I must admit, I was very lucky to get this pen at 2017 London Writing Equippment Show (LWES). This stuff was hot and all were gone quickly. You may ask, why is that? What is so cool about it that it was sold out? Well, the reason is, that on one specific stand number of Conklin pens including Duragraph, All American and Mark Twain series were on sell for £10.0 ! Yes – £10.0. This is amazing price bearing in mind that these pens are significantly more expensive (this Mark specific Twain is around £160.0). Simply, it was to silly not to buy one. I already have All American Yellowstone, which I use regularly and I was always wondering about Mark Twain series with an iconic Conklin’s ‘crescent’ filling system, which made this company famous in the past.
The model I picked is a beautiful orange Mark Twain Coral Chase.
The pen is 14.1 cm long when capped, 12.9 cm unposted and 16.5 cm posted. Is not loo light and not too heavy. The overall weight is 28 g which feels right.
The pen is made from very good quality resin combined with chromed clip, trim and filling mechanism. The resin is etched with wave like ‘rickrack’ pattern, which gives an interesting texture but also prevents from accidental slippage. The pocket clip contains Conklin logo, as well as chromed trim which also has Mark Twain model series engraved. The grip section and the etched body are separated out by thin chromed ring. I must admit, the combination of orange resin and chromed part looks very attractive (there is also a red and black version available as well as red, blue and clear demonstrator). In the model I purchased the clip was a little loose, but I pushed down the inner cap and now it holds the clip securely. Easy. The clip is the same as in All American. Clip is springy and works very well.
The grip section has slightly descending concave shape and comfortable to hold. The screw-in cap thread is rather smooth and does not cause any unpleasant experiences.
Conklin’s iconing filling mechanism contains rubber ink sack placed inside the barrel. To ink the pen you just need to push the crescent through the barrel cutaway. Crescent is attached to the metal bar which presses the sack allowing to suck the ink from the inkwell when released. To completely fill the sack with the ink the crescent needs to be pushed down few times. To prevent accidental press of the crescent once the sack is filled in with the ink, which surely will result in undiserable and miserable ink leakage (for instance in the shirt pocket) Conklin has added a safety ring aroud the barrel, which only at one position allows crescent to be pushed in. Simple mechanism which actually works very well. It also adds some complexity and gives very characteristic and memorable look. It takes a little bit time to get used this shape (especially when write), but in general pen is comfortable to write with.
The engraved crescent says: ‘Crescent Filler Trade Mark’
Conklin Mark Twain is equipped with stainless steel nib made by Yafa. These nibs are available as fine, medium and 1.1 italic. The one I have is medium. This is a two-tone nib has characteristic crescent breathing hole and engraved Conklin logo placed on gold plated oval. I really like the way this nib looks. I matches nicely with the rest. On the nib I have the gold plating being slightly off by a fraction of minimetre from the engraved oval. This is only on one side and is not easy to spot it anyway.
The nib looks pretty, however the writing experience with this nib as ‘straight out of the box’ is in my opinion the weakest point of this attractive pen. The medium size nib was a bit dry and gave a some feedback. I also had starting problems too. Is not too bad, but far from perfect either. This is a shame, because with a little more effort spent on these nibs (polish), modern Conklin pens would be much better. Out of the box this is pretty expensive pen with very basic stainless steel nib which looks nice, true, but with rather average writing experience, which to be absolutely honest, you may get for much much cheaper. I do not know how fine and italic nibs performs, but there is many comments that 1.1 italic is actually very smooth writer. I used to have medium in my Conklin All American Yellowstone, which performed similarly to this one and at the end I swapped it with EF titanium nib from Bock and since then it became a pen I use regularly.
The good news is, that with little effort from my side, I have polished this nib to my liking. I opened the tines a bit and not this pen became a nicely smooth and wet writer, as it should be from the very beginning, really.
So, what is my final verdict on Conklin’s Mark Twain fountain pen?
Undoubtedly, this is an eye catching pen. It looks great and reminestents Conklin’s great legacy. The materials used are very good quality and do not feel cheap at all (especially chromed parts – clip, trim and crescent ring). Despite of its unusual shape and design Conklim Mark Twain is comfortable to hold and write with. The only thing I have (had) problem with is the nib which feels quite ‘generic’. For this price, it should feel amazing and be buttery smooth out of the box. Especially if this is just a steel nib. Obviously, I should not complain since I got it for almost nothing, but If I had to spend regular retail price (again £160.0 or more if you pick demonstrator version), I would really consider it. At the end of the day for £160.0- 230.0 you can get a great writing experience with a gold nib instead. However, if you find a decent deal, or discount on Conklin Mark Twain fountain pens, go for it! They look great and unique.