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Conklin Crescent Filler


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#1 Univer

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 18:35

Hi,

Well, I would never characterize this brief post as a full-blown "review." That said...

I acquired one of the modern chased black Crescent Fillers, used, a couple of weeks ago. In my world, that's barely long enough to get a pen flushed out, inked up, and into the rotation. So please regard these only as preliminary reactions.

To my eyes, the pen is a reasonable facsimile of the original (albeit not the "exact replica" touted by the manufacturer). It's resin (celluloid?) rather than hard rubber, but the chasing is well executed. The sterling furniture is nice, although I could easily dispense with the engraved Mark Twain signature - just a personal quirk. Overall, the pen definitely comes across as a high-quality, well-executed product.

One respect in which the pen most closely resembles the original crescent-filler models is in its weight; although it's large enough to be classed a full-sized (even oversized) pen, it's light and fatigue-free in use.

The large two-tone nib is attractive, and it's a fine writer: not "flexy" in the vintage sense (what is, alas?), but definitely "soft." In fact, I think that adjective may suit this nib better than any other I've tried. It delivers a welcome combination of suppleness and springiness. It's definitely possible to produce modest line variation with it. One quibble: my specific pen occasionally requires half a stroke before starting up. I'm not suggesting that this issue is common to the model, simply because I bought the pen second-hand, and I don't know anything about its previous life. I suspect that there's a fraction too much space between nib and feed, and I expect that I will eventually have that matter attended to by one of our distinguished restorers/nibmeisters.

Once the nib gets going (and I certainly don't want to overemphasize the start-up issues!), it's wonderful: remarkably smooth and lively. Ink flow is generous; if my pen is a representative example, fans of dry-writing nibs might want to look elsewhere. My nib is denoted a medium, and that seems about right; I've got finer mediums in my collection, certainly, but this isn't a "broad" by any means.

As for the filling system: it's actually very enjoyable to use. I can understand why lever-fillers and button-fillers might have seemed, back in the day, more "advanced" than the crescent mechanism: the crescent does protrude from the barrel, and 1920 eyes might have seen it as ungainly and antiquated, to say nothing of its potential for catching in a pocket. In 2007, however, the crescent system seems like an endearingly anachronistic, charming novelty. (In the 50s, likewise, the advent of the Snorkel must have seemed miraculous to folks weary of wiping off sections and nibs; but for me, here and now, the Snorkel seems unnecessarily fussy in comparison to its predecessors.)

On the other hand, there's nothing anachronistic (endearingly or otherwise) about the crescent filler's efficiency. I seem to remember that Conklin advertising, way back when, used to talk about the performance advantages of its system (and online pen reference sources make reference to its mechanical superiority as well). This may sound odd, but I think it's possible to "feel" the crescent system compressing the inner sac more completely than other mechanisms. The tactile feedback (as the sac is compressed and as it fills) is very direct.

One minor point of interest (a function not of the pen's design, but of my lack of an instruction sheet): I didn't realize, when I first used the CF, that the rotating ring for the crescent was designed with a locking feature. (I have a few unrestored vintage Conklins, and so far as I know, those rings stay put strictly by friction.) The modern ring, I discovered, rotates much more freely, and I found myself wondering how one might keep it from rotating into the unlocked position in the course of a day's writing. Well, that's easy: simply slide the ring forward or backward on the barrel, and it will lock in place. A thoughtful improvement, I think, on the original design.

To sum up: I actually like the CF a whole lot better than I expected. The hands-on experience of using the filler seems like a powerful, living link to early fountain-pen writing. Don't get me wrong: I own lots of vintage pens, and I love 'em. But in using one of them - even a NOS or perfectly restored specimen - one is conscious of using an antique. Using the modern Conklin is different. Because the pen is new, the experience feels much closer to the experience the original owner enjoyed writing with that antique...back when it was a daily workhorse rather than a museum piece. By rights, it should feel less authentic; but it actually feels more authentic (just my reaction, of course).

So: reliable performer, enjoyable filling system, practical everyday pen, high build quality, lovely nib...and a generous helping of history, to boot. I wouldn't hesitate to acquire one, if the right opportunity presents itself.

Cheers,

Jon

Edited by MYU, 25 October 2008 - 05:27.


