Happy Fountain Pen Day

In recognition of today being Fountain Pen Day, I thought to do a short post about one of the pens that I have with me today.

This is the Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler, red chase. This was one of my happy purchases from the London Pen Show last month.

I had long been interested in the Crescent Filler and enjoyed reading of its associations with Mark Twain. The current model is not quite the same as the one from the original Conklin pen company that he would have used. I did spot a vintage black Conklin crescent filler at the same pen show and noticed how much thinner it was than the modern one.

At a very attractive show price, I came away with two of these, one in orange (or coral chase) and one red chase.

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Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Fillers, in coral chase and red chase finish.

The beauty of these pens is the lovely nostalgic feel of dipping into a bottle of ink, squeezing the crescent-shaped filler button slowly a few times and allowing the sack to fill, before locking the button again by twisting the collar back again.

The only downside is that you cannot see how much ink the pen has. There is no ink window. Also the barrel is glued to the section and so you cannot unscrew it to gauge the ink remaining. (Actually, on one of my models, the glue seal had been broken and so I was able to open it, but even then you cannot see through the dark rubber material of the ink bladder).

One thing to remember when washing these pens, is to avoid allowing water in to the barrel, through the slot where the crescent filler sits. This is because the bladder has a dusting of talcum powder to stop it sticking or rubbing on the filler bar.

If you do unscrew the barrel, then the metal filler bar can be removed. I was impressed at how long a bar there is, to press on the ink bladder and so this helps to get a good fill. To put it back again, with the crescent pushing out through the slot, you will need some tweezers. A Swiss army knife came in useful here.

Quite how much ink it draws up, I have not yet measured. However, I did find that, with a medium nib, I wrote 37 pages of an A5 size journal on the first fill, which I was very happy with. That was the coral chase model, with Diamine Oxblood ink.

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My red chase Crescent Filler, prior to nib swap with a Jinhao X450.

On the red model, this came with a Conklin Fine stainless steel nib. This turned out to be slightly catchy. On close inspection, it seems that the left tine was fractionally longer than the right so that in normal writing, on side strokes from left to right, the proud edge was snagging on the paper. I need to have a go at it with my handy micro-mesh kit, also bought at the same show.

Meanwhile however, I was delighted to read that the nibs of the crescent filler are easily swapped. The nib, feed and housing can simply be unscrewed from the section. Alternatively you can extract the nib and feed, which are friction fit, by pulling them out carefully, taking care to avoid damaging the fins of the feed, or distorting the nib itself.

Yesterday evening I swapped the nib with one from a Jinhao x450. I have not swapped the feeds, but just the nibs.

I now have the red crescent filler, with a lovely Chinese Jinhao x450 medium nib and filled with Aurora Blue-Black ink (same pen show as well), which I am enjoying.

Coincidentally, I had to visit the China Visa Application Service Centre in London today, to pick up my visa for a trip to China later this month, so it was good to have my red crescent Jinhao-nibbed Conklin for company.

13 thoughts on “Happy Fountain Pen Day

  1. Rupert it just crossed my mind to ask you: you said that this pen managed to write 37 pages of an A5 journal from one fill. How does that compare with another pen you featured on this blog, the Manuscript Clarity? Have you ever found any ‘high-mileage’ pens that don’t cost much? Also, can the Manuscript Clarity take ink from a bottle or does it only take cartridges?

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    1. Good question. I will have to generalise to avoid giving too long an answer. The Manuscript Clarity takes standard international cartridges, which are readily available and cheap. You can pay a bit more to get a good range of colours and from well known brands. I guess they hold about 0.75ml of ink. Often pens have room to carry a spare, including the Clarity. A Crescent Filler probably holds a bit more than that, and fills from a bottle. The proprietary carrtridges of Lamy, Parker and Sheaffer are all larger than the short standard international cartridges but cost a bit more. If you want or need a pen that holds more ink, so you fill less often, try a piston filler. An inexpensive one is the TWSBI Eco. The TWSBI classic or Diamond 580 cost a bit more. Also if you want slightly higher mileage, use a fine nib rather than medium. A really nice piston filler is the Pelikan M series with a price range depending upon size and materials used for the nib and piston mechanism..

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  2. Sorry Rupert, the Paperchase pack of 20 multicoloured cartridges would count as international wouldn’t they? It isn’t clear on the website.

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    1. Hi. I have not seen what product you are looking at on the website for Paperchase, but I would imagine that if it is a pack of 20 multicoloured cartridges, these are likely to be the short, standard international cartridges. You can recognise the size and shape of them (see my post on the Manuscript Clarity for example). However (just to be clear) if you decide to buy a TWSBI Eco, it is a piston filler and you will need bottled ink, not cartridges. Apologies if this was obvious.

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