Help Identify This Pen!!!

5 06 2014

I need some help. A couple of years ago, I bought this pen off fleaBay for a few bucks. At the time, I knew NOTHING about Chinese pens, but it was dirt cheap, and looked really cool (to me anyway). It was listed as “Jinhao Noblest”.

Well, today I know a bit more about Chinese pens, though I often feel like I still don’t know much. I soon came across other pictures of my pen, citing it as a Jinhao, Hushalai , Noblest (not