Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Fountain Pen Review: Conklin® Duragraph™ Amber


Have you ever seen a fountain pen so beautiful you can't forget it? Me, I have a list of these hard-to-forget fountain pens, and it includes the beautiful Conklin® Duragraph™ in Amber. I first saw a Duragraph™ Amber fountain pen in one of our local pen meets. I was just beginning to collect orange fountain pens then, and the Amber truly captivated me, but it was a few years later that I received one to review. In a conversation with Pen Chalet, they mentioned that they could send a Conklin® Duragraph™ for a review. I happily chose one in the beautiful Amber finish.

The first Duragraph™ fountain pen — a lever filler — was launched in 1923, and was considered to be 'the definitive' pen. Conklin named the model by combining the words durable and graph, thus, Duragraph™. An old American brand established in Toledo, Ohio in 1898, Conklin™ was revived by Yafa, Inc. in 2009. For the pen's 91st anniversary, Yafa, Inc. introduced a new Duragraph collection that brings a fresh, modern style to the timeless oversize flat top design. Crafted from quality hand made resins, the Duragraph™ is substantial in size, yet not so large to be unwieldy in the hand.

Conklin® Duragraph™ Amber fountain pen in box.

The Duragraph™ comes in a sturdy and classy blue leatherette box lined with soft, rich satin where the Conklin® logo is imprinted. A small elastic band holds the pen in place inside the box. Together with the Duragraph™ fountain pen, the box also contains two short international ink cartridges, an ink converter, ink refill instructions, a business card, and the Yafa Brands Warranty card.

The box also includes ink cartridges, a converter, and cards for ink refill and warranty.

The Duragraph™ collection is offered in seven beautiful finishes: AmberCracked IceForest GreenIce Blue, Orange Nights, Purple Nights, and Red Nights, paying tribute to the design of the first Duragraph™ pens. The Duragraph™ is also offered as a ballpoint accompanied with a refill and accepts the Monteverde USA® P1 and P4 refills.


The Duragraph™ Amber's color is a unique mix of orange and black with silky swirls of gold. This color combination brings warmth to the beautiful Duragraph™ Amber, enhanced by the translucent glossy resin. Under bright light, the nib and section ring are visible through the cap and the converter inside the barrel.

The translucent glossy resin of the Duragraph Amber is just beautiful. In bright light,
it has an exceptional sheen and shimmer.

The Duragraph™ fountain pen measures 5.6 inches long and weighs 28 grams capped and with a full converter. Without the cap, it is 4.9 inches long and weighs 14 grams with a full converter. If the cap is posted on the pen, it becomes uncomfortably long at 6.9 inches. This is the reason why I do not usually post my pens. Posting makes pens uncomfortably long and top heavy, but the Duragraph™ is a regular-sized pen and it can be used comfortably without the need to post the cap.

The Duragraph™ Amber's barrel, section + converter, and cap.
That's Robert Oster Orange Zest in the converter.

It is indeed helpful that the Duragraph™ can be fully taken apart. The threaded Conklin® converter can be easily disassembled, too.

The barrel has a black finial towards the end, separated from the body by a chrome ring. When the fountain pen is uncapped, and the barrel is separated from the section, one is left with the converter and the nib and feed assembly (holder, feed, and nib). Using a rubber grip, I was able to take out the screw-type nib and feed assembly from the metal section. I pulled out the nib and feed from the collar for complete disassembly. Disassembly was easy, but I won't recommend it to newbies to avoid breaking the feed, collar, or nib. 

I love pens that can be fully taken apart, such as the Conklin® Duragraph™. I always disassemble pens for thorough cleaning, even drying, and a complete look at their section, feed, and nib. Cleaning pens before reinking or storage is always a must for me.

Conklin® Duragraph™ Amber parts (from top): cap, barrel, section, piston driver, converter, piston rod/shaft, converter ring, collar (nib and feed holder), feed, and nib.

The clip of the Duragraph™ is a bit stiff, but it holds the pen securely in place and allows the pen to sit low in the pocket because it is mounted on the top cap. The cap of this pen bears Conklin®'s branding. The Conklin® logo is neatly engraved on the raised cap ring's clip side, and printed in white on the cap finial. On the other side of the raised cap ring, the pen name, Duragraph™ is engraved in the famous model script font, with six small crescent moons — three on either side — a trademark symbol of the Conklin Pen Company.

The Conklin® logo is neatly engraved on the clip side of the cap ring.
Duragraph™ is engraved on the other side of the cap ring, with three crescent moons on either side.
The original Conklin® logo is embellished on the cap finial.
The beautiful translucent barrel of the Duragraph™ Amber without a converter inside.
The converter inside the pen's barrel is partly visible here. See the ink bubbles?
The threads in the Duragraph™'s barrel and cap. The resin's mix of colors in this pen
is beautiful and truly amazing.

The Duragraph™ can be filled with ink using standard international cartridges or through a converter, both included in the box. The threaded converter screws onto the section for a secure fit, preventing ink spills when the converter is accidentally pulled out. The metal section of the Duragraph™ adds to the durability and stability of this pen.

The Duragraph™ converter has threads so that it screws onto the section for a more secure fit. This converter is from a Monteverde Prima, but it's exactly the same as the one on the Duragraph™.

The Duragraph™ is offered in a choice of fine, medium, or stub nibs. The two-toned Duragraph™ medium nib is engraved with the "Conklin®" brand name and “Toledo USA” mark, while the nib size is engraved on the nib's right shoulder. What makes this nib unique is the crescent-shaped breather hole. The medium nib on this pen is smooth and it writes well, but I was surprised to see that it does not write the same Western medium width that I am used to. It's not a soft one, but it's definitely not a nail. It gave me a couple of hard starts in the beginning, but I remedied that with some tweaks to the nib and feed and by using ink with good lubrication.

The Conklin® Duragraph™ nib has a unique crescent-shaped breather hole.
The Conklin® Duragraph™ is a full-sized pen similar in length and diameter as a Lamy AL-star or TWSBI ECO.
Uncapped, the Duragraph™ is shorter than the Lamy AL-star and TWSBI ECO,
but it's still comfortable to write with.

The Duragraph™ is my first Conklin® fountain pen, but it definitely won't be the only Conklin® in my collection. Designed as a traditional flat top, the Duragraph™ is a full-sized pen that is well built, fits in the hand well, and is comfortable to use. There are seven beautiful finishes to choose from, and a variety of nibs to go with each pen. 

I am happy with the Duragraph™ Amber and will recommend it to those who want to explore and know the brand. This is a great pen, and I will consider getting another one in the future. I'd like to get one in the Orange Nights finish, because, well, it's orange, and I read that the Duragraph™ Orange Nights is Yafa's homage to Delta's Dolcevita line. Get one for your collection.

The medium nib on this Duragraph™ is not soft, but it's definitely not a nail.
It's comfortable to use for long periods of writing.

The Conklin® Duragraph™ in this review is provided by Pen Chalet where it retails for US$65. For more details on purchasing pens from Pen Chalet, visit their website at https://www.penchalet.com/.

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