention, so I could not confirm that.

S consensus says it means Slip Cap, or slip-on style of the cap.

In the 1920 catalog another letter appears:
C means the pen has a clip on the cap. The catalog calls the clip a "Pocket Clip." It seems the "C" was used on the order form to obtain a pen with the Pocket Clip. I don't think the "C" actually shows up on the pen model number itself, but it could show up on a box as a label.

Putting It All Together

Sometimes a model number has three figures. That too, has a very specific meaning according to the 1909 catalog. "If a number consists of three figures, such as No. 340 or No. 530, it indicates that the gold pen used is a different size from that usually put in that holder." "Gold pen" means the nib. In the catalog example, translating 340 - a #3 nib in a #4 pen holder. The last figure in 340 is 0, which would mean there is no band or trim on the pen.

Taking our list of Conklin Crescent models that appear near the start of this very long post, let's interpret them.
20 = a #2 nib in its regular holder with no band or trim.
340NL = a #3 nib in a #4 holder with no band or trim, and in the "Non-Leakable" style.
60 = #6 nib in its regular holder with no band or trim.
60NL = #6 nib in its regular holder with no band or trim, and in the "Non-Leakable" style.
42 = a #4 nib in its regular holder with a 1/2" band on the cap.
211PNL = #2 nib in a #1 holder with a 1/4" band on the cap, in the "Pocket Non-Leakable" style.
521 = a #5 nib in a #2 holder with a 1/4" band on the cap.
40P = a #4 nib in its regular holder with no adornment, and in the "Pocket" style.

The 1909 catalog refers to the absence of a suffix or letters as indication "the holder is of the Regular or Slip Cap style." I've also seen the catalogs refer to "Regular" as the "long" style.

Again note the "NL" does not refer to the length of the pen, but to "Non-Leakable." The non-leakable feature of the Crescent refers to an inner cap inside the cap to ensure a leak free pen while carrying it around "in any position."

The "NL" designation does not appear in the 1920 or later catalogs that I reviewed. Crescent pens disappear by the 1924 catalog.

The early catalogs refer to nibs being available in varying grades of flexibility, and with point sizes “Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Coarse, Stub and Manifold.” Stubs were furnished in “narrow, medium, broad, extra broad, and left oblique.” I'd never read about "Coarse"" nibs before. Richard Binder offers a definition of a “coarse” nib in his wonderful glossary.

Edited by jde, 17 August 2009 - 19:35.


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#2 Hirsch

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 16:23

The largest of the crescent-filler nibs, the Conklin 8 size nib, appeared on a pen called the S8. Note that the "S" is a prefix, not a suffix. The pen had a threaded cap, so the "S" clearly did not indicate slip cap in that instance.

#3 jde

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 16:32

Hirsch, Cool. Thanks for that.
For my insatiable curiosity do you happen to know the year of the S8 or approximate? I thought I'd seen a photo of it but can't place it.
Cheers,
Julie

#4 rhr

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 00:56

Julie, I don't know about the number 4, but I think the 5 in 25 means that it's a slim version of the 20. Comparable to Waterman’s #52½, it's the same length, but slimmer. The three-digit numbers probably refer to the various sterling and gold-filled filigrees and overlays.

If you can get to a pen show, you should talk to Dick Johnson, Dave Glass, and Pete Kirby, all major Conklin collectors. Pete has the following website, so you can correspond with him. http://www.petespenshop.com/

You might also want to see Cliff Lawrence's "The Conklin Story" in the Pen Fancier's Magazine, vol. 12, no. 12, Dec 1989, which has lots of ad pictures, and Dick Johnson & Howard Edelstein's two-part article in Pen World, vol. 7, nos. 1 and 2, Sept-Oct and Nov-Dec 1993, which has lots of info on the numbering system.

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#5 jde

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 01:25

Thanks for the detailed resource info, George! Awesome! Appreciate all the pointers I can get.

David's vintagepens.com referred to the Pen World issues, and I found them and they are on their way to me this week. I will look for the others, too.

The 3 digits I've reported as Conklin dictated in their "Key" in their 1913 catalog.

Apparently I like numbers. Although not as much as I love pens. :) The photos of the Crescents in the old catalogs are very impressive. Very handsome pens.

