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Jinhao Century Mk 2


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#1 richardandtracy

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 13:16

This is a review of the Jinhao 'Century' Blue Pen, Mk 2.

This is the second Jinhao Century Blue pen I have bought, and it is quite different from the first in a number of areas, so does warrant another review. This is the pen:
Posted Image
The original Century pen (which I will call the Mk1 from now on) is as below:
Posted Image
The Mk1 was reviewed here: http://www.fountainp...blue-celluloid/



Initial Impressions
The first impression when opening the bubble wrap envelope was 'Ooh, Shinee'. I like it. Maybe not quite as much as the Mk1, but a lot.
The colour has a depth and pearlescence to it that is very attractive, but I think the colour looks a little washed out in comparison to the deeper blue of the Mk1. Without the Mk1 as reference, I'd like it unconditionally. The overall impression is of a pen inspired by the modern Parker Duofold International - so much so that later on in this review I do a direct comparison with the International. 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 just how closely Jinhao are able to duplicate the main features of such a high quality pen.

Once I got it in my paw, the things that struck me most were the reduced size, weight and the improved balance compared to the Mk1. The weight is closer to that of the Duofold International than the Mk1, though it's still not as light as the Duofold. The cap finial and barrel finial are metal, but as the cap lip is plastic in the same way as a Duofold, the cap is better balanced when posted and the nib does not try to flip off the page. Also, due to a slightly different geometry, the cap will post as securely as on a Duofold - that is to say you can get it to come off, but really need to wave your hand around to do so.
Next to the Mk1, it's as below:
Posted Image
Posted Image

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


Dimensions
The sizes and weight are as below:
Length Capped: 132mm
Length Uncapped: 121mm
Length Posted: 164mm
Barrel Diameter: 11.73mm
Cap Diameter: 13.70mm
Weight: 34g

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. As a small time pen maker, I would be proud of producing a pen of this quality. This is a pen trying to stand alongside a Parker International, and the fit and finish are as close as Jinhao could get to the original.

The overall construction method is identical to the International as far as I can see, to the extent that the cap thread and cap rings are fitted in the same way, to almost identical dimensions. There is only one deviation that I can see from the International's method of construction. This is:
  • The finials are painted metal rather than acrylic.

The c/c is a deluxe piston c/c, of average quality. The c/c has no ball or spring in it to break the surface tension, which may be a problem as the ink runs out.

The nib is sharply engraved, if somewhat small.


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 chrome plating. I had wanted a chrome plated pen to avoid the normal Jinhao gold plate problems as it seems to start wearing off fairly quickly. Unfortunately there is a spot on the chrome plate of the cap rings where the chrome has flaked off exposing the copper sub-surface plating.
Posted Image
That doesn't bode well for the longevity of the plating of that ring. The second area is likely to be the coating on the metal finials. On the Mk1 the paint started to wear away on the barrel finial corner after about 6 months of fairly continuous use.

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 confess, I didn't bother to flush the pen before first use. It had taken the best part of 4 weeks to arrive from China and I was anxious to try it. So, bearing in mind that pens are usually dry or skip if not flushed, I was pleasantly surprised with the way it wrote. There was no skipping and it laid down a line that was slightly on the fine side of medium. There was no over-smoothing of the nib that I've seen with a couple of my recent Jinhao's and the nib gives a nice amount of feedback. The small nib looks a little undersized, but I suppose I can get used to it.

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 section shape is almost identical to that of the Duofold, so possibly that's where its usability comes from.

The nib is very, very stiff. There is no real hint of flex, and if you press hard enough to flex the nib, the force rises to a level that will be excessively tiring in time. So no flex. Ah well. Cannot have everything.


Value for Money
I got the pen for under £10 inc postage (say US$16), as an E-Bay BIN. This is more expensive than some 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 almost the same size as the Duofold International.
Posted Image
As can be seen the section shape, barrel & cap finials are almost identical.
The Jinhao's cap body is a little longer, by a matter of 2.5mm, and the nib is 3mm shorter at 17mm compared to the 20mm of the Duofold.
Posted Image
Posted Image
This means that the tip of the nib stops 5.5mm short of the clip ring, while the Duofold's stops at the clip ring. This gives more design leeway for Jinhao over their finial-cap body joint design.

All-in-all the design inspiration is obvious, even though the details have been re-engineered.

Overall feel of the pen materials: The first impression is that both the Duofold and the Jinhao are as well finished. They both have the same shine, the plating is as well plated (except where I have already noted). The barrel & cap material somehow feels softer and not quite so dense on the Jinhao. The Mk1 Century Blue pen I have hasn't marked as much as I expected, so I imagine the Mk2 will be good for some time as well.

