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  1. Sky Fountain Pens

    Broken Nib?

    Hi everyone, I recently found a Fountain pen and the nib looked broken. I asked someone and he said it was supposed to like that. I was wondering if actually supposed to be like that or it's broken. Note that it is a Chinese pen if that helps. Thank's
  2. The next entry in my "Cheap Chinese Pen I got from eBay" series is the... Duke Uranus M25 Fountain Pen Price: $5.90 Nib: Extra Fine, Steel, Hooded Country of Origin: China Filling System: Piston (push type) http://gizmosauce.com/img/duke_m25_01.jpg Appearance: 8 / 10 The first thing I noticed about the Duke Uranus M25 is that it's a really tiny pen, similar in size to a Jinhao 611. It's short and thin, and probably fits in with the bullet/missile style of pens that have been popping up. Its design is simple and classy, if not slightly understated. The top of the cap and end of the barrel are tapered to a rounded end that culminate with a small chrome button, which I think is a nice touch. The clip has a simple design, but it's extremely tight and won't clip to a shirt pocket without a fight. The pen's design is not a flashy one, but there are two things that I really like about it: I love the Chinese writing down the side of the cap. In general, I think Asian writing is beautiful to look at. I have no idea what any of it says, but I think it's pretty.I like the nib and section. It has this shark-like shape to it...I think they call it a cayman mouth style. I think it's kind of cool looking.http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/duke_m25_02.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/duke_m25_05.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/duke_m25_03.jpg Build Quality: 8 / 10 The cap and barrel seem to be made of some lightweight metal. It could be brass, but I think it's more likely aluminum. The section is mostly metal, too, I think, but the coupler threads that attach to the barrel are plastic, so it makes screwing and unscrewing the section feel slightly cheap. The pen comes with a push-type piston converter. It's very common among inexpensive Chinese pens, but it's the first time I've ever used one. Seems cheap, but it works fine. It includes a small ball (glass or plastic, I can't tell) in the reservoir to agitate the ink to keep it from settling at one end of the converter or the other. It's a very nice touch. Because the nib & section are so small, I had no problem filling it from a sample vial. The converter worked perfectly to fill the pen. http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/duke_m25_04.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/duke_m25_08.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/duke_m25_09.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/duke_m25_10.jpg Nib: 10 / 10 The nib was supposed to be Extra Fine, so I expected it to be on par with the Fine nib on my Pilot Metropolitan. But the line put down by the M25 is a little heavier than the Metro. I'd probably classify it as a Fine. My handwriting is very small, and I hoped for a true Extra Fine, but I was somewhat disappointed in the line weight from this pen. It's possible that the ink I'm using (Diamine Oxblood) is contributing to that. Other than the thicker-than-desired line weight, the nib performs wonderfully. It's a SUPER smooth writer. Most F and EF nibs give some feedback (or are downright scratchy), but this nib glides over the paper with ease. It's also a pretty wet writer for an EF (which might also contribute to the thicker line weight). I encountered a few skips, but nothing too out of the ordinary. BUT WAIT...on a whim I attempted some reverse writing (flipping the pen over and writing with the back side of the nib). Holy cow...it's perfect! The line weight is super thin, and because it's a wet writer, it never runs out of ink. Writing like this has its cost though: it's pretty scratchy. I may whack it with a little micro mesh to try to smooth out that side of the tines...but the nib isn't replaceable, so if I mess it up, I'm stuck with the results. Because the section is hooded, only the very tip of the nib is visible. There is no way to remove/replace the nib (there are probably special tools that might allow this, but you can't just pull it out if you need to give it a good cleaning or to swap it for another nib). http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/duke_m25_06.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/duke_m25_12.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/duke_m25_13.jpg Comfort: 8 / 10 I've written several pages with this pen today, and I've had no hand cramps. The open end of the barrel flares out a bit, and if you run your finger over it, it feels a little sharp. But, when writing, it's not noticeable at all. The finish of the cap and barrel is a little slick, and the pen has slipped out of my hand a few times. Because of this, it's probably not a great pen for travel. As I said earlier, this pen is tiny. People with larger hands might not find it comfortable. You can post the cap, but it's not a secure fit and the cap will come off while you're writing. I have small hands, so I have no problem writing with it un-posted. If shorter pens don't work for you, you won't like this pen. For the sake of comparison, here's the Duke Uranus M25 (second from the top) alongside a Noodler's Ahab (top), a Pilot Metropolitan (third from top), and a Monteverde Invincia (bottom): http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/duke_m25_11.jpg Overall Score: 34 / 40 At first, I considered the Duke Uranus M25 to be a decent pen. But now that I've discovered how well it writes when reversed, my satisfaction with the pen shot upward. It's a nice, classy pen that is capable of writing as a Fine (normal) and as an Extra Fine (reversed). The nib is butter-smooth under normal use and puts down a pretty consistent line. This little $6 pen performs very well, and is an exceptional value. Other reviews in my "Cheap Chinese Pens I Got from eBay" series: Crocodile NCR64 / 806 Green Celluloid Fountain Pen
  3. Executive summary The Hero 801A is a delightful chinatown find, coupled with the factory hero ink makes a fine writing combination. Appearance & Design (5/10)What can I say, it’s a black pen with gold accents. Body is metal, I assume brass with black paint/enamel. Not too thick not too thin the body has a slight taper. Cap is clear plastic lined and pulls off with a firm grip and caps neatly to the top of the body and stays there. The grip (for lack of terminology) is matte aluminum and is slightly jarring in contrast to the gold accents. The second, and smaller detractor is the etched model name in mandarin and English on the side of the cap, the writing will not rub off. Feel that this pen would be great sans the gold and gold lettering. The covered nib reminiscent to the parker super 21. Compared to a Nakimi Falcon and a noodlers pen for size. 18 by jajoff, on Flickr 2. Construction & Quality (10/10) I apply a “punching above ones weight” metric here, where by price or price range is used as a comparative to other pens in this price range. Does it compare with a pen that would sign the Geneva Convention? No. But for the price range it doesn’t have to, it punches with pens costing 10 times as much. . Most pens in this range need work- the noodlers famous 20 dollar holler being one of them, maybe that’s half the fun sometimes… sometimes it’s nice to get it working out of the box. Have bought several Chinese pens, and have been mostly mildly disappointed, almost never with the threading- universally they seem to get that right with these metal body ones, the hero 801a being no exception. The clip is nicely done, very simple with a wide flare at the top of the cap with good clipping power. Paint or enamel is pretty hardy looking doesn’t feel soft like some Chinese enamel pens. Standard filler is a screw type with a reasonable size reserve, works well with the fine nib. No sharp edges. 