Best,
Julie

Edited to correct myself:

In the 1924 catalog there are indeed Crescent pens. I misunderstood what I was seeing, perhaps due to the catalog I have being a facsimile. I'll have to go back through this catalog again.

Also: the "C" in the 1924 catalog is clearly used as part of the model number (i.e., "20C") to denote a Clip on a pen. In earlier catalogs, Conklin refers to "C" as specifying a pen with a clip, but model numbers were not displayed with a C suffix.

Edited by jde, 19 August 2009 - 02:06.


#6 Vintagepens

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 04:13

The largest of the crescent-filler nibs, the Conklin 8 size nib, appeared on a pen called the S8. Note that the "S" is a prefix, not a suffix. The pen had a threaded cap, so the "S" clearly did not indicate slip cap in that instance.


I should note that Conklin nib (and pen) sizing is grossly inconsistent over time. That is to say, a #2 nib from one period of production may be considerably larger than a #3 from another. So while the #8 nib from the S8 is numerically the largest, the #7 nibs as fitted to the later Conklin 75 are actually physically larger.

#7 jde

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 11:43

Thank you, David!

I have a feeling a collection of Conklins is calling me. This seriously threatens my "can only have 20 pens" rule. Jeez, I'm so late to the party when it comes to fountain pens.

The largest of the crescent-filler nibs, the Conklin 8 size nib, appeared on a pen called the S8. Note that the "S" is a prefix, not a suffix. The pen had a threaded cap, so the "S" clearly did not indicate slip cap in that instance.


I should note that Conklin nib (and pen) sizing is grossly inconsistent over time. That is to say, a #2 nib from one period of production may be considerably larger than a #3 from another. So while the #8 nib from the S8 is numerically the largest, the #7 nibs as fitted to the later Conklin 75 are actually physically larger.



#8 Jeff L

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 22:44

Perceptive study of the literature. And you don't have any of the vintage pens?


A 1909 catalog reveals additional numbers:
• 8 seams to mean a 3/4" band

Minor note - the 8 indicates a band of 3/8"


I have often seen respected collectors refer to an "S" suffix.

As noted elsewhere, the S is predominately used as a prefix but there was an S suffix as well. Used late in the lifetime of the crescent filler models, the S indicated Short and replaced the P for Pocket. Why? (shrug).

As for the prefixes, the S started around 1903-04. There were also C, B, and M a year or so after that. The M seems to have spanned across different form factors so some look like the 3 digit straightcaps (316, 418, etc) and some look like S model slipcaps.

And then there was a G model of which I've seen no information.

The earliest pens had neither prefixes nor suffixes, displaying only a number.

It should be noted that these models names are catalog names, used by retailers to order the pens from Conklin. They don't necessarily appear on the pens themselves. So a model 32C (a 30 with clip and 1/2" band) would have had the barrel imprint of 30. The catalog name 32C would have been on the price band, which would have been removed by the customer.

Below - M51, later 316, early 316
Posted Image

#9 jde

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 13:51

Thanks, Jeff! I appreciate people detailing the finer, uh, points with me.

The thing I appreciate about the numbers is that Conklin intended them to be logical and meaningful, and for the most part they succeeded. I have been trying to sort out what is factual about the numbers as opposed to a kind of body of notions passed around about them. Starting out as a "oh, that's pretty" user/collector, I am trying to educate myself in a deeper way about pens I am drawn to.

I finally found the 1917 catalog, and I see the 25 appear there. It's interesting to me that the models range, in this catalog, from 20 - 60 (without the band) that the only "5" appears with 25 (and of course, 252p, and 251p - banded pens). It's somewhat hard to tell, given the nature of the photocopy of the 1917 catalog, but in the renderings of the Pocket Style pens the 25p does appear to be slimmer than the 20p. George (rhr) wrote above that "5" meant a slimmer pen.

I've been curious about the Conklin Crescents since I started acquiring FPs, but have been concerned about whether or not a hard rubber pen would be too heavy for my hand. I own one of the modern acrylic Mark Twain Crescents which I enjoy a great deal. Next seek I will receive my first BCHR Conklin Crescent in the mail. It's a 25P model!

#10 HLeopold

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 14:05

Thanks, Jeff! I appreciate people detailing the finer, uh, points with me.

