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Inexpensive (Aka Cheap) Fountain Pens - Worth Trying?

hero jinhao

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74 replies to this topic

#41 Anirban4u

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 17:18

@AKCaraboo, Next try out a few old Sheaffer School pens. If you do not want to get into touchdown/snorkels yet, give NoNonsense a try, I am shocked no one suggested it already.

HTH.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*typo


Edited by Anirban4u, 28 October 2014 - 17:20.

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#42 tori_rose

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 17:49

Several people have suggested getting a cheap vintage fountain pen. I'm new to fountain pens too, what would some good resources be for affordable vintage pens? Almost everything vintage I've found that I would consider cheap seems to need a considerable amount of work.



#43 gweimer1

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 20:38

@AKCaraboo, Next try out a few old Sheaffer School pens. If you do not want to get into touchdown/snorkels yet, give NoNonsense a try, I am shocked no one suggested it already.

HTH.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*typo

 

Back on page 1, there are a couple of mentions.  I agree that they are nice starting point.



#44 tryphon

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 21:42

Jinhao, Baoer and Kaigelu are very good pens, regardless of cost. They write as well as pens costing hundreds. Stay away from the hooded nib models, their nibs are usually XF and tend to be scratchy. I wrote a review of a Kaigelu 356 on a different board and I was surprised by the quality of the pen! Send me a PM if you would like a link to my review.

 

K356b%20small.jpg


Edited by tryphon, 28 October 2014 - 21:42.


#45 SenZen

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 21:45

I wouldn't mind trying them if...

 

a) They are reliable, as shown by other people's use of them...

b ) They're not toxic and aren't produced under dreadful conditions for the workers, no nets around the buildings à la Apple's suppliers.

c) They're not fugly.


Edited by pseudo88, 28 October 2014 - 21:45.

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#46 william2001

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 00:24

In my opinion, Pilot Metropolitan is a nice starter pen.

-William S. Park

 

EDIT: Error (typos)


Edited by william2001, 29 October 2014 - 00:25.

“My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane. - Graham Greene


#47 Anirban4u

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 01:20

 

Back on page 1, there are a couple of mentions.  I agree that they are nice starting point.

I'm blind sometimes.  :mellow:


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#48 dcwaites

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 01:58

From Jinhao --

Light - 601 (Sonnet-look-alike)

Medium - X-750 (Medium size cigar)

             - Century Acrylic Mk II (Two rings on cap) (Parker Duofold International look-alike)

Heavy - X-450 (Medium size cigar)

           - 159 (Large size cigar)

 

From Kaigelu --

Medium - 356 - (Sonnet look-alike)

Heavy - 316 (Parker Duofold Centennial look-alike)

 

These seven pens are all reasonably well-built pens in a range of sizes, weights and prices. They are all under $10, except for the two Duofold look alikes which are about $17 and $21 each.


fpn_1412827311__pg_d_104def64.gif

 

 

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#49 rezwrrd

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 02:37

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!

 

Good call! I've had nothing but success with the 599. Mine is the translucent one with the regular (non-hooded) nib, so it might be completely different from your model.

 

Good luck with the 369, I've tried a pen or two with that nib and the flat tines can get bent out of shape very easily. The 9288 appears to have the same nib as the venerable 616, but in my experience the 616's full hood is a lot more effective in keeping the ink flowing than the semi-hooded 92xx design. I'm completely sold on the 616 and related models, but other Heros I've used haven't been as reliable. YMMV, of course, and it's not a huge loss however they turn out.

 

And gosh! that sounds like a regular fp-buying spree. Never experienced one of those before.  :rolleyes:


 photo EEAF061A-3E9A-4DA9-BDF1-F3C4EF990322_1.jpg
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#50 Dickkooty2

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 03:21

I think that you have had a ton of good insights to your question from people (and I recognize a few from other posts) who know what they are talking about. In there somewhere you will find a point of view compatible with your own set of desires.

 

But now for something completely irresponsible about cheap pens from someone who doesn't know how to adjust a pen and doesn't want to learn, who doesn't want to amass a collection of cheap pens because they are good enough for the price, and who, all things considered, really wants good design.

