Review: Conklin Duragraph

Manufacturer: Conklin | List Price: $55.00 | Buy from Amazon

Conklin is one of the oldest manufacturers of fountain pens in the United States, having started producing fountain pens in 1898. However, in 1955, when ballpoints had largely replaced fountain pens in widespread use, the company ceased operation. The Conklin name was revived in 2000, and in 2009 the brand and designs were purchased by Yafa Companies, who continue to make pens bearing the Conklin name.

The Duragraph name first referred to a lever-filling fountain that was developed in 1923. Currently, however, the Duragraph Collection refers to Conklin’s entry-level line of writing instruments, constructed from resin. There is a ballpoint available in this line, but this review will concern the fountain pen.

The Duragraph’s design harkens back to an earlier era of writing instruments, featuring a screw cap and a resin body. As a result, it looks quite old-fashioned and could look snobby or pretentious in certain contexts (for example, in a school), but overall it’s a refined look and would not be out of place in an office or professional environment. The resin body and cap are simply wonderful to behold, with different colours and patterns. I have the Forest Green model and certain shapes reflect light at different angles, which creates an interesting depth effect as you spin the pen around. (5/5)

Overall, I find the build quality of the Conklin Duragraph to be completely satisfactory. I’ve carried it around for the last year, and the pen still writes as well as it did when it was new. The one thing that has deteriorated is the top edge of the cap, which bears the Conklin logo. Over time, the paint has started to chip off on mine, slightly obscuring the logo (you can see it if you look closely at the picture above). I don’t have a huge problem with it as I feel it kind of adds character but it’s something to note. (4/5)

The Conklin Duragraph is a solid writer, with a nib that is slightly flexible. I have a fine nib, and there is a noticeable difference in line width when you apply a bit of pressure. There is also a small stub quality to the line, meaning that a cross-stroke is slightly thinner than a down-stroke. In terms of smoothness, I have noticed that the Duragraph is a bit scratchier than something like the Lamy Safari, which is a largely a question of preference. What is a little more annoying is that I find the nib dries out really fast. If I’m taking notes in class, and I pause to listen to the lecturer for couple seconds, I sometimes have a little trouble starting the next line. (Note that this doesn’t apply when uncapping the pen; the screw-cap is really good at preventing slow-starts upon uncapping.) (4.5/5)

At $55 (you may be able to find it for less if you shop around on Amazon), the Conklin Duragraph isn’t exactly an entry-level fountain pen, but for a little extra cost, you’re getting a much more professional-looking fountain pen that performs superbly. Also, the Duragraph takes a standard #6 nib, so you can try different nib sizes, types, and even brands without having to buy a second pen. Lastly, while the Duragraph already comes with a great screw-type converter, it also takes international standard short cartridges, meaning those who prefer the convenience of cartridges aren’t locked into any specific brand of inks. (4/5)

Verdict: 17.5/20:
The Conklin Duragraph is a great “next-level” fountain pen if you’re seeking something a little fancier than entry-level pens. It writes well and has excellent compatibility in terms of nibs and cartridges, making it a great base pen for trying out all sorts of nibs and inks.

List Price: $55.00 | Buy from Amazon

Do you have a Conklin Duragraph? What do you think of it? Tell us in the comments!

Also, make sure you check out our other fountain pen-related reviews!

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