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Duke Gold Medal


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#1 TheNobleSavage

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 23:44

Duke Gold Medal

Introduction

Ill have to give you a little background on my experiences with Duke and Hero pens. A buddy of mine that both my wife and I work with, his name is Dan. Now Dan prides himself in finding deals on pens that are under the $50.00 and he is the one who introduced me to the Hero 329 and Duke Pens last year. He picked up a Duke pen that he bought a while ago at the Fountain Pen Shop in Monrovia California. It was a really neat looking pen that was actually meant for art and the nib can be used on both sides. He is a bit of an artist himself, so that’s why it appealed to him. At the time, I never heard of a Duke Pen but I was quite familiar with the Hero Pens because I own 2 Hero pens a 329 and a 330 that he recommended to me and I have to say that for a $10.00 pen, it writes more like a $30.00 or $40.00 pen. The look, of course it is a rip-off of a Parker 51 and the craftsmanship is less than be desired but they are pretty sturdy pens. So Chinese pens, in my book are in no way worth more than $10.00 or $20.00. Well, I have seen pictures of Duke Pens besides the one that Dan showed me on Norm Haase website www.hisnibs.com and they were very different from the Hero Pens that I remember.

Well, I went to the 2005 Los Angeles Pen Show with my Wife and 2 girls and I met up with my friend Dan there. I was browsing around and he came to me a said that Duke Pens had a representative there and they had some really nice looking pens there. I hate to say this but with all of the other pens there, looking at Duke Pens was the last thing on my mind. After I saw just about everything that I could possibly see there, I took my friends advice and visited the Duke Pens representatives table. She seemed rather bored due to lack of business at least that was my perception. People go to the pen show to find deals on the big name brands like Parker, Pelikan, Sheaffer, Mont Blanc, Visconti and Waterman to name a few but in my opinion not to buy Chinese made pens like Hero, Duke and Uranus pens.

I had no idea about what I was looking at or what I was looking for when it comes to these pens. I had already bought the pens that I wanted, so when I was at the table looking around, I had no desire to buy anymore pens. The lady was a young Asian woman in her early to mid 20’s she was very hospitable. As I was looking at a few of the pens, she told me that if I wanted to, I could dip any of the pens if I so desired. That is what I did, I tried all of the pens at the table, there were about 10 pens there to choose from but there are many, many more in the Duke line of pens. I have to say that I was quite impressed with the quality, appearance and performance of the 14kt gold German made nibs.

I am very prejudice when it comes to steel and gold plated steel nibs. I am a sucker for gold nibs and I find that they seem to be smoother than steel and GP steel nibs. But my only experience with steel nibs have been with cheap and poorly made ones. It is probably not the wisest way of choosing pens and knowing now, that is not necessarily true of Steel nibs because I have a few and they are better writers than some gold nibs that I have. But I was still not sold on Chinese steel or gold nibs until I found out that all of the nibs in the Duke line of pens are made in Germany. In fact, Duke/Uranus Pens are a joint Chinese and German venture called German Duke Lux Pen GmbH (Europe) Shanghai G Crown Fountain Pen Co Ltd (China). I believe that the goal was to change the minds of the western world regarding Chinese pens. When people think of pens made in China, I am sure they think of the Hero 329 & 330 Parker knockoffs and nibs, materials and workmanship of being the poorest quality around. Well this company wanted to create a line of pens made in China that were able to be considered a super premium writing instrument. They have used some of the best materials around to make pens that were to be given as gifts to foreign dignitaries, heads of state and important state events. So I don’t think China would be giving out Hero 329 and 330’s to heads of state, can you imagine that?? These pens are not cheap but they are affordable for most budgets, depending on the model they range from $12.00 all the way up to $500.00 +


First Impressions

I have to admit that I am not really a fan of skinny pens but this is really a nice looking pen. I had the opportunity of being able to dip and write with this pen before I considered buying it at the Pen Show. Like I said before, I had no desire to buy another pen that day but I decided to at least give it a try. This was the last table that I visited, in fact I was going to leave for the day but my friend told me to at least check out the pens at this table. So I did and I was very impressed with the pens as this table. This specific pen called the “Duke Gold Medal” really caught my eye. But at $70.00, I think this is rather steep for a pen that I have hardly heard anything about. I couldn’t believe the case and box this pen comes in! I have pens that are 3 times the price of the Duke Gold Medal but they only come in a cheap looking case and box. They seem to really want to impress the buyer with not only the pen but what the pen comes in. Faux Alligator skin case and a gold shiny box that the case fits into is really mind blowing. This case and box are cheap in comparison to the more expensive pens. They come in boxes and cases made out of carved and lacquered wood. The pen and the boxes are equally impressive but what are we actually paying for, the box or the pen?
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Appearance/Finish 3.5 out of 5

