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.