Conklin Duragraph Review – Merlot Edition

Conklin Duragraph Nib Cover

Conklin Pen is an American pen brand with a long history for quality and heritage. The brand’s creator Roy Conklin is credited with creating the first “self-filling” fountain pen, the crescent filler, back in 1897. The company gained notoriety when Mark Twain became their spokes-person in 1903, and the brand has been producing interesting and artful pens ever since.

One of their more popular modern models is the Duragraph; a cartridge/converter pen made of resin crafted in interesting and unique patterns. This Merlot edition was briefly available as a Goulet Pens exclusive, and today you can find a variety available that would look great in any collection. Although this particular model entered the market for less than $40, the standard retail price for the line is $52. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Conklin Duragraph.

Conklin Duragraph Cover

The Pen

The Conklin Duragraph uses a larger (number 6?) nib featuring a generously sized crescent shaped breather. The nib width conforms pretty well to the Western/European sizing standards, so the medium Conklin nib is about in line with a medium Kaweco or Lamy nib. Although I did have to give the pen a fairly thorough cleaning with (slightly) soapy water, this pen writes like a dream. The ink flows smooth an clean, and lays down a solid line on the page. There is very minimal feedback on the nib, varying with the paper brand you use. While some cheaper number 6 nibs I’ve used have felt like pushing a ballpoint pen across glass, this is right in the “Goldilocks zone” for feedback. The nib and feed can be pulled out of their housing to give it a deep clean, but be prepared for a bit of a struggle.



The pen ships with a modified international converter, and can use standard and short international cartridges. The included converter is threaded on the sides to give it a more secure connection to the feed and grip section. Personally, I love this feature. While I’ve never had a converter drop out of position in a pen, I like that it takes that little bit of guesswork out of the mechanism. When the converter is screwed in all the way, you can be confident that you have a good seal and you’re ready to go.

Conklin Duragraph Converter Threads

The grip section of the Duragraph is rounded plastic with a slight inward curve toward the front. This plastic section is sleeved over a metal section into which the nib unit and converter thread. Unfortunately, this means that the pen is not eyedropper compatible, as the ink would be in direct contact with metal. But, for solid or opaque pens, I would not consider this a fault. I don’t generally like to see a converter inside my pens, so out of sight, out of mind.

Carrying The Pen

The Conklin Duragraph is a larger pen. Not overly long, but a little wider that your standard Lamy Safari or Pilot Metropolitan. With the flat top and bottom, it feels a little bulkier than most pens. The barrel is a straight cylinder without any tapering like you see in a lot of pens. For the sake of comparison, the Duragraph is comparable in size to the Twsbi Eco. Although is is on the larger end of the spectrum, the pen is incredibly light. While I usually prefer my pens to have a little more heft (Squire, Fountain K, even the Eco), the Duragraph is still very comfortable to write with.

Conklin Duragraph Writing Sample Close Up
Side note: Monteverde Joy Sepia is a beautiful and rich ink. Very pleased with my impulse purchase.

If you enjoy clipping your pen into a shirt or jacket pocket, you may have a bit of a struggle with the Conklin. This pen has one of the most rigid clips I’ve ever encountered. While this does mean it is secure in my Nock Co Sinclair, it does take a little extra effort to get it into place. Pen sleeves like those from Rickshaw Bags are a great alternative.

So. Is it worth it?

I was first drawn to the Conklin brand for its history here in the US. Although they have a different owner now, the tradition of Conklin’s historical design and style do shine through in most of their products. Although I have a couple concerns about the parent company’s practices with a few of their most recent releases, there is no denying that they supply a great product at the end of the day.

The Conklin Duragraph is a great pen. While there is a lot of competition in the $52 price range, this one carries a bit more professional style. Does it to anything new or revolutionary? Not really. But the product line features many bold and stylish designs that look beautiful and unique. I wouldn’t say that this is my first choice for a $50 pen, but it’s a solid performer that looks great on the desk and has a bit of history behind it.

Check out the Conklin Duragraph at Goulet Pens.

Conklin Duragraph Writing Sample

Disclaimer: The product in this review was purchased by The Poor Penman for the purpose of review and to feed the addiction. All opinions stated are those of the author.

4 thoughts on “Conklin Duragraph Review – Merlot Edition

  1. Just because ink comes into contact with metal does no automatically mean you can’t eyedropper that pen. It all depends on what kind of metal it is. Ink obviously does not corrode stainless steel, or most of the nibs out there would have corroded nibs. I also haven’t seen ink corrode a solid chrome plating, though I’ve only seen this tried a couple of times.

    Aluminum is the metal that corrodes fastest, easiest, and messiest. Copper is next in line, and corrodes horribly. Brass also corrodes under SOME inks, but not nearly as bad as with aluminum.

    Anyway, I have a pen with a stainless steel body, along with all the other metal parts. I’ve had several very different inks in the barrel, and so far I’ve seen no signs of corrosion.

    Anyway, the simply fact that op top of being made from very good material, and of being very well built, just the fact that the nib unit unscrews makes the Duragraph worth considerably more than most other pens in this price range. This would be my first choice if it cost seventy-five dollars.

    I also own the green Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler. This one cost a hundred and fifty dollars, and was still worth it. It’s a phenomenally good writer, and more comfortable in my hand than the Duragraph. Of course, you do have to like lever filler pens, which I love, old or new.


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