 

I think that the Japanese brands at lower price have pleasing designs and are nice writers, particularly the Pilot 78 which also has some flex to the nib.

 
Although I have a Noodler Konrad which I bought for the 50's design and name, I wouldn't particulary recommend it for a daily writer. I also have two Kaweko Sports and two Preppys I use for drawing.
 
As for Chinese brands, consider the size of the home markets which they are supplying. In many cases the designs are abominable. And the sheer weight of many of the pens has to be perceived by the manufacturers as "good value for money". With two, you get egg roll.
 
The exception for me is the very nice Jinhao line of injection molded pens based on the Lamy Safari. These are great by anyone's standards. I like the design and the colors and have two Fps, a BP, and an RB.
 
I do buy the occasional Chinese pen because some one on FPN has given it a surprising write-up. I hold in my hand an Indian Club made to look like a fountain pen: the eponymous HERO coming in at 6 1/4 inches long, but well-below its apparent weight class because of the use of plastic.
 
I also bought a Wenrong because of the name, the copy in particularly tortured English, and the fact that when it costs 49 cents to send a letter to the next town over, $1.49 delivered was well-worth the amusement value.
 
I'm getting a passel of these joke/curiosity Chinese purchases together and will offer them to the world at large, or at least to one mailing address in the USA
 
And wouldn't you know I have thoughts on the teeming subcontinent of India. I have tried a variety of cheapos, usually eye-dropper, some squeeze-ums, or a very poorly made piston fill. They are very unsatisfying to me from the point of view of design, performance, and humor. I gave them away. The higher price lines may be better, but how are you going to know? Also, some retailers are applying very high mark-ups. 
 
But I do have two that I bought for their back-stories. A Krishna hand-turned by 78 year=old Mr Ramishandran, and a Wilson in the model with which the Indian Constitution was written. Call these purchases 'personal interest'.
 
As a matter of fact, isn't 'personal interest' what pen collecting is all about. I have a collection of vintage Pelikans that can illustrate for me the progress from 1930 to 1980. I have a small squad of German school pens from the 50s-60s. I have an eleven-man team of Fend mechanical pencils from the 30s through their last throes of the 60s.
 
Well, as promised this has been an irresponsible stroll through my own likes and dislikes, with all their warts showing. But my end advice to you is: follow your personal interest!

 

Good luck,

 

Dick


Edited by Dickkooty2, 29 October 2014 - 03:33.


#51 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 11:33

I have a variety of Hero 616 Jumbos (thanks for the huge hands, genetics), and I'm extremely pleased with them. I've also given away a few Hero "Summer Color" pens to spark peoples' interest without having to feel any pain in my wallet, and they're generally excellent writers (I just wouldn't rank them as being durable at all due to the quality of the plastic and the structure of the Lamy Safar/Al-Star clip).
I love my 616s- they write a finer line than my Parker 51, which is good for me in many instances, and the nibs are surprisingly smooth. I use them more than my P51, but that's admittedly because they are more comfortable for marathon use than a Parker due to thickness and length (posted and otherwise).
I think that cheap Chinese pens are a good thing. They give you a cheap option to try out different styles and sizes of pens, and they also give you good fodder for learning how to do things like smooth nibs and fix any alignment issues with tines. They're fun and cheap and, while you don't always get a good one, the price makes it painless to buy a multipack. My 10-pack of 616 Jumbos set me back $13 just over a year ago. One didn't work. One had misaligned tines, another had baby's bottom like nobody's business, another had a faulty filler sac. I swapped the filler sac from the nonfunctional one, aligned the tines, smoothed out the baby's bottom, and now have 9 perfectly functional, very smooth and wet-writing pens for $13.
With that said, it's really a matter of how you view your pens. Some people just want a pen that "gets" them right out of the box, that by its very design fits everything about them as a pen user. Some people look for a bargain and if it works, great, but if it doesn't it's not like they're broke for having taken a shot. Others buy cheap pens specifically to tinker and experience the enjoyment that comes from finally getting a pen to operate on their level perfectly.
I'm a mix of all three. I love bargains, I love tinkering, and I adore the feeling of writing with a pen for the first time and thinking to myself, "Me and you, we're going to go places where no comma splice has ever been." But if you only fall into one group, there's nothing wrong with you or the group you're in.