2 by jajoff, on Flickr 3. Weight & Dimensions (8/10) How a pen balances in hand is the second most important primary being the nib and writing performance. Weight total 32.9 grams Body 21.2 grams Cap 11.7 grams Prefer to post the caps, and most Chinese pens are unbalanced and heavy, my duke and duke 2000 pens being the worst offenders. This pen excels and doesn’t unbalance, without the cap the pen feels very light- ideal for a woman or the infirmed. If I had to critique maybe slightly wider, length fits nicely in a bigger hand with longer fingers. Length: 14.2mm Width: 9.5mm (approx. at thickest point) 3cm circumference. 4. Nib & Performance (9/10) Nice very fine nib, suspect chrome plated at best. Nib hidden, didn’t disassemble. Biggest quibble with this nib is that there is some side to side movement of the nib- somewhat affects the line but is slightly annoying if concentrating on this. Uncapped the nib dried within 20-30, a lick of the nib cleared the dryness. The flow is quite nice and surprised me, most of the Chinese pens including the noodlers tend to be dry starters until fixed. Given the fineness of the nib suspect that ink will last a long time with this one. Pretty smooth not an iridium nib find most fine nibs scratchy and like to dig into the paper. Being of the devils hand, fine nibs tend to exacerbate this, but the hero performs very well. As a lover of big fat, wet lines I gave pause to purchasing this but have no regrets thus far. Recognize handwriting sample below lacks in penmanship and stylistic flair and serves just as record of nib width. Writing done on lined rhodia paper. No puddling of ink or malfunctions. 5. Filling system & Maintenance (9/10) Standard, easily replaceable and cleanable screw type. Cannot attest to maintenance. 6. Cost & Value (10/10) Cost: $7.95 plus tax. Ink 56ml: $5.95 plus tax. If this pen had a 30-40 dollar tag on it, it would not surprise. Packaging consisted of plastic cellophane in a box of 12. By far the best chinese pen I have had the pleasure of using. Being a noodlers ink fan, I know this isn’t bomb proof but for 6 bucks I wanted to change and try some black ink and I am happy with it in this pen. 7. Conclusion (51/60) Was expecting typical Chinese quality- that will get tossed in the back of the drawer, only to be drawn (pun) out on the rare occasion. Some lingering concern with the lateral movement of the nib, unsure if not fully seated, defective or characteristic of hidden nib pens. All in all, incredible value for money, makes one happy to be a capitalist consumer. Would recommend to first timers or to collector that want a hooded nib pen for very little money.
  4. So I've been using fountain pens for about six months. I started with a Sheaffer Viewpoint 1.1mm that I found at Staples. Since then, I've picked up a couple Metropolitans, a couple Ahabs, a Monteverde Invincia, and a Plumix (love that nib!). Recently, I went a little berzerk with eBay and picked up a (bleep)-load of Chinese pens. As they come rolling in, I'd like to share my thoughts with everyone on their performance. My first contribution in the Pen Reviews section is for the... CROCODILE NCR64 Green Marble Celluloid Fountain Pen Price: $18.50 Nib: Medium, Steel, 22KGP/two-tone Country of Origin: China Filling System: Piston / Cartridge (International Standard, I believe) http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/ncr64_01.jpg Appearance: 10 / 10 Immediately upon seeing this pen on eBay, I fell in love with it's looks. The Green Marble looked beautiful, and although somewhat tacky, I thought the crocodile styling of the clip and finial looked cool. When the pen arrived, it didn't disappoint...at least not in that regard (more on that later). The green marble of the cap and barrel is, in my opinion, stunning. It has a shimmery/iridescent quality to it that glows and sparkles in the right light. The finial, section, and end cap all have a similar marble pattern, but they're all black. It's a subtle detail, but one I really appreciate. The crocodile clip is pretty tacky in person, too, but I love it, rhinestone eyes and all. There is also a gold crocodile emblem on the top of the finial. Not as tacky as the clip, but fits the motif of the pen to a tee. I absolutely love the way this pen looks. http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/ncr64_02.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/ncr64_02b.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/ncr64_02c.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/ncr64_04.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/ncr64_05.jpg Build Quality: 4 / 10 The NCR64 seems fairly weighty at first, but all the weight is in the cap, which must be made of some sort of metal. The rest of the pen is mostly plastic. The threads inside the cap are metal, but the coupler on the barrel is plastic, so it feels cheap to screw the cap on and off. When the pen arrived, there were some tiny black plastic pieces in the converter. I fished them out, but wasn't sure where they came from until I washed the pen. The little black pieces were from the post inside the section that the converter installs on. Only a small portion of the post remained, so the converter would attach to the section, but not tightly. I had to fill the converter with a syringe, insert it, and tape it to the section to keep it in place. It's a kludge, but it's working. After I got the converter in place, I did some writing, and when I went to screw the cap back on, it didn't stop turning. The threaded coupler came unglued from the barrel, so I had to glue it back in place and let it dry overnight. For a pen that cost $18.50, I find these defects absolutely unacceptable. http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/ncr64_09.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/ncr64_07.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/ncr64_08.jpg Nib: 4 / 10 I wasn't sure what to expect from the medium nib. I know some Chinese companies fall in line with Japanese companies and their medium nibs are ground finer and compare to western fine nibs. I hoped that was the case with Crocodile. It's not. The nib is pretty fat, even for a medium. I have small handwriting, so I prefer a fine or extra fine nib. Writing with this pen is like writing with a crayon. If I force myself to write larger letters, it looks decent. There are random hard starts, but they're few and far between. The only other complaint I have is that the line is not consistent. The nib seems a little mooshy and will "mash" the line every once in a while. For example, in my writing sample below, look at the "o" in Algernon and the "ac" in Blackwood. I don't like that. I like a nice, consistent line. I will say, though, that the nib is super smooth. There is practically no feedback at all. The nib just glides along the paper. If it wasn't for the fat, inconsistent line it puts down, I'd love this nib. I always like to check out the imprints on these nibs. This one has another crocodile on it, but I'm not sure about the words engraved. Either I'm going blind, or they botched the letters. To me, it looks like it says this: 22K GP CR0Co ROMEDILE http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/ncr64_03.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/ncr64_03b.jpg http://www.gizmosauce.com/img/ncr64_10.jpg Comfort: 10 / 10 I've done quite a bit of writing with this pen, and it's very comfortable. My hand didn't cramp up once. The pen is easy to hold despite the smooth, plastic section. The pen posts securely, and it's comfortable to write with it both posted and unposted, although I have small hands, so I prefer to write with it unposted. Overall Score: 28 / 40 I think this is a really beautiful pen, but for $18.50, I expect better build quality. If I can ever find another one on eBay for cheap, I may buy it for parts (to replace my section). And once the current ink runs out, I may try to find an EF nib for it. I could probably turn this into a pretty nice writing instrument.
