Conklin® - The First Self-Filling Fountain Pen™

Conklin Fine Pens Slide Show

The History of Conklin

Established in 1898 during the golden era of fountain pens, the Conklin Pen Company® is regarded as one of the most innovative American pen manufacturers. Founder Roy Conklin from Toledo, Ohio, is recognized for creating one of the world’s first self-filling fountain pens. Thanks to Conklin’s work, the design of fountain pens became more practical for public use when his patent for the first automatic filling mechanism went through in 1897. Named for its crescent moon-shaped metal that allows users to self-fill the ink, the Crescent Filler™ soon became a worldwide success. When the crescent is pressed, it collapses a sac, which is then filled when released. In 1903, legendary American author Mark Twain expressed his praise, saying, “I prefer it to ten other fountain pens, because it carries its filler in its own stomach, and I cannot mislay even by art or intention.” Twain became the official spokesman for the Conklin Pen Company, and discovered yet another benefit to the Crescent Filler, stating, “Also, I prefer it because it is a profanity saver; it can't roll off the desk.” Yafa Companies, the world’s leading source for fine writing instruments, purchased the Conklin brand and became its worldwide distributor in 2009. Yafa was founded in 1978 by owner Yair “Jerry” Greenberg, and is proud to have dedicated 40 years of experience to bring back the original Conklin Pen Company to produce luxury pens that users may cherish. All Conklin pens are based on the original designs of earlier models, and hand-manufactured by artisans to ensure top-quality craftsmanship. The legendary pens are always a favorite for collectors and pen enthusiasts, noting their great attention to detail. The most sought after models include the Crescent Filler, Endura, Symetrick, Nozac, and Gilder models. It is always exciting for Yafa to revitalize Conklin’s revolutionary models, and to continue their timeless design. The sophisticated detailing and unique filling mechanisms offer a natural elegance to any writing. Even with the expansion of technology creating impersonal atmospheres, the Conklin brand remains respected for their top-notch customer service and support, offering lifetime guarantees to customers.

Conklin: 120 Years of History

The golden era of fountain pens gifted society with an innovative array of writing instruments. Pen manufacturers during that time held the key to allowing users to more efficiently express their thoughts, and the significant events of the time. Established in 1898 out of Toledo, Ohio, the Conklin Pen Company is regarded as one of the most important pen manufacturers that emerged from that time period.

The invention of the fountain pen traces its roots back to the 10th century, as this iconic design began transforming the writing experience. Its predecessor was a dip pen, and although it proved a useful tool, it did not contain the reservoir that fountain pens established. Fountain pens were developed to draw ink through their nib, enabling the user to write via the combined forces of gravity and capillary action. Despite their long existence, fountain pens failed to develop beyond their original state for centuries due to improper understandings on how air pressure affected pens, and inks of the past were highly corrosive.

During the 1800s, fountain pens were constructed with ebonite, which is a brand name for durable, hard rubber. Aside from the dip pen option, eyedropper fillers were also popular. However, the dip pens forced users to remain close to inkwells, while eyedroppers required a lengthy process. Users had to take the pen apart, and calculate appropriate ink levels to avoid overflow. Roy Conklin aimed to develop a more efficient system that would offer better productivity, and automate the filling process with a quicker and cleaner design.
Conklin had innovative ideas, but he was not the first person to introduce the concept of a sac that would hold ink inside of a barrel. He first obtained the rights from John Oliphant’s pen that already had an ink reservoir patent, and improved upon it with his future patents. The breakthrough with this system led to the establishment of the Conklin brand, which was originally called The Self Fountain Pen Co.
The first pen that was manufactured was titled “Conklin’s Self-filling Pen.” It used a mechanism to put pressure on a rubber sac. When released, the sac would fill with ink, allowing users to write more efficiently. Before the wave of the iconic Conklin Crescent Fillers, the first pen that used this design resembled a sailfish fin, differing in shape from the familiar crescent moon that the pens are detailed with today.
Conklin’s company was headquartered out of Toledo, Ohio, which had become a significant industrial town due to its location. It was close to Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, and Lake Erie, and home of The Maumee, a river that crossed through the city, which was used as a communication channel. After the second industrial revolution, Toledo was greatly impacted for the better. Conklin was one of the companies that represented it, and gained the city worldwide credibility.

As a testament to Conklin’s impact on the pen world, legendary American author Mark Twain boasted the value of the Crescent Filler’s design. In 1903 he stated that he “[preferred] it to ten other fountain pens, because it carries its filler in its own stomach, and I cannot mislay even by art or intention.” Twain eventually became the spokesperson for the brand, and diverged on the dual benefit of the crescent shape. “Also, I prefer it because it is a profanity saver; it cannot roll off the desk.” Prior to this, many users had issues with pens falling off of surfaces, which could cause ink stains and misplacement.
Early Conklin advertisements were filled with verbiage, fitting great details about the self-filling pens into small spaces. They featured imagery of the pens, and discussed the exciting technology that would allow users to enjoy a more comfortable writing experience. The pens could retail for around $3 to $15, which after inflation, would be around $78 to $385 now, 120 years later. Quick slogans such as, “The everyday goodness of Conklin Pens and Pencils will delight those who have not yet experienced their usefulness” adorned the ads.
Throughout its years, the Conklin brand continued to market unique, high quality writing instruments. Their pens were able to maintain a greater ink capacity, and came in a variety of colors and designs. They offered the Conklin Nozac, branding it as “the pen that winds like a watch.” The pens even came in styles that allowed a user to view the ink levels to ensure that they had enough without having to open the pen. These innovative designs allowed Conklin to stick as a household name.
In 2009, Yafa A Pen Company purchased the Conklin brand, and became the worldwide distributor for the icon. Yafa was founded in 1978 by owner Yair “Jerry” Greenberg, who utilized his years in the industry to bring back the fine pens that became so beloved in American society. All pens are based on the original designs of earlier models, and hand manufactured with great attention to detail.
After twelve decades, the Conklin legacy is still going strong. Celebrated in revitalized designs, durable nibs, and vibrant hues, the brand remains beloved in the hearts—and on the desks—of many.

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