Agreed. I own Hero 616s that have been in daily service for probably ten years. At my cost of $3-5 each I'd say that they gave me my money's worth.

Currently I own a few Hero 359s. If you can get these for under $10, they're another great deal.

And I also own Montblancs, Waterman Carenes, vintage Parkers and a quintet of Sailors.

For budget workhorses, don't look down on Chinese pens.

#52 sandy101

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 14:09

For my tuppence

 

Platinum Preppies are good, cheap pens.

 

Pilot 78Gs are nice too - and the broad 78G stub is worth a try.

 

Jihaos are decent, but are not as well manufactured as the pilots & platinums.

 

 

Parker 45's make for nice, cheap vintage pens too - partly because they are easy to maintain and are made of robust materials.

 

 

WHSmith's soft grip pens, Platignum and Blott's cheap ones aren't worth the money.

 

WhSmith's inks are worth a go though.



#53 Uncial

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 14:31

I have to be honest, and I know I might be offending some, but the Pilot 78G is one of the worst pens I have ever had - and I've had (or I should say, still have) four of them. They were all bought online from different sources because I couldn't get them here (despite knowing a Pilot rep!). I should have known something was amiss when my local favoured pen store which stocks Pilot told me they didn't stock that pen and wouldn't order it for me. Anyway, every last one of the little bu****s leaked! Some leaked over a period of time and one gushed like you turned on a tap. One was scratchy and horrible and the rest were ok nibs.I knew they were cheap and cheerful pens and I read so much about them here, elsewhere, read reviews in mags and watched youtube vids praising them, that I thought, 'they must be good'. It took four attempts before I decided that I'd had enough. Now I recognise that I may have just been extremely unlucky, but when I compare that experience to all the cheapie Chinese pens I've bought, it is truly the polar opposite.

 

A lot of people have posted prices here for the Jinhao's, Duke's, etc, but if you are patient (and presuming they still do it, which I think they do, but must confess I haven't looked for some time) you can sometimes see them posted on ebay with a starting bid of 99c with free shipping. Lots of them will still sell for around 4-8 dollars, but now and again, nobody bids and a last minute hit can score a very cheap pen. It's worth being patient and looking out for them. Have never seen a Kaigelu sell for pittance though.



#54 asian ink brush

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 14:37

Hi AKCaraboo,

Being new to FP's, cheapies are a really good start. I have heard good things being said about Hero and Jinhao pens. They are cheap anyway, so if you don't like them, you get others! :P


Edited by Yuzuki, 29 October 2014 - 14:47.


#55 AKCaraboo

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 02:57

 

Good call! I've had nothing but success with the 599. Mine is the translucent one with the regular (non-hooded) nib, so it might be completely different from your model.

 

Good luck with the 369, I've tried a pen or two with that nib and the flat tines can get bent out of shape very easily. The 9288 appears to have the same nib as the venerable 616, but in my experience the 616's full hood is a lot more effective in keeping the ink flowing than the semi-hooded 92xx design. I'm completely sold on the 616 and related models, but other Heros I've used haven't been as reliable. YMMV, of course, and it's not a huge loss however they turn out.

 

And gosh! that sounds like a regular fp-buying spree. Never experienced one of those before.  :rolleyes:

 

I did go a little nutso there for a day or two…I also picked up 2 Baoers and another Jinhao.  All of the "cheap" pens together were less than $30…that's the kind of spree I can afford.  :D



#56 AKCaraboo

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 03:05

I think that you have had a ton of good insights to your question from people (and I recognize a few from other posts) who know what they are talking about. In there somewhere you will find a point of view compatible with your own set of desires.

 

But now for something completely irresponsible about cheap pens from someone who doesn't know how to adjust a pen and doesn't want to learn, who doesn't want to amass a collection of cheap pens because they are good enough for the price, and who, all things considered, really wants good design.

 

I think that the Japanese brands at lower price have pleasing designs and are nice writers, particularly the Pilot 78 which also has some flex to the nib.

 
Although I have a Noodler Konrad which I bought for the 50's design and name, I wouldn't particulary recommend it for a daily writer. I also have two Kaweko Sports and two Preppys I use for drawing.
 
