Back in July, my family and I spent a very pleasant summer’s day visiting the Woburn Deer Park, in Bedfordshire. The Woburn Estate includes Woburn Abbey and gardens, set within the 3,000 acre Deer Park, home to nine free-roaming species of deer. Woburn Abbey is the seat of the Duke of Bedford.
Before driving home to London, we stopped to take a look around Woburn village. There we found the Woburn China Shop and had a browse inside. Upstairs I was pleased to find a display of pens, each shown in its accompanying gift box. Closer inspection revealed that almost all were ballpoint pens but I found one unusual-shaped fountain pen, with the name “Autograph”. It was marked at £22.00 but with an unexpected 10% off, was mine for £19.79.
The pen is of metal construction, with a glossy black lacquer finish to cap and barrel and a shiny chrome section. The section has a distinctive pattern of engraved wavy lines giving the impression of diamond-shaped cross hatching, making this a very pretty pen.
The other unusual features are the bulge where the section meets the barrel and the gentle concave shape of the cap. The shape was reminiscent of a glass dip pen (shown above for comparison).
On the gift box, a sticker identified this as the AUTOGRAPH Artist Fountain Pen. On the pen itself, the name Autograph appears on the centre band and also on the converter. However the nib had the name DUKE and some attractive pattern with a crown logo. The twist converter has a small piece of coiled metal inside to act as an agitator.
Looking up Autograph pens online, I found that this is the brand name of Suchak & Suchak, a family firm with interesting beginnings as migrant entrepeneurs from Tanzania, started in 1986 and now specialising in the design, manufacture and distribution of quality writing instruments for the gift and stationery trade.
Their website announces with great regret that a fire in Perivale, on 4 July 2015, that engulfed some 20 properties, burnt theirs down to the ground and that they are in the process of relocating.
Looking online into the Duke name, I found that the pen is also known as a Duke 600 Lady, Duke being manufactured, on the Huangpu River, Shanghai, by Shanghai G Crown Fountain Pen Co Ltd and registered in Europe as Duke Pen Lux Germany GmbH. I read on FPN that Duke is one of the best quality Chinese pen brands.
Thus I am interested to discover that I have a Duke 600 Lady fountain pen, re-branded by Suchak & Suchak as an Autograph Artist.
I am happy to say, that the pen performs beautifully. The nib is a stainless steel medium, with very smooth and pleasant touch and an ideal not-too-wet-not-too-dry ink flow. It is always a joy when first filling a new pen, to discover that it writes perfectly straight out of the box. The cap posts securely and the curve of the cap makes the pen very comfortable to hold. I filled mine with Conway Stewart Tavy, by Diamine, a lovely blue-black that I have been using a lot this year. Paired with a pad of Basildon Bond letter writing paper, you have the dream combination.
The pen measures 137mm closed, 120mm open and 144mm posted. The weight including converter is around 22g uncapped, or 34g when posted.
It is also a pleasing coincidence that the pen is secretly a Duke, as a reminder of a happy day in beautiful Woburn.