Jump to content

The Fountain Pen Network uses (functional) cookies. Read the FPN Privacy Policy for more info.  To remove this message, please click here to accept the use of cookies






Photo

Jinhao ' Century' Pen In Blue Celluloid


  • Please log in to reply
44 replies to this topic

#1 richardandtracy

richardandtracy

    Ancient Artifact

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,687 posts
  • Location:Kent, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 18 July 2011 - 12:21

This is a review of the Jinhao 'Century' Blue Celluloid Pen.

The first thing to say about the Jinhao 'Century' Blue Celluloid Pen is that it's not made from celluloid, but from a glorious blue/ black pearl blank that's available to custom penmakers.

fpn_1520871520__jinhaocentury1.jpg

 

Initial Impressions
The first impression when opening the rather basic packaging was 'Ooh, Shinee'. I like it. Lots.

The colour has a depth and pearlescence to it that is strongly reminiscent of celluloid, without actually being the material. The overall impression is of a pen inspired by the modern Parker Duofold - so much so that later on in this review I do a comparison with the two sizes of modern Duofold. This is not an expensive pen, so don't expect it to be up to the standard of a Duofold but it's interesting to see how Jinhao are able to do in a direct comparison against such a high quality pen.

Once I got it in my paw, the thing that struck me most was the weight. I have made a prototype pen in the same material and it came out at 21.5g, so how did this become so heavy? After taking the cap and barrel off, the answer was immediately obvious. Jinhao used solid brass finials at the end of the cap and barrel. This gives extra weight, but not really in useful positions. The cap posts insecurely (due to the protrusion of the gold ring under the barrel finial) - but that is not a real disadvantage. The brass finials are so heavy and so far back from the nib when posted that the centre of gravity is above your hand, and the nib is fighting to flip up off the paper when the pen is posted. This is completely unbalanced and unusable when posted. Not clever.

Having talked about the weight, I suppose I should give the dimensions and weight:


Dimensions
The sizes and weight are as below:
Length Capped:136mmLength Uncapped:123mmLength Posted (Not secure): 168mmBarrel Diameter: 11.82mmCap Diameter: 13.82mmWeight: 39g

Construction
The overall quality of fit and finish is remarkably high. Note: I did not say 'Remarkably high for a Chinese pen' and also did not say 'Remarkably high for a pen of this price'. It is a remarkably good quality pen on any scale of reference, the low price is absolutely amazing for this quality pen.

The overall construction method is almost identical to what you would expect to find in a kit pen. The blue/ black pearl material is turned on the outside, and drilled to the correct size on the inside. This material suffers from melting swarf when drilled (makes it a pain to drill on a lathe, actually, as it's almost impossible to get enough coolant to the drill tip) and there is evidence of this on the slightly roughened and picked up internal surface to the barrel & cap. Makes me happier to find this occurs with other people too! Anyway, once the barrel & cap tubes are the right size, the finials and furniture are press fitted into the pen. There may be some adhesive, but it's difficult to see any evidence of it.

Due to the semi-transparent nature of the base material it is possible to see the ends of the spigots pressed into the barrel & cap tubes on the outside of the pen. This does detract from the overall looks of the pen, and I don't much like being able to see the c/c through the barrel either - however dimly you can see it. The pen also comes in two different Duofold style White & Black stripe type of materials, both of which allow you to see the spigots even more clearly than in this pen - yuk!

The c/c is a deluxe piston c/c, of average quality. Not much more to say about it other than these Jinhao c/c's seem to work fairly well, and it's unusual in having a little spring in it to break the surface tension.

The nib is sharply engraved and the bi-coloured plating accurately stops at the edge of the engraving. This is precision work.

fpn_1520871900__jinhaocentury2.jpg


Durability
The barrel & cap body materials feel softish, so will probably scratch up a little with use, but not too severely. There are two areas of durability problems I can see. The first is the gold plating - My Jinhao 1200 doesn't have very thick plating and it has started to wear away, and I hope this will not be the same. The second area is likely to be the coating on the brass finials. I imagine that it will start to chip off before too long.

Other than the problems identified above, I expect the pen to be a long lasting one and keep writing well for years.

Writing with the Pen
I have already mentioned one major problem of writing with the pen. This is the inability to write with the pen when posted. For me, it's not a problem, as I don't like posting, however it may be a problem for some. The barrel is long enough to write comfortably with my hands (I take 'Extra Large' gloves) when unposted.

