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Duke D11 Greek Key "F" Nib


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#1 fatfinger

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 20:59

My new Duke Greek Key with Fine nib arrived in 4 days from www.goldquills.com for a modest $17.99, including 1st Class USPS shipping.

First look showed the metalwork and detailing to be very high quality. A medium-heavy brass pen with black lacquer overlay with nice chromed steel accents. It feels like a high-quality, substantial item in the hand.

The nib is chrome over steel with iridium tip. Inspection with 10x eye loupe shows perfectly aligned tines, and it appears evenly and cleanly stamped with "Duke-Germany-1889". The iridium tip also looks perfect. The nib is made in Germany.

Specs:
Length posted: 5 7/16" (138.1mm)
Length unposted: 4 3/4" (120.7mm)
Length capped: 5.5" (139.7mm)
Section width: 0.34"--0.39" (8.6--9.9mm)
Section width @ "average" hold area: 0.36" (9.1mm)
Overall wgt.: 1.56 oz. (44.2 g)
Body wgt.: 0.992 oz. (28.1 g)
Cap wgt: 0.557 oz. (16.1 g)
Ink supply: Cartridge, or a nicely chromed piston converter (included).

The slightly tapered section area is also nicely cross-hatched black plastic, which provides a slip-free grip. The section is rather thin--less than 0.40".

This is a nice medium-size pen with very good workmanship for the price. The cap has a nice 'greek key' metalwork design which looks perfectly made under 10x magnification.

The screw threads holding the section to the body are steel, and nicely chromed.

In fact, the only fault on the whole pen was a 1/64" slight discoloring in the black lacquer, hardly visible without 10x magnification.

The chromed steel piston converter is stamped "Duke"--a nice touch, and works perfectly. No leaks in this pen.

The cap snaps on with a nice positive "snick", indicating good tolerances.

However--as is mentioned in several other Duke reviews--the cap doesn't want to stay posted unless very firmly seated. In fact, I have a hunch this pen is not meant to be used "capped". There is a plastic (nylon?) sheath covering 3 ridges inside the cap which snap over a ring on the pen's body. The nylon serves to lessen friction when the cap is put on the pen. It seems to me excessive force posting the cap might flatten or damage this plastic, eventually resulting in looseness when the pen is capped.


Writing Qualities:

I fired the pen up with Sheaffer's black. It writes first time, every time, with no skips or hesitations. The nib has a slight amount of drag, which I like. But there is no trace of tooth or scratchiness whatsoever. And, the nib is not very sensitive to rotation or writing angle. This nib has slightly more drag than a Waterman Phileas "F" nib, which is perfect for me. I like some feedback.

On rather porous (Chinese/cheap) 3-ring binder paper, it writes an average-wetness "medium". On finer paper, it no doubt would write a light-medium or a true fine. No complaints there. The nib is a great compromise between "too dry" and "wet". The Sheaffer ink dries quickly. No trace of feathering even on less-expensive papers.

The nib may also be left uncapped (for at least the 20 minutes I tested) with no skips.

After two days storage, the nib starts right up.

Conclusion:

I don't know how you can ask more in an $18 (delivered) pen! It's about perfect. If you absolutely must post your pen while writing, I'd look elsewhere. But the pen is heavy enough in the hand so that posting is not really necessary.

This Duke is much more finely crafted than the $7 Chinese ones you see on eBay, at least the 5 or 6 I've owned--and ended up trashing. Doubling the price of a Chinese pen--adding $7 or $8--does wonders for the quality, it seems to me.

If this were a Euro pen, it would probably cost $80--or up, based on the fine stampings, excellent lacquer job, and metalwork.

Where else can you get a machined brass/steel item these days for this kind of money?

--Fatfinger




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#2 lovemy51

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 08:24

hello fatfinger and thank u for a nice review. i'm always looking out for reviews on these asian beauties, but i guess i missed this one.

how's your pen behaving after a few months now? still happy with it?

#3 xena

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 02:59

This was my second fountain pen; i had a section leak problem, but now that i have cleared that up w/ some silicone grease, it writes beautifully. I usually keep it loaded with naples blue, but at the moment have noodler's violet in it.

#4 fatfinger

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 14:17

QUOTE (xena @ Jan 29 2009, 09:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This was my second fountain pen; i had a section leak problem, but now that i have cleared that up w/ some silicone grease, it writes beautifully. I usually keep it loaded with naples blue, but at the moment have noodler's violet in it.


Dear Zena,

I don't know if I'd go the trouble of greasing the pen! The Duke stills writes fine, but the section was too skinny for me; gave it to a woman friend as a gift. She loves it.

Any ideas on the secton width of the 'F' Duke Nobility? I'm a little scared to buy a true Duke F nib; may be too scratchy.

--Fatfinger
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#5 fatfinger

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 14:27

QUOTE (lovemy51 @ Jan 7 2009, 03:24 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
hello fatfinger and thank u for a nice review. i'm always looking out for reviews on these asian beauties, but i guess i missed this one.

how's your pen behaving after a few months now? still happy with it?


Dear 51,

The pen still writes beautifully. The section was too skinny for me, I decided. Gave it away as a gift. I need a 0.43--0.45" section width. I wish these online pensellers would buy a $15 plastic vernier caliper, and measure and post section widths. You can't tell online how large the pen really is...Not even the big Euro pen makers show this measurement.

"Not too fat, not too thin".

--Sincerely,
Fatfinger
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#6 xena

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 02:42

Fatfinger, the Waterford Marquis's in the marketplace through swisher and pen hero will be quite comfortable for you, just a little wider than a phileas.

#7 lovemy51

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 07:21

hi fatfingers and sorry the pen didn't work out for you. as for the nobility, if this is the one you are referring to... http://www.goldquill...l.asp?prod=D130 ... i have one in white and do not like it. yes, the nib is scratchier than any other Duke i own. as far as the section size, mine is 10mm on the thickest part (by barrel) and 8mm by the nib... if that helps!!??

#8 fatfinger

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 14:26

QUOTE (xena @ Feb 10 2009, 09:42 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Fatfinger, the Waterford Marquis's in the marketplace through swisher and pen hero will be quite comfortable for you, just a little wider than a phileas.


Dear Xena,

Thanks. Life is tough for the Fountain Pen Fetishist, isn't it? I found my Phileas ok in width, just way too smooth & lightweight in 'F' with no feedback.

I'll check out the Marquis.

--Sincerely,
Mssr. Fat Finger
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#9 fatfinger

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 14:37

QUOTE (lovemy51 @ Feb 11 2009, 02:21 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
hi fatfingers and sorry the pen didn't work out for you. as for the nobility, if this is the one you are referring to... http://www.goldquill...l.asp?prod=D130 ... i have one in white and do not like it. yes, the nib is scratchier than any other Duke i own. as far as the section size, mine is 10mm on the thickest part (by barrel) and 8mm by the nib... if that helps!!??


Dear Love,

Ye Gods! That's skinny. That is 0.39" at the thick end of the section, and 0.36" at the skinny end! Means the middle where you hold the pen is about the average, or 0.36". That's the same as the Greek Key.

Devastating news! A real flabbergaster. Thanks for the heads-up.

If this is true, it looks like all the Dukes, except maybe Charlie Chaplin, etc.--the real big ones--are the same section width?

And, I'll bet "nib scratchiness" on the 'F' nibs is luck of the draw. My Greek Key was perfect in feedback vs. tooth. No complaints there.

--Mssr. Fat-Finger


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