Conklin Endura Junior Lapis Lazuli

 

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This Conklin Endura Junior Lapis Lazuli was made in the mid-twenties, I believe. It’s in marvellous condition, the only real flaw being some wear on the plating of the clip. I understand that these pens are prone to colour change; this one is as perfect in colour as it was originally. Also, I am told that there are often barrel cracks where the pin for the lever comes through, and there are often major problems with the clip. None of those apply here. It’s just a totally gorgeous little pen.
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The interpretation of Lapis Lazuli that Conklin uses is very similar to a Parker one. It’s made up of lighter blue areas on a darker matrix with some small areas that are so dark blue as to be almost black. It needs good light to appreciate its beauty in full. The plastic of these Enduras is quite thick, making for a sturdy pen.

Strangely enough, Conklin, at this time, did not put a 14K stamp on their nibs. It just says, “Conklin Endura USA”. The nib is a little beauty. It’s not really flexible but it has some spring, making it very pleasurable to write with. The crescent-shaped breather hole is like an upside-down grin.
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This is a small pen. It’s about 10.8 cm capped. I compared it for size with a Kaweco Sport and it’s a little longer both capped and posted. I would think it would be quite adequate for most people.
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Much as I enjoy modern pens, a pen like this is why my heart always remains with vintage. It’s a sad thing, but modern pen-makers can’t replicate this. I know there’s a new Conklin company and their pens are quite well regarded but their nibs bear no comparison to the originals. Thank goodness there are still a few of the old ones around and, luckily for us, their prices have not quite gone into the stratosphere yet.

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Flexible, firm, broad and narrow,
Some of them bearing the Parker Arrow
Here are pens for you to choose
Lovely to look at, great to use!

Indian Pens

On the subject of Indian pens, here’s a list of those I found. There may be others.

Airmail/Wality, Guider*, Deccan, Kim & Co, Ratnamson, Ranga*, Varuna, Camlin*, Serwex*, Fellowship*, FPR*, Gem & Co.*, Asa Pens (Gama)*, Oliver*, Abhay Pens, Camay, Lazor*, Hamraj* and Gala.

Edited to add Fosfor Handcrafted Pens

Not all are available online but those that I have marked with an asterisk are at time of writing. I didn’t search terribly hard so it may be that some of the others are available too.

I would be interested to hear of your experience with Indian pens, good or bad.

Airmail 75P

 

IMGP2392My first experience of Airmail/Wality was many years ago when I bought one of the huge Wality eyedroppers. I wasn’t impressed. It had a tendency to blob and the nib/feed assembly didn’t deliver ink very well. Being one of those who never learn by their mistakes, I ordered a different Wality, a small piston filler with a decorative cap. It worked perfectly. I have it still and I often use it.
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A couple of weeks ago I thought I’d have a poke around the site and see what they have on offer these days. I was quite taken with this 75P and ordered it. It was $16 – whatever that is in British money – and it came quite quickly. As you will see, I think it’s excellent value for the very little money one has to outlay.
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It came in a padded bag with some bubblewrap around it – not the best packing I’ve seen but considering it got here undamaged it was okay. The pen itself is attractive and well-made. The chrome plated clip will grasp a pocket well and the cap, which appears to be anodised aluminium, has the word “Airmail” in what I take to be a bright red paint which matches the rich Post Office red of the barrel and section. The clutch cap snaps in place securely. The nib, as with many Indian nibs I have seen, has very shallowly stamped lettering and decoration. It tells me it’s an Airmail Special Tipped. The pen is a cartridge/converter filler and it is supplied with the converter in place. A slight complaint – the nib/feed unit was somehow blocked when it arrived. It wasn’t evident what was causing the problem; I simply pulled the nib and feed out, give them a brisk wash and replaced them and that seems to have been enough to solve the problem. It writes well now and the nib behaves rather better than its appearance would suggest. It’s a nice European-size fine.
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This is quite a small pen at 12.5 cm so it’s not for those among us who require a baton to write with. I should say it’s perfectly adequate for most people. It’s about the size of a Swan SM 100/60. I can’t understand how they can keep the cost so low. After all, this isn’t an absolutely basic pen: there are two different metals in the cap, topped by a nice red finial, and there is a chrome plated band on the barrel. All of this has a cost over and above the most simple pen. It’s attractive and well-balanced and with such a nice tight-fitting cap it would make an excellent carry-around everyday user that would not affect the bank balance too adversely if it were to be damaged or lost.
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I haven’t had all that many Indian pens so I can’t make a generalisation about them, but if this one is anything to go by they are well worth attention and investment.