The thing I appreciate about the numbers is that Conklin intended them to be logical and meaningful, and for the most part they succeeded. I have been trying to sort out what is factual about the numbers as opposed to a kind of body of notions passed around about them. Starting out as a "oh, that's pretty" user/collector, I am trying to educate myself in a deeper way about pens I am drawn to.

I finally found the 1917 catalog, and I see the 25 appear there. It's interesting to me that the models range, in this catalog, from 20 - 60 (without the band) that the only "5" appears with 25 (and of course, 252p, and 251p - banded pens). It's somewhat hard to tell, given the nature of the photocopy of the 1917 catalog, but in the renderings of the Pocket Style pens the 25p does appear to be slimmer than the 20p. George (rhr) wrote above that "5" meant a slimmer pen.

I've been curious about the Conklin Crescents since I started acquiring FPs, but have been concerned about whether or not a hard rubber pen would be too heavy for my hand. I own one of the modern acrylic Mark Twain Crescents which I enjoy a great deal. Next seek I will receive my first BCHR Conklin Crescent in the mail. It's a 25P model!


Almost any hard rubber pen will be lighter than a plastic/celluloid or metal version, in most cases much lighter.
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#11 jde

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 14:26

Almost any hard rubber pen will be lighter than a plastic/celluloid or metal version, in most cases much lighter.


See - another misinformed thought in my head squashed! :)

#12 Hirsch

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 16:05

QUOTE (Vintagepens @ Aug 19 2009, 12:13 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I should note that Conklin nib (and pen) sizing is grossly inconsistent over time. That is to say, a #2 nib from one period of production may be considerably larger than a #3 from another. So while the #8 nib from the S8 is numerically the largest, the #7 nibs as fitted to the later Conklin 75 are actually physically larger.


Although I no longer have them, I owned the S8 and 75 simultaneously. The 75 was the larger pen (huge), but the S8 had the larger nib. Both nibs had the correct number, but I have no way of knowing if there was a larger #7 nib than the one that was on my 75 when I had it.

#13 jde

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 19:00

I've been doing a lot of reading, and as some of you pointed out, the Pen World articles by Dick Johnson & Howard Edelstein were very illuminating about the model numbers and more.

At the end of the 2nd of the Johnson/Edelstein articles there is a note from (presumably) the PW editor, "Watch for 'The History of Conklin: The Company' in an upcoming issue." That article seems to have not ever seen the light of day, at least in Pen World.

There are some articles I have not been able to find. Two of these are:
* L. Michael Fultz has written an article on "The History of Conklin." The copyright is held by Penbid.com which seems currently (permanently?) inaccessible, and the owner has not returned my email.
* The Dec. 1989, Vol. 12, #12 issue of Pen Fancier's Magazine. That issue contains Cliff Lawrence's "The Conklin Story," which is the expanded version of his Aug. 1981, Vol. 4 No. 8 article, "Conklin - The Pioneer of Self-Fillers." (The latter I do have.)

Fultz also wrote an article for Pen World about Toledo pen manufacturing companies, and I cannot for the life of me find where I read about him doing so. If anyone knows which issue this article is in, that would be great info for moi.

The Pennant seems like a logical place for Conklin pen history, but haven't ferreted out much there as yet. Anyone know of any relevant issues?

If anyone can point me to any copies to beg/borrow/purchase, or of other articles people think would be useful about the original Conklin company and its pens, I'd appreciate hearing about them either in this thread or via PM. The reading list I've gathered thus far is here on my (yes, oh dear) blog.

Best,
Julie

Edited by jde, 27 August 2009 - 12:21.


#14 Vintagepens

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 20:41

QUOTE (Hirsch @ Aug 26 2009, 11:05 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Although I no longer have them, I owned the S8 and 75 simultaneously. The 75 was the larger pen (huge), but the S8 had the larger nib. Both nibs had the correct number, but I have no way of knowing if there was a larger #7 nib than the one that was on my 75 when I had it.


Since this is Conklin, I'm not about to say that there aren't any #8 Conklin nibs that are larger, but the last #8 Conklin nib I happened to have was indeed smaller than the several #7 nibs from Conklin 75s than I had around at the time -- though larger than the #7 Conklin nib that was in the S7 I also had then.

#15 BamaPen

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 12:48

Conklin experts, I have a Crescent Filler with a number imprint that does not seem to fit the schemes described above. Can you help me interpret this?

