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The Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Fountain Pen


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21 replies to this topic

#1 somnath1077

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 09:39

This is a review of my latest acquisition, the Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler. I had my eyes on this pen since last year but it was only a couple of weeks ago that I caved in and ordered one. At Euro 125, this is one of my most expensive pens. This pen certainly needs no introduction and has been reviewed before on this forum but I guess another review won't harm!

First Impressions/Appearance and Design (8/10)

The pen came in a large blue leather-covered presentation box. The presentation box was itself inside a blue paper box. Inside were the warranty card and instructions on how to use the filling system. The pen itself is a full-sized one with a beautiful green marbled body with sliver-plated accents and a screw-on cap. The cap band has the name "Conklin" and a signature of Mark Twain on it. The clip is quite tight but functional. Together with the half-moon of the filling system jutting out of the barrel, this looks like a very usual pen, a one of its own.


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Construction and Quality (8/10)

The pen itself is made of celluloid and the construction appears to be solid. Having said that, this happens to be my first encounter with celluloid. This stuff is supposed to pretty sensitive to heat and fragile so I'd be very careful as to how I use this pen. I can't say I'm a big fan of celluloid and personally prefer ebonite.

Weight and Dimensions (9/10)

This is a large pen and I can easily use it without posting the cap.

Length (with the cap on): 13.5 cm

Length (with cap posted): 14.5 cm

Weight: I haven't measured it, but it's quite light and the pen, with the cap posted, is well-balanced.

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Filling System (9/10)

The filling system is what makes this pen so unique. The crescent filler consists of a half-moon metal piece that juts through a slit in the barrel. This metal piece connects with a strip of metal inside that lies along side the sac. Pushing the half-moon causes the sac to get compressed and create a vacuum. There's a circular lock on the outside, so that the metal piece is not pushed in accidentally.

It took me some time to get used to this system. The first time I filled the pen, I pushed the crescent deep into the slot and crescent got stuck on the inside of the barrel. I had to use a paper clip to get it out. The other thing about this filling system is that it takes some time to fill. Once you push in the crescent, it takes 5-6 seconds for the sac to inflate. so it's certainly slower than a piston-filler. I've used aerometric fillers before and they never took so much time. But I guess this is because the sac in this pen is quite large and therefore takes more time to inflate. The other mistake I made in the first few fills was that I forgot to rotate the circular lock in place. There were no accidents however.

Nib and Performance (5/10)

I ordered a medium point but the nib appeared to be a fine point. I later read that the nibs on this pen seem to run finer than those in the West. The nib itself is made of steel. When I used the pen for the first time, I was throughly disappointed. The nib was scratchy and the flow wasn't as good as I'd expected. I cleaned the pen with a solution of dish-wash and then pulled out the nib-feed assembly which is friction-fitted. The tines were not aligned and the point needed some smoothening on grit-paper. I made these adjustments and then ran the sharp end of a razor blade through the channels of the feed just to make sure that there was no gunk in them. Running a blade through the feed channels has the effect of widening them, a process some people call "hacking the feed".

My policy when dealing with new pens that are dry and scratchy is to use ink that is wetter than usual. My very own concoction starts with a dry ink (30 ml of Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue) to which I add 3 ml of Waterman Florida Blue and a drop of dish-wash. I add the Florida Blue to enhance the color of Pelikan ink which I don't like so much.

I fed the pen with this ink and gradually my ministrations began to show their effect. The pen started writing a lot better. It's much smoother now, but not as smooth as my Pelikan M215, for instance. But I believe with regular use, we'll get there.

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Cost and Value (7/10)

The pen cost Euro 108 and with 19% VAT, the price was Euro 129. While I wouldn't consider this a bargain, I guess the price was okay.


Conclusion (Final Score: 4.6/6)

Although it's still early days, I feel very positively about this pen. It's not flashy, has a large ink capacity, is comfortable to use, and with a little tweaking can be made to write very wet and smooth. I'll be using this regularly from now on. A minor point is that you might have difficulty putting this pen in one of the pen-slots in your bag because of the metal of the crescent jutting out. This is for those who, like me, carry their pens in a rucksack.

Overall I think the pen is worth buying and is definitely a keeper.

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#2 Lorna Reed

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 11:07

Good review Somnath - thank you. I've had my eye on one of these for a while. The nib looks the same as the one on my Conklin Endura which I have found to be acceptably smooth with no issues.
Whatever is true,whatever is noble,whatever is right,whatever is pure,whatever is lovely,whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.
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#3 greencobra

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 04:44

Beautiful looking pen I must say. The review was interesting and you seem to have the same reservations I had about it. But the proof is in the writing and your writing sample looks like it's a winner. Good job on this, enjoy your pen.
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#4 lovemy51

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 05:22

thx for the review! i've been eye-ing this pen for a while.

#5 somnath1077

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 05:23

Thanks Lorna and greencobra!

#6 smoothquill

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 10:31

Hi somnath1077

Great review and great pics!
one thing I'm concerned about is the average life cycle of a sac and also and how can I get new sacs and replace the old ones
any hints?

thanks for the review

smoothquill

#7 bassplayrr

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 20:29

Thanks for the review!

I recently purchased the black version for my brother as a gift (hes an English teacher, author, and Mark Twain fan).