The proportions of the Jinhao are almost identical to that of the International. It's slightly longer, but the barrel & cap diameters are identical to within 0.02mm (less than 0.001") and the uncapped section/barrel length is identical. These are the proportions I feel are 'correct' and look right. The Duofold Centennial looks just too short & stubby to me.

The section shape on the Jinhao is identical to the Parker and also has a plated ring just above the nib, but due to the smaller feed diameter the ring is a bit more noticeable. 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 slightly matte finish to the plastic, making gripping marginally easier when hot & sweaty than with the Parker.

The threads between the cap & barrel on the Jinhao are machined into a separate cap lip exactly as with the Parker. The threads have the same fit as on the Duofold, and are equally smooth in use. They give a quality feel to removing the cap. The cap-barrel thread is a triple start with about three turns to release it, or half a turn more than the Parker. The barrel threads are machined on the inside of the barrel body, exactly as the Parker, and give fractionally more play than on the Duofold when removing the barrel from the section - it still feels like a high quality pen here. The barrels of both pens have the same increase in diameter above the cap-barrel threads and the same taper & start position prior to the barrel finial. The finial ring is the same diameter.

The Jinhao's cap & barrel finials are painted brass (or maybe steel). I do not know how long this will last, but experience with the Mk1 indicates that painted coatings last about 6-8 months before the base metal starts to show. The self coloured acrylic material in the Duofold, on the other hand, will not show up small chips. The barrel finial is hollow, just like the Parker's, however the c/c is of normal length and does not take advantage of the extra space available inside the finial.

The cap decal on the Jinhao is a stylised twin-horse drawn chariot, die cast or etched from a flat decal. Looks OK, but is not as interesting as the Duofold's raised 'Ace of Spades' decal, however it is more interesting than the stamped finial on the Mk1. 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.

The nibs are difficult to compare, as my Parker has a Broad Italic nib (0.9mm wide). However, the Jinhao is nearly as stiff as the Duofold, 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.

The c/c's in the Duofold differs 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 pen is quite a bit better. The International does not have lumps of metal at the end of the pen and as a result there is less weight pressing on the skin between the thumb and fore finger. Even when not posted, due to the more even distribution of weight, the Duofold's feel rather more refined and nicer to hold. That is not to say the Jinhao is bad, though, and the Mk2 is much better than the Mk1.

The Jinhao is not on a par with the Duofold, but it is surprisingly close, and 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, slightly overweight, Jinhao. The design is a bit of a ripoff, but there is so much re-design in the shape that it is not quite a copy of the Duofold. It's a classic shape, in an appealing looking material, that works well. I suspect that Jinhao have enhanced their reputation with this pen.

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

So, if you are undecided about buying a Duofold and want to get most of the experience without all the cost, this Jinhao may be used to simulate the Duofold International, and the Kaigelu 316 simulates the Duofold Centennial. It is amazing how far Chinese pens have progressed in the last 5 years.


Other Reviews that may be of Interest
Jinhao Century Blue Celluloid (Mk1): http://www.fountainp...blue-celluloid/
Kaigelu 316 Charcoal: http://www.fountainp...u-316-charcoal/
Kaigelu 316 Amber/Grey + Comparison with Duofold Centennial: http://www.fountainp...316-grey-amber/
Parker Duofold Centennial: http://www.fountainp...howtopic=134028
Parker Duofold International: http://www.fountainp...-international/

I hope this is useful,


Regards,

Richard.

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#2 januaryman

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 15:01

I enjoy your reviews and find them useful and in depth. I have a couple of Chinese pens, but the use of metal, the brass rings at the end of the section and the brass fittings/threads makes it hard for me to like these pens.

This pen might make me go ahead and try it anyway, based solely on your review. I need to sleep on it... so many pens, so little time.
It is easier to stay out than get out. - Mark Twain

#3 ParkerNutter

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 15:28

Thank you for the thorough review!

I've been mulling over whether or not to get one of these Jinhao "celluloid" looking pens, and now I know to look for a Mk. II if I order one.

The availability of these particular models, especially in blue, seems quite limited compare to other Jinhao pens.

#4 brownargus

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 15:33

Looks very nice. Can't find the pen listed on Ebay, only what appears to be the Mk1 at 40 g weight. Can you provide a link to the seller?
John
Favourite pens in my collection (in alpha order): Caran d'Ache Ecridor Chevron F and Leman Black/Silver F; Parker 51 Aerometric M and F; Parker 61 Insignia M, Parker Duofold Senior F; Platinum #3776 Century M; Sailor 1911 Black/Gold 21 Kt M; Sheaffer Crest Palladium M/F; Sheaffer Prelude Silver/Palladium Snakeskin Pattern F; Waterman Carene Deluxe Silver F

#5 richardandtracy

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 15:34

Thank you for your kind comments.

