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Inexpensive (Aka Cheap) Fountain Pens - Worth Trying?

hero jinhao

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74 replies to this topic

#61 planet


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Posted 03 November 2014 - 01:50

Here's the thing: most of us like the hobby because it offers an experience and quality you can't get any other way. If you want something that is merely good enough, you should use another kind of writing device. But if you want something magical, get a high quality fountain pen, ink, and paper.

Once you know what you are doing, don't bother with the cheap stuff. That's (probably) not why you are here. :)

Edited by planet, 03 November 2014 - 01:50.

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#62 A.D.D.i.c.t.


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Posted 03 November 2014 - 21:02

I would only suggest trying "cheap" FP's for someone just getting into the hobby. Much less buyer's remorse if it were to not work out.

#63 dcwaites



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Posted 04 November 2014 - 21:57

I have pens at both ends of the price scale, and a lot in between. I must say that my $200 pens aren't 10x better than my $20 pens, and not even 2x better.


As well, I feel much happier using a $16 Jinhao Century acrylic as an EDC than a $250 Sailor Pro-Gear. The writing experience between the two is not that different.


OTOH, you do have to be selective which $10 and $20 chinese pen you buy. The ones I listed in my earlier post are all tried and true pens by multiple users, not just me.


Let me add to that list the new Hero 616-2, a bright addition to the Hero P51 look-alikes.




“Them as can do has to do for them as can’t.

And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.”

Granny Aching

#64 rudyhou



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Posted 11 November 2014 - 06:27

i don't know how easy it is for you to get this one, but if possible, check out the brand MUJI.  there are many Muji stores all over the world.  if there is one in the city where you live, check it out.  their fp is cheap and quite good and reliable for the price.  the only thing is, it's not exactly the most attractive looking pen, and they only have a single model and nib size.  but it is very affordable, light weight, and accepts international standard ink cartridges.  


#65 DanielWS



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Posted 11 November 2014 - 14:54

I'm not a fountain pen snob and I'm not a collector.  I'm a fountain pen user.


Buying a fp for $100+ doesn't mean you're getting a good pen.  Buying a fp for less than $50 doesn't mean you're getting a cheap pen.


Many times the expensive pens have a big name and a few frills that aren't needed to have a very good pen but drive up the price tremendously.


Lots of very fine pens out there for not much money.  Read the reviews.

Edited by pgmrdan, 11 November 2014 - 15:02.

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." The Dalai Lama

#66 siopaopei


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Posted 11 November 2014 - 17:06

Hi everyone…I have several fountain pens but consider myself a newbie to the fountain pen world. While window shopping on Ebay I have found a few brands of fountain pens that are very cheap. I am referring to Hero, Jinhao and Picasso to name just a few. I looked at the forum for info but am still a bit confused. Are these brands worth trying? If so, are there particular ones that are better than others? For example, the Jinhao 599 and x750 look good but are they? Thanks in advance for your help. 


My experience with jinhao wasn't particularly memorable. My favorite cheap pen would still be Ohto and Lamy. The Ohto Poche has been in my rotation since the day I bought it (until I sold it yesterday) because i love the way it writes at about $20 brand new (I bought it at $11 more or less, I think that's already a good price.

#67 AKCaraboo


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Posted 16 November 2014 - 04:16

Thanks for your thoughts everyone! 

#68 FountainPages


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Posted 16 November 2014 - 15:41

Never had a bad Picasso. And for 7.75USD the Hero 382 is a superb cheap pen. Hero is the one of the, if not the oldest pen manufacturer in China and they are purported to make their own nibs. At isellpens.com you can get a 12k gold nibbed hero for 'bout 40 to 45 bucks.


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#69 Tenkai


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Posted 16 November 2014 - 15:45

Pilot 78G, Pilot Kakuno, Nemosine Singularity, Platinum Preppy. Other options are Pilot Varsity and Petit1, but they are a pain to change inks.

Edited by Tenkai, 16 November 2014 - 15:45.