At first glance, this pen has a bluish black marble barrel with a gold cap and band with black writing that says “DUKE Gold Medal”. The Clip seems to be a bit interesting with a silver crown (Duke Trademark) at the top of the clip. The top of the cap is flat with a gold medal embossed. Inside the medal it has a black wreath with a “D” in the middle. All around the gold colored cap, there are engraved designs, lines, textures and writings. Now getting back to the Barrel, it is quite shiny with a bluish/black grey/swirl marble appearance to it. The material that is used to create the barrel is an Italian Resin and it seems relatively scratch resistant and pretty durable for everyday use. So in all, the pen is tad on the gaudy side but is relatively tame compared to some of the other designs I saw that day. This is not my first choice in style for this pen but it is definitely a conversation piece.
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Overall Design/Size and Weight 3.5 out of 5

Believe it or not, this is one heavy pen for its size; in fact, it is heavier than a Mont Blanc 149 and a Pelikan M1000. You would not think this pen would way more than a Pelikan M150 but this pen is an armor plated tank. I guess that’s why they call this “The Gold Medal” The pen posted seems to be a bit top heavy but due to the thin nature of this pen, it rests comfortably in the pocket of the web between the index finger and the thumb. The cap seems to weigh much more than the barrel and I would say it accounts for 80% of the pens weight due to the amount of metal that is used to create the cap. If posting the pen becomes too heavy then writing without the cap works just fine. Capping the pen is done with an acceptable amount of pressure followed by a simple click. I really wish they would have opted out of the “Click” method of closure and instead used a threaded barrel. The pen posts the cap by using a friction fit and with the same acceptable amount of pressure the cap is posted. I have yet had a problem with the cap falling off of the back of the barrel when posted, the fit seems relatively snug. Most metal caps seem prone to damage by the infamous “cap dings”. I do not see a problem with this cap, that’s for sure. It is very rugged, thick and heavy and it seems to be made for the trials of daily use and to the extreme but this pen might be a bit too heavy for some but then again, just right for others.
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The pen is the exact same length and girth of a vintage Parker 51capped but when posted the Gold Medal is slightly longer. This pen does not taper like the Parker 51 and design style reminds me of a Waterman Liaison or the Harmonie. Just as the cap is made for extreme daily use, so is the barrel of the pen. As this pen is heavy, it seems very durable and yet maintains a look of elegance to it, maybe a bit too elegant for my taste. In fact I find this pen to boarder a bit on the gaudy side but it incorporates many different designs, styles and textures all within a small area. Looking at it, it seems to take on a theme of an “East meets West”, which I find rather intriguing. Every time I use this pen, I find something new within the design, kind of like the “Where’s Waldo” of pens. In my opinion, this pen is made very well and upon a quick glance I am sure that 98% of the people would have no clue this is a Chinese pen. I know I didn’t, it looked like a Waterman to me.
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Nib Design/Performance 4.5 out of 5

Ok, now this is where this average looking pen transforms into an above average writing instrument. I apologize for the size of this image, but I feel that I have to show you one of the most important parts of a fountain pen. Upon closer look, this pen has a 14kt gold duo tone nib. As far as I know, there is only one size of nib and it is a medium. Now don’t be fooled into thinking that this medium nib is really a fine nib due to the fact that, most nibs from Asia are usually one size finer than marked. Not with this one!! Remember that this nib is made in Germany not in Asia. One funny thing about the nib is that I notice and what was confirmed on Norman Haase website is that the nib reads “14K 580”. 14K nibs should read “585” and I believe 18K should read “750”. I really do not know why it is misprinted and I couldn’t find a reason on Norman Haase’s website. He usually has more information on his website than most do when it comes to Duke Pens. Regardless of the world stopping controversy over the “580” markings, this is one unique looking nib. For some reason, the engraved lines on the nib remind me of an abalone shell. It’s very unusual and likewise very beautiful.
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As I stated, this nib is a true medium and it puts down a nice even flowing line of ink. I was very shocked about the smoothness of this nib. I had very low expectations for the pen before I inked it at the show, so that’s why I found this pen so surprisingly delightful. The nib is a pretty rigid one, that’s for sure, but a flexible nib is not a deciding factor for me when I am looking for pens. All I care about is a nib that is smooth, flows and writes well. And with that, this nib fulfilled all of my requirements for a nib and then some.

