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Dollar 717I Demonstrator

dollar 717i

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15 replies to this topic

#1 melodiousb

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 21:02

Full review here, full review + pictures at my blog.

Dollar is a Pakistani brand. From offerings on eBay, it looks like the 717i is their most popular model. I bought a variety 10-pack of the demonstrator version for less than $25. The variety part refers to the colors–the section, cap jewel and piston rod can be black, blue, or maroon plastic. Aside from that and the silvertone clip and cap band, everything is clear plastic.

 

This isn’t a very designed pen, and I like that. The blind cap is rounded. The cap is flat at the top. Every part seems to be designed to the lowest common denominator. The cap jewel has a dollar sign on it, which I find to be kind of adorable.

 

The piston isn’t too stiff, but I wouldn’t call it smooth. I can see that there’s silicone grease in there, though. I over-loosened the piston knob on one of these once, and a tiny bit of ink got behind the piston, but no more has joined it. One cool feature of the piston is that the blind cap and the piston know aren’t one and the same–you have to remove the blind cap completely to get at the knob. That means you’re never going to accidentally unscrew the piston, and that you can leave the piston half unscrewed and reattach the blind cap if you want. I tend to unscrew the piston to force the last few drops of a fill into the feed, and this lets me do that without looking like my pen is partially disassembled.

The cap posts pretty securely–if you twist it, you can sometimes unscrew the blind cap. But since that has no effect on the piston knob, again: no danger of ink spurting everywhere. 

Unscrewing the cap jewel allows you to remove the clip, if you want. They don’t fit together all that well–maybe the place where the construction seems cheapest. I mean, this is a cheap pen and it feels like it, but mostly it just feels manufactured to a price point, and here it feels like it’s less good than it’s supposed to be. And–well, the pen is sturdy enough for regular use, but you’ll probably want to avoid dropping it. One of mine has a cosmetic crack in the blind cap from dropping it.

Things found elsewhere on the internet tell me the ink capacity is about 1.4 ml, which is plenty for me, considering that I enjoy changing inks often. I’ve also found that it’s easier to get a complete fill with this pen than other piston-fillers I have–screw in the piston once and the ink cavity fills up with just a tiny air bubble.

The nib is, in my opinion, the ugliest part of the pen–the one place where simplicity comes across as lack of effort instead of elegant practicality. The shoulders are bent pretty sharply away from the top, not unlike on a LAMY Safari. The nib is marked with a dollar sign logo and “IRIDIUM POINT.” There’s no breather hole, which I suspect may be the reason tiny drops of ink can spray out when I unscrew the piston.

 

Quality control is a bit of an issue here. I’ve tried about half the pens in my 10-pack, and some have been much smoother than others, They’ve all had a sweet spot, but on a couple it was very small. On average, though, they’re smooth, on the wet side, and on the fine side of a European medium.

I know part of it is just that I continue to marvel at the price, but I like these pens so much–I keep meaning to ink up other pens and ending up refilling one of these instead. I kind of want to give one to everyone I know.


Currently in rotation: Wing Sung 698/Diamine Blue Velvet, Wing Sung 618/Diamine Golden Oasis, Lamy Profil 80/Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine

 

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#2 sheeptotherescue

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Posted 31 July 2015 - 04:11

Thank you for the hands-on down to earth review. I've thought about getting one. I'll probably hold off until I have enough time to spend on getting it in good working order, but it's nice to know that they are a basic, but good pen, which is exactly the kind of pen I like. Cheap and cheerful as the Brits like to say.


My pens: Penny the Penmanship, Dot the Metropolitan, Pallas the Parallel, Neoma the High Ace Neo, Petra the Petit1, Calliope the Kakuno (Also, a Sheaffer No-Nonsense)

My bottles of ink: Sailor Epinard & Ultramarine; Mysterious Blue (Wishlist: Oku Yama)


#3 amk

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Posted 31 July 2015 - 11:56

I like these little pens. I've found the nibs are pretty decent, the pens reasonably made, and a steal for the price.

But one caveat: the feed is not sophisticated, and this can lead to a bit of blurping once you get towards the end of the fill.


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#4 melodiousb

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Posted 31 July 2015 - 13:40

I like these little pens. I've found the nibs are pretty decent, the pens reasonably made, and a steal for the price.

But one caveat: the feed is not sophisticated, and this can lead to a bit of blurping once you get towards the end of the fill.

 

When I don't have much ink left, I tend to unscrew the piston partway to make the ink cavity smaller. Pro: I can screw the blind cap back on afterwards. Con: I have to unscrew the piston over a napkin or I will get tiny dots of ink all over the place.


Currently in rotation: Wing Sung 698/Diamine Blue Velvet, Wing Sung 618/Diamine Golden Oasis, Lamy Profil 80/Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine

 

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#5 TaperedSteel

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 20:26

Well, you've convinced me, a 717i is on its way to me right now. I will let you know how it compares! I've only ever had a Kaweco AL raw, a Parker IM and there was Pilot V somewhere once, but I am just starting out! Can't wait to see what happens!