As for Chinese brands, consider the size of the home markets which they are supplying. In many cases the designs are abominable. And the sheer weight of many of the pens has to be perceived by the manufacturers as "good value for money". With two, you get egg roll.
 
The exception for me is the very nice Jinhao line of injection molded pens based on the Lamy Safari. These are great by anyone's standards. I like the design and the colors and have two Fps, a BP, and an RB.
 
I do buy the occasional Chinese pen because some one on FPN has given it a surprising write-up. I hold in my hand an Indian Club made to look like a fountain pen: the eponymous HERO coming in at 6 1/4 inches long, but well-below its apparent weight class because of the use of plastic.
 
I also bought a Wenrong because of the name, the copy in particularly tortured English, and the fact that when it costs 49 cents to send a letter to the next town over, $1.49 delivered was well-worth the amusement value.
 
I'm getting a passel of these joke/curiosity Chinese purchases together and will offer them to the world at large, or at least to one mailing address in the USA
 
And wouldn't you know I have thoughts on the teeming subcontinent of India. I have tried a variety of cheapos, usually eye-dropper, some squeeze-ums, or a very poorly made piston fill. They are very unsatisfying to me from the point of view of design, performance, and humor. I gave them away. The higher price lines may be better, but how are you going to know? Also, some retailers are applying very high mark-ups. 
 
But I do have two that I bought for their back-stories. A Krishna hand-turned by 78 year=old Mr Ramishandran, and a Wilson in the model with which the Indian Constitution was written. Call these purchases 'personal interest'.
 
As a matter of fact, isn't 'personal interest' what pen collecting is all about. I have a collection of vintage Pelikans that can illustrate for me the progress from 1930 to 1980. I have a small squad of German school pens from the 50s-60s. I have an eleven-man team of Fend mechanical pencils from the 30s through their last throes of the 60s.
 
Well, as promised this has been an irresponsible stroll through my own likes and dislikes, with all their warts showing. But my end advice to you is: follow your personal interest!

 

Good luck,

 

Dick

 

Thanks so much for your response! I appreciate your input!



#57 AKCaraboo

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 03:06

Hi AKCaraboo,

Being new to FP's, cheapies are a really good start. I have heard good things being said about Hero and Jinhao pens. They are cheap anyway, so if you don't like them, you get others! :P

 

Sounds like a good plan!



#58 inkyvini

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 08:08

I think I'm possibly following all the 'inexpensive FPs' threads here. : )

Thanks, H. M. Murdock, for your detailed reply. From the general consensus here, it seems like an invaluable skill to be able to smoothen scratchy nibs on your own. I'm going to try learning this on the inexpensive FPs I have that I've stopped using because of their awful nibs.

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#59 redisburning

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 11:40

Agreed. I own Hero 616s that have been in daily service for probably ten years. At my cost of $3-5 each I'd say that they gave me my money's worth.

Currently I own a few Hero 359s. If you can get these for under $10, they're another great deal.

And I also own Montblancs, Waterman Carenes, vintage Parkers and a quintet of Sailors.

For budget workhorses, don't look down on Chinese pens.

 

for me, it's not about looking down on Chinese pens. if there is a Chinese company making really high end pens, btw, please let me know. I own HiFiMan products and LOVE them; I absolutely believe in Chinese manufacturing.

 

BUT. here is why I don't like these 7 dollar pens. and "dont like" isn't exactly right, it's more that I think you can do better. Because you can easily buy a working pen for 15 dollars today that cost 7 dollars in 1950. And something made for 7 dollars in 1950 is simply going to be better than something made in 2014 for 7 dollars. And that is despite 6.6 decades of manufacturing improvements; it's just a catastrophically different price point. Besides, for all that manufacturing improvement, someone needs to put in some hand work on the nib at the end, so while the cheap plastic they use today could very well outlast the vintage pen's body, the part you write with is still probably going to be worse. 


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#60 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 11:55

I guess that's why some of us became tinkerers (see above).

But I must add ALL my Heros worked great outta the box, no nib work needed. Even the new 'Hero-fari.' And this is in comparison to every pen in my range.

Apart from the hooded nib variety, I can't say the same of my 'Jin-faris.' As always, your experience may vary.





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: hero, jinhao



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