  5. Cyber6

    Hero Inks

    I happened to be around Chinatown..and walked into a Bookstore... Couldn't resist buying the whole series... it was cheap as chips... Overall they are easy, free flowing inks... with a real nice shade.... (I do like the Blue Black).. The red is more like a strong pink.... and surprise.. surprise... they actually have some sheen.... All of them... So, when you get tired of spending $20, $30 or even $40/bottle of some extremely hard to find ink..... Go get some Hero ink... you'll be gladly surprised..
  6. I seem to have a growing collection of inexpensive Chinese fountain pens that share three things in common: they’re black, with chrome and/or gold trim; they’re comparatively heavy (composed primarily of brass or aluminium); and they’re surprisingly inexpensive. The Bookworm 679 very much fits that bill – so why am I bothering to review it? Well, for a couple of reasons – apart from the fact that this was supplied to me by JustWrite Pens (www.JustWrite.com.au), free in return for an impartial review. First of all, because no-one else seems to have reviewed it yet – but secondly, because it turns it out’s a pretty nice pen, especially for the price. If you’re a fan of the Jinhao x450, especially, you may find this pen is right up your alley – though it has a couple of advantages over the x450, which I’ll discuss in the review below… Just so you know, as with a number of other reviews I’ve done for lower end pens, I won’t be ‘scoring’ this one out of ten – to my mind, it’s just not fair to compare some of these lower price point pens to their pricier counterparts. ______________________________________________________________________ Appearance & Design – Sleek, glossy black – with classy looking faceted cap and barrel I don’t know why it is that so many pen manufacturers seem to favour the colour black – but as far as I know, that’s the only colour this pen comes in. Black, with gold trimmings on the cap and barrel… and a duotone (gold and chrome) nib. What marks this pen out a little is the fact that it’s not a pure cylinder – the cap and the barrel (apart from the last 1.5cm) is faceted – 12 straightish edges in all. That, and the fact that the clip ends with what (only) appears to be some kind of wheel – though sadly, unlike some other pens, the wheel is soldered to the clip, and doesn’t turn as the pen is clipped into or taken out of your pocket. A slip-on lid covers a smooth plastic grip section. The cap is clearly designed to post, and fits snugly onto the stepped-down ending of the pen barrel. This is one of the pen’s advantage over the Jinhao x450 – I’ve already cracked the inner cap on one of those suckers, and no longer dare to try and post them. http://i.imgur.com/dWU6VAw.jpg http://i.imgur.com/aNnQOhx.jpg My first impressions with this pen weren’t overly favourable – mainly because it was one of several black pens I received at the same time. But as I’ve spent time examining it more closely and using it, it’s grown on me. I guess this is subjective, but I like the fact that it’s not a straight cylinder – and the clip, though its ‘wheel’ doesn’t actually spin, nonetheless seems to be easier to slide into a pocket than the very stiff clip on the Jinhao x450 and x750. http://i.imgur.com/2MzfGXT.jpg Construction & Quality – Well-made, not flawed or blemished, seems pretty durable The cap and barrel of the pen are made of brass – they’re heavy, and don’t seem too prone to denting. The black lacquer surface seems to adhere pretty well to the pen, but only time will tell whether it’s prone to peeling or scratching away. The end of the barrel is plastic – it reminds me a little of the ending on a Parker Vector, though obviously the diameter is larger. Weight & Dimensions – A pretty substantial pen in the hand The first thing you notice about this pen when you pick it up is its ‘heft’ – it weighs around 41.5g, or 25.5g minus the cap. The diameter of the cap and barrel is around 12mm; the grip section tapers from 11mm down to around 9mm – which I find pretty comfortable, especially if I’m holding it well back from the nib. Capped, the pen is 140mm long; uncapped it’s a shortish to 119mm; posted, it extends to 160mm. Though it’s designed to be posted, I find it a little more comfortable if I leave the cap off – simply because of the weight, there are no problems with balance either way. Nib & Performance – A very pleasant writing experience A close inspection of the nib revealed that it seems to swoop down towards the tip – as if to stiffen the nib and provide for a finer line. And certainly, compared to the nibs on the Jinhao x450 and x750, this one lays down a finer line (which for me is another advantage of this pen – the Jinhaos I tend to replace the nib with a Goulet EF, F or 1.1mm stub). Aesthetically, either you’ll like the nib and the ‘finless’ feed or you won’t – I didn’t mind the look of the nib (gold, with a chrome ‘swirl’, and the word ‘Bookworm’ inscribed along its length) – but I tend to like the underside of the feed to be at least a little bit less bland. Then again, how often does anyone write upside down? The nib and feed are friction fit, and can be removed for cleaning purposes. I’d guess this is around a #5 size nib. http://i.imgur.com/Dam0eZi.jpg http://i.imgur.com/6jJCuUE.jpg More important than the nib’s appearance is its performance – and I found this to be very pleasant. It’s a nail-like nib, but you can get a little line variation if you want to force it – and it lays down a fine-to-medium line. The nib was fairly dry when I first inked it up, but with a bit of sustained downward pressure (to force the nibs apart – see Steve “SBRE” Brown’s videos for more info on ‘how to make a dry nib wetter’), I found it began to write really nicely, and lay down a not-too-dry, not-too-wet line. Apart from that small adjustment, the nib provides an enjoyable writing experience. http://i.imgur.com/rCcWHgI.jpg Filling System & Maintenance– Standard International Cartridges – Converter Supplied The Bookworm 679 takes standard international cartridges, if that’s your preference – but comes with a cartridge converter supplied. The converter looks very similar in design and construction to the cheap plastic converters that come in most of these Chinese pens – but with a black band around the top of the converter, inscribed with the brand name ‘Bookworm’. http://i.imgur.com/yvUE0J6.jpg Cost & Value/Conclusion – Full marks from as far as I’m concerned! The Bookworm is not a high-end pen – but at AU$12.95 from JustWrite (you can probably find it cheaper, but for Australian buyers this comes with a 2 year warranty) it’s a really good buy – especially if you’re trying to introduce someone to the fountain pen habit, and want to give them a classier looking pen. I’d be very happy to recommend this as a pen that looks, feels and writes a fair way above its price point. Thanks to Kevin from JustWrite for providing it for me to review.