#6 Gloucesterman

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 22:26

Any pictures? the ones I see on the Bay don't really offer much in the way of different views.

 

Nice review, and thanks for the information.


“Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today, because if you do it today and like it, you can do again tomorrow!”


#7 inkstainedruth

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Posted 26 October 2015 - 00:52

I recently was given one of these, and it's a nice little pen; not the smoothest nib on the planet, but not bad for what it is.  I'm not normally much for demonstrators, but having one that's a piston filler is kinda cool.  At the moment I've got some vintage Carter's Midnight Blue in it (both courtesy of FPN member bleair), and it seems to hold a fair amount of ink.  I've been using the pen on and off for a couple of weeks now, and I've still got nearly half a fill left.  I'll try to get a photo of it at some point tomorrow -- at this point, it's nearly 9 PM where I am, and I don't think there will be enough light.

One downside, is that it does seem to occasionally burp ink into the cap with changes of air pressure (but since the cap is also transparent it's easy to spot when that happens).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


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#8 melodiousb

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Posted 26 October 2015 - 16:23

Any pictures? the ones I see on the Bay don't really offer much in the way of different views.

 

Nice review, and thanks for the information.

 

Pictures are at my blog, linked at the top of the original post!


Currently in rotation: Wing Sung 698/Diamine Blue Velvet, Wing Sung 618/Diamine Golden Oasis, Lamy Profil 80/Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine

 

Website: Redeeming Qualities


#9 ac12

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 02:07

This is the same pen that the SF Pen Show used for their Ink Sampling. A few needed adjustments, but the vast majority worked just fine, right out of the box. And we are talking about 500 pens, so it is a valid sample size.

And for the price, it is a GREAT pen.

If any of you do ink testing, this is a great pen to use and dedicate for that. You don't tie up one of your other pens for ink testing. And you have consistency in your testing, because you are using the same pen.

Edited by ac12, 27 October 2015 - 02:07.

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#10 xxxxx

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 03:29

After seeing the photos of the SF Pen Show setup AltecGreen posted on another FP forum (at first glance I thought it was some sort of insane vacuum tube amp or some sort of recreation of a vacuum tube computer -- "uh, what forum am I surfing here?") I ordered a pack of 10 of them and then later another 3 (and the eBay seller threw in 2 more gratis) for the Seattle Pelikan Hub. 

 

They worked perfectly!  I did pre-clean them, though; most still had mold release on them, which was fairly easily cleaned off.  But unfortunately almost all of the piston knobs (except maybe 2 out of the 15) were greasy with what appeared to be silicone grease and that was really a pain -- each greasy knob took two applications of Dawn, a toothbrush, and 5 minutes of elbow grease to resolve.

 

After being cleaned and put back together none of my 15 pens needed any adjustment, which I thought was amazing.

 

The piston will unscrew; it's right-hand threaded IIRC.

 

If you get too "energetic" screwing on the cap it will crack -- I came home with a couple of those after the Event.  (Anybody have any recommendations for repair of such?)

 

And FWIW I think I saw a photo of a Stipula that looked just like a Dollar 717i.



#11 PedalTramp

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Posted 09 February 2017 - 18:33

Dollar says its fine nib, but it seems medium to me.



#12 phillieskjk

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 01:13

I use one as my Bay State Blue pen, they're excellent for the price.



#13 voltron

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 23:56

Dollar 717 was one of the pens with whom I started my journey into the world of fountain pens as a 4th grade student back in 1997. But in those days it was different than what it is today as the cap, section, barrel and the blind cap at the bottom for getting to the piston knob used to be of the same color and the pen was available in more colors than it today is. Nib was of standard rounded shape similar to what you see in Pelikan M200/M400, TWSBI, Faber-Castell, Montblanc Meisterstuck and as in most of the other fountain pens which have ever been manufactured. It used to burp lot of ink and was perfect to get your hands & short pockets stained. It was almost a Pelikan M200 look alike but with silver colored trimmings or an M205 without the ring on cap top. So I threw it away shortly after owning it & moved to the Eagle Piston filler which was a dollar clone but probably had been in production longer & was more popular than the Dollar 717. Eagle had a much smoother nib & although not perfect by any stretch of imagination it had less prone to leaking ink as compared to Dollar 717. Eagle & Hero 240 were the pens I used the most till 8th Grade.

