In the beginning of my fountain pen adventure I was obsessed with chinese pens. They were dirt cheap and easily available. There was a moment when, imperceptibly, probably due to cross-breeding, there was almost one hundred of them in my drawer.
This obsession as well as 95 % of chinese pens are gone. I kept few chinese pens to play with riskier inks and that’s it. One of polish collectioners VodnikVolsovbecek loaned me a significant part of his fountain pens collection so that I can try them and review them.
I was surpsrised to discover Duke fountain pen among high-end miracles like Omases or Dunhills. I’ve been using this pen for around a month now (not every day, but I’ve managed to finish two full converter fills). I would like to describe it.
In few words this pen is heavy and well made. What makes it stand out and shine (literally) is abalone shell embedded in black lacquer over brass. Overall design doesn’t appeal to me but the shell parts look stunning in sunlight.The barrel and section are a little chunky, but easy to grip and write with it. The barrel is made from a brass and coated in lacquer with embedded shells. It’s widest in the middle (about an inch from its mouth), tapering down toward both ends, and is rounded off at the ends. The cap snaps surely on the section with no wobble.
The shape is rather classic but, sadly, distorted by huge and ugly center band. Seriously, I would like to hear an explanation about the ways in which this metal ring enhances design? To my eyes it looks really, really bad. The shells though are cool. The way they shine in the sunlight is amazing. The finials are rounded pieces of metal.
Section is made of plastic. It tapers significantly toward the bib. If you’re low gripper like me you may find it to thin. For me the section diameter is ok.
The overall build quality of the this pen is very good. It’s nicely assembled. Nothing in the pen rattles or shakes, and I have no fear of any pieces loosening up in foreseeable future. I would be surprised if something suddenly fell off or cracked. It’s well made pen.
Uncharacteristically to most chinese fountain pens, this one has 14 ct nib. It looks exactly as most Duke’s steel nib but it writes significantly better. It’s springy and pretty wet. Not the best nib ever created for sure but I enjoy the way it performs. It does allow to produce some line variation but I wouldn’t recommend forcing it. It’s not flex or semi-flex nib there’s just some pleasant and forgiving (to those who have heavy-hand) springiness to it.
The pen comes with a Duke converter installed. It can be removed to accept cartridges.
The pen measures 140 mm capped and 121 mm uncapped. Weighs – 62 grams.
I’m not sure if this fountain pen is still produced but even if it was discontinued finding one on Bay of Evil won’t be a problem. They usualluy cost between 120-260 $. Personally I wouldn’t pay that much for it. If I could find one for 50 $ I would get it and I would keep it. When we enter 100-200 $ price range though there’s just too much to choose from and the contenders are strong. Lamy 2000, Pilot CH 92, Pilot M400 are just few examples of pens in this price range. Heck, with a bit of luck you’ll even get Pilot Namiki 823 for 200 $.
It’s really decent pen and the nib is great but price / what you get ratio isn’t sky high. As always the choice is yours to make though. If you enjoy the finish and like springy nibs, this one won’t disappoint you.