The Conklin Heritage Word Gauge

What if there was a pen that could tell you just how many words you could get from a the ink it holds? That was the idea that Conklin had when it came up with this variation of the Nozac (no sac), the first United States made piston filler. At the time, Conklin advertised “A car without a gas gauge is like a pen without a word gauge.” It was still a new concept at that time to be able to see how much ink was left in a pen.

Conklin, as they have done with several other models in recent years, Re-imagined a vintage pen into a modern one.

So, can the pen really tell you exactly how many words you can write? The long answer is that if you can determine the exact flow rate of a given ink, feed, and nib combination and then calculate the absorption rate of the paper in conjunction with the average linear mm of ink at that nib thickness etc…. The short answer is no, it wont, but it doesn’t have to. Outside of a book report for school or similar, it’s rare that anyone needs to count the exact numbers of words. What the pen does, however, with its generous ink window, is give an excellent idea of just how much ink is left and when to refill.

While having an ink window on a piston fill pen or otherwise is far from the novel concept that it once was, the large size of the transparent ink chamber is rarely a feature seen on non-demonstrator pens. With all of the classic design elements in this modern take, the Italian made Word Gauge is really quite nice looking. Accurate or not, the gauge markings are pretty cool too.

The pen is marked on the side “Word Gauge” and “Made in Italy.” There is a metal trim ring at the rear of the ink window. At the front of the ink window, there is a slight step down before the section which tapers towards the finger stop before the nib. Personally, I would have liked if there was a metal trim ring at the front as well, but not having it does give a clear view right down to the back of the nib unit. Like other Conklins, the unit unscrews which makes rinsing out the pen a quick and easy process. The section is not made to be removable so if the pen does need service, it would likely need to go back to Conklin.

When I went to turn the piston for the first time, I had difficulty turning it. I had encountered this with piston fillers from a number of other brands as well so I know what to do. The seal can sometimes be so tight (not a bad thing) that after sitting for a long time, can seal itself to the inside of the pen. With the help of a rubber grip, I was able to give the pen that first quarter turn needed to free the mechanism and from there, one full opening and closing of the piston spread the silicone grease in the pen and it has been smooth sailing ever since.

I tested this pen with Monteverde Midnight Black ink. The first fill attempt brought the ink to about the 3000 mark on the gauge which made sense since the section, nib and feed, were full of air at that point. It took just one more time of expelling the excess air, and I was able to get a complete fill of the pen. The nib is one of the now standard Jowo nibs made for Conklin with the crescent shaped breather hole. As is typical for me, I went with a fine nib. The nib functioned as I have come to expect for a Jowo nib. I had no skips or hard starts. This one was a bit more juicy than a few of my other Conklin F nibs, but I had no issues with it.

As far as how the pen felt in my hand, It was very comfortable to hold. At 5-1/8 inches unposted, it fit my hand well. The diameter of the grip was perfect for me and I really liked having the grip stop which is right where my fingers naturally hold the pen. Posted, the pen is 6.5 inches. I did not use the pen posted. I preferred the weight balance unposted which is par for the course for me. With this pen being primarily made of plastic, It also felt very light to hold.

One other very impressive thing about this pen is the ink capacity. In order to test this, after filling the pen, I then emptied it into a graduated cylinder. I was surprised when the amount of ink was just about 2.5 ml. There was even still ink in the feed. This makes for more than enough ink for a full day’s use, or week’s use for many people.

While I initially had some trouble with the piston, once it was actuated the first time, my concerns went away. I really like this pen. I like the concept behind it, the incredible ink capacity, and the comfort of the design. Wile it is a bit more expensive than many other Conklins, for the MSRP of $145, with an actual street price hovering around $115, you are getting a really nice Italian made pen. So far, I have enjoyed Conklin’s modern take on vintage models. I am looking forward to seeing what vintage inspired pen they come up with next.

Disclaimer: This pen was provided to me courtesy of Yafa Brands for the purpose of this review as part of the Yafa Ambassador program. The thoughts and opinions expressed herein are entirely my own and I receive no other compensation from any manufacturer or retailer named in this review.

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