Then in early 2000s when production of Hero 240, 443 & Wing Sung 612 stopped, Dux, Bahadur etc launched the clones of those pens which although were nice but still not as good as the ones from Hero. That was time when Pelikano & those Schneider pens started becoming popular. The company which manufactured the Eagle FP was not able to cope up with changes in market and closed & AFAIK Eagle FP was the only product they manufactured. Dollar on the other hand manufactured a range of stationery items including ballpoints, markers,ink, glue and later on pencils as well. So one hand dollar launched the Dollar Student Fountain Pen but it was not able to make much impact. So shortly after that they launched SP-10 which had a nib inspired by the german school pens such as Pelikano & Schneider with a  push type converter mechanism and it did manage to get popular, not only among school children but I have seen quite a few doctors, engineers, business and people holding public offices using it as well. But unfortunately it also had most of the issues which I encountered with 717 which have not even been fixed in their latest offering FP- 100. During that period I kept using Parker Vector, Parker 45 & a Pelikano P460 2003 model. A few years later in college not being able to find a Parker 45 in market since it became out of production, I used Lamy Safari, Kaweco Sport and few others for sometime which were nice but I was not too comfortable with them. I managed to get a Paper Mate FP as NOS but later I realised its too slim & useful only for an occasional signature here or there. I again looked for  Pelikano but this time what they had was a more toyish looking 2010 model so I returned from the shop without purchasing it, surfed the internet for Pelikan pens & ended up ordering an M200 & got addicted to its smooth, wet nib which offers bit of flex as well. The flock has really multiplied quickly but those gold nib Souveran series pens M400, M600 etc although great smooth writers but are nails and do not offer as much character as M200/M205 does. But if someone wants to enter the FP world today I would advise them to start with smooth nibs Faber Castell Loom, Basic or Ambition as all Pelikan M200 level upward pens are superb but unfortunately Pelikan these days its pens price simiilar to  Montblanc & Visconti which makes it difficult to recommend even an M200 as a starter pen. TWSBI make nice affordable demonstrators with piston filling mechanism but unfortunately they also seem to be following Dollar in the sense that they have been very keen to introducing newer models without fixing flaws in the existing ones.


Edited by voltron, 12 February 2017 - 18:37.


#14 antichresis

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 02:35

melodiousb, great review. Thanks! I think this was the review that convinced me to look for and get a box of these pens.

 

voltron, thanks for the historical background. Very valuable. I'm sad to hear about this Eagle manufacturer that went out of business. We--fountain pen users--are too few to support a wide variety of manufacturers and even then, market factors such as shipping costs do not make the economies of scale work. Not just pens but ink as well. There are a number of ink manufacturers in the subcontinent, in China, and in Australia that make very affordable ink that do not reach foreign shores.

 

Back to the 717i, I bought a box of them on the strength of reviews on FPN and they are very good pens. The line width is definitely a Western Fine-Medium. Noticeably wider than my Lamy Fine nibs but not as unwieldy as my Medium. They're noticeably flimsy and not as solid as a plastic Kakuno but do not feel fragile--but you do feel that it is a budget pen. Performance-wise it writes very well with consistent flow. The piston works very well and I like the blind cap and all the little details mentioned by others. It definitely has "character" without the smell of resin pens ::wink::.


Hero #232 Blue-Black is my Waterman Florida Blue.

 

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#15 voltron

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 18:56

melodiousb, great review. Thanks! I think this was the review that convinced me to look for and get a box of these pens.

 

voltron, thanks for the historical background. Very valuable. I'm sad to hear about this Eagle manufacturer that went out of business. We--fountain pen users--are too few to support a wide variety of manufacturers and even then, market factors such as shipping costs do not make the economies of scale work. Not just pens but ink as well. There are a number of ink manufacturers in the subcontinent, in China, and in Australia that make very affordable ink that do not reach foreign shores.

 

Back to the 717i, I bought a box of them on the strength of reviews on FPN and they are very good pens. The line width is definitely a Western Fine-Medium. Noticeably wider than my Lamy Fine nibs but not as unwieldy as my Medium. They're noticeably flimsy and not as solid as a plastic Kakuno but do not feel fragile--but you do feel that it is a budget pen. Performance-wise it writes very well with consistent flow. The piston works very well and I like the blind cap and all the little details mentioned by others. It definitely has "character" without the smell of resin pens ::wink::.

Dollar 717i is a fine pen for the price you pay & here in local market it only costs 200 PKR (around 2 USD) for a pack of 10. But when a pen has been in production for so many decades you do expect them to fix the flaws gradually rather than trying to give it the look of German school pens. It seems their focus is just making school pens with built-in ink filling systems. They could have been up there in the league of TWSBI if they had targeted foreign markets with well designed pens but it seems they not only lack in research & development but also need a better marketing department. Sometime ago user mitto mentioned that it took him 6 months to get hold of a pack of each Dollar pen currently in production which means they are doing well & not able to meet the demands.



#16 effandpee

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 08:41

Good cheap pen - especially given it's a piston filler. Like others, the only real issues I find are the clip coming loose and quite a bit of blurring from the nib. Not a pen to store nib side down!





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