The next problem to manifest itself was a designed-in problem. The nib slit is central to the tines, and properly aligned with the feed. The tip was well ground to the shape Jinhao wanted, and it was very smooth. A really nice nib. However, it skipped randomly at the start of writing words. I fear Jinhao has fallen into the same trap as Parker has in recent years. The nib was deliberately ground with 'Baby Bottom' syndrome to make it smooth on poor quality, rough paper. As a result, on smoother paper the ink meniscus in the nib doesn't touch the paper and it skips. :gaah:
Half an hour after first writing with the pen, I couldn't stand it any more and had to do something about it. Out came the jeweller's eyeglass and the micromesh, and within five minutes I had a nib that was gorgeous. It was even smoother that in the beginning and didn't skip. Shame I had to do it, but I can understand why Jinhao & Parker grind the nibs this way.

In the sale, the nib was described as a medium. Before my re-grind it was on the fine side of Medium, and now I'd describe it as a UK medium - a bit fatter than a US medium. It certainly isn't a Far Eastern 'Medium' which is a western 'fine'.

When writing with the pen, it is actually rather nice to write with. I find I can write all day with pens under 25g, almost regardless of the section design. However for pens heavier than 25g, the section design must be good for me to be able to write all day with them. This pen is pretty well designed, and despite it's weight, it can be used for a large part of a day before the weight becomes an issue.

The nib is very, very stiff. There is no hint of flex, and if you press hard enough to flex the nib, it moves far enough from the feed not to be fed with ink. So no flex. Ah well. Cannot have everything.


Value for Money
I got the pen for £10.48 inc postage (say US$16), of which £0.99 was the auction price, the remainder being postage. This is more expensive than many equally good Jinhao's, but it is exceedingly well made & very pretty. You get a lot of pen for the money.

Comparison with the Duofold
Regarding the Jinhao's size, it's part way between the Duofold Centennial (top) and the International (bottom), somewhat closer to the International's size than that of the Centennial.

fpn_1520871953__jinhaocentury3.jpg

And next to the Duofold International

fpn_1520872008__jinhaocentury4.jpg
As can be seen the section shape is different, but both the barrel & cap finials have an almost identical taper. All-in-all the design inspiration is obvious, even though the details are different.

Overall feel of the pen materials: The first impression is that both the Duofold's and the Jinhao are as well finished. They both have the same shine, the gold plating is as well plated and, if anything, the bi-colour plating on the Jinhao nib is more accurate to the engraved lines than on my International. The barrel & cap material somehow feels softer on the Jinhao. It is a feature I have noticed myself with this blue material - it's slightly softer than some pen making materials I have come across, but it does turn beautifully.

The proportions of the Jinhao are similar to that of the International. It's slightly larger in diameter, and slightly longer. These are the proportions I feel are 'correct' and look right. The Centennial looks just too short & stubby.

The section shape on the Jinhao is actually an older shape than the Parker - more reminiscent of the BHR Onotos of the 1910's rather than the Duofolds of the 1920's. Anyway, it's equally comfortable and prevents your fingers sliding down the section. I think the section of the Jinhao is made of an injection moulded material like Polystyrene, it feels quite soft compared to the hard acrylic feel of the Duofold section. The Jinhao also has a matte finish to the plastic, making gripping easier when hot & sweaty than with the Parkers.

The threads between the cap & barrel on the Jinhao are moulded in the cap lip and machined into the metal insert on the barrel, and are to an ACME buttress thread form, giving a flat upper surface in the threaded area so they do not dig in to your fingers. This is a very nice touch. The threads are a closer fit than on the Duofold, and are even smoother in use than the high quality threads of the Parker. They give a quality feel to removing the cap. The cap-barrel thread is a twin start with about half a turn to release it. The thread pitch is so coarse that it can unscrew in shirt pockets unless really tightly done up beforehand. The barrel threads are machined on the inside of the barrel insert, and give more play than on the Duofold when removing the barrel from the section - doesn't feel as nice as the Duofold here, but is acceptable.

The Jinhao's cap & barrel finials are painted brass. I do not know how long this will last, but previous experience indicates that painted coatings do not last well. I hope it's powder coated (a finish that's as tough as old boots), but I fear it's too much to ask for with a pen at this price bracket. The self coloured material in the Duofold, on the other hand, will not show up small chips.

The cap decal on the Jinhao is a stylised twin-horse drawn chariot stamped into a flat decal. Looks OK, but is not as interesting as the Duofold's raised 'Ace of Spades' decal. The shield motif on the Jinhao clip with its silver coloured repeat of the chariot symbol looks cheap & nasty in comparison to the restrained elegance of the Parker.