  7. Need some help / advise / ideas.. I have a couple of Chinese Pens , a Huashilia 3000 and a Bookworm (not sure but I think might also be made by Huashilia) that both have finish problems. Both have brass bodies covered by some type of black paint and possibly a clear finish over the paint (also, not sure about the clear finish part).Both are great writing pens but both have started to have the black finish begin to show tiny "bubbling" and flaking off. Anyone ever have a go at refinishing on of these? I was considering sanding, repainting and dipping in a clear lacquer. As cheap as they were, and considering how bad they look now, I figure I've got nothing to loose. Any thoughts? To the moderators, I'm going to post this in both the Chinese and the general repair forums. Hope that's ok. ;-)
  8. Hi all, Being a curious type of person, some time ago I was intrigued to see some Chinese pens described as having 'curved nibs' such as this: http://m2.uxcell.com/photo_new/20120713/c/ux_a12071300ux0223_ux_c.jpg I am slightly tempted to try one, but wish to know a bit more before making a decision. Now my questions are along the lines of: i) Are these a bit of a gimmick? ii) Are there variants on the 'curved nib' theme? iii) Are they worth the effort (how easy are they to use) and are the actual results disappointing? iv) If you have one, is it a pen which you 'go to', or does something hold you back for most situations (i.e. except doodling, playing, etc.) ...and any comments on their practical use etc. much appreciated. Best. E.
  9. Are there any Beijing fountain pen lovers on this forum? I will travel there in a few weeks (for the first time) and i couldn't think at a better gift for myself than a nice Chinese fountain pen. I know the city is huge, but I wonder if someone can guide me to some places where I can buy some really nice, local fountain pen(s). My budget is limited, however, I'm sure I can find something nice, but I have no idea where to start looking.
  10. I just received a Haolilai 661A, which I ordered from eBay. Since there is little about this brand on FPN, I thought I'd post this very informal, handwritten review.The pen I purchased was http://www.ebay.com/itm/FOUNTAIN-PEN-HAOLILAI-661-FINE-NIB-SILVERY-PURPLE-H055-/121127212869. The photo posted here of the pen is is from the eBay listing. My review is in the attached image, though I can't seem to modify the orientation of the photo.
  11. A couple of months back Jeff Pearson posted some comments and queries on my blog regarding fountain pens. Later on among the comments and replies, one day he suddenly asked for my mail address as he wanted to gift me certain fountain pens. Thinking it a bit quirky, I avoided it. Later on after more of such requests I finally relented. btw Jeff is a member of FPN (which I came to know later) & having username notimetoulouse So yesterday I got these wonderful fountain pens - Jinhao x450, - love it Kaigelu 316, - had only seen its reviews on FPN Picasso, - had only heard of the brand Wingsung 380, - I already have it, the same one !!! Lanbitou - so tiny didn't know it existed :-) and also a carefully packed set of ink cartridges - obviously I did not know that these inks also came in cartridges. Thanks Jeff for these wonderful pens and cartridges - and taking the pains to ship these from your end - which is half the world round ! btw the Jinhao x450 is my favourite, and I had been searching for this colour for quite some time :-) And all the pens have very smooth nib, and look great! Images below.
  12. Figured what better way to get into fountain pens than to start inexpensive, fortunately had a couple friends who were able to get me some recommendations on favorable ones. Most were about 10USD or less, the most expensive 'single' pen was the Uranus KSF-301 w/ Box for about 17USD. My favorite of the pack is the Jinhao X750 with the Goulet Extra Fine nib, followed by the Jinhao X450 which I replaced with a Goulet 1.5mm Stub Nib (I put the 2-tone Jinhao M nib from the X450 onto my Nemosine Singularity). On the thin side it's a toss up between the Kaigelu 363 and Jinhao 611. The Hero 616 is probably the least favorite of all the Chinese ones I've tried. Baoer 507 "8 Horse" (one of a three pack I got, I kept the silverish one) http://static.karlblessing.com/pens/intro/baoer_507_8horse.jpg Jinhao 611 in blue, aside from the Hero 616 I have, probably the finest on the nib size I have. http://static.karlblessing.com/pens/intro/Jinhao_611.jpg A Kaigelu 363 and Haushilai 2111, bought them as a pair, I like the Kaigelu better of the two. http://static.karlblessing.com/pens/intro/kaigelu_363_huashilai_2111.jpg A Duke Uranus KSF-301 (~ Medium Partially Hooded Nib) http://static.karlblessing.com/pens/intro/uranus_301_full.jpg Jinhao X450 in "Distressed Black" http://static.karlblessing.com/pens/intro/x450_closenib.jpg Jinhao X750 "Shimmering Sands" with a Goulet 2-tone Extra Fine Nib. Currently my favorite of the chinese pens. http://static.karlblessing.com/pens/intro/x750_ef.jpg Most of them side by side (the non-Chinese ones shown being the Sheaffer Snorkel, Nemosine Singularity, and the unbranded green one in the front) http://static.karlblessing.com/pens/intro/chinese_colection.jpg
  13. ztt2

    Hero 160

    As a relatively new fountain pen user who happens to go to university, I really like Chinese fountain pens. They're cheap, they're fun, and sometimes I feel like I get pretty lucky. While I feel like Hero gets a pretty bad rap for the blatant copying they do of designs (such as Lamy or Parker), I ended up buying this 160 on eBay. I mostly dabbled in Jinhao, and while I like them, I decided to spend a bit more and see if I liked these better. This is my first review, and I'm by no means a photographer, so I apologize if some of the pictures aren't quite as good as what you're used to seeing! First Impressions: The pen came in this pretty simple green box. These kinds of boxes I've received before so it's nothing really extravagant or special, but I do like it. It gets the job done and it's pretty nice. You open the box and once again you have this fairly cheap material protecting the pen, but the pen itself I think is very attractive. The clip is nice and springy, and the top of it has a small five petaled flower design. All around the cap you have these grooves of various lengths that stretch downwards towards the barrel of the pen. The body tapers towards the end, and on the barrel you have a shiny chrome band that says "Hero" and under it "160" with the same Chinese characters that appear on the box. Construction: Note that all my attempts at close-up shots failed, so sadly there will not be any photographs here. The cap is simply a pull off, not a twist sadly, but it functions very well. Not much force is needed to actually remove it, and it is secure enough so that it will never simply accidentally come up when trying to remove it from your pocket or pouch. Overall, the construction is extremely solid. Nothing rattles, the barrel screws on and off tightly, and the whole body seems to be able to stand up to some abuse. Filling: The pen uses an aerometric converter which I had some problems with, but I suspect that those were issues related to my own inexperience with the system rather than the converter being at fault. For now, I removed it and have a Parker converter installed, which fits fine. Note that standard international converters don't seem to fit. The use of a Parker converter was a necessity. Nib: The nib is great. Honestly, I love it. It is a 12k gold semi hooded nib, and it writes excellently. I never experience any skipping or hard-starting, it has a nice, juicy sweet spot, and it provides a kind of feedback that I really like. I've had some Jinhao nibs that are smoother, but I rather enjoy this one more. It's not scratchy, but you feel that you're writing which I think is great. In my experience it's a nice, wet nib that can lay down a nice patch of ink despite it being a pretty fine nib. There is little to no line variation, so if you're a flex freak it's really not for you, but since line variation and lecture notes don't particularly go hand in hand, I don't find that it detracts from the experience at all. Writing Sample: I'm no calligrapher, but I tried to make it as nice as I could for you guys! Overall: I adore this pen. I absolutely love it, and this is one that's always going to be inked. It's very affordable, it's very nice, it's not a boring black, and it just gets the job done. When I was contemplating buying one I couldn't find any reviews on this model, so hopefully this can be helpful to someone who is in a similar situation as I was. Maybe they aren't completely ethical design-wise, but if this is any indication, they make one hell of a pen.
