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There's Something To Be Said For Cheap Pens...


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100 replies to this topic

#41 inkstainedruth

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 16:08

Jinhaos and others can often have flakey parts, but as hassle free writers they surpass the likes of the Lamy Safari and any Kaweco by a considerable margin. I thought that's what we were talking about. The drying out is a separate issue.

 

I have one Jinhao -- a metal bodied 599 (the Safari/al-Star clone), and IIRC it's got an F nib.  It's okay, but tends to have hard starts, and I had to get a replacement converter because the first one got ink behind the gasket).  I have one Safari (Dark Lilac, F nib).  It's a way better pen, and has given me zero issues.  As far as I'm concerned, the only really good things about the Jinhao were that: (1) it was free (someone gave me the pen; and (2) it taught me that I probably *could* get used to a triangular grip after all.  I don't have a Kaweco -- I looked at the Sports a couple of years ago and decided that they weren't for me.  If I could *afford* one, I'd get one of the Fireblue Lilliputs -- but have heard bad things about Kaweco converters, and you just can't turn a metal pen into an eyedropper.

I have a couple of Chinese pens that aren't bad -- a metal-bodied Guanleming Accountant, which is much better than you'd think a $5 pen would be; and a Wing Sung 237, which is pretty good.  The Jinhao is "meh" (and the "Champagne Gold" color rivals the "Champagne Pink" color for Pilot  Decimos for the "Ugliest Color on the Planet" contest).  And the others?  A Guanleming calligraphy pen (fude nib) which has an okay nib but the pen itself feels -- and looks -- cheap.  A Guanleming demonstrator, which is such cheap plastic that when I caught the clip on the elastic in a pen case, it snapped the finial off the pen (well, it was only $5).  And then there's the "Hero 616" which is probably a fake.  It writes, but it's got an incredibly scratchy nib -- it's probably a $1 or $2 pen, and it writes like it is (a guy in my pen club ordered a 10 or 12 pack on eBay a couple of years ago, and was handing them out for free).

There is a difference between "cheap" and "inexpensive".  The Guanleming Accountant and the Wing Sung 237 are in the latter category.  But so are all my Parker Vectors and vintage Esterbrooks.  Even the Wearever some guy at an antiques fair gave me (on the grounds that he claimed he couldn't sell it  :huh:) would fit that category.  But the Jinhao, and the other two Guanlemings, and (especially) the "Hero"?  Those are "cheap" and not in a good way.  I class them with an Arnold I paid too much for....  They write, but it's not a particularly pleasant experience.  

YMMV

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


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#42 Bluey

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 16:20

 

I have one Jinhao -- a metal bodied 599 (the Safari/al-Star clone), and IIRC it's got an F nib.  It's okay, but tends to have hard starts, and I had to get a replacement converter because the first one got ink behind the gasket).  I have one Safari (Dark Lilac, F nib).  It's a way better pen, and has given me zero issues.  As far as I'm concerned, the only really good things about the Jinhao were that: (1) it was free (someone gave me the pen; and (2) it taught me that I probably *could* get used to a triangular grip after all.  I don't have a Kaweco -- I looked at the Sports a couple of years ago and decided that they weren't for me.  If I could *afford* one, I'd get one of the Fireblue Lilliputs -- but have heard bad things about Kaweco converters, and you just can't turn a metal pen into an eyedropper.

I have a couple of Chinese pens that aren't bad -- a metal-bodied Guanleming Accountant, which is much better than you'd think a $5 pen would be; and a Wing Sung 237, which is pretty good.  The Jinhao is "meh" (and the "Champagne Gold" color rivals the "Champagne Pink" color for Pilot  Decimos for the "Ugliest Color on the Planet" contest).  And the others?  A Guanleming calligraphy pen (fude nib) which has an okay nib but the pen itself feels -- and looks -- cheap.  A Guanleming demonstrator, which is such cheap plastic that when I caught the clip on the elastic in a pen case, it snapped the finial off the pen (well, it was only $5).  And then there's the "Hero 616" which is probably a fake.  It writes, but it's got an incredibly scratchy nib -- it's probably a $1 or $2 pen, and it writes like it is (a guy in my pen club ordered a 10 or 12 pack on eBay a couple of years ago, and was handing them out for free).

