Conklin 20p ringtop (c. 1918)

In 1897, Roy Conklin invented the crescent-filler pen (usually thought of as the first self-filling sac pen), and by 1902 he was firmly in the pen business. This particular example, a model 20p ringtop pen in chased black hard rubber, should date to around the late teens. It has an exceptionally flexible point. The picture above is rather misleading as to the size of the pen; it is actually quite small at just over 115 mm capped (that's a bit over 4 inches for the metrically-challenged).

The Conklin system is simpler than the photo suggests: just twist the hump or bead in the middle of the body so that its cut (see bottom) lines up with the crescent. Then, push in the crescent to mash the sac and release it with the point inside the ink supply. DON'T forget to twist the locking ring back around or you have a lethal ink-bearing weapon on your hands (took me awhile to get this straight!).

Lambrou notes that the Conklin crescent filler was actually technically superior to the Sheaffer lever filler because the crescent could deflate the sac much more thoroughly. However, there was no getting around the ungainliness of the crescent when you compared it to those spiffy Sheaffers and their legion of imitators. Conklin phased out its crescent filler early in the twenties and made room for fascinating products like the Nozac, but things went badly in the later 1930s when Conklin was sold to a Chicago partnership, and the firm soon disappeared beneath the waves during the Great Depression.

This file last posted on:
2005-Jan-20 17:50:26 CST
MCMVIII, the red network
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