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REVIEW: Conklin Crescent 2009


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#1 QM2

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 15:56



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
uncapped).

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.

Filling System

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
.



Nib

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.

Conclusions

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.


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#2 gwcisco

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 16:14

Awesome review. I believe I'll take the plunge and order one. After reading your review, who wouldn't! Bravo!
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#3 reprieve

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 16:40

Thank you for your review! I have had this pen on my to-buy list since November. I was thisclose to ordering it in January, but I held off because I was worried about Conklin's quality control issues (there is not a local shop in my area). Your review, though, is pushing me to roll the dice! Also, I had my heart set on the black and silver version but I may have to branch out and try one of the marbled resins (almost all of my pens are black and silver--I probably ought to add some color now and then). The yellow/blue marble reminds me of Gaudi's tile work. The green/goldleaf is much prettier than I had thought it would be; the stock photos do not do it justice at all, but your photos show off its beauty (and I imagine it is even lovelier in person).

#4 diplomat

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 17:57

Great review and great story. My favourite bit:

QUOTE (QM2 @ Feb 28 2009, 04:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.


I concur on that! A Conklin was never on my list. Now I'm thinking I'd give a try. Just simple (and curious) question: why you didn't get the black? I would have expected that!

Cheers,

#5 MDI

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 18:13

QUOTE (diplomat @ Feb 28 2009, 12:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
why you didn't get the black?


QM2 already has one black chased celluloid crescent, the earlier model with sterling trim.

What a nice review, as always.I hope everyone who tries these Conklins receives excellent quality pens. It stands repeating that trying and selecting in a local store is really the best idea, IMO. Out of the small batch that we saw in a local shop, the one you see here was the best one, no question. I wanted to add an insignificant tidbit regarding cosmetic details: If your nib/crescent/clip don't line up, you might be (but only if you feel comfortable with that!) able to play with the threads of all major parts until everything lines up perfectly. I'd like to also point out that the nib unit and internals on this pen appear very well made, so the "cheaper" look of the new metal trim does not transfer to the important components.
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#6 QM2

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 18:23

Hey, I was about to answer that : )

Diplomat,
I already have a black chased celluloid one in the older version, so I thought that next to it the black 2009 model would simply look like a cheaper version of the same pen. I wanted it t be more differentiated. In person, the green and goldleaf is a very subdued, neutral colour scheme, that at the same time is strikingly beautiful. When I saw it, I knew I had to have that one. But I don't know -- I love this pen so much (and I collect crescent fillers in general), that I may end up getting the plain black one in addition.

Oh, and I must add one very important thing I left out: Do not take this pen on an airplane with ink in it. Yes, I speak from personal experience : )

#7 MDI

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 18:27

Or any lever/crescent/general sack filler unless you're 100% sure it's dry as a bone and you don't have it packed inside a leather, pink velvet lined attaché pen case. Just saying. smile.gif
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#8 QM2

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 19:12

QUOTE (MDI @ Feb 28 2009, 07:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Or any lever/crescent/general sack filler unless you're 100% sure it's dry as a bone and you don't have it packed inside a leather, pink velvet lined attaché pen case. Just saying. smile.gif


I thought we had put that behind us : (((

To clarify: I do know not to carry vintage lever/crescent fillers on the plane with ink in them, but I thought that perhaps modern versions of these pens are different. After all, I carry modern piston and vac/plunger type pens (Montblanc, Pelikan, Omas, Aurora, Visconti) on the plane and even write with them with no problems. Well, fine, I've learned my lesson: No more experiments with sack-fitted pens on the airplane! That includes modern Conklin and Stipula crescents, as well as Conway Stewart and Delta levers.


#9 diplomat

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 20:31

Ok, thank you both for the explanation. I think that if I will go for it, it will be black.

Oh, and: I am possibly lucky but my Sheaffer Balance Gray striated EF survived two airplane trips pretty well. I even used it extensively on the plane and the flow was ok.

Cheers,

#10 MDI

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 20:35

Some people might be wondering about all this airplane talk. The issue is that with pistons, converters and cartridges you can positively insure that the ink reservoir is empty (by lowering the piston/converter, removing the cartridge, etc). With a sack you cannot do that, so after repeated washing it is probably still filled with a mixture of water, ink residue and air. When a pen is lying horizontally (or whichever way it happens to be) inside the less pressurized luggage compartment of an airliner, the mixture is expelled from the sack by the expanding air bubbles and... there goes the pink felt. smile.gif
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#11 QM2

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 20:54

QUOTE (diplomat @ Feb 28 2009, 09:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ok, thank you both for the explanation. I think that if I will go for it, it will be black.

Oh, and: I am possibly lucky but my Sheaffer Balance Gray striated EF survived two airplane trips pretty well. I even used it extensively on the plane and the flow was ok.


It might be luck. My Sheaffer Lifetime flat-top leaked when I took it on a transcontinental flight.

But sorry, I did not mean to redirect the thread to this morbid topic : ))

Yes, if you only get one, I do recommend the black! Ethernautrix bought one and posted some lovely photos of it somewhere here.

#12 MDI

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 20:57

I have it on good authority that QM2 has inspired some emergency Conklin crescent purchases all around. smile.gif
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#13 MYU

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 21:47

Thanks for this wonderful and informative review, QM2. smile.gif I always enjoy hearing the back story on a pen model or brand. Very nice choice in color scheme--the green and gold leaf looks superb, compared to the other choices.