There is a difference between "cheap" and "inexpensive".  The Guanleming Accountant and the Wing Sung 237 are in the latter category.  But so are all my Parker Vectors and vintage Esterbrooks.  Even the Wearever some guy at an antiques fair gave me (on the grounds that he claimed he couldn't sell it  :huh:) would fit that category.  But the Jinhao, and the other two Guanlemings, and (especially) the "Hero"?  Those are "cheap" and not in a good way.  I class them with an Arnold I paid too much for....  They write, but it's not a particularly pleasant experience.  

YMMV

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

The multipack pens are guaranteed fakes.


Mediterranean blue, Asa Goa, China blue, Royal blue, Sapphire blue, Indigo, Washable Blue....the colours of the rainbow.

#43 minddance

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 16:37

In the long run, a pen, say, Pelikan, that lasts 50years or more, providing profound pleasure continuously is of greater value than a cheap pen, especially one that evaporates my inks or take the pleasure out of writing.

#44 matteob

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 17:26

Never had a dry out issue with any Jinhao I have. I carry an X750 around with me and the brass construction and nib feel solid and durable. The only weak point to me is the converter which is cheaply replaced with a Schmidt K5. They feel almost a durable as my Indian Ebonites. Conversely my favourite expensive pen the Platinum 3776 Century, while having a gorgeous 14k nib, has quite light weight feeling resin. I am always very dainty with it in screwing it up wnd careful not to drop it.

#45 TSherbs

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 18:54

In the long run, a pen, say, Pelikan, that lasts 50years or more, providing profound pleasure continuously is of greater value than a cheap pen, especially one that evaporates my inks or take the pleasure out of writing.

 

Of course, any pen that leaks or loses ink or doesn't write well (hard starts, skipping, scratchiness, etc) will not feel like a "value", and the more that they cost the less of a "value" they will seem. 


Edited by TSherbs, 25 January 2018 - 18:54.


#46 max dog

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 21:57

"Cheap" is relative, so I will just say I don't have time for quantity, so I go for quality now. 


Edited by max dog, 25 January 2018 - 21:59.


#47 inkstainedruth

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 01:49

The multipack pens are guaranteed fakes.

 

Yeah, that's what we all figured at the time.  But it only cost the guy $10 or $12 US, and that meant he could afford to just randomly hand them out to anyone who wanted to try one.  If I had expecting it to write like a more expensive pen (and let's face it -- a $5 pen is "more expensive") I probably would have been horribly disappointed.  But going in with the attitude of "Well, how bad can it be?"  The answer is: "Well, not good, but at least it writes...."  C'est la vie.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

#48 Dickkooty2

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 02:03

Just as a sidebar, I buy Dollar Transparent 717is in 10 packs and I don't believe they are fakes. The packaging alone is worthy of a group of pens to be sold to a user marketplace.

 

https://www.ebay.com...XgAAOSwN81WEBWW

 

I don't know how this applies to other groupings of pen brands ... fake or real.



#49 james3paris

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 05:06

My belief:  if a cheap pen works for you, go for it.  What you don't know won't hurt you and you will save a lot of money.  However, once you handle a great pen, there is no going back.  I do own some Chinese pens, as pictured. I used some of the Chinese pens, but I did not care for them.  The vintage ones, I use.   All these pens cost me less than $10 each.  

20180125_2351381.jpg

Edited by james3paris, 26 January 2018 - 05:07.


#50 minddance

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 06:47

All in the name of fun, cheap pens can be fun for tweaking and exploring possibilities but never quite comparable to a well made MBlanc or Pelikan.

Nibs are, afterall, nothing mystical, a piece of tiny metal in contact with the paper surface for laying down ink onto it. They can be shaped and finished to any degree for different writing sensations and tasks.