  14. This is a short review of the HERO 725. To begin, I need to say that it is a very cheap pen (about 14 USD). But not only expensive pens are worth reviewing... Fountain pens are for everone after all ! Look: For a 14 USD pen, it is, I would say very very nice. Look very classy, simple... especially the two tone nib that is very well crafted. Nib performance: The nib on this pen performs very decently for such a inexpensive pen. However, if you like very expensive solid gold flexible nibs, there are chances that you're gonna be disapointed! What I mean is that it is a fonctionnal nib there is not a lot of fun to do with that. Is is very stiff and don't try to make it flex... PLEASE!!!! it's gonna flex, but not the way you like it to, and not returning to the initial position... you know what I mean It is not TOO scratchy neither. Weight and balence: I was surprised how well balenced this pen was, posted or not, it is very confortable. It weights about 25.7 grams. Feed : On that point, it is easy to notice that it is a chinese pen... At the begenning of the page, it is gonna be very very wet, and at the end it is becoming dry... but that is not a big issue if you dont write for a long continuous lap of time with it.. but i would say it is a big problem if you're a person who writes 16 pages straight... Conclusion: It is a good pen for the price. I would recommend it, but it is not the first one I would buy in that price range, personnally, I prefer the pilot 78g. I dont like giving a note on 10 or 100... It is very different for each writer and I think it is better to describe the good and the bad points of the pen to let everyone decide if it is a pen for him or not... *English is not my first language, so please understand if I made some mistakes.
  15. I have a Jinhao X450 (marbled finish) that I got a while ago when I bought a couple of Chinese pens (one is my knock-about Hero 110 that's quite good). I avoid Chinese pens unless I need something that I can use when working in the lab or that can be knocked-about, be lost (or stolen). Given that, I don't usually pay more than $10 for them, and don't care much if they don't work. But I have taken a liking to the very sturdy brass and enamel construction and the excellent M nib that I have gotten used to (though I greatly prefer F and EF nibs and usually avoid M or bigger because it is impractical to write calculations with them, and the fact that I simply really like EF nibs). Unfortunately, after writing two paragraphs, a vacuum forms inside the converter and no ink at all flows into the feed/nib section. I end up having to turn the piston in and out to manually draw air in every ten minutes. I took every single piece of the pen apart and soaked it in household bleach (it was fine, but please don't anyone soak their Montblanc in bleach! I DO NOT recommend trying this on any pen you spend more than $10 on! ). Cleaned every single channel and section with a little nylon brush. Everything was free of any contaminant or manufacturing residue. Put everything back together perfectly. Tested pen. . . And the same thing happened. I can hear a slow bubbling sound as the air tries to get into the reservoir. It is obvious that the feed system is not allowing for any air to enter. The system consists of a partially hollow feed with a little capillary feed that slips inside of it, it is this narrow little capillary feed that plugs into the tiny hole in the section and connects to the converter's reservoir. I don't think the design facilitates for any air to enter to stop a vacuum forming. Does anyone else's X450 do this? Is there any way to fix it? I would really like to find a way to solve the problem, as I have taken a liking to the pen. Thanks in advance for any advice.
  16. I recently came across these pens at a thrift store and they were only 99 cents so i bought them thinking that they may be worth something since i have made a lot of profit off of doing this before with other fountain pens that i found. The one is a fountain pen with a rooster and feather/flowery design. On the tip it says "Genius Iridium Germany" The box which has an Asian type of design on it also has another pen in it. But this one is a ballpoint pen with what looks to be a giraffe and feather/flowery design. Here are some pictures. I appreciate the feedback.
  17. budgetpenlover

    Camel Brand Pens Anyone?

    I was looking into aquiring a Camel 1968 Medium Nib (http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAMEL-1968-Rosewood-Color-Medium-Nib-Fountain-Pen-new-/150971590994?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item23269ba952) for notetaking and school use, but I have some reservations because I have never heard of the manufacturer. I really don't want to go through the hassel of returning it to China if it's a piece of (bleep). Has anyone heard of Camel pens; if so, I would love to hear some feedback. Does anyone know of any cheaper pen brands that preform well compared to their cost?
  18. Hello, I came across this gold? goldplated? fountain pen and need help identifying it. It seems to have Japanese or Chinese writing on it. Could anyone tell me what brand this is and how much this fountain pen might be worth? Thank you in advance
  19. Which one of these sets are real and which are counterfeit (or are they all the same)? What are your experiences with them if you have bought them in the past? Anyone here who can read Chinese? What do the packs say on the front?
