Some of you may recall that back in April, I embarked on a “streamlining” of my pen and ink accumulation and sold off nearly a dozen pens, with the goal of buying three or four “custom” pens. While the Conid Bulkfiller is not a “custom pen” per se, because it’s not manufactured to each customer’s specifications, it is what I would call “small batch” (to borrow a whiskey term). Meaning, these pens are manufactured to order (i.e., the pen is not made until a customer’s order is placed), andsome customization is possible. I opted for the Bulkfiller Minimalistica, a streamlined version manufactured from Delrin and trimmed with Titanium (including the nib).
Conid pens are built around the filling system, termed the “bulkfiller.” The name “bulkfiller” refers to the fact that most piston or plunger-filler pens do not fill to 100% capacity—the ink reservoir is never completely full. Francis Goossens (a noted pen repairman and collector who goes by Fountainbel on FPN) sought to correct what he considered a shortcoming, and the concept of the Bulkfiller was born.
The Filling System
It’s nearly impossible to describe the bulkfiller system without a visual aid. Watch this video first (courtesy of Conid and Francis Goossens via YouTube) and bear with me.
In short, the filling system acts like a syringe. While a typical plunger filler takes advantage of a vacuum in the barrel created when the user depresses the plunger past a certain point, ink enters the Bulkfiller on the upstroke (like a syringe), after which point the user disengages the plunger rod from the seal and slides it back into the barrel, leaving the seal at the top of the ink chamber. The pen holds a full 2ml of ink, and some of the larger models hold as much as 6ml.
This is a great pen, and I don’t regret the money spent or the wait. I did choose the title “a pen geek’s pen” deliberately–it’s not for everyone. The filling system is complicated and somewhat tricky to master, and if you’re a serial ink changer you may get bored with how long it takes to write the pen dry. But the manufacturing is superb, the nib is wonderful, and Conid’s customer service is outstanding (especially once they figured out how to refund the VAT for non-EU residents).
You can purchase the Bulkfiller directly from Conid on their website. Pricing is consistent with most custom pens, and ultimately depends on the options you select. The basic Bulkfiller Minimalistica with a steel nib will run about $315 (give or take a few dollars for the exchange rate). If you add a titanium nib and the proprietary tool for disassembly (allowing you to repair/clean the pen on your own without shipping it back to Antwerp), the price jumps to about $390 or so. It’s expensive, but you are paying for quality machining, titanium trim, and a fairly rare material like Delrin that I understand to be somewhat difficult to work.
I purchased this pen with my own funds, and was not compensated monetarily for this review.