Review: Conklin Duragraph (Ice Blue, 1.1 mm Stub)

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: I had always assumed this pen was more expensive than it is… When Franz suggested we review it and I finally looked it up, I was surprised! The pen is sizable, well made and was quite comfortable unposted. When posted, it was definitely too long and top heavy for me. I also loved some of the little details — the crescent shaped breather hole is unique and a great touch!

Pam:  The Conklin is a sturdy and sizable pen that has a unique style and material.  The traditional shape, blue hash/swirl pattern of the acrylic, and the silver/nickel furnishing gives the pen an eclectic feel of both classic vintage and boldly modern.  I find the pen to be quite long, even unposted.  The pen feels too long and top heavy when posted.  I found the overall weight to be surprisingly robust.  It wasn’t actually too heavy, just had more “density” than I was expecting. (I hope that makes sense.)

Franz: A Blue pen! =) I like the shape and size of the Conklin Duragraph. It fits my hand nicely and that Ice Blue finish is pretty to look at. The striations reminds me of vintage pens (i.e. Parker Televisor) which is a cool finish. The size of the Duragraph is close to the Pelikan M800 which I regard as a perfect size for my bear paw… er… large hands.

The Duragraph is filled via standard international cartridge or converter. Conklin supplies the pen with 2 cartridges (black, and blue), and a converter already installed. That is great!

 

In The Hand: Conklin Duragraph (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In The Hand: Conklin Duragraph (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

The Business End

Katherine:  The 1.1 stub is super smooth. On smooth paper like Tomoe River it’s almost too smooth for me. But, at the end of the day, it is usable for me, unlike many Lamy nibs which are just too smooth. The stub also produces good line variation while being rounded enough for easy use without fussing about angles.

Pam:  I found the stub to be a joy to write with and it glided over quality paper (i.e. Midori and Tomoe River) really well.  The stub didn’t require any particular angle or sweet spot.  I found the nib to be pretty wet and it would show shading well.

Franz: To echo the ladies above, I loved writing with this nib. This stub nib is quite smooth and offers a bit of line variation that I’m used to with my other cursive italic nibs. Great job Conklin!

Write It Up

Katherine: This pen was comfortable for long writing sessions, as long as I use it unposted. The stub nib kept things fun. I didn’t have any issues withe cramping or discomfort… So win win!

Pam:  I usually develop a cramp writing in the traditional tripod however, the width of this “sizable” pen made the writing experience pretty comfortable and the cramping to a minimum.  I didn’t have any major issues with the threads and my fingers felt pretty comfortable on the section.  I preferred writing with the pen unposted since the cap makes it too top heavy.

Franz: As I wrote with the Duragraph unposted, I enjoyed my journal time. I did not experience any hand cramping or fatigue. Unfortunately, when the cap is posted it becomes unwieldy because the cap doesn’t post deeply. This made it too long and as Pam already said it’s top heavy.

EDC-ness

Katherine: The clip on this pen is super tight — good for clipping to thin notebook covers, not great for thicker things or soft fabric (pockets). It takes a full rotation to unscrew the cap, which is totally reasonable. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this as a grab and go work pen, but it’s certainly not pocket sized. 🙂

Pam:  The pen is robust with a tight, sturdy clip and durable material.  The acrylic looks like it would age well and take some daily wear.  No comments on accidental drops since I was far too paranoid to ruin Franz’s pen.  (I didn’t drop it, I promise.)  I tend to reach for more snap cap pens at work, just for the ease and convenience.  However, at home, this was an easy go to pen for journaling.

Franz: This was a nice pen to use at work because it unscrewed quickly with just one turn. The clip was a bit tight but it clipped onto my shirt pocket quite easily. Now this could just be due to the ink (Montblanc Blue Hour) but I found the nib to feather and bleed on the copier paper used at work. The flow is perfect on Tomoe River, and Rhodia paper though. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this pen with a medium or fine nib on copier paper.

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: I think this is a great deal for the price. I’ve seen them as low as $40 — and I think it’s great value for the money. The stub was fantastic to write with, and it has the looks of a much more expensive pen (though that’s subjective). If you told me this was a $150 pen, I’d believe you and think that was a little steep… but at $40-50, it’s great. I think this is a very viable alternative to the many of the more popular “entry” to “mid” level pens like TWSBIs.

Pam:  The Conklin Duragraph has a unique aesthetic that doesn’t appeal to me personally, however it’s a great “upper entry” level pen for those who enjoy the style.  Given how difficult it is to find pens around the $50 price range that has the same quality material, unique styling, and that “criminally smooth” nib, it’s a great deal.  If you were looking for a pen like the Lamy Safari, Al-Star, TWSBI 580, Kaweco AL Sport, or Pilot Prera but hesitated because they don’t look “corporate” friendly, consider the Conklin Duragraph!

Franz: Okay, final thoughts? Let me share that this was the second Duragraph that I purchased. =) The first one I got was the amber finish and that looks awesome as well. As of today, it has a MSRP of $65 and as Katherine mentioned, you can purchase this pen at a lower price. I definitely recommend this as a nice writer in one’s collection.

I found great value with the Conklin Duragraph along with beautiful aesthetics. To my knowledge, it is offered in four finishes. I’m not saying I’ll complete the set but you never know. ;-P

Thank you!

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Parker 75, Kaweco Sport, Monteverde Prima, TWSBI 540, *Conklin Duragraph*, Pelikan M805, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Kaweco Sport, Monteverde Prima, TWSBI 540, *Conklin Duragraph*, Pelikan M805, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Kaweco Sport, Monteverde Prima, TWSBI 540, *Conklin Duragraph*, Pelikan M805, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

 

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2 Comments

  1. Boy and girls,

    A nicely balanced review of this pen. I was gratified to see that it performed well, and did so for all three of you. Many of the models in this company’s latest iteration were plagued with quality control issues, so maybe that has all been sorted out.

    My one thought is the following: I realize that your focus is on a pen’s performance and usefulness, but the name Conklin carries a long and – for most of the years – respectable history with it. During it’s hey-day in the early and middle of last century, they made some remarkable pens, and were noted for the fine quality of their nibs. It is unfortunate that someone bought the brand and is producing pens that… don’t quite match the high level. Maybe in the future if you highlight a brand that *does* have a history to it, you might tie it in? For new users to be aware of high-quality vintage brands would be of great educational value.

    1. Thanks for your kind words and your recommendation Jon! As usual, you have given us food for thought. 😉👌🏼

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