Inexpensive Chinese Pens
I think I have bought enough inexpensive Chinese pens for the moment. So far I have two Dukes, three Jinhaos, three Huashilais, one Zhenjue and a Hero 329. Rather than do a separate review of each pen, I thought I would do them as a batch, except for the Hero 329. It has a few of its cousins on the way, so I will do them in a different review.
From top to bottom in the picture -- Duke D1 Blue Spider, Duke D4 Carbon Fibre Red, Jinhao Silver Commemorative, Jinhao Pewter Commemorative, Jinhao Luxurious Gold, Huashilai 3000, Huashilai 2206 and Zhenjue 203.
All the pens, except for the pewter Jinhao, cost me $10 or less.
The two Dukes are a D1 Blue Spider and a D4 Carbon Fibre Red. I chose the D1 because it got good comments on the Web, and I got the D4 simply because I liked the look of it. Two of the three Jinhaos are commemorative models in presentation boxes -- a Silver Dragon's Descendant and a pewter equivalent. The third is a `Luxurious Gold' model with a hooded nib. The three Huashilais and the Zhenjue were a `job lot'.
The Dukes are a cut above the others in every way. The parts fit better, they write more reliably, and just seem much nicer pens. I have not had to tweak the nibs in any way and they filled and wrote first time. There was no problem with wetting the parts with ink. Both nibs would be medium-fine and have excellent flow, so much that they just begin to bleed through the Pukka Pad paper. Based on a sample of two, I would have no hesitation in recommending these two pens.
Of the three Jinhaos, the two commemorative models have the same nib, and write smoothly, with the pewter being the smoother of the two. Both have nibs that I think are on the broad side of medium. The third Jinhao, the `Luxurious Gold', has what I call a fine hooded nib that is somewhat flexible. when assembled, the fit and finish of all three pens is good, but they are all a bit too `blingy' for my taste. All the pens are heavy, and I think the two commemorative models would suit a larger hand. All three pens came with converters that are a bit on the cheap side, although they perform adequately.
Too of my four `job lot' pens are identical except for colouring. They are Huashilai 3000s. They are both slightly on the heavy side, with medium nibs. I can't recommend either of them, as each dropped a large blob of ink as I was using it. The Zhenjue 203 is a smaller pen, with a medium fine nib. Although the nib looks a little strange because it has no breather hole, it writes well, especially after I straightened a small mis-alignment with the tines. The fourth pen, the Huashilai 2206, is the nicest looking. While the barrel is metal like the others, it has an attractive wood-tone pattern. It initially wrote a little dryly, but after opening the tines up a little, it became the nicest writer of the lot with its medium fine nib. This pen has a fixed aerometric filler, whilst the others all have converters.
I have used my own feelings about nib width to describe the lines these pens make. However, in the interests of standard, I compared them to Richard Binder's Stroke Width Chart, with these results --
Overall, most of these pens are reasonable value for money, especially if you can get a few at a time to reduce postage costs per item. The Dukes are the best of the lot. Of the others, I wouldn't spend more than $10, and would aim at $5 each if I could. Whilst I had trouble with the Huashilai 3000s, a note on the FPN suggested that the blobbing may be due to loose or leaky converters. I have reseated the converters, and will do some more testing.
Edited by dcwaites, 03 January 2008 - 03:02.