The Filling System 3 out of 5

Ok, anyone who knows me knows that I despise cheap filling systems on pens such as the cartridge converter. This pen is no different. I expected a cartridge converter and that’s what’s in it!! If I wanted a better filling system, then I know I would have to pay a price more than what I paid for this pen. Plus, Duke does not put out a piston or button filler anyways. But in their defense, the Cartridge converter is an international size and it accepts the most common of all ink cartridges if one chooses to go that route.
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Cost 4.5 out of 5

Well, the MSRP is $125.00 on the Duke Gold Medal, at the show I bought this pen for $70.00 at the Pen Show. As far as I am concerned, the nib is worth $70.00 by itself. Finding a new pen with a gold nib under 80.00 is a steal in my book and so is this pen. The price is right if you have the money to spend on a unique and fantastic writer.

Conclusion

I have to say that this is one heck of a writer at a decent price. If it was a steel nib or a gold plated steel nib, I would say pass on this pen. This is a 14kt gold nib that alone is worth the price of the pen. I really think that the Chinese pen manufacturers are under pressure to put out a fountain pen that is credible to the eyes of the world. Unfortunately, China seems to be only known for Hero pens and pens that are Parker knockoffs. I also think that Duke Pens, being a joint venture with the Germans is shedding the old reputation of manufacturing pens with inferior nibs and materials. Most pen snobs put their noses in the air when they see the typical Chinese pen. Well, I think that the Duke Pen Company is going to be getting more attention in the near future. If these pens are good enough to be given to foreign heads of state and gifts to VIP’s then I think this company is getting it right. I have to say that I was very shocked by the quality and durability of this pen. This pen combines sophistication and practicality into a standard sized writing instrument with a nib that writes just as well as a fountain pen twice the price. Thumbs up on this pen!!!




Images in this review are from ME
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#2 Maja

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 11:05

Another informative and thorough review, NS; keep up the great work :)

As for Duke pens, I currently own a "Mini-Torpedo" model and like you, found its nib to be surprisingly smooth ("surprising", I think, because of my experiences with a couple of Hero pens). I hope to buy another Duke pen in the future, but I am not sure which one; I don't want one that is too heavy...
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#3 TheNobleSavage

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 16:30

I was looking at 2 other Duke pens. I really dig the style on both, the price is a bit steep but I would consider getting them used if I can find them In fact, I have yet seen used Duke Pens anywhere. It should say either 1 of 2 things. People like them and they dont want to give them up, or people just not buying them. Regardless, these are very good pens and nibs are very VERY nice.

Duke Bright Pearl
14kt nib

DUKE Columbus
14kt nib

I really dig both of these pens

Edited by The Noble Savage, 07 March 2005 - 16:30.

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#4 TheNobleSavage

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 16:35

Another informative and thorough review, NS; keep up the great work :)

As for Duke pens, I currently own a "Mini-Torpedo" model and like you, found its nib to be surprisingly smooth ("surprising", I think, because of my experiences with a couple of Hero pens). I hope to buy another Duke pen in the future, but I am not sure which one; I don't want one that is too heavy...

I bought my wife the Duke Mini Torpedo at the LA penshow. That is a really cool looking pen that writes very nice. The copper color on the nib and pen is very neat. One problem is posting the cap. It takes a little technique the Norman Haase wrote down on his site. Thanks Norman!!!
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#5 Cam

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 18:22

I have the Duke Carbon which is excellent. Large, heavy with a very good finish. Nib is a generous medium with nice flow and is very smooth. I paid the equivalent of about $30 off eBay, but it retailed at over $50 on hisnibs.com

#6 Maja

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 22:42

Thanks for the tips, Roy; I temporarily forgot that Uranus nibs are made by DUKE too :blush:
I had my eye on the 'Silver Ribbon' (with its Triumph-like nib) but I would prefer something a bit broader than a fine nib. The "Mini-Torpedo" nib I have produces a "light-medium" line width (as Norman describes it on his site), which is about as fine as I want to go (I too had to master the cap-posting technique, NS!) I would have ordered a 'Red Crackle' but I wanted something not quite as heavy.
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#7 yich

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 03:11

QUOTE (The Noble Savage @ Mar 7 2005, 10:30 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I was looking at 2 other Duke pens. I really dig the style on both, the price is a bit steep but I would consider getting them used if I can find them In fact, I have yet seen used Duke Pens anywhere. It should say either 1 of 2 things. People like them and they dont want to give them up, or people just not buying them. Regardless, these are very good pens and nibs are very VERY nice.

Duke Bright Pearl
14kt nib

DUKE Columbus
14kt nib

I really dig both of these pens

you can check below link, they have decent price for what you are looking for.
http://goldquills.co...il.asp?prod=D38
http://goldquills.co...il.asp?prod=D41

#8 Bulldozer

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Posted 16 August 2008 - 19:33

Wow.. You dug up Aaron's post how? That your site?

Edited by Stanley Lyndon, 16 August 2008 - 19:35.







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