It's also good advice on the purchasing in person... I've also heard of quality control problems with Conklin as of late. So, I'd buy pens from this brand on-line only if I could trust that the seller will thorough inspect the pen for me prior to shipping.

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Edited by MYU, 28 February 2009 - 21:48.

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#14 HDoug

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 22:15

I love non-converter fillers even though most of my pens are converters. Here's a crescent I can afford (to justify). Thanks for the review.

Doug

#15 Rufus

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 22:39

QM2 a great review and I think I'll take a chance on one. The crescent-filler is my favourite filling mechanism and I thought I had all until you beat me to the punch with the Stipula Rev Aron posted FS. Enjoy.

Edited by Rufus, 28 February 2009 - 22:40.

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#16 QM2

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 22:46

QUOTE (Rufus @ Feb 28 2009, 11:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QM2 a great review and I think I'll take a chance on one. The crescent-filler is my favourite filling mechanism and I thought I had all until you beat me to the punch with the Stipula Rev Aron posted FS. Enjoy.



Sorry about that! With twitching fingers, I deliriously PM'ed Aaron as soon as I caught sight of that thread in the am. Of course, being in Europe now I have an unfair advantage : (

When you say that you "thought you had all" -- do you mean, like, the Stipula L'Orangerie and Sol Levante and blue ebonite Saturno??



#17 Rufus

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 22:49

QUOTE (QM2 @ Feb 28 2009, 05:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Rufus @ Feb 28 2009, 11:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QM2 a great review and I think I'll take a chance on one. The crescent-filler is my favourite filling mechanism and I thought I had all until you beat me to the punch with the Stipula Rev Aron posted FS. Enjoy.



Sorry about that! With twitching fingers, I deliriously PM'ed Aaron as soon as I caught sight of that thread in the am. Of course, being in Europe now I have an unfair advantage : (

When you say that you "thought you had all" -- do you mean, like, the Stipula L'Orangerie and Sol Levante and blue ebonite Saturno??


Please don't do this to me: there are more than I thought?

Bryan

"The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes." Winston S. Churchill

#18 QM2

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 22:54

QUOTE (Rufus @ Feb 28 2009, 11:49 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (QM2 @ Feb 28 2009, 05:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Rufus @ Feb 28 2009, 11:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QM2 a great review and I think I'll take a chance on one. The crescent-filler is my favourite filling mechanism and I thought I had all until you beat me to the punch with the Stipula Rev Aron posted FS. Enjoy.



Sorry about that! With twitching fingers, I deliriously PM'ed Aaron as soon as I caught sight of that thread in the am. Of course, being in Europe now I have an unfair advantage : (

When you say that you "thought you had all" -- do you mean, like, the Stipula L'Orangerie and Sol Levante and blue ebonite Saturno??


Please don't do this to me: there are more than I thought?


It seems so : )

Take a look
http://www.fountainp...showtopic=91348



#19 David III

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 23:01

I got one of these this past week, the plain black one. The threads between the cap and barrel were quite poor initially, I have been taking the cap on and off after cleaning the threads out and that has gotten a bit better. Initial filling - with Parker Quink - the F nib did fine for about one minute and then basically started pouring ink out, making it unusable. I guessed that perhaps the crescent filler is just a lot more efficient than my lever fill pen that perhaps it will "overfill" -- a paper towel sucked up a fair amount of ink. The nib skipped and really wasn't smooth at all. Since I do like the whole idea of the pen, I wasn't yet willing to give up. So, I started writing, regardless of whether it skipped or blobbed ink out. The nib appeared aligned and I could not see any defects.
After about two sheets of legal size paper, it seemed to settle down. I then tried some better quality paper, and noted a significant improvement. Then... I accidentally found that if I turned the pen so that the nib was about 45 degrees rotated from where I usually hold a Waterman, I started to really see a good line. Another day of use and the nib has "settled down" where I can hold it at about any angle and I'm happy. If I sit the pen on my desk uncapped, it does tend to dry out quickly, taking half a stroke to start flowing again - this may be something with the ink itself, I'm not sure since I've not seen Quink dry out on a nib before. But, the pen starts back up quickly.
I have a couple other steel nib pens - Lamy Safaris - and they worked great from the start. Seems the Conklin takes a bit of time to break in. I'm not bashing the pen, my big fancy Conway Stewart took a month of use to get running "right."
Despite all these initial irritants, I really like the Conklin. That crescent fill mechanism sticking out of the barrel looks old and unique. If you are willing to gamble on some initial short-term problems, it's a neat pen to have.

#20 Rufus

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 23:02

QUOTE (QM2 @ Feb 28 2009, 05:54 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Rufus @ Feb 28 2009, 11:49 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (QM2 @ Feb 28 2009, 05:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Rufus @ Feb 28 2009, 11:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QM2 a great review and I think I'll take a chance on one. The crescent-filler is my favourite filling mechanism and I thought I had all until you beat me to the punch with the Stipula Rev Aron posted FS. Enjoy.



Sorry about that! With twitching fingers, I deliriously PM'ed Aaron as soon as I caught sight of that thread in the am. Of course, being in Europe now I have an unfair advantage : (

When you say that you "thought you had all" -- do you mean, like, the Stipula L'Orangerie and Sol Levante and blue ebonite Saturno??


Please don't do this to me: there are more than I thought?


It seems so : )

Take a look
http://www.fountainp...showtopic=91348


Gee thanks. I'm now tossing my cookies at the thought of having to hunt down more crescent-fillers, but I love 'em. In the spirit of full disclosure, have you disclosed all?

Bryan

"The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes." Winston S. Churchill






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