A few weeks ago, I fell into fountain pens–hard. As a writer, pens and stationary are a given, even in the digital age when most people, myself included, use computers more often than not. Or, at least I did before COVID-19. In the stress of one unprecedented event after another, I found myself needing to back away from screens far more often.
It was about the time of this revelation that my wife spotted a Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen tucked beneath stacks of half-dried paints and children’s art supplies. A cartridge of ink had dried inside the feed, but otherwise, it seemed fine. It was the first fountain pen we’d found at the Goodwill that actually looked useable. So, I did some research, flushed the pen, and ordered a bottle of ink to use with the included Con-20 converter. When the ink came in, I put pen to paper and was…unimpressed. But there was something there–a sort of magic when pen hit paper–that wasn’t there when I used one of my many lovely roller ball and gel pens. I wanted a better experience.
A new love was born when I purchased my TWSBI Eco at a local stationary shop, and here I am. Some people feel satisfied with one pretty thing, but I’m both a collector and a sharer. I’m a bit of a magpie reveling in my nicely organized piles of shiny things and life isn’t complete until I’ve spread that joy around. But, as a stay-at-home mother and burgeoning writer, my funds aren’t infinite and fountain pens can be accompanied by several dollar signs.
Enter this blog. Wish, the app best known for showing such odd products on Facebook ads that you have no choice but to click to find out what they are, tapped into my browsing history and began to show fountain pens. There guys weren’t expensive, though. Some even cost under a dollar. A quick search on Reddit’s r/fountainpens revealed some people swear my Chinese pens. Had I known more about these options when I picked up my pack of Zebra disposable fountain pens three years ago, I might have jumped in a bit sooner at a time when the Metropolitan at $24 was too expensive when I still needed to purchase cartridges and/or ink.
So, welcome to my first fountain pen review! This is the Jinhao Blue and White Chinese Style Porcelain Pattern Medium Fountain Pen. Here’s what the listing looked like for me on Ebay:
This is the second pen I ordered from China and the first to make it to me in the beautiful Pacific Northwest of the United States. I was drawn to it because I’m a sucker for floral motifs, and especially Asian floral motifs. There are more than a few maki-e pens on my “if I hit it big as an author” list.
Right out of the bag I noticed a couple of imperfections that speak to its origins in a low quality-control, mass production factory. It came in a small, plastic bag and the very top of the cap wasn’t seated properly on its threads. I originally tried to snap it back in place which resulted in the plastic inside the cap falling out and the clip coming loose. It was then I notice the threads and was able to get everything tightened down properly. Even so, the clip is only strong enough to trust to a shirt pocket or pen case. I definitely wouldn’t put it in a pants pocket and wander around half the day.
On the grip, there are a couple of dents and dings you can see in the image above. Otherwise, the grip is a beautiful frosted metal and the pen is trimmed in a silver that compliments the porcelain style design. The listing stated the barrel was made of high-temperature ceramic, but it’s definitely made of plastic.
For as little as this cost, I was impressed with the quality. It feels like plastic, but it doesn’t feel flimsy. The snap cap is secure (and maybe a little too secure). The Genius Iridium Germany nib is stamped with a lovely, traditional pattern and it was smooth right out of the box. One of the smoothest I own, in fact. There are some downsides, though. First is, while it posts, it doesn’t post securely. Second, unlike the pen, the included cartridge feels flimsy and cheap and I I’m a little concerned about breaking it. Finally, I allowed the ink to sit in the pen for a few days without use as the Western medium nib–my first–is a little too broad, and it’s clearly evaporating ink, darkening it and turning it to sludge. So, unless this pen is going to get a lot of use as a daily driver, it might not be the right pen for you.
Here’s my pen test and line width comparison. As a disclaimer, this is only meant to give you a rough estimate since paper and ink can change line widths.
- Material: Plastic
- Cap: Snap, Does Not Post Securely
- Nib: Genius Iridium
- Nib Size: Western Medium
- Fill Type: Cartridge/Converter
- Converter: Included Slide Converter
- Cartridge Type: Standard, None Included
Do you own this pen? Want to buy it? Have any questions? Think I should include anything else in my reviews to make it easier on you? Let me know in the comments!