One thing to say up front: I am not a Chinese calligrapher. I can't use this pen in the manner intended. So why buy it?
1. It's pretty.
2. It's unusual.
3. It's interesting.
4. It's cheap.
5. I just might learn how to use it...
But given all that why, as an absolute novice, review it? Hell, why not?
OK, brass tacks. No, I'm not talking about the nib, but that is the most important feature of this pen, so here's pic of it:
It's bent, turned up at the end like a ski-jump. Being bent, it yields a variety of line widths that vary according to the angle at which it meets the paper, from fine/medium when upright to thick as a car tyre at 45°. As a guide, the paper here is a Rhodia standard A4 notepad with Seyès ruling, and the horizontals are 2mm apart. The ink is Diamine Saddle Brown. The angles in the pic are w.r.t. the perpendicular.
As you can see, you can also use it upside down: it feeds well and wet in all these positions, although it sometimes needs minimal starting - say a 5mm stroke - if it's been left unused for a day or two, which is perfectly honorable. Used upside down it still feeds well: the line is so fine it reminds me of 2A fusewire, or the monofilament Larry Niven had fun with in Ringworld. It's a wee bit scratchy upside down, but otherwise pleasantly smooth.
One interesting wrinkle: the slit doesn't go as far as the breather hole, which is rather unusual. I didn't notice that before taking the pics.
What else to say? It's shiny black plastic, the accents are chromed metal, the nib is what the UK police are wont to describe as "yellow metal". The cap is pretty heavy but won't stay on the end of the barrel if just slipped on. It will engage in the incised décor of the blind cap if given a slight twist, but this is hardly the intention and would probably butcher the thread. The pen would be rather unwieldy in that configuration, anyway. Unposted the weight still feels adequate to me, but with few exceptions I prefer to write unposted anyway.
This one came from the excellent isellpens.com.
Conclusion: It's fun, and in the hands of an expert might do great things. Even no-frills westerners can use it, to turn out anything from tinily-writ spidery text on a postage-stamp to big thick emphatic signs - or, with red ink, to mark homework. And at $12, why not have it in a collection?
Edited by Fuddlestack, 07 March 2010 - 13:13.