#51 deepak23

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 08:28

My experience with Chinese pens have been mixed. The venerable Heros 332, 329 and 616 from my lot are well made and with a bit of polishing are good writers. The 332 is a pen that I've had for decades. These pens are really more than value for the $1-3 paid.
But the more modern Jinhaos, Baoers etc suffer from the same issue of short life. My 599 barrels all cracked within a couple of months, the enamel paint peels of in no time and plating on the clip and trim wears off fast. Also these pens are tho short for me to write unposted and for some reason cannot be securely posted. After buying a lot of chinese pens and having nothing much to show at the end of the day (year), I have backed off from buying chinese pens.

Credit where credit is due, the Kaigelu 316 and the Jin 159 are well made, but the Jin is a big but misproportioned.

For cheaper pens, now I look no farther than two Indian makes - Wality and Kanwrite. The Wality pens retail in India for about $5 and the Kanwrites for between $10 and$ 25. These are extremely well made pens with the Wality suffering from a less than average nib, but which is easily remedied by replacing with a $2 Kanwrite nib. The 69T, 71J from Wality and Kan Heritage are regularly in my rotation.

My pen range extends upto a 146 and a Visconti Opera which are at the top of the price range and my experience has been that there is indeed something about these pens that make them popular and sought after. The sailor 1911L, the 3776, the 51s, 146 etc etc are really well made, work reliably for years and are pleasures to write with with the ink flow, balance, weight distribution and proportions being near ideal.

So yes you do get something for what you pay for. How much of that something is of value to you would then decide if the price gives you a value that you feel is equal to the money you pay.

PS - Recently bought a Jin 992. Have to say it's a very well made Sailor clone. Not sure about the longevity though
..

A lifelong FP user...


#52 max dog

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 12:19

I have a dozen or so cheap Chinese ballpoints in the office that must of cost $5 for the whole lot. Those clickity kind. Some are good, and some have a defect or two, and one was garbage. None gave me much pleasure. Thats been my experience with ultra cheap products from China whether they be flash lights or toe nail clippers.

I much prefer and enjoy my $40 single chrome Cross ballpoint that can last a lifetime, also made in China, but made with quality in mind.

Edited by max dog, 26 January 2018 - 12:41.


#53 Uncial

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 13:13

'None give pleasure'

I think that kind of hits the nail on the head. I like them for what they are and view them in the same light as a disposable biro. None of them have ever been what I could describe as 'beautiful' or 'pretty', none have been great in the balance department, none have had great nibs or good finishes, or tolerances or great designs. They are what they are and when the cap liner on the Jinhao's failed I recycled the metal parts. When the Hero's plastic cracked, I recycled them too. When the Baoer's nibs - by some strange magic - went all dry and horrible, I ditched them. But then, I only paid a euro for them and they lasted longer than a BIC to be fair. When they went the way of the dinosaur I didn't weep. When I lost one by leaving it on some table somewhere I didn't mourn it. When it rolled off the desk and landed on its nib I though. 'Oh well.' Had this happened to any other of my pens that I really like and care about I would have been inconsolable and likely very cross at myself for a long time. So, all in all, for a general every day carry when they might face bumps, accidents and losses they mostly work and in that sense are great, without actually being 'great' pens.



#54 minddance

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 13:31

Yes, for now, until they exude some sense of quality, I will not miss any of the Chinese pens if they ever get lost or broken.

Sometimes I want to write for recreation or maybe it is an emergency to jot down ideas or just a phone number, I unscrew that pen cap, anticipating to write, that Jinhao or Baoer or Hero doesn't write.

Pelikan, or any Japanese pen, writes faithfully - everytime.

#55 TSherbs

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 16:09

Several posters have said things like, once you try a great pen, there is no going back. Well, for some of you, sure, I guess. But as with cars, houses, refrigerators, bicycles, and many other things, many of us have experienced luxury items used (and paid for) by others, but have not and would not or cannot continue down that road ourselves. It is entirely and fully possible to resist the urge to spend hundreds and then thousands of dollars for tubes that deliver ink to a point that touches paper reliably and comfortably. "Value" and "pleasure" are very subjective experiences.

