My wife bought this pen for me for Valentine’s day several years ago, so the Duragraph has sentimental value to me. I am behind the game with this pen and there isn’t a lot for me to add that hasn’t already been said about it. It’s quite popular.
First, the nib. My pen doesn’t have the original Conklin nib on it–I did consider putting it back on for the review, but ultimately decided against it. Conklin used to use Chinese nibs on their old pens, apparently switched to Bock at one time, and have since switched to JoWo. My pen was produced during the Chinese to Bock transition time, so I have no idea who made the original nib, but it wasn’t that great. I switched a spare 14k JoWo extra fine nib into the pen, and new Duragraphs should have JoWo nibs on them anyways, so it’s still a fair comparison.
The pen has a classy, vintage-inspired feel to it. For the price, it feels well-built. The hourglass shaped section is very comfortable in use and the pen is light and balanced towards the nib, so it’s nice for longer writing sessions.
My main complaint about the pen, other than the so-so nib, is the cap band is crooked or not installed correctly. It bugs me, but is only a minor aesthetic issue.
The cap technically posts, but it does not do so deeply and the cap weighs as much as the pen, so posting it makes it very long, cumbersome, and back-heavy. Thankfully the Duragraph is long enough to be used comfortably while unposted.
This model is kind of cool, sentimental value aside. It’s available in a bunch of different finishes with a nice nib lineup and is attractively priced. It is a good choice for those new to fountain pens, intermediate users, or anyone who likes the way it looks.
- Nice size.
- Comfortable to hold.
- The nib was not so hot out of the box–functional, just not great.
- The cap band is off on mine.
- Why the hell can’t this pen accept long standard international cartridges? Huge fumble on Conklin’s part. (I mean, they fit, but they get stuck in the barrel and the user has to dig them out.)
- Screw cap.
- About 1 turn to remove.
- Not exactly postable.
- Originally a stainless steel medium Conklin #6 nib of unknown origin.
- This one is a #6 JoWo 14k gold nib, in extra fine.
- Modern pens should have #6 Conklin branded JoWo nibs.
- Currently available in extra fine, fine, medium, broad, 1.1 italic, and the proprietary Omniflex nib.
- Cracked ice acrylic.
- Available in a bunch of finishes.
- Filling system:
- Standard international cartridge/converter.
- No long cartridges and don’t try to carry a short cartridge in tandem in the barrel. They feel like they’ll fit and then get stuck. It makes a hell of a mess trying to dig them out. I try these things so you don’t have to.
- The pen does come with a threaded converter. Mine broke, but threaded converters are always nice.
- Ink capacity for standard international converters and short cartridges is around 0.7-0.8ml.
- Capped: 142mm
- Uncapped: 125mm
- Posted: 178mm
- Total: 24g
- Pen: 12g
- Cap: 12g
- Section diameter:
There are a million decent sub-$100 pens that could be considered instead, including other Conklins, but most of them don’t share the Duragraph’s vintage feel. Because of this, I tried to pick alternatives that are flat tops, similar in price, or have that “retro feel” about them. In no particular order consider:
- Lamy Safari
- Pilot Prera.
- Some of Penbbs’s options.
- Aurora Talentum, Tu, or Style.
- Esterbrook Estie–it’s not a flattop, but the concept is similar.
- Parker Duofold.
- Jinhao Centennial. I’ve seen this one referred to (lovingly, perhaps?) as the JinhaoFold because it obviously takes some. . .inspiration. . .from the Parker Duofold.
- Pelikan Souveran series. The m600 or m800 are probably closest in size and shape.
- Kaweco Dia2.
- Edison Beaumont.