Writing

I have spent the morning write-testing and adjusting pens, preparing them for sale, and it occurred to me that this is the most writing that I do with fountain pens. I have a scratchpad by my keyboard and I take notes with my trusty Pilot Custom Heritage 91, and that’s it! Greeting cards of one kind or another are rarely fountain pen friendly – the paper tends to bleed.

I used to address envelopes with fountain pens and rub candle wax over the writing to prevent smearing if it got wet but, really, that was too much of a performance and I regretfully returned to using a ballpoint for that purpose.

I don’t write letters any more. I used to have several penpals but with regret I had to end the correspondence as arthritis got worse. Official correspondence of one kind or another gets rattled out on the keyboard. I’m not a journalling type of person.

I suppose I wrote most in school and university. Hand-written essays were the norm then. I wrote quite a bit at work but since then it has gradually tailed away. It’s paradoxical that my day-to-day work is fountain pens and yet I write so little. I wish I had reason to write more because I enjoy my pens so much but the reason to do so just isn’t there.

Unique

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I said in comments some days ago that I had never seen a lizardskin Unique. Peter Hinchcliffe kindly supplied me with an excellent image of one.
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He also gave me a picture of several other beauties. How can these pens be so under-appreciated?

I’ve discussed Uniques before, if you care to search. I have nothing to add, really, except that my earliest speculation as to their history is pretty wide of the mark!

Parker 75 Cisele.

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It was commented to me recently that Parker pens after 1950 are mostly boring and reliable. I’m not at all sure that that is true: to my mind there are several Parkers made after 1950 that are outstanding pens and would have been so at any time. The Parker 75 Cisele which went into production in 1964 is a fine example.

Parker was among the first pen manufacturers to realise that, in face of the competition from the ballpoint pen, the way forward was to make the fountain pen an objet d’art. The 75 was designed by Don Doman who had been Parker’s Design Director from 1953 to ’57, when he set up his own design company but was retained as a design consultant by Parker until he retired in 1986. The pen was intended, as well as being a fine writing instrument, to show the arts of the jeweller and metalsmith.
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The material for the first 75 was 92.5% sterling silver with gold-plated trim on the ends and the clip. The grid pattern is interrupted only at the bottom of the cap where a smooth band carries the words “Parker” and “sterling silver” together with (in this case) “made in USA”. The ends of cap and barrel are gold-plated with a ring pattern. The earliest versions of the 75 are known as “flat tops” to contrast with the later ones which had a dished top, said to be to allow for corporate logos. All have a slender and elegant version of the Parker arrow.
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Removing the slip-on cap reveals the black plastic triangular grip – a Parker innovation subsequently much imitated. Next is a calibrated dial which allows the user to set the nib at their preferred angle. The wraparound gold nib is engraved with the word “Parker” alone. 30 different nib grades were provided for the 75.
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This is a glorious pen which would have been the pride of any company at any date. It remained in production for thirty years and was one of Parker’s most profitable products. It was later produced in many different patterns and when part of the production was moved to France, yet more outstanding patterns were issued in both metal and lacquer.
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Being available in so many patterns, the 75 is a collector’s dream. It is certainly reliable, most examples writing as well today as when they were made, but I hardly think anyone could describe it as “boring”!  They continue to fetch high prices, both as collectors’ items and as prestigious writers.