  20. Chinese - Korean - (Obviously) English. From an ancient Chinese philosopher Xunzi (3rd Century, BC). You can see why the Asian writers tend to favor very fine nibs (especially for Chinese). English is a literal translation. The saying is usually used to refer to a case where a student outgrows the teacher. : )
  21. http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a28/grapefruiit_/IMGP8270_zps5e2c0d08.jpg The Yiren 829 is yet another unbelievably affordable Chinese-made fountain pen that can be purchased on eBay. It set me back $7.20 AUD including postage! My first impressions of this pen? It’s well-built, aesthetically pleasing, a great everyday writing tool – if used mostly at home. The barrel and cap are made of a chromatic-finish charcoal grey metal, with an engraving of gold plum blossoms across the barrel. It’s smaller and more slender than I expected. It feels solid in the hand, yet not overwhelmingly heavy. In fact, it’s fairly light for a fountain pen, much lighter than some Parker ballpoints I own. Truth be told, I purchased this pen purely as a gamble, because I love plum blossoms. To the Chinese and Koreans, plum blossoms (KR: 매화, CH: 梅花) are a symbol of strength, endurance and beauty in the midst of hardship: http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a28/grapefruiit_/03plum_BaoChun-red_2002_zps633e5cb8.jpg It comes with a very clean, minimalistic medium hooded nib, which I rather like. See below for a closer look - http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a28/grapefruiit_/IMGP8267_zpscc1db78f.jpg I think of it as an ‘everyday pen’ because together with the ink I used* to test it out, it is compatible with such a wide range of papers. It writes wonderfully on A4 cartridge paper without any feathering or bleeding onto the back of the page. I was pleasantly surprised, but dubious about how well it would perform on thinner paper. So I gave it a spin on a regular Spirax composition book. Though Spirax normally produces quality notebooks, this particular style – from its latest fashion stationery range – had very flimsy paper. Amazingly, while some faint traces were visible through the back of the page, the Yiren 829 performed very well on even this cheap-grade exercise-book style paper. (* from Hero, another Chinese brand – I don’t need expensive ink when I get through a stack of paper each day for my thesis!) http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a28/grapefruiit_/IMGP8278_zpsf1655464.jpg I would recommend this pen for students, or anyone else who wants an inexpensive writing tool of decent quality. It doesn't quite match the ease/comfort/smoothness of the Lamy Safari, but it's nice for those days when you want to treat yourself to a little luxury while writing.
  22. HisNibs.com update -- Re-stocking from China Greetings all, As it does periodically, Monteverde is retiring some pens to make way for new models. Unfortunately, two of my personal favorites are being effected, the Regatta and the Prima, and I question the wisdom of the decision. We've also just received a large re-stocking of models from China. A few of our favorites were not available this time, but the vast majority were. I'll only mention a couple of the models in this newsletter, but please just go to the homepage http://www.hisnibs.com to see them all listed as 'back in stock'. As this newsletter goes out to a mailing list of thousands of customers, please understand if there's a delay in answering your email queries or orders after one of these is sent. We will respond in order received and as soon as possible! Join us on our Facebook HisNibs.com fan page which can be reached directly at https://www.facebook.com/HisNibs1. Come join us for what has become a lively meeting place for news about pens, ink and handwriting. On the blog...Gorilla reunion ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~in this issue * Monteverde Regatta line retired * Monteverde Prima selection reduced * Jinhao Wooden Chariot * Hero 616 series * Duke '2009' * Picasso Candle Flame * Jinhao Black Dreadnaught * Black leather 48-pen case * Baoer 8-Horse series * 'His Nibs' page on Facebook * On the blog...Gorilla reunion ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Monteverde Regatta line retired http://www.hisnibs.com/MonteverdeRegattaGroupRandom2_small.jpg Why Monteverde has decided to retire the magnetic-capped Regatta is beyond me. Even if sales have leveled off at this point, the innovative magnetic cap (which provides the ease of a slip cap and the security of a screw cap) should argue for its continuance. The Black/Black version has totally sold out, but I've just laid in a final supply of the Chrome/Black and the White/Blue fountain pens, so jump now if you want to add one of these really neat pens to your collection. "Norman, I have received the new pen and ink, and am thoroughly delighted. My handwriting still stinks though. This is a wonderful pen and I look forward to writing with it more and more over the years...Maybe I will even get a few more nibs to go with it!" B. C., Athens, GA "My pens arrived today! I LOVE them both. I remember that you said the F nibs were like an extra fine, but both of these pens are perfect for me! The Invincia (which is much better looking in person-the finish is very luminous) is slightly finer than the Regatta, but I think these will both be daily writers. I love how heavy they both are, and the magnetic closure on the Regatta is very nice. Wonderful pens at a terrific price!" T. D., Anna, TX "Dear Norman: My Monteverde Regatta chrome and black fountain pen arrived today, as did the Private Reserve Purple Mojo bottles. I am absolutely delighted, and although I have only written a couple of sentences with it, I am confident I am going to love it as much as I did my Mont Blanc Ramses II predecessor. So back into the real art of penmanship again - whoopee. thank you." E. L., New Zealand "Hello Mr.Haase, i just got my pen today and it's awesome, it writes so smooth. I just want to thank you for the great review on Youtube, and the great customer service." W. A., New York, NY "The "Monteverde Regatta" as breath taking as a sail catching wind in the Caribbean. Writes with a strong line and holds it's course well." V. B., Naples, FL Read more here... http://www.hisnibs.com/regatta1.htm ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Monteverde Prima offerings reduced http://www.hisnibs.com/PrimaFPGroupSpread2_small.jpg Although the Prima still seems to be 'hanging around' (and probably my personal favorite of Monteverde's current line-up, for what that's worth), a number of the colors/pattterns have been retired. The Black is gone. However, Monteverde found two each of the Brown Stripes, Blue Stripes and Brown Swirl to send to me. I had previously listed the first two as 'permanently retired', so am glad to receive these...but I'll soon have to post that same description again. Act fast if you're interested. "Hi Norman. Just wanted to give a big thank you as the green Prima came this morning. Love it! I saw this pen when it first came out and was immediately struck by the luminous green, as I have an excellent collection of 1920s OS jade Sheaffer Flat=Tops. You tuned the nib perfectly, and I mean perfectly. I like them extra-fine and pretty dry, and this F nib completely fills the bill. This one will become a daily user. I also appreciate your kind and personal note that you put in with it. That makes dealing with you a pleasure, and makes me feel like an individual. The website is also very personal, and is one of the best on the web---if not THE best. Thank you x 100 for another excellent purchasing experience. I hope your business multiplies greatly. Others can take lessons from you." S. D., Luthrerville MD "Dear Norman, I have just received the pen and it is superb! The nib is wonderful