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Inexpensive (Aka Cheap) Fountain Pens - Worth Trying?

hero jinhao

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74 replies to this topic

#21 deepak23

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 17:44

Jinhao 599 (the Lamy clone) is a great pen for the price. The nib is dream for the price ($1.3 on ebay  :)) and has the feel of a far more expensive pen. Of course the cap and body are plasticky and light.


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#22 jdllizard

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 20:30

I think so. I've got a $17 (free shipping) Duke that writes nice since the day it arrived and now I've got two Jinhao's on the way from an Amazing place other than the bay, neither cost more than $5, shipped. So if they do suck it's not a big loss. Worth a shot since I'm new to fountain pens as well and don't want to outlay large sums of cash for a high dollar pen before I know this is going to be a lifelong thing for me.
Later on if I feel I'm a fountain pen for life person then I can look at a MB or other higher end daily carry pen.
John L

#23 Uncial

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 21:14

I have a load of Jinhao's, Duke's and Hero's, etc. The only one I have had any trouble with are the Hero's (scratchy nibs - not dreadful, but not great). The Jinhao's are by far the best out of that lot in my experience. Never had one that was not smooth, never had any leaks or skipping or any other problems. They are very heavy, but I bought almost all of them for the same price as a BIC biro so although they aren't particularly beautiful pens, they are functional and I don't care much if I loose it or if it gets a bit bashed about. I actually think they are great starter pens for a newbie: a mistake buy of the wrong size nib or overall size of pen or pattern won't matter too much when it's a euro or a dollar. It matters a great deal when you buy an expensive pen that you cannot return for exchange. Plus, buying a few cheapie Jinhao's and using them for a while to get an idea of what you might like while saving for a more expensive pen, makes you appreciate the expensive and nice pen all the more.

 

I would utter a word of warning on the vintage market. For years I bought vintage, but now I'm finding that I am buying far less of them having been stung so many times by ebay, dealers and even shops. When they write and have no problems they are a true delight, but the ones that cause you problems will really break your heart. Sometimes the cost of repair can equal the value of a new premium fountain pen.



#24 wastelanded

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 22:01

If you want to really splurge and go all out, $20 will get you a Kaigelu 316, a modern Duofold in all but name.

Definitely look at Esterbrook. Or go to UK eBay and find a gold nibbed Parker Slimfold for about £15-20.
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#25 gweimer1

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 22:41

I'll echo the Parker 45 and Sheaffer school pens.  They are nice, comfortable pens that write well, and are pretty easy to use and maintain.

 

At the point where you feel like trying a vintage pen, you might consider an Esterbrook dip desk pen.  They are fairly cheap, don't have any 'guts' but will still give you the exact same vintage experience as an Esterbrook J pen.  You just dip in the ink, write, and rinse with water when you are done.  It's a nice first step, although you are restricted to trying that one at home pretty much.



#26 hbdk

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 23:12

I`ll second the Baoer 388 - I used them as give away pens, they are normally very well behaved.

 

A tad more expensive: The Pilot 78G is excellent and so goes for most of the Picasso pens that I have tried. The 78G is very light weight, the Picasso pens have more heft to them due to their metal construction. Both the 78G and the Picassos have been much more trouble free than some of my more expensive (to me)  pens (Waterman, Italix, Monteverde etc.). So yes, inexpensive does not necessarily equal bad...


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#27 owend

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 23:22

My experience of Chinese pens: Hero 725 looks good, supposedly gold nib but... It writes very poorly, converter broke! Kaigelu 356 (Parker Sonnet lookalike) quite good; after tweaking it writes reliably, but it's uninspiring. Kaigelu 316 (Parker Duofold lookalike) heavy (but good for me), feels good quality, lovely smooth nib, about £15/$25, great value. Of the other one mentioned which I've got, the Parker 45 is really good, solid, easy to service, smooth writer, about £20/$30 on ebay.

 

I've found the K356, K316 and P45 all more rewarding to use than the Lamy nib which I find hard and characterless (YMMV, others find them good!).

 

If you get a couple of the cheaper Chinese pens (you can see them for £5/$8 and up, post paid!) they are great fun to play with and practice servicing, smoothing etc, so you'll know how to repair/service a more expensive vintage pen.



#28 redisburning

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 23:45

I think so. I've got a $17 (free shipping) Duke that writes nice since the day it arrived and now I've got two Jinhao's on the way from an Amazing place other than the bay, neither cost more than $5, shipped. So if they do suck it's not a big loss. Worth a shot since I'm new to fountain pens as well and don't want to outlay large sums of cash for a high dollar pen before I know this is going to be a lifelong thing for me.
Later on if I feel I'm a fountain pen for life person then I can look at a MB or other higher end daily carry pen.

 

If you get a pen that you don't like doesn't that increase the likelihood you won't stick with it?


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#29 Sasha Royale

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 00:20

I am a fan of budget-priced pens.  They are fun.  I especially like trying to see which work well. 

"Working well" means writing continuously until the reservoir is depleted.

HERO 616 and 266 :  write well, though ink capacity is low.  $ 3 - $ 5 .

Jinhao x250 and x500 :  ink flow with the smaller nibs seems better than with larger nibs.  $6 - $7

Pilot 78G @ $12 is also a good value buy.  

 

Good hunting.


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#30 Waski_the_Squirrel

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 00:37

I'm not a huge fan of Jinhao pens, but they're perfectly decent pens, and definitely worth trying. 