As with the Parkers, the Jinhao's cap lip is a separate item. In this case it's coloured differently from the barrel material, and is an injection moulded item. It works well. The single cap lip ring is attached in the same way as on the Duofold's, and engraved with the word 'Jinhao'. Not bad.

The nibs are difficult to compare, as both of my Parkers have Broad Italics nibs (0.9 and 1.1mm wide). However, the Jinhao is nearly as stiff as the Duofolds, and writes with a nice wet line, so it's broadly comparable in the way it writes. The feed works properly - which is more than the banner feed does on my International (note to self - get Parker to change the feed).

The c/c's in the Duofold's differ from the Jinhao only in finish (Parker is shiny gold, while the Jinhao is antiqued bronze), engraved name and the fact the Parker is to a proprietary c/c nipple size, while the Jinhao is an international size. I regard c/c as disposable, so if they work, that's as much as I'm really willing to think about them.

The balance of the Parker pens is much better. They do not have large lumps of brass at the ends of the pen and as a result you can post them nicely, unlike the Jinhao. Even when not posted, due to the even distribution of weight, the Duofold's feel rather more refined and nicer to hold.

The Jinhao is not on a par with the Duofold, but it is a much better pen than its price would suggest. It is a very fine attempt to produce a luxury type pen at school pen price point, and the aim is largely achieved. The one thing that really sets the Duofold on a different level is the range of nib options. The Jinhao gives you every size you want, so long as you only want a medium.


Conclusion
This is another very good, somewhat overweight, Jinhao. The design is a bit of a ripoff, but there is so much re-design in the shape that it is not a copy of the Duofold's. It's a classic shape, in a gorgeous looking material, that works well. Jinhao have a very good reputation and this pen has done nothing to reduce it. I suspect that due to a couple of issues I have with the pen, Jinhao have not enhanced their reputation, but it remains good nonetheless.

This pen is of near-luxury quality, at a school pen price. Amazing.

The biggest problem I have with the Jinhao is that it's so very much like my prototype pen:
[photobucket image removed]
My pen has a 12mm diameter barrel and a 14mm diameter cap - both exactly 0.18mm larger than the Jinhao. Galling or what? More than a year of sporadic development, and then I find Jinhao have got something so good, and so very similar into the market. It's enough to make you want to scream! However, I know mine is better because you can post it without the nib flipping up off the page.

I hope this is useful,


Regards,

Richard.


Edited by richardandtracy, 12 March 2018 - 16:35.
Formatting


Sponsored Content

#2 Yuki Onitsura

Yuki Onitsura

    I ink, therefore I am

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,465 posts
  • Location:Sydney, Australia
  • Flag:

Posted 18 July 2011 - 12:30

Nice in depth review of a pen that most people would probably overlook. It is a very nice looking pen, doubly so when you consider the ridiculously low price. I mean, in Australia $16 wouldn't get you much more than a decent converter, let alone such a pretty pen!

Yuki
Posted Image
Follow me on twitter! @crypticjunky

~And the words, they're everything and nothing. I want to search for her in the offhand remarks.~

#3 watch_art

watch_art

    Pen Making Madness

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 15,490 posts
  • Location:hot springs, arkansas, usa
  • Flag:

Posted 18 July 2011 - 13:09

Is there any way for somebody like yourself to lighten the brass? Either by taking off some of the end or making it hollow? Also, can the clip be removed and that awful shield ground down so it's not an ugly shield?

fpn_1432247667__cropped-20150427_0641231 sigpic14481_1.gif vanness.jpg?t=1321916122


#4 rockydoggy

rockydoggy

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 585 posts
  • Location:Culver City, California

Posted 18 July 2011 - 15:00

Thanks for the excellent, thorough review. Your observations re: the nib is right on the mark. I've had to work on the nibs of most of the Jinhao pens I own (as well as the feeds on some of them). Once everything is adjusted, they can be good writers, esp if you like heavier pens--it just can take some time and trial-and-error.

#5 richardandtracy

richardandtracy

    Ancient Artifact

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,687 posts
  • Location:Kent, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 18 July 2011 - 15:11

Shawn,

The clip is stamped from sheet, and it's not possible to modify, easier to replace.

