First Impressions (10)
Starting with the packaging, this pen calls your attention. The outer, textured large box closes magnetically. Inside, nestled in treated fabric is a smaller, textured (leatherette?) box. The pen rests inside this smaller box, also surrounded by the stiffened fabric. The presentation is beautiful. This pen was chosen as a gift for the ministers that attended the APEC meeting in Shanghai, China in 2001. You know the organizers of the meeting, as well as the Chinese government, chose a pen that would reflect well on their country and the meeting. Tucked under the inside box is the owner's manual with warranty.
My first thought was, "I need to get more of these as gifts for my friends."
The barrel is marbled brown, amber and black Some eBay sites claim it is Italian celluloid, but I cannot tell. I do know it is beautiful. It has a black cap and blind cap. The furniture is plated with 22C gold. On the top of the blind cap sits a gold plated disk. The top of the cap is adorned with the Duke logo. The pen is a numbered limited edition. The number is stamped in a gold ring at the top of the cap, just about the clip. A gold band at the bottom of the cap has the words, "Germany" and "Duke". The only indication that the pen is Chinese is two Chinese characters on the smaller box, and the fact that the manual is in Chinese and English.
This is a slightly heavy pen, but well balanced when posted. Its diameter is less than that of an M800, but it is heavier. It is about 5 1/4" long capped and 6 1/4" when posted. It weighs 42 grams, compared to the Pelikan's 28 grams (when inked). The caps snaps on and off and posts securely.
The nib is 14C gold (not gold plated). It puts down a generous, wet medium width line. When I first inked it, it was smooth, but seemed to miss a bit on vertical strokes. Flushing and soaking overnight in soapy water and a dose of Tanzanite ink has eliminated its reticence. It’s a very smooth writer. I will probably have it reground to a cursive italics, simply because I love cursive italics nibs and I would like to make this pen one of my daily writers. Even without the help of a nibmeister, however, this pens writes beautifully.
Filling System (8)
It is a screw-type cartridge converter. As far as converters go, it is fine. I just think that the gods intended fountain pens to have piston fillers. The rating reflects my bias. I did a "paper towel" test that Michael Masuyama (http://www.MikeItWork.com) taught me and it passed with flying colors. (OK: the test is that you fill the converter with water and grasp the nib, point down, in a folded paper towel. Very soon, air bubbles form as the water is being sucked out of the pen by the paper towel. The converter empties in about a minute and a half. This should indicate good flow from converter through the feed.)
Cost and Value (10)
I'd give it a 12 if I could. I bought mine from Todd Nussbaum at http://www.ISellPens.com for $55.00 plus $10.00 shipping. The cheapest I have found it recently on eBay is $135.00 with $20.00 shipping from China. On a domestic pen site, I see it listed for $210.00. Unfortunately, as of this review, Todd is sold out. I think I got the last one. He may get more in stock, and if he does, you’ll be racing me to get one.
I want more. In fact, ignore this review. Don't try to get one from Todd. They're all mine, I tell you!
The photos at ISellPens.com are awful, by the way. They do not give you any idea of how nice the brown barrel is. I have included my own. Not great, but better. The barrel looks much as it does in the second photo. In the last photo, the barrel appears more orange than it does to the human eye.
Edited by jdclarkson, 30 March 2008 - 20:45.