As for availability, I agree. They are not widely available. I got mine from E-Bay seller 'Combined shipping' who seems to be another incarnation of 'comeon1788' from the e-mail addresses quoted on the fake pens leaflet that was sent in the parcel.

Regards,

Richard.

#6 richardandtracy

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 15:43

Sorry Brownargus, we seem to have cross posted. The one I got it from was here: http://www.ebay.co.u...s=1&_from=&_ipg=

Regards,

Richard.

#7 KrazyIvan

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 16:56

I like the look of this version compared to the MK1 but I still think Kaigelu's version is nicer and more refined purely based on the pictures.

#8 brownargus

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 18:15

1335800628[/url]' post='2330345']
Sorry Brownargus, we seem to have cross posted. The one I got it from was here: http://www.ebay.co.u...s=1&_from=&_ipg=

Regards,

Richard.

Hi Richard
I looked at that but because the weight was 40 g I assumed it was a different version.Thanks
John



Favourite pens in my collection (in alpha order): Caran d'Ache Ecridor Chevron F and Leman Black/Silver F; Parker 51 Aerometric M and F; Parker 61 Insignia M, Parker Duofold Senior F; Platinum #3776 Century M; Sailor 1911 Black/Gold 21 Kt M; Sheaffer Crest Palladium M/F; Sheaffer Prelude Silver/Palladium Snakeskin Pattern F; Waterman Carene Deluxe Silver F

#9 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 20:21

thanks for the review
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#10 ParkerNutter

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 01:24

Here is "yet another" Duofold clone. This time from Hero:
Click here to see eBay listing

I would buy one of these, but I am trying to limit my pen purchases to one new pen per pay period. :)

#11 richardandtracy

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 07:21

ParkerNutter, I have had that one on my e-bay watch list (to remind me) for months. As was said earlier.. 'So many pens, so little time' :thumbup: I'm trying to make at as many pens as I buy, which explains why I've made 4 this year & bought 4...
One thing I will say about the Hero is that is obviously doesn't have a Parker style section shape - more like the Jinhao Century Mk1. It wouldn't surprise me if the same factory made the bits for the Jinhao Mk1 & Hero 7022.

Regards,

Richard.

#12 cgardner42

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 20:06

Nice review, considering picking of these up soon.

#13 lovemy51

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 06:08

except for that crest on the clip, strikingly beautiful! thx, richard!

#14 ParkerNutter

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 01:53

My Jinhao Century Mk2 arrived today! Wow...what a beautiful, beautiful pen!

The blue celluloid (or whatever) is wonderfully enchanting in person. Better looking than any picture can show.

I almost don't want to use it, because I don't want It to ever get scratched!

Richard's original review is spot-on in every area, so I have nothing to add, other than to say that the pen I received has no issues with the chrome plating.

Sill looking for a flaw in this pen and I just can't seem to find one.

Ok,the slightly cheesy cap logo would be one thing. But that's about it.

#15 jonwat

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 06:32

Hi.

I bought a MkI Century Celluloid, largely as a result of the earlier review. Like Richard, I found it writes well but is unusable posted. The only problem I have had with the pen came when I forgot that the cap was a screw-cap and pulled it off, taking the plastic bit with the threads out of the cap!

Would it be worth "upgrading" to the MkII model?

#16 richardandtracy

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 10:17

I would say that if you are going to use that amount of force to pull the cap off, use a click or slip cap pen!

If, however, you have learnt the lesson, then yes. It is a bit better and the balance is much better. I am not convinced the nib looks big enough, but is pretty good on mine, none-the-less.

Regards,

Richard.

#17 breaker

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 11:44

nice review and pics!
thanks!
Cogito ergo sum

#18 jonwat

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 22:12

Thanks for your comments, Richard.

Yes, I have learned my lesson. From memory, it didn't take an awful lot of force to pull the cap off. I have slip-cap pens that required more force, IIRC! There seems to be no permanent harm done, except that my pen now functions as both a slip-cap and a screw-cap pen!

The nib on the MkI is one of the biggest nibs on my pens.

#19 richardandtracy

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 09:15

Jonwat,

Maybe the glue has failed on the joint of your Mk1. If so, and there is no other damage, then it probably could be repaired with a smear of epoxy adhesive.

Regards,

Richard.

#20 ParkerNutter

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 02:56

I used the provided convertor filled with black Quink for a few days, but it seemed to run dry rather quickly.

Today I bought a few Waterman black cartridges, the large international size.

Put one in the Jinhao Mk. 2 and the ink flow seems a bit better now.






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