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  1. Flounder

    Jinhao 321

    The Jinhao 321 is one of those common or garden hooded nib Chinese pens. In fact, looking back at RichardandTracy's 2011 review, I'm reminded that the 321 was the first hooded nib pen I ever used, and the one that set me on course to try the Hero 616 and eventually the Parker 51. It's been that long since I used this Jinhao, I almost feel like I'm looking at it with fresh eyes! Time to wheel out the Pelikan Royal Blue. http://i773.photobucket.com/albums/yy19/flounder2009/Jinhao%20321/Jinhao321capped.jpg LOOKS I think the hooded nibbed pens are among China's most restrained, and this one follows that convention. There's no steps or lines for the eye to follow, apart from a slim bright metal trim ring that separates the hood from the barrel. It's all very swoopy and tapered; the shape reminds me of a slimmed down zepellin. This is a slim & sleek pen, a nice shade of green, with a longer section and shorter barrel than the Parker 51. The design is heavily influenced by Parker's 61, though there's no arrow on the hood. In a further departure from the Parker 61, the barrel's attractive bright metal finial is an inverted cone. The cap is a trifle more ungainly than the pen. Its satin finish contrasts nicely with a polished arrow clip and coinstack flat-top metal jewel, but the clip is a bit of an ill match: too big, flat and imposing to suit the cap. http://i773.photobucket.com/albums/yy19/flounder2009/Jinhao%20321/Jinhao321bodyshot.jpg BUILD QUALITY The pen itself is pretty good! The nib and feed are flush with the hood, there are no uneven gaps at the trim ring or the barrel finial. The hood is still scratch and leak free. The cap is less impressive, as the clip is slightly loose in its slot. The cap construction overall is a little crude, I can see a rivet in there holding the inner cap in place, which itself holds a metal 4 finger open clutch in place. Nevertheless, this is still much more robust than the "inner cap as snap cap" design that proliferates nowadays. The pen will post, deeply and securely, if that's your thing. I did drop this Jinhao once, on a thickly carpetted surface. The pen landed horizontally, and the cap shot off! http://i773.photobucket.com/albums/yy19/flounder2009/Jinhao%20321/Jinhao321nibmacro.jpg FUNCTIONALITY It writes. I could always take that to the bank. Despite the rivetted inner cap, this has never been a pen to dry out overnight. Come to think of it, did I seal it up with shellac back in the day? Might well have done! Whenever the fine nib meets paper, I know ink will flow. The nib is very feedbacky, but doesn't drag or scratch on even the worst paper I have. Flow is 100% consistent and will match pace with my fastest scribbling. As well as being fine, it's also very rigid so there's no shading to speak of. The squeeze filler is not great, the squeeze bar on the sac guard just doesn't make much headway. The sac will fill well enough with the metal guard removed. Overall, it's certainly a very comfortable design, and sure to keep your fingers clean no matter what grip you favour. Very light and well balanced too, even posted. http://i773.photobucket.com/albums/yy19/flounder2009/Jinhao%20321/Jinhao321barrelfinial.jpg YAY/NAY Oh, that's a hard one. It's hard to avoid comparisons with the 616 Jumbo, which I have to admit a preference for. The Jinhao is slimmer, smaller, has a shorter and harder to fill ink sac, and no ink window. The cap is less servicable, the ringless open clutch retention system less to my tastes, and the inner cap is much thinner. And yet... this one Jinhao 321 has many of my 616's trumped, in that it didn't need any fettling. I received the pen, and used it without fuss. Sure it is small and thin, but a lot of people might prefer that. If you've reached the end of this review thinking the same thing, keep an eye on the Pay It Forward thread. I've got a couple of new pens winging their way to me, and to make room, will be passing this one on.

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