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#31 Runnin_Ute

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 01:47

I had a Jinhao 159 once. Never could get it to flow as well as I like. Plus it was way to heavy for me. (50+ grams)

 

The Pilot Metropolitan is a good first pen - and it is only $15 (+ shipping it would be around $18 from Goulet)

 

The Parker 45. I like this pen well enough I own two. The standard one and the stainless steel Flighter.

 

Many other good pens for under say $20.


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#32 AKCaraboo

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 01:57

Thanks for the input everyone…I decided to give a few of the cheaper options a go. I ordered 2 Jinhao 599 with the hooded (Is that the right word?) nibs….one for me and one for a friend…mainly because I thought they looked kind of nifty. Total for them $6.98. And I also ordered a couple of Heros…a 369 and 9288. Total for them $3.60. They may not work well but they will be fun to try and maybe…emphasis on maybe tinker with. And I still have a Kaweco Sport Skyline coming and I found a Pilot Knight that was 50% off. I really like my Pilot Metropolitans (may get a third) so I thought I would try the Knight. And I have Monteverde Artista Crystal in my cart at Goulet Pens which I am thinking about because I would like to get a demonstrator-type pen.

 

Thanks again everyone!



#33 balson

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 02:19

i regularly recommend jinhao's x450 for people looking to get a taste of fountain pens but are not yet ready to make the commitment for a $30-40 pen.  for $7 or less shipped you can get a decent pen.  it also makes a great loaner pen to have on hand if someone wants to borrow your pen.  

 

hero's are ok, the nibs on the few i have had feel uncomfortably firm like a ball point, but once smoothed they turn into ok writers.  



#34 AKCaraboo

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 02:35

Ok so I may have become addicted to cheap pens. I just purchased a Jinhao x750, a Baoer 100 and a Bauer 3035. (Total $18.11) I have several different styles and nibs coming my way which should be fun to try out. And I am staying off Ebay…for a while anyway. ;)

 

Thanks again everyone!



#35 probesport

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 14:35

New here too, I have a few Jinhao's, just ordered a chaplin and a Baoer fake starwalker but I really enjoy my Hero 7022. I want to get a few more of them to have around as it writes very nicely.

 

All of the Jinhao's I have are OK. A nice utility pen, but the Hero writes incredibly smooth. I have a gen MB rollerball and no nice fountains yet, but I have been using this Hero daily at work for a few weeks and I am hooked.

 

So in conclusion, even as a n00b I have to recommend the Hero 7022. 


Ken

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#36 richardandtracy

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 15:44

Define your version of 'Cheap'. If it is up to $19 for something interchangeable with a $500+ pen, then go for the Kaigelu 316 as it feels so much like a Parker Duofold Centennial.

 

If, instead, $5 is your limit for a pen interchangeable with a $74 pen, go for a Kaigelu 356. It is a nearly bulletproof Parker Sonnet clone.

 

Regards,

 

Richard.



#37 subbu68

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 15:56

My first foray into cheap pens turned out a sort of disaster. Got four Hero 001 360 degree for the novelty - $4 in total. None wrote smooth. One had the cap loose when posted. Another had misaligned accessory on the top of the cap. When I look at Hero at the local department stores I can find many with misaligned nibs, loose caps etc. I'd now not spend much on cheap ones.

 

I'd stick on to the Parkers, Pilots, Lamys, Camlins, Reynolds etc. I have. 



#38 AKCaraboo

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 16:37

Define your version of 'Cheap'. If it is up to $19 for something interchangeable with a $500+ pen, then go for the Kaigelu 316 as it feels so much like a Parker Duofold Centennial.

 

If, instead, $5 is your limit for a pen interchangeable with a $74 pen, go for a Kaigelu 356. It is a nearly bulletproof Parker Sonnet clone.

 

Regards,

 

Richard.

 

I was thinking under $10 mainly and have actually bought several to try since my original post but I will definitely check out the Kaigelu 316. Thanks!



#39 AKCaraboo

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 16:41

My first foray into cheap pens turned out a sort of disaster. Got four Hero 001 360 degree for the novelty - $4 in total. None wrote smooth. One had the cap loose when posted. Another had misaligned accessory on the top of the cap. When I look at Hero at the local department stores I can find many with misaligned nibs, loose caps etc. I'd now not spend much on cheap ones.

 

I'd stick on to the Parkers, Pilots, Lamys, Camlins, Reynolds etc. I have. 

 

I do have a Pilot with another on it's way, a couple of Lamys, a Monteverde with another on it's way and a Kaweco coming as well. I ordered a few cheap pens on Ebay (all under $7.00) just to see what they were like and play around a bit. As many have suggested these cheap pens would also be a good way to start "tinkering" with nibs etc. if I decide to try that. :)



#40 subbu68

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 17:15

 

I do have a Pilot with another on it's way, a couple of Lamys, a Monteverde with another on it's way and a Kaweco coming as well. I ordered a few cheap pens on Ebay (all under $7.00) just to see what they were like and play around a bit. As many have suggested these cheap pens would also be a good way to start "tinkering" with nibs etc. if I decide to try that. :)

I tinkered first on my Parker Vector and then a Parker 45 GT and now a Pilot Celemo 14k M. From big broad medium that I hated to use (and Parkers were lying in my drawer) they are now pretty slick fine lines. Smooth too. A fingernail buff block, a couple of fingernail files, a ground glass bottle, a fine XLPE cable lapping emery cloth (rough to FP smoothing standards), a set of 0.04mm & 0.05mm feeler gauges, a razor blade and some guts.    


Edited by subbu68, 28 October 2014 - 17:16.






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