CONKLIN CRESCENT 2009
Green & Goldleaf
Background and Significance
Since its relaunch of the Conklin brand, the new Conklin company has been releasing a variety of "Mark Twain Crescent"
models, from modest silver-trimmed celluloids to exuberant filigree overlays. These models pay tribute to the original
iconic Conklin Crescent -- famous not only for the striking look of this design element, but also for being the first
commercially viable self-filling fountain pen. A century later, the crescent filling system still has a magical charm --
partly because of the kitsch appeal, and partly because of its simplicity and practicality (it will not roll off the table when
The newest release of the Conklin Crescent (referred to, it seems, as the "Conklin Crescent 2009") differs from its modern
predecessors in that it is a "budget-line" pen. Unlike the previous standard-production model (which was made of celluloid,
embellished with substantial sterling silver trimmings, and fitted with a gold nib -- bringing its starting retail cost to almost
$400), the new Crescent has a resin body, silver-plated trim and a steel nib. Its typical retail cost at the moment is $130.
Say what you will about the recent complaints about Conklin's QC and customer service, the release of this new pen makes
an important historical statement. At a time when most fountain manufacturers are focused on largely decorative LEs and
will not even think about installing an internal filler into a standard production model, Conklin has made a $130 crescent-filler.
A crescent-filler for the people, if you will. I applaud and appreciate this gesture tremendously. Of course, the important
question is: Does the execution live up to the ideal?
Looks and Design
The 2009 Crescent has a domed-top body, similar to the shape of the original early Conklin Crescent before they switched to
flat-top designs. The model is available in four colours: Yellow/Blue Marble, Green/Goldleaf Marble, Red Desert Stone Marble
and Midnight Black (plain solid black). Mine is the green and goldleaf, and choosing it was not just a matter of colour
preference. Though all three marbled resins are of high quality (I examined them at my local shop before buying), the green
and goldleaf stood out as having an absolutely incredible depth and luminosity. The resin, which I assume is acrylic, layers
patches of sage green, shimmery slate, and amber, in the most captivating manner possible for a non-celluloid. The pattern
and colour scheme also bears a resemblance to "Tiffany" style coloured glass.
For some odd reason, the photos I have taken of this pen make it seem that the amber colours dominate. However, in reality
the green colours dominate, with the amber acting as a warm accent.
The trim on the 2009 Crescent is described by Conklin as "silver plated". Frankly, it does not look it. It has a chrome
appearance and a light, flimsy feel to it. There is a noticeable difference between the trim on the new model and the trim on
the previous model, when you see them together (at the shop, the new black resin Crescent was lying next to the older
black chased celluloid crescent). Despite the pretty resin, the 2009 Crescent looks like a less expensive pen.
Weight, Balance, Comfort
To my amazement, this is an area where the 2009 design actually wins over the previous version. I own the black chased
celluloid version of the older model, and one thing about it that is not ideal is the weight. The sterling silver trim, cap band
and clip are so thick, that they make the pen weigh a ton. Plus the balance is a little off, due to how the trim is distributed
throughout the pen. The 2009 version is light and perfectly balanced, with the thin metal trims adding just the right bit of
weight to keep the pen grounded while writing.
Happily, the section on the 2009 model is the same perfection as on the older version: curved, with a "lip" to keep fingers
from slipping down to the nib unit. Having a low grip, this is my favourite sort of section design.
Of course, the crescent adds to the comfort and convenience of this pen, by ensuring that it will not roll of the table if placed
there uncapped. For me, this is a very useful feature, as I frequently do this during meeting and other note-taking.
Crescent!! Crescent!! Crescent!! Crescent!! Crescent!! Crescent!! Crescent!! Crescent!! Crescent!! Crescent!!
Yes, it is a crescent -- my favourite filling system. Like in a lever-filling pen, there is a sack inside, which gets compressed
when the disk is pressed into it. Release the crescent, and the sack opens back up, sucking the ink from the bottle through
the nib. The crescent is prevented from accidentally being pressed on its own by a locking ring. This is a very easy filling
system to use, and it looks beautiful, at least to me. Pistons, plunge fillers and levers are all lovely, but crescents are what
gets me to squeal with adoration. For a nice illustrated history of the crescent filler, see Richard Binder's The Crescent Filler:
Then ... and Now.
The nib is single-tone Iridium-tipped steel. It is simple and elegant in design, featuring the Coklin logo and the size marking.
Mine is an "F", and to my utter amazement, writes like a true fine (verging on extra-fine). Moreover, it is a perfect nib, and,
ironically, one of my best writers. Yes, one of the best writers in my entire collection of 70+ modern pens. The flow is perfect
(a very fine nib + wettish flow = yum), there are no problems with drying out. It is glass smooth (almost too smooth on
Rhodia paper), with no adjustments having been necessary out of the box. All this is in stark contrast to my other 3 Conklins,
the gold nibs on which had mild to terrible flow problems out of the box. Goes to show that steel nibs are not to be dismissed
when considering a pen purchase.
Comments on Quality Control
I have no complains with QC issues on this pen. The nib is perfect. The trim is tightly and properly fitted (the crescent lines up
with both the clip and the nib). There are no kinks or blemishes in the resin. The sac fills fully and the ink lasts an appropriate
length of time between fills. The crescent does not rattle.
Having said this, please also note that I made a point of buying this pen from a local shop, in person. I examined it carefully,
and the owner allowed me to test the nib. Therefore, I cannot comment on what the luck of the draw would have been, had
I ordered it online.
Cost and Value
A $130 Crescent filler in an age of $1000 C/C LEs! If you get a good one, it is an excellent value.
The 2009 Conklin Crescent does not look or feel like an expensive pen. But then it never claims to be one. It is a pen intended
for the crescent-loving user, and is made in a way that makes it affordable and utilitarian, without sacrificing prettiness. At the
time of writing this review, I have been using it for a month, and my satisfaction with it only grows over time. It is a very fun,
reliable, comfortable and attractive writing instrument, available for a great price. I would encourage those who are interested,
but are worried about QC issues, to either try it in a local shop, or to ask the retailer to test the pen prior to shipping. In my
experience, most retailers are agreeable to this. This really is too good of a deal to pass up.
Edited by QM2, 28 February 2009 - 19:41.