and a delight to write with. Thank you so much for your frank and excellent advice. I have told my wife that I am thinking of buying another of these wonderful pens with the outstanding stub nib! Warmest regards and I am going to buy the Monteverde turquoise ink for all my official signature work." G. A., New York, NY "Mr. Haase, I received my Monteverde Prima yesterday and got it cleaned up as you instructed and filled with ink and then put pen to paper. I love it. It writes great and keeps up with the pace I write at nicely. Every once in a while it has a little trouble starting But that could be my fault and it isn't a problem really at all. I have been writing different things with it all morning. I also wanted to thank you for the prompt responses to my questions, the quick delivery of the pen, and the personal note. That type of customer service goes a long way with me and you can bet I will be ordering again very soon. Merry Christmas!" A. C., Odessa, MO Many more testimonial here: http://www.hisnibs.com/prima.htm ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Jinhao Wooden Chariot http://www.hisnibs.com/JinhaoWoodenChariotPosted2_small.jpg "I received the Jin Hao Wooden Chariot, and Dancing Dragons today. They are truly works of art as well as reliable smooth- writing pens that actually write better than many of my expensive European models. Thanks for your kind attention, first class service and the hand written note. I look forward to purchasing more pens from you in the near future." K. G., Columbus, OH See more photos here... - http://www.hisnibs.com/wooden_chariot.htm ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Hero 616 series http://www.hisnibs.com/Hero616GroupRandom_small.jpg "Dear Norman, thank you for drawing my attention to the new 'old model' Hero 329s. I would like to order one in dark green, and I would be grateful, if you could send me a PayPal invoice. The 616 arrived two weeks ago. What did you do to the nib? It is very smooth and lays down a slightly thicker line than my other 616s. That's perfect for me. At the moment I use it more often than my Parker 51s where the medium nib tends to be a little too broad for my hand-writing. This is more than just a simple knock-off. In terms of balance, reliability and design it is an exceptionally good pen in its own right. If the old 329 is similar than I will be very happy. Thank you for going to all that trouble for such 'cheap' pens! I have many more expensive ones in my collection, but I do not have the same fun in using them. With thanks and warm regards", C. S., Tübingen, Germany "Hello Norman, Just to let you know that the Hero 616s arrived a few weeks ago, and I've been using them since then. I couldn't be happier with the way they write. The fine point is just what I wanted and it writes beautifully. These pens are absolutely amazing value and your service was excellent. Thank you." M. D. S., Australia "Norman: Received the Hero 616 and Pilot 78G today. Must say they're great--properly tuned and ready to go to work! The 616 writes just like my beloved Parker 51 Flighter (I'll use it for travel since the Flighter has become to valuable to lose). The Pilot with the F nib is perfect for my research notebooks (where I tend to write with very small handwriting). Thanks! Fine pens and great service. Have a great day!" M. D., West Jordan, UT "Hi Norman, I received my 616 yesterday. I wrote about twelve pages with it last night and I'm very pleased - as far as I'm concerned the nib is perfect. I don't remember exactly where I saw your site recommended, but I'm glad I did! I'll certainly order again from you in the future." J. C., Chattanooga, TN Read more here... - http://www.hisnibs.com/%27616%27_series.htm ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Duke '2009' http://www.hisnibs.com/DukeChaplinPosted_small.jpg "...the Duke 'Niner (nee Charlie Chaplin) arrived today and all I can say is OMG! I feel like one of my many nieces when their hair does exactly what they want it to. This thing is so bitching, Norm...And I must say that your "tune-up" has revealed to this poor scribe what a FP is actually supposed to write like. I thought my Sheaffer was all that and a bag o' chips, but the 'Niner beats it hands down. I don't know what you did, but Norm you've got to tell me, because I've got a dozen FPs that don't work quite right and I must get them working at least in the neighborhood of this one." M. H., Salt Lake City, UT See more here... - http://www.hisnibs.com/2009.htm ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Picasso Candle Flame http://www.hisnibs.com/PicassoCandleFlameAngledCap_small.jpg "Norman, hope this email finds you well. I enjoy the Picasso Candle Flame pen a bunch-I'm sure it has a lot to do with your nib prep but it writes smoother than any Pen I own. I'm requesting 2 more. Thanks." R.F., N. Andover, MA "Dear Mr. Haase, thanks so much - I received my "Candle Flame" pen today. It's a real beauty. I usually like to try out a pen in the shop, so I wasn't sure how much to expect from one I bought online. I'm glad to report it writes wonderfully and feels great in my hand. I'll be keeping an eye on your website for new pens. You have a bunch of other interesting models, but it looks like they sell out pretty quickly - I'll have to stay on my toes. Thanks again and all the best!" J. K., Berkeley, CA Read more here... - http://www.hisnibs.com/candle_flame.htm ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Jinhao Black Dreadnaught http://www.hisnibs.com/JinhaoBlackDreadnaughtPosted_small.jpg "Norman -- Thanks for continuing to send the updates. This time it reminded me that I had been meaning to write and tell you how much I've enjoyed the pens gotten from you. That "dreadnaught" is one heckuva pen! Probably the bulkiest pen I own at this moment. I had to find a special pen case to carry it around since it wouldn't fit into the one I normally carry. Even at that size, I find I enjoy it and tend to carry it most days, filled with Waterman purple. The nib is amazingly smooth and always starts right up; the line definitely leans toward the broad side of medium, which I very much prefer." J. T., Marietta, GA "The Dreadnaught FP arrived today . . . it's perfect! The wide girth, nice center of gravity (even when posted), and smooth-writing medium-to-broad (always my preference!) nib makes it my favorite writing instrument. It's every bit as good-if not even better-as you-know-who. . . I might have to purchase another color to have two in my collection. Definitely a superior pen!" C. H., Twinsburg, OH "Hi, Norman, My new Jinhao Black Dreadnaught arrived today. I was so eager to try it, I dipped the nib in ink and wrote with it before even following your washing instructions. Afterwards, I washed it. It fits well in my hand. I very much like the size and weight of the pen. Also, the nib glided over paper smoothly. I was too late to order it the first time you stocked it -- my bad. I am happy you brought it back, and that I bought it this time. Happily Writing," R. D., Melbourne, FL More photos here... - http://www.hisnibs.com/dreadnaught.htm ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Black leather 48-pen case http://www.hisnibs.com/PenCasesBrown48Filled3_small.jpg More pen cases here... - http://www.hisnibs.com/pen_storage.htm ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Baoer 8-Horse series http://www.hisnibs.com/Baoer8HorseAngledPair2_small.jpg "I received the inks and the surprise pen last Monday, which would have been October 1st. I absolutely love the Baoer 8 Horses pen. It writes like a dream and moves across the page so quickly I have to make sure I don't end up scribbling words that don't exist! It's filled with the Private Reserve Velvet Black and I love the ink. I knew I needed black, but I didn't know I would enjoy it so