The imprint is P45S. The nib is a Conklin Toledo 4. The crescent itself is not imprinted on one side, which seems to indicate a pre-1918 manufacture date, according to other discussions on FPN (http://www.fountainp...rescent-filler/) When I removed the section, a very old petrified ink sac was more or less intact inside, which would seem to indicate that the crescent and barrel are original to each other. Here's a picture of the pen:

Posted Image

Based on the above discussion and my other Conklins,
  • the 4 indicates a size 4 pen - this is consistent with the nib imprint
  • the 5 indicates a slim model - it is slimmer than my standard model 40, so this is consistent

But the P and S confuse me.
  • In earlier models, the P as a suffix indicates a short, or "pocket" model - but this is a prefix.
  • In later models, an S as a suffix indicates the same thing - a short, or "pocket" model

This pen definitely is a short model. It has a screw-on cap, so it is not a "slip cap" version. Nowhere in the discussion above is P mentioned as a prefix.

So, the crescent seems to indicate an early pen, while the S suffix seems to indicate a late one, and the P as a prefix is just confusing.

Can someone help me unravel this model code?

#16 Shangas

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 04:39

I reckon this is a later model C/filler. I have two such pens (although longer in length) which date from the late 1910s, around the time of the First World War. The fact that the pen has a threaded cap & barrel would suggest that it's also of newer manufacture. Based purely on what I can see there, I'd say it's from the mid-late 1910s/early 1920s.
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#17 simp

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 22:19

There are some articles I have not been able to find. Two of these are:
* <strike>L. Michael Fultz has written an article on "The History of Conklin." The copyright is held by Penbid.com which seems currently (permanently?) inaccessible, and the owner has not returned my email.</strike>

This one seems present in internet archive:
http://web.archive.o...e.asp?art_id=16

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#18 jde

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 01:47

There are some articles I have not been able to find. Two of these are:
* <strike>L. Michael Fultz has written an article on "The History of Conklin." The copyright is held by Penbid.com which seems currently (permanently?) inaccessible, and the owner has not returned my email.</strike>

This one seems present in internet archive:
http://web.archive.o...e.asp?art_id=16

Simone


Good show, Simone! Thank you for posting that link. Glad to see some of those wonderful Fultz articles turn up on the wayback machine.

Can someone help me unravel this model code?


Just to say, hope you found an answer of some sort by now. :) It would be really neat, and perhaps helpful, if you would post a close-up of the imprint.

The "coding system" was implemented at some point after Conklin was making pens for a bit. And then, the codes work for a time, and then, they, uh, don't. Just sayin' that if you have a pen with an imprint that doesn't fit what I outlined earlier in this thread, your imprint is outside that particular "system" Conklin used, and your pen is not necessarily identifiable in a perfect "P means blah 45 means blahblah and S wraps it up" kind of way. Fortunately there are other ways to try to date your pen, as you already know.

The more you know, the less you realize is known about a lot of the early Conklin pens. The internet in and of itself can connect you with some people who know Conklin stuff but not really feed the information to you in the way we'd like. And I've found sometimes on FPN people make stuff up based on wild guesses, and then the stuff gets repeated as gospel. (I have been known to do that myself.) Read, read, read as much "source" material as you can get your hands on.

There are some great, informative people who contributed to this thread. For them/for you I'm always grateful!

(Even though I don't have a vintage Conklin pen, I love learning about Conklin history...)

Edited by jde, 21 August 2012 - 01:48.

 
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#19 crescentfiller

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 00:11

I just took a fresh look at the photo of your pen and noticed it has raised threads. I believe that puts it as one of the early screw cap models. If you have a later CF, you will notice that the threads are flush with the barrel. This corresponds with the single-sided imprint on the crescent and the heart - shaped vent. Is there an arrow on the section? Some of these early ones had threaded sections and the arrow kindly tells one which way to turn (like the one found on some caps). This doesn't help with the prefix-suffix question, but it narrows the time frame for production.

#20 LedZepGirl

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 20:01

Very cool, my Conklin Crescent is 20P which corresponds perfectly with the pen- size 2 nib, no cap bands or trim and it's small and pocket sized.

This little pen gets a lot of use because it has such a wonderful nib. Its odd looks get a lot of questions.
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