I too was surprised at just how fine the Medium nib was. My pen also had misaligned tines out of the box, though they were easily corrected. The pen now seems to write smoothly enough.

Other than that I think it's a great pen with a unique filling system and history. Congrats on the purchase. :thumbup:

#8 mbradley

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 02:10

Nice review, I had read mixed opinions on the newer Conklin pens but it sounds like they can be nice pens. I do like the green color as well. Is the pen celluloid? I thought they were resin dressed up to look like celluloid.


Michael



#9 somnath1077

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 11:04

Nice review, I had read mixed opinions on the newer Conklin pens but it sounds like they can be nice pens. I do like the green color as well. Is the pen celluloid? I thought they were resin dressed up to look like celluloid.


Michael



I really don't know if the pen is made of celluloid, because I don't know what celluloid feels /looks like. Whatever it is, it feels sturdy and inspires confidence.

I've been using the pen for over a month now and it has become much smoother. I'll use for for some more time before posting some more writing samples.

#10 bassplayrr

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 17:03

Nice review, I had read mixed opinions on the newer Conklin pens but it sounds like they can be nice pens. I do like the green color as well. Is the pen celluloid? I thought they were resin dressed up to look like celluloid.


Michael



As I understand it, you are correct. I can confirm that the black model I purchased was indeed not celluloid.

Edited by bassplayrr, 17 May 2011 - 17:03.


#11 januaryman

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 18:28

Based on your review and the wonderful images posted, I went ahead and ordered this pen. Did it even though I learned the nib is indeed no longer gold or gold plated, but lowly steel. Still, it has Mark Twain's signature on it!
It is easier to stay out than get out. - Mark Twain

#12 ashishwakhlu

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 02:10

Hi Somnath,

great review, I am curious about your adding dishwash to ink, possibly this is a first, where did you get the idea and has it harmed any of your pens, what are the advantages.

thanks and regards

Ashish

#13 somnath1077

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 08:47

Hi Somnath,

great review, I am curious about your adding dishwash to ink, possibly this is a first, where did you get the idea and has it harmed any of your pens, what are the advantages.

thanks and regards

Ashish


Hi Ashish,

Thanks!

When I started using Pelikan inks, the first thing I noticed was that they were very dry. And I read somewhere that you could make the ink wetter by adding a surfactant. I ruined two bottles of Pelikan ink adding too much dish-wash before perfecting the procedure. Just add a tiny drop to about 30 ml of ink. Anything more will make the ink unusable and you'll find the ink dripping out of the pen when you hold it nib down. So far I haven't damaged any of my pens this way. Look inks do have surfactants in them and there's no reason why a little dish-wash should be harmful. I'm no expert on this but it seems a reasonable argument to me.

What are the advantages? Well this helps if either the pen or the ink is too dry. You can actually feel the difference, the writing experience is much smoother.

Best,

Somnath.

#14 raging.dragon

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 05:42

Celluloid is a difficult and time consuming to work with, thus celluloid pens are usually far more expensive than this one. Properly aged and processed celluloid should be plenty durable; however, direct sunlight can fade it and alkaline inks and cleaners will stain or damage it.

#15 PatientType

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 06:50

I owned one of the same Conklin Mark Twain issue for awhile. It was a very good pen. It wrote well and ink flowed reliably. The steel nib was stiff but smooth.

Changing the rubber ink sack on these would be a breeze. I disassembled mine just to see how the filler system worked and it went back together easily. I can also confirm that while the pens have a pretty, translucent look with a lot of depth they're not celluloid. Still, they're beautiful pens and fun to use, you should enjoy it!

I only sold mine when I had the opportunity to purchase one of the higher-level Conklin Mark Twain versions that did come in celluloid with gold nib and silver fixtures. Those are occasionally seen on the used pen boards.

Edited by PatientType, 08 July 2011 - 06:51.


#16 lewis

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 07:39

Nice review. It's a good looking pen.
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#17 M@rtin

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 16:48

Very nice review!, and...what a beautiful pen!!!

#18 januaryman

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 11:38

UPDATE: I ordered mine from Montgomery Pens and it has arrived. Well, I mean a Mark Twain Crescent pen arrived, just not the green color version that I ordered. On the plus side, the people at Montgomery Pens were prompt in assuring me I can return it for a full refund, they even provided the postage to do so! Great Customer Service!

My First Impressions: When I unscrewed the cap I was surprised at the cheap feel of this pen. Perhaps it's the crescent filling mechanism, but the pen feels both rattle-y (it makes noise when you shake it slightly) and insubstantial. It feels more like an old plastic pen than a moderately expensive one. I fear I will not even like a green pen (which was what I ordered). I intend to return it and spend the cash on something else. But I DID want a green pen, with which to use the green ink I have. I am very disappointed.

Edited by januaryman, 12 July 2011 - 18:26.

It is easier to stay out than get out. - Mark Twain

#19 CoolFool

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 19:02

Nice review. I have one of these pens, and my main complaint is that it is a slow starter with black inks. I'd like to use black in this pen because the pen is black, and I think black gives writing a more retro look, which I like. I wonder if you have a favorite black ink that flows well, or if you recommend a concoction like the blue ink recipe that you described? Thanks!
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#20 Postscript

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 19:57

Nice review indeed. I own the same pen and one in another color. When it came to the office and I opened it a colleague commented that the interior box with its lavish lining would make a good pen coffin.

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