much. Who knew such a 'boring' color could be so much fun to use...I still can't believe how a pen could float across a page. I almost feel guilty that I want to use it more than the other two I have. It might be new pen addiction, but honestly, the pen is simply amazing." K. B., Etna, CA "Thanks Norman for the prompt shipping and careful packaging! I already had one of these "8 horses" pens and it is indeed a challenge to count all 8! It's a great pen and one that I could afford to give as gifts to friends who feel they cannot afford a good fountain pen. This one writes better than my vintage mabie-todd." C. F., Dallas, TX "Hi Norman, I'm gonna rave about the Baoer 8 Horses that came today. It is the smoothest nib I have ever used! That includes many $100-200 pens in my collection. Nobody is going to believe that this is a $20 pen. The brass construction gives it a solid feel, and it balances perfectly in my hand even when posted. I have the bronze finish, and am running Pelikan Brilliant Brown - makes for a nice combination!" T. T., Ann Arbor, MI More photos here... - http://www.hisnibs.com/eight_horses.htm ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 'His Nibs' page on Facebook http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v167/hisnibs/HisNibsFacebookimage.png Join us for daily news updates from around the world about fountain pens, ink, handwriting and more! Click here to visit our Facebook page - http://facebook.com/hisnibs1 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ On the blog...Gorilla reunion A video showing a former 'keeper' being reunited with a his gorilla charge, back in the wild. See the May 13th entry here... - http://hisnibs.blogspot.com Regards, Norman Haase His Nibs.com
  23. I recently acquired a Hero 308 fountain pen and 10 Hero 616. These pens are very risky, they are both from the same company but one is comparatively more expensive (308) than the other (616) by about 30 times. I just wanted to show that cheap pens sometimes can outperform noticeably and can make for a better starter. The 308 has a very cool looking nib, it writes OK and feels very expensive. However upon inspection, not so good. The nib and feed on mine is noticeably misaligned. The tines on the nib aren't parallel, the right tine is slightly bending up. The cap loosened after a few weeks and I had to put stickers in the cap so that the body wouldn't fall out. The metal piece connecting the two pieces of the cap already lost its grip. The piece of steel on the tail of the pen isn't soldered at the right angle so its lopsided. However, it didn't fall apart yet. The 616 on the other hand varies extremely from pen to pen. The feed and actual nib on all 10 of mine are misaligned horribly, but can be fixed in seconds. The build is plastic, so extremely light, a good transition from ballpoints to FP. The squeeze converter contains about 2 ml of ink (a lot). The flow is excellent. But if you are going to get this pen, buy at least 5, I find only 2 or 3 in my collection of 616 that actually feels extremely smooth. So my point is. Maybe get several cheap pens like the 616 instead of investing on a nice display piece.
  24. Mister John

    Duke/uranus Snakeskin

    About six months ago, I discovered the amazing treasure trove of cheap Chinese pens available on eBay. While suspicious of the quality on offer at such low prices, I thought it worth plunking down fifty bucks of fun money to find out. I had heard the Duke was one of the more reputable of the Chinese pen manufacturers, so I spent $7 of the Duke/Uranus snakeskin. At that time, the Pelikan Lizard had just come out and I wanted to compare the Chinese and Pelikan versions of lizard/snake scales. It goes without saying that, in all ways artistic, the Pelikan blows this pen away, so this review will only examine the pen on its own merits. I've now had the piece for six months and used it off and on during that time. It's been in various rotations three times, or about 6 weeks of reasonably intense usage. The pen arrived in a nice blue Duke labeled gift box or approximately the same dimensions as a typical Waterman pen box. Inside, the pen was enclosed in a narrow plastic bag. It came with the converter pre-installed and, from first appearances, looked pretty good. Like most Chinese pens, this one features a brass body with a silk-screened pattern and then a clearcoat layer of varnish on top. The pen itself is of moderate weight, approximately that of a Sheaffer Prelude. It is a thin pen, but not obnoxiously so. A close inspection of the pattern reveals no disastrous defects, but the screening is certainly imprecise and incomplete in places. The design looks much better from a distance than up close, where the sloppy craftsmanship is more readily apparent. The pen does have some nifty features that elevate it somewhat. The cap band is handsomely inscribed "URANUS" in a Roman font, together with some stars and some Chinese script. Uranus is, I believe, a sub-brand of Duke. After 6 months, it has held its luster and looks quite nice. The clip features a lovely compass rose design, and the tassie features an ivory circle in a sea of black. These details are all well executed. The nib is a nice design too, featuring a crown logo with rays splaying out toward the end of the nib. At the bottom is the word Duke inscribed in san serif all-caps. While the design elements are good, the craftsmanship of the stamping is less so as the imprint is weak. Holding the pen side by side with a Pilot 78g, the difference in the quality of the nib inscription is striking. All of this is to say that you do, to some extent, get what you pay for. A large part of the difference between a $100 pen and a $7 pen is in the quality of the materials and craftsmanship. I would say that, for the price, Duke has done a very creditable job on the design and execution. The cap snaps on and off and posts securely. Many Chinese pens feature snap on/off caps, presumably for cost reasons, but getting the correct amount of force to hold the cap on seems to be a challenge for many. Most err on the side of way too much force. Baoer, in particular, seems to suffer from this problem a fair bit. Some, like certain Hero pens, employ too little force. Duke, however, has found the "butter zone" for the force needed with this cap. It's easy to remove, but does not remove itself. One also worries that, even if the force is correct initially, wear and use will lead to a situation where it's no good. After 6 months of use, however, there is no sign of any problem. On to the writing. (See attached written review.) This pen is perfectly fine. I'm glad to have satisfied my curiosity about Chinese pens, but I do not see myself getting any more of them, at least at this price point. The $30 Kaigelu pens that are an homage (copy) to the Parker Duofold Centennial are rather nice, but these very inexpensive pens have to make too many sacrifices in the name of cost reduction to be inspiring. In a way, I'd prefer the more honest approach that Pilot and Sailor have taken with this market. The Platinum Preppy and Plumix cost about the same or less. They do not try to pretend to be a high-end pen, even from a distance. What they do well is to produce an interesting writing experience with a number of options. Duke/Uranus, on the other hand, provides a reliable writing experience, but not an interesting one. I would recommend passing on these unless you are in the position of needing a reliable pen with a more upmarket (at least from a distance) design. Even then, I would say that springing for a Pilot 78g is probably still a better bet as these can be had for around $15. By the way, if anyone wishes to trade for this or other inexpensive Chinese pens I own, I would happily take most deals. Please PM me.





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