My version of the guide for the Pilot Varsity Nib transplantation to the Platinum Preppy

DIY Retractable Fountain Pen (Couldn't get it to work, now refilling Schmidt 888 M refills with FP inks in a Pilot G2 Limited, the ceramic roller tip is as smooth as a Firm FP steel nib, Poor Man's VP I guess)

#70 MissChief


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Posted 16 November 2014 - 17:06

The majority of my "collection" is made up of Jinhao pens and I love them all. I do not do ebay, never have, and vintage pens simply do not appeal to me. I don't want to tinker with my pens. All of the Jinhao, Baoer, and Hero pens I have worked well after a simple flushing. I haven't been disappointed with any of them. Numerous posters have commented on the weight of the pens; for me, that isn't an issue as I prefer a pen with a bit of weight. 

Your life is the result of the choices you make. If you don’t like your life, it’s time to start making better choices.

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#71 a.lachlan



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Posted 16 November 2014 - 22:20

My experience with Baoer and Hero hasn't been great, the nib I got on a Baoer 388 I purchased recently was terrible and I couldn't do anything to fix it as the metal was so thin and it just wouldn't take to smoothing. I've had one Hero 616 that didn't have too bad a nib (very fine though so you may want to bear that in mind) but it leaked and the sack was a pain to fill up. Also, the nib didn't actually line up with the hood that bothered me rather a lot!


As for Jinhaos, I've been very impressed! I've recently purchased 2 X450s, an X750 and a 159. One of the X450s and the 159 could do with a little smoothing but otherwise wrote very well, the other two wrote very well out of the box (well, plastic wrapping...!). My only complain about the X450 is the indentations in the grip section - they're a little too far back and don't quite line up with the nib so aren't amazingly comfortable.

QC still isn't amazing as you would expect, but none of them were terrible, they were all pretty good at least and for the £2-3 I paid for them you can't complain!

#72 mknoblauch



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Posted 16 November 2014 - 22:59

I'll add my two cents by saying it also makes a difference who you buy your Chinese pens from. And this is no different than when you buy a TWSBI or Lamy pen, two other very accessible brands price wise that FPNers also complain about quite a bit.

Prior to buying my Hero 616 Jumbo pens --a pen that is notorious for having bad QC and is counterfeited quite a bit (although it seems incredible, there are companies who have made or are making knockoffs of these!), I researched on here and asked around to find a good source. I've had no problems whatsoever with my Heros, and these two pens always start without fail even when I have left them unused for almost a week. Granted, the extra-fine nibs offer some feedback, but I would expect a fine or extra-fine nib from any manufacturer to do the same.

I have bought my Baoer 388 and 100 pens from two highly-rated eBay sellers, and I lobe these pens. The 388 is a nice, wet medium, and is a pleasure to write with. The 100 cap was hard to remove at first, but the gradually loosened up, and is now one of my favorite pens to write with as well as perhaps the most interesting pens I own from an aesthetics perspective.

Each of these was purchased for $5 or less, and I have to say they are fantastic.

One's mileage may vary, but it always disappoints me when I see people discount these pens just because of their "cheapness".

Edited by mknoblauch, 16 November 2014 - 23:01.

#73 maus930


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Posted 17 November 2014 - 00:30

I have several Lamys and Jinhaos-- but if I want a pen for writing I grab the Jinhao

#74 Arkanabar


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Posted 19 November 2014 - 00:01

One of my top two smoothest pens right now is a Sheaffer Viewpoint with a 1mm calligraphy nib, about $9 at AC Moore.  I can readily believe that I've worn the untipped nib nearly as much in 4 months or so as my Dad wore smooth his Parker "51" in 25 years or so of writing.  I've mostly used it as a stub, because wet inks spread enough to obscure the line variation.  I refill the carts with a syringe.

#75 Helen350



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Posted 24 November 2014 - 19:28

Like many others, I have not had any problems with my Jinhaos:  599s (all 3 versions), x750, x450 & #159.  My x750 has a 1.1 Goulet stub.  My #159 has a Knox nib.  My 599s get a good workout almost daily.  Never have had a hard start up.  With the plastic 599s I have used some micromesh to get them to a smoothness I prefer, and the 599 metal version (which were a bit dry, now, with a bit of tweaking, are much wetter and more to my satisfaction).  My Kaigelu #368 wrote well right out of the box.  The Jinhao Century Blue Acrylic was also a very nice writing surprise.  For the price, you really can't beat these pens.  I have more expensive pens which I love, but I have to give  Jinhao & Kaigelu some recognition.  How many times will you get a fountain pen costing anywhere from $1.99-16.00 which has such potential to provide you with a pleasurable writing experience and not break the bank?

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