in Midnight Black
The Conklin Antique is an attractive and comparatively affordable silver-plated overlay pen, with a classic
1920's aesthetic. For those who like the look of flat-tops from this era, but prefer a modern writing
experience, this is an excellent pen to choose.
Appearance and Design
The Conklin Antique is a large, impressive, classically shaped flat-top. According to Conklin's description,
"the Antique Collection combines the vintage design of the roaring 20's with modern technical enhancements
creating a truly stylish writing instrument reminiscent of a bygone era." However, the pen seems to be
modeled specifically after the 1934 rolled gold Mabie Todd Swan "Leverless" pictured in Andreas Lambrou's
Fountain Pens Vintage and Modern. As shown on the photos, the pens look nearly identical, except
for the colour of the metal and the shape of the tip of the clip.
The base material of the "midnight black" version of the Antique is an opaque, high-gloss resin. The other
three available colours are pearlescent: cherry red, sky blue, and marine green. The silver-plated overlay is
engraved with a fine barley finish and polished to a high sheen. In addition to the overlay sleeves, the pen
features a series of distinct tripple bands at the cap lip, below the endcaps, and above the section. Both the
resin and the overlay seem to be of high quality, extremely durable, and beautifully done.
This really is a rather stunning pen, and I am impressed that Coklin dedicated this much thought and energy
to the design of something that is essentially a "lower priced" pen by today's standards. One doesn't usually
see beautiful, chased overlay nowadays unless the pen is a Limited Edition.
Comfort and Durability
The pen is a large one, but as the overlay is thin, it is not heavy. It is well-balanced in the hand, and those
who like flat-tops will find it extremely comfortable. The size, shape, and weight of the Antique are pretty
much perfect for me; the pen begs to be written with. Another design element I appreciate, is the "lip" on
the gripping section, which allows my fingers to rest on it comfortably. I grip my pens very low, so sections
that have this feature are my favourite. The pen posts comfortably, at no detriment to the overlay finish
(which honestly seems scratch proof, dent proof, and bulletproof!).
The filling system is a straightforward cartridge/converter.
Nib and Writing performance
My pen came with a Fine 14K two-tone gold nib (the Conklin logo is yellow, the rest of the nib is white).
I have also seen these pens pictured with a single-tone yellow gold nib, which in my view does not go as
well with the silver overlay. The F nib writes on the wide side, fairly close to what I would call a Medium.
As far as performance: This is my third Conklin pen, and it is the only one that writes out of the box. The
other two (the Mark Twain Crescent and the 100th Anniversary silver overlay LE, purchased from separate
vendors) have serious flow problems, and I am unable to use them at all until I send them out for tuning.
So it was a pleasant surprise that the Antique actually wrote out of the box at all! The nib is nice and smooth,
and has a soft feel to it.
However, there are still minor flow problems: The nib/feed seem to be releasing ink at an uneven rate,
which results in random line variation. Here is a writing sample:
As you can see in the sample, the nib puts down a wetter and wider line on some downstrokes than on
others. This is not dependent on the amount of pressure I exert, or on any other factor I can perceive; it
seems to be due to inconsistent flow. So I will still need to get this one adjusted. Ah well, at least it writes
and I can play around with it first, unlike the other two!
Yes, you know that something is seriously wrong with the fountain pen industry when you find yourself
celebrating that a pen writes out of the box with only minor flow problems. Three out of three Conklins
with flow problems is not a good record at all.
Cost and Value
Several retailers are currently selling this pen for $180, which is an unbelievable price for this pen. Even
factoring in that you may need to pay $15-30 for flow adjustment after purchase, that price is great.
Think of the Conklin Antique as the battle tank of silver overlays. It is beautiful, but incredibly durable and
sturdy. This is a pen to carry around and use without trepidation, not a pen to be kept in a display case and
treated like a delicate piece of jewelry. For those who enjoy silver overlays, but also insist on using their pens,
this is an unbeatable combination. The fact that Conklins cannot be counted on to write out of the box, is of
course, a serious strike against them. But for the price, go ahead and spend the extra $15-30 on professional
tuning and then use the pen and be happy!
Edited by QM2, 31 December 2008 - 15:49.