#56 ParkerDuofold

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 16:18

Several posters have said things like, once you try a great pen, there is no going back. Well, for some of you, sure, I guess. But as with cars, houses, refrigerators, bicycles, and many other things, many of us have experienced luxury items used (and paid for) by others, but have not and would not or cannot continue down that road ourselves. It is entirely and fully possible to resist the urge to spend hundreds and then thousands of dollars for tubes that deliver ink to a point that touches paper reliably and comfortably. "Value" and "pleasure" are very subjective experiences.


Hi TS, et al,

I see what you're getting at here,... but if you are economically constrained... wouldn't two or three decent quality pens still be a superior alternative to 12-15 pens of inferior/sub-standard quality? It would be for me.


- Anthony

EDITED to add text.

Edited by ParkerDuofold, 26 January 2018 - 16:26.

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#57 minddance

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 16:35

Yes ParkerDuofold,
1-3 decent ones if I don't have the money - and certainly real ones, not some knockoff or 'inspired-by' pens.

#58 Uncial

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 16:43

Once you enter the territory of the €5 Chinese fountain pen things start to get surprisingly good. I couldn't in all honesty say great, but they deliver good/decent pens at that price. It's the €1 - 2 pens that, from my own experience, start to be the disposable types, have issues and sometimes fail to work. Overall though, the €5 and up in the Chinese pen market seems pretty decent and I've yet to buy a complete lemon in that price range, which is still a pretty good price all things considered. I've never bought any Chinese pen costing more than €15 or thereabouts, so I can't say what the higher priced ones are like.  



#59 Qoan

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 17:17

'None give pleasure'

I think that kind of hits the nail on the head. I like them for what they are and view them in the same light as a disposable biro. None of them have ever been what I could describe as 'beautiful' or 'pretty', none have been great in the balance department, none have had great nibs or good finishes, or tolerances or great designs. They are what they are and when the cap liner on the Jinhao's failed I recycled the metal parts. When the Hero's plastic cracked, I recycled them too. When the Baoer's nibs - by some strange magic - went all dry and horrible, I ditched them. But then, I only paid a euro for them and they lasted longer than a BIC to be fair. When they went the way of the dinosaur I didn't weep. When I lost one by leaving it on some table somewhere I didn't mourn it. When it rolled off the desk and landed on its nib I though. 'Oh well.' Had this happened to any other of my pens that I really like and care about I would have been inconsolable and likely very cross at myself for a long time. So, all in all, for a general every day carry when they might face bumps, accidents and losses they mostly work and in that sense are great, without actually being 'great' pens.

 

I guess the moral is everyone has their own life and so one should choose the pen(s) that fit their lifestyle.



#60 TSherbs

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 18:09

Hi TS, et al,

I see what you're getting at here,... but if you are economically constrained... wouldn't two or three decent quality pens still be a superior alternative to 12-15 pens of inferior/sub-standard quality? It would be for me.


- Anthony

EDITED to add text.

 

Depends on how one defines "decent quality". This is what I keep saying. I consider my 992s and my 3008s to be decent quality. Others don't. Whatever. My point was to emphasize that there are many persons who find decent products for under $3 per pen, and are not swayed by the additional cost/performance of more expensive pens. As I noted above, if "value" is determined by dollars spent per year per model of pen, it is hard to beat a reliable $3 pen. In fact, my Pilot Varsities might be the best "value" for a pen that I have ever encountered (mine write EVERY time I uncap them, even after a year, I can refill them, they do not break when I drop them, they do not crack over time, they can go in any pocket or back without worry. Are they luxuries or beautiful or handcrafted or valued as artistry or come in a multitude of interesting nibs? Of course not.)  I think this all comes down, repeatedly, to what people "like" or "want" or think they "need." We justify and rationalize our purchases in myriad ways, some more transparent than others.








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