The brass barrel finial is possible to alter in mass, but it would have to be drilled out carefully so as not to break through.
The cap finial is almost impossible to alter as the decal is rivetted to it; You'd need to drill the integral decal rivet out, increase the hole through and then bond the decal back. Not easy, and with a pen costing US$16, why bother?

Regards,

Richard.

#6 KrazyIvan

KrazyIvan

    Fountain Pen Sith Lord

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,212 posts
  • Location:Texas, USA
  • Flag:

Posted 18 July 2011 - 20:10

Thanks for the review. Mine is on the way. I hope the nib works better. I have an X450 and the nib looks exactly the same as this one. The X450 has not skipped yet. I am hoping no nib modification will be necessary.

I inked up my Huashilai 3000 and it does skip. :( I tried adjusting the flow and it is better but I may need to grind the nib down a little. I am just going to have to research the grinding methods.

#7 KrazyIvan

KrazyIvan

    Fountain Pen Sith Lord

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,212 posts
  • Location:Texas, USA
  • Flag:

Posted 23 July 2011 - 18:44

Just received my Jinhao Century pen in blue also. The only thing I am not liking is the cap threads. It takes about half a turn to screw the cap on/off. It feels like it is not secure enough. With that said, this is the first Chinese pen I have with a threaded cap. All others are the click or slip on type.

The weight and balance seems spot on for my hand. My hand is 3.75" wide by 7.5" long.

#8 richardandtracy

richardandtracy

    Ancient Artifact

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,687 posts
  • Location:Kent, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 25 July 2011 - 11:19

KrazyIvan,

Glad you like the pen. I am rather attached to mine even though it isn't the world's best pen - it is a good knock-about pen.

I did mention about the cap threads saying in the Duofold comparison section

The cap-barrel thread is a twin start with about half a turn to release it. The thread pitch is so coarse that it can unscrew in shirt pockets unless really tightly done up beforehand.


Regards,

Richard





#9 KrazyIvan

KrazyIvan

    Fountain Pen Sith Lord

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,212 posts
  • Location:Texas, USA
  • Flag:

Posted 25 July 2011 - 20:37

KrazyIvan,

Glad you like the pen. I am rather attached to mine even though it isn't the world's best pen - it is a good knock-about pen.

I did mention about the cap threads saying in the Duofold comparison section

The cap-barrel thread is a twin start with about half a turn to release it. The thread pitch is so coarse that it can unscrew in shirt pockets unless really tightly done up beforehand.


Regards,

Richard



I thought you had mentioned it but could not find it when I skimmed over the original topic before posting. :headsmack:

Do you notice a burnt plastic smell from the cap threads and section?

#10 richardandtracy

richardandtracy

    Ancient Artifact

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,687 posts
  • Location:Kent, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 26 July 2011 - 08:05

No, but my sense of smell is absolutely appalling. Occasionally having such a bad sense of smell is beneficial - like when the local farmers spread muck on the fields - but it's more often a nuisance.
I can smell new celluloid, but couldn't smell anything on this Jinhao. I half expected to be able to smell the plastic of the barrel as there was a distinctive, slightly repellant, smell when I turned my prototype pen. However that was missing or fainter than I can detect.

Regards,

Richard.

#11 Hawkwood

Hawkwood

    Dipped Only

  • Member - Silver

  • Pip
  • 2 posts

Posted 26 July 2011 - 13:26

Thanks for the thoughtful review! I just went to eBay and found I could get three of these (Blue, Red, and Marbled white) for $34 with free shipping, while a single one would have been at least $20 since there was a $10 shipping charge.

They come with M nibs, and I'm going to look around for a tutorial on how to modify or touch-up nibs. Can you point me toward a tutorial on using micro mesh to touch up a nib?

Thanks again -
Paul

#12 isellpens

isellpens

    isellpens

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 684 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 26 July 2011 - 21:24

Very nice review! I have had this pen ordered for awhile and will add it to my site soon once my shipment arrives. :eureka:

#13 The Royal Pen

The Royal Pen

    Me Irish eyes are smiling, for I've found me perfect blue.

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 685 posts
  • Location:Dominion of Newfoundland (Newfoundland & Labrador)
  • Flag:

Posted 26 July 2011 - 22:37

Who doesn't love Chinese pens? That's beautiful, and the review is beautiful! Thanks :)
Posted Image

#14 richardandtracy

richardandtracy

    Ancient Artifact

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,687 posts
  • Location:Kent, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 27 July 2011 - 12:44

...They come with M nibs, and I'm going to look around for a tutorial on how to modify or touch-up nibs. Can you point me toward a tutorial on using micro mesh to touch up a nib?
...

