I recently purchased a pen on-line from a Chinese vendor (ruru688 on E-bay), advertised as "Noble 18k Solid Gold Medium Nib Black Fountain Pen." No maker's name given.
What the heck, 18ct gold nib for $17.85? I can't replace the gold nib on my Parker 45 for that price. So I bought it.
The only identifying mark is a rectangular lozenge with a Bactrian camel and the number 730 below it. (And if any of you know what maker that is, I'd like to know myself.)
The pen itself is pretty solid, it has a good heft, reminding me of my Pelikan M200. The cap diameter is 12mm, the body 10mm. Overall length, capped, is 144mm, uncapped 124mm and posted 160mm. Weight is listed at 31 grammes.
It's glossy black with gold (plated, probably) fittings and a white band with the lozenge and dragons in silver, a rounded black top similar to Mont Blanc, the gold clip has a dragon's head with red and clear eye jewels (probably coloured and clear glass).
It appears to be made of a decent grade of plastic, the cap posts nicely and clicks into place when capping. The section screws into the body, with threaded plastic on the section itself going into what appears to be gold-plated brass in the cap. It gives a solid appearance, but with plastic on brass, I'll be tightening it into place gingerly to avoid borking the threads on the section itself.
So: Appearance & Design: 8.0
Construction & Quality: 8.25 -- my Pelikan is plastic/plastic on the cap/section. I'd have preferred brass/brass, but I'm old-fashioned.
Weight & Dimensions: 9.25 -- I like a hefty pen, this one fits that.
The nib is marked 18k and has an irridium point, it's fairly smooth but somewhat stiff. Ink flow is okay, but runs toward dry. I'll be tinkering with that a bit. Medium was the only width offered. It has some nice scroll work on it. It meets, but doesn't exceed my expectations. It doesn't feather in the writing test, but requires pressure. (see end of review for photos)
All in all, I'll rate the nib at a solid 7.25
The filling system is a piston-operated cartridge, about 1.25ml or so of ink capacity. It operates smoothly, ink is readily visible. I don't anticipate much in the way of problems, frankly, it's better than what Parker currently offers for the Parker 45 both in visibility and smoothness. I'd like more capacity. Cleaning is easy, the nib and feed are a friction-fit and remove/install with a pull/push until seated. The converter feels solid when seated. When seated, the nib extends about 21mm from the section. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with it.
Converter, et c.:
Filling system, maintenance: 8.25 -- I'd like more ink capacity, so a down-grade here. Another 0.75ml capacity would get a 9.5
As I stated before, I bought this on-line (E-bay) as a new pen. Shipping was at no charge and fairly quick, with a tracking number provided that interfaces with the U.S. Post Office's system. For the solidity of this pen, the 18 karat nib and apparent quality, I'll give this a rating of 9.75 for cost and value.
It will find itself in my shirt pocket fairly often as a regular user. I'm going to tinker a bit with the nib/feed setup, I think I can get it to write wetter. Other than being dry, it's feel on paper is comparable to one of my Parker 45s. It met my expectations overall, the heft was just what I like in a pen. For a quick bit of fun, yes, I'd recommend it. I'm not sure I'd recommend it for someone who writes a good bit at work, unless they keep ink on their desk, the capacity is a bit less than I care for. That said, if you're signing documents and making short notes, I think it will be just fine.
Final score: 8.458
Writing Samples: Ink is Noodler's North African Violet
Cheap 20# bond paper
Hammermill 28# bond (acid free)