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Duke Bright Pearl In Dark Ocean


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In the beginning of my fountain pen adventure I was obsessed with chinese pens. They were dirt cheap and easily available. There was a moment when, imperceptibly, probably due to cross-breeding, there was almost one hundred of them in my drawer.


This obsession as well as 95 % of chinese pens are gone. I kept few chinese pens to play with riskier inks and that's it. One of polish collectioners VodnikVolsovecek loaned me a significant part of his fountain pens collection so that I can try them and review them.


I was surpsrised to discover Duke fountain pen among high-end miracles like Omases or Dunhills. I've been using this pen for around a month now (not every day, but I've managed to finish two full converter fills). I would like to describe it.





In few words this pen is heavy and well made. What makes it stand out and shine (literally) is abalone shell embedded in black lacquer over brass. Overall design doesn't appeal to me but the shell parts look stunning in sunlight.The barrel and section are a little chunky, but easy to grip and write with it. The barrel is made from a brass and coated in lacquer with embedded shells. It's widest in the middle (about an inch from its mouth), tapering down toward both ends, and is rounded off at the ends. The cap snaps surely on the section with no wobble.


The shape is rather classic but, sadly, distorted by huge and ugly center band. Seriously, I would like to hear an explanation about the ways in which this metal ring enhances design? To my eyes it looks really, REALLY bad. The shells though are cool. The way they shine in the sunlight is amazing. The finials are rounded pieces of metal.





Section is made of plastic. It tapers significantly toward the bib. If you're low gripper like me you may find it to thin. For me the section diameter is ok.


The overall build quality of the this pen is very good. It’s nicely assembled. Nothing in the pen rattles or shakes, and I have no fear of any pieces loosening up in foreseeable future. I would be surprised if something suddenly fell off or cracked. It's well made pen.










Uncharacteristically to most chinese fountain pens, this one has 14 ct nib. It looks exactly as most Duke's steel nib but it writes significantly better. It's springy and pretty wet. Not the best nib ever created for sure but I enjoy the way it performs. It does allow to produce some line variation but I wouldn't recommend forcing it. It's not flex or semi-flex nib there's just some pleasant and forgiving (to those who have heavy-hand) springiness to it.


Filling system


The pen comes with a Duke converter installed. It can be removed to accept cartridges.





The pen measures 140 mm capped and 121 mm uncapped. Weighs - 62 grams.




I'm not sure if this fountain pen is still produced but even if it was discontinued finding one on Bay of Evil won't be a problem. They usualluy cost between 120-260 $. Personally I wouldn't pay that much for it. If I could find one for 50 $ I would get it and I would keep it. When we enter 100-200 $ price range though there's just too much to choose from and the contenders are strong. Lamy 2000, Pilot CH 92, Pilot M400 are just few examples of pens in this price range. Heck, with a bit of luck you'll even get Pilot Namiki 823 for 200 $.


It's really decent pen and the nib is great but price / what you get ratio isn't sky high. As always the choice is yours to make though. If you enjoy the finish and like springy nibs, this one won't disappoint you.

Edited by visvamitra
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Visvamitra, I agree with you on the discordant note struck by the wide center band. What is the beautifully shading green ink used in the writing sample?

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Thanks for the review. That is a really beautiful pen.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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Thanks for the review. I agree. The wide cap band disrupts an otherwise attractive design.

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

- Jack London


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I love the look of the shell, but I agree about the centre band and price.

I have had too many 'lacquered' pens blister on me to be prepared to buy a high price one. I agree about the $50 limit, and felt the same for my $50 Kaigelu 319. At $50 it was good. Above that.. no thanks.

Oh, and the cigar shape does absolutely nothing for me on the design front. Don't like it.





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Nothing significant but it bugs my eyes, what is Pilot M400? :lol:


The shell is beautiful, but IMO, that's all the pen offers. No soul, no characteristics. It is just another typical Chinese pen with fancy overlay. And even so, the view is totally destroyed by the band.

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Ah, yes. Pilot M400 is a secret Pilot model coated in dozens layes of urushi mixed with particles of gold and little diamonds. Not many people know about it. Secret, you see.


And on more serious note - Pelikan M400 was on my mind but my fingers typed something else entirely :)

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Vis, thank you for showing my clown to the broad audience.


While I actually like the broad ring, I'm not sure the pen is so well-made, if you consider the rough threads, cheap nib section part and the fact that the nib is somehow tilted, it's a bit away from the western standards.


However, the pen has no serious weakness, except the ostentatious and garish design, which was in fact the reason for this purchase.


I have to agree with your 'decent price estimation', buying it directly during my trip to China, I was able to get it below the eBay price.

It may be worth to have a look at my classifieds :)

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