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#2 johnr55

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 18:57

I've been looking at getting a Crescent Filler, as the concept fascinates me.

Edited by MYU, 25 October 2008 - 05:27.


#3 helius

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 20:01

I have a marbled cobalt blue Mark Twain Crescent with a Fine nib. My experience with it has been very similar to Jon/Univer's.

First the warts: It's just been sent back to Englishtown, NJ for the third time. Previously I've had problems with the cap band coming loose, the sac needing to be replaced, and a nib/feed that's very reluctant to start. For some reason the nib started to feel scratchy when it came back from the last trip. The good news is that the company seems to genuinely want to make things right. I think a representative of the company claims that they try to keep turnaround time to around a week, which was certainly true the last two times I sent the pen in.

Other random observations about the pen and the company in no particular order:
- The pen's looks are rather unique since there are very few other modern crescent fillers out there.
- The material used for the body is very attractive, and the furniture looks great.
- The nib, like all Conklins, writes about a size larger.
- The original nib was smooth and slightly wetter than average, but hard starting. The new feed/nib (I'm not sure which parts they replaced or repaired) is no longer hard starting, puts down a slightly-wetter-than-average line, but with a nib that's slightly scratchy. Hopefully they'll get things right this time.
- The nib was described by my SO as springy. I usually write with too little pressure to experience this, but the tines do seem to flex if I press down on them.
- While the nib is technically two-toned, the only gold coloured part is the Conklin logo (rather like Bexley's nibs). Otherwise the nib is very, very plain looking.
- Surprisingly easy to clean the pen. For comparison, it takes me almost twice as long to flush out my Esterbrooks before the water runs clear.
- Average ink capacity, probably on par with the Esterbrooks lever-fillers.
- Surprisingly small and light pen that's comfortable to hold for long writing sessions.
- Doesn't seem to dry out even after a week or two of horizontal storage.
- The little rotating ring is made of the same material as the barrel, with no lubrication or other parts between them. That means that every time I tun it, it feels as if I'm grinding a part of the barrel and/or ring off.
- The modern Conklin company has absolutely no connection with the older company, except in name.
- The way I hold this particular pen, the rotating ring ends up above the webbing between my thumb and index finger. It may be irritating for someone who holds their pens higher.

Conklin's QC has not been all that high, and I've heard that a lot of their modern pens are hard starting. However, the bottom line is that I really like this pen, and would heartily recommend it (with the warning about the aforementioned problems).

Edited by helius, 15 February 2007 - 20:03.


#4 Silas

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 20:28

Just got my Conklin Chased Black with medium nib from His Nibs.

I bought this pen because Norman said he checks each one before it leaves his shop so it writes perfectly. I didn't want to have to "fool with" this pen. He "tweaked" it and it writes smooth and has great flow.

The Black one was a bit more than the other colors, and once I got it, I understand why. The Chased part looks like it is under a layer of clear acrylic, making the pen smooth on the outside, not chased. But, upon closer examination, the chase marks are actually ON the OUTSIDE....it was so smooth I could barely tell. I really like it!

The clip and band were really an outstanding rose gold...very classy.

And Norman advised that the nibs on these run a little fine, so I ordered the "medium" nib and got one that writes a perfect "fine."

Filled it with Bulletproof Black and it flows about an 8/10 just like I asked for.

I think this is HisNibs 3rd time he had to re-order because this particular model sells out quickly.

I'm glad I got mine!!

#5 Uncle Red

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 23:46

Thanks for the update Silas, let's see a writing sample

#6 EvadtheSlayer

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 18:47

This is so interesting.  I have seen reviews at other sites where users roundly criticized the filler system.  Is this some special model?
 



#7 mohan

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:08

Hi univer,
Thanks for posting, Can I see some pictures also?

#8 gary

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 11:49

This is so interesting.  I have seen reviews at other sites where users roundly criticized the filler system.  Is this some special model?
 

 

Be curious to see reviews criticizing the crescent filling system:  can you give us a link?

 

I had a Stipula Saturno, and have two vintage Conklins, and they've never posed a problem.  By the way, the curve of the crescent has avoided any incidents of pocket-catching hypothesized by the OP.

 

gary








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