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From time to time I buy inexpensive pens from China. I do this less and less often over last three years, but I still do. Many people think that cheap fountain pens can’t be any good, because they are so cheap. Is it true? Well, as always the true answer lies in-between. Very often they are poor quality and pretty much useless, however some of them are actually pretty good writers and writing experience may be compared to much more expensive fountain pens. There is few quite popular brands from China like Duke, Hero, Kaigelu and Jinhao which specialises in inexpensive pens. I have few in my collection including Kaigelu 316 or Duke Big Shark I reviewed several months ago. These pens are below £ 25.0, look nice and are not bad writers either. Do they have issues? – yes, but overall they are fairly good value for money and I had them in rotation for quite long time. Nowadays, I use them less, but I still like to write with them.
There is some controversy about pens from China which design is quite often extremely similar to models offered by famous, but more expensive brands. If you look at Jinhao 159 and famous Montblanc 149 , the influence is obvious (even name is not accidental). Some of them are very close (or way too close) to original designs like Jinhao 599 for instance which looks very similar to Lamy Safari (except clip). Kaiglu 316 which reminds Parker Duofold Centennial or Hero 616 Jumbo vs. Parker 51 Special are another examples. Obviously, pens from China are much cheaper than original pens, but the overall quality (especially nibs) and materials are often lacking. Many of them like Jinhao are made from metal and are very heavy and feel unbalanced. Often the enamel is chipping off or gold plating is washing off after few months of use. However, from the second hand, if you you are short on money or you are new to fountain pens and you are not sure if you like to invest more than 100 bucks for a pen, these inexpensive pens may be (and usually are) a good starting point into word of the fountain pens.
I haven’t bought any pen like this for last at least 9 months easily, so when I have seen on Youtube a review (please see) of the recent Jinhao Century model, I decided to give it a go and buy one. To be more specific the Cenury line is not that new pen, because it was available in other colors in the past (see review of Jinhao Century, MkI in blue). However, the yellow with black swirls and white (pearl) with black swirls are two new colours introduced recently .
Because I like the way yellow looks, I purchased it from Amazon for £ 14.80. To my my surprise it arrived to my door in less than two days ! I thought it will be shipped from China…but obviously this is way to quick. Anyway, can’t complain at all.
There are possibly not many pens around which original idea and original design last since it was created and seems to be timeless. Lamy 2000 is one of these pens. I was designed in mid 1960’s in Germany and it’s unusual design was highly influenced by Bauhaus and German modernism revival that time. It represents more than 50 years of German modernity, and its sleek, contemporary design become a ‘classic’ in the word of fountain pens, nowadays. Lamy 2000 ages well…or wait a minute …this pen design actually is not ageing at all! Still looks very modern and represents high manufacturing quality and is a class on its own. Its unique design is closely related to it’s utility functions and it works with purpose. With no doubt, Lamy 2000 is one of the most popular fountain pens all the time. ( Here you can find much more about history and design of Lamy 2000 )
Lamy 2000 was on my radar for quite a while, but not being a very big fan of less expensive Lamy line like Safari or Al-Star, I was always pushed back and undecided, especially knowing that this is not a very cheap fountain pen. The price vary. In the UK I have seen it for £ 150.0 but some retailers have it for £ 100.00, which actually is a very good price. In the USA price osculates too between $ 110.0 and $ 160.0. However, the price is very easy to justify. The design, materials (including 14k gold nib) and finish are superb. When I touched this pen first time my ultimate reaction was – WOW! This feels pretty cool !Continue reading
Visconti Homo Sapiens is recognised by many in the fountain pen community as an iconic ‘grail pen’ and there is some sort of mysterious cult around this fountain pen in particular. Before I got it, which has happened few months ago, I have seen numerous reviews, pictures and comments about this pen and I was really curious what this massive hype is all about. The term ‘grail pen‘ may be considered as: ‘must to have this pen‘ but also: ‘I would love to have it, but damn… this is a really expensive pen and I can’t afford it!’. Is it worth its price? Why is so special? Or maybe this fountain pen is simply overrated? Well, I will try to answer this question from my handwriting perspective and few months experience with mighty Visconti Homo Sapiens.
My journey with Visconti’s Homo Sapiens started in June 2016 when I visited Warsaw for my science related reasons. Wondering around center of Warsaw I stopped by in one local pen shop Pióroteka, where I was looking several pens including Sailor, Pilot, Kaweco and many others. I actually brought a pen there and it was incredible Lamy 2000, which nowadays is one of my ‘every day’ pens, but this is a story for different time. However, being there I asked lovely and extremely patient lady who works there, if I can have a look at Visconti’s pens. Luckily, they had them in bronze, silver and brand new that time Dark Ages version. When I picked this pen, the feel it gave was so incredible, that I knew straight on, that here is some serious business going on. The pen is quite heavy (43 grams capped/ 25 grams uncapped) and feels substantial, but not too heavy. It feels right and to some extent powerful. When I unscrewed the cap, which is very easy to do with famous Visconti’s ‘hook lock safe’ system, the beauty of this fountain pen was astonishing and overwhelming.
Just a quick update tonight.
Two reviews of very cool inks from Robert Oster Signature line: Direct Sun and Barossa Grape are done and live since last few days. These two reviews are part of the larger collaborative meta-review of Robert Oster Signature you may find already at the United Inkdom blog .
Robert Oster inks are gaining popularity among fountain pen users recently and there are many reasons why. They are really good quality inks with beautiful and well saturated colours representing Australian landscape. I have reviewed so far only two from quote extensive palette of colours which Rober Oster has in his offer, but I am looking forward to have a look at many more in the future. They are definitely worth checking and using.
(*) Free samples of Robert Oster inks I reviewed were kindly provided by iZods.ink in the UK, who already has them in stock.