I can't remember seeing a tutorial.

What I did was to dig out my sheets of Micromesh and write on the 6000 grade (I think) material in a series of figures of 8. I did maybe 10 before trying on a piece of paper to see if it stopped skipping, repeating that process until it didn't skip (don't do this any more than necessary otherwise you'll grind a flat on the end of the point). Finally, once it no longer skipped & was quite rough, I then went to the next grade finer and did about 10 figures of 8, repeating this with every progressively finer sheet of Micromesh I possess. I think there were 3 sheets finer than the one I started with, finishing up at 12000 grade. Once I got to 12000 grade I continued to wriggle the nib all over the sheet to smooth off the edge of any flats I had ground into the point. After a total of 5 minutes since starting, I had a nib that didn't skip and was smoother than when I started. Maybe not perfect, but pretty good.


I have seen the sets of 3, but until I had either seen a review or got one in my hand, I didn't want to buy three. Also, I really do not like the way you can see the insert spigots so clearly through the barrel of the White & black stripe pens. I think it looks dreadful, to be honest.

Regards,

Richard.

Edited by richardandtracy, 27 July 2011 - 15:32.


#15 KrazyIvan

KrazyIvan

    Fountain Pen Sith Lord

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,212 posts
  • Location:Texas, USA
  • Flag:

Posted 27 July 2011 - 15:10

I purchased a ket from Richard Binder's site. Can't wait to try and cure a case of Baby's bottom on my Huashilai 3000. If it works out I may try and grind it down to a CI.

#16 richardandtracy

richardandtracy

    Ancient Artifact

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,687 posts
  • Location:Kent, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 30 August 2011 - 15:43

An update.

I have had the pen for 2 months, and have carried it with me every day. I seem to be pretty hard on my pens, so this may be equivalent to 2 years use for someone who is more careful.

As expected, the gold plating on the cap lip ring and edge of the clip has started to wear away, as has the black paint on the edge of the barrel finial.

The pen has been dropped several times, with little sign of damage. I managed to drop the cap on its own onto concrete, and as a consequence I can say that the black cap lip is also painted brass.

Other observations:
There is enough brass in the pen to set off airport metal detectors.:gaah: (Guess how many times I got patted down before I realised this...)[4, actually]
It didn't leak while being held nib upright when on an aircraft.
It worked very nicely in the Australian Tropics in the middle of their winter.
The section is only just large enough in diameter to work in a Visconti Travelling ink pot, and you must be careful not to push it in too hard, else it pops into the ink chamber and could release a gush of ink.

After these two months, I am still pleased with the pen and still really like it.

Regards,

Richard.

#17 KrazyIvan

KrazyIvan

    Fountain Pen Sith Lord

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,212 posts
  • Location:Texas, USA
  • Flag:

Posted 30 August 2011 - 16:38

Yes, the plating wears easily if you are not carefull. I lost some plating on the nib of my X-450 while grinding it down. I was a bit more carefull with my Jinhao Century and it came out unscathed.

#18 Watercycle

Watercycle

    Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPip
  • 84 posts
  • Location:Illinois
  • Flag:

Posted 31 August 2011 - 03:16

gosh honestly I think i would just *clip* the *clip* right off :P

the shield isn't doing any favors, otherwise beautiful =)

#19 lovemy51

lovemy51

    legal? of course... and with all my papers. FP-friendly, mostly

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,628 posts
  • Location:near my pens and inks

Posted 21 October 2011 - 09:37

thx for this review, Richard.

i bought this one and got it today. nice M nib that writes more like a B!!
Posted Image

(pic from vendor)



edited to add: same problem with the nib as described by Richard. also, fixed the problem same way he did and with same results!!!

Edited by lovemy51, 21 October 2011 - 09:43.


#20 richardandtracy

richardandtracy

    Ancient Artifact

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,687 posts
  • Location:Kent, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 21 October 2011 - 09:46

Maybe it's a bit wet?
Or are you from the US (you don't give a location)? UK nib sizes run wider than US sizes & I'm happy to call mine a medium. However, I also have a Jowo Broad nib on my home made pen shown at the end of the review, which I'd call a 'Juicy Medium', so possibly I tend to prefer wide nibs and call them medium.

Edited to add:
You edited your reply while I was writing mine. Explanation understood!

Regards,

Richard.

Edited by richardandtracy, 21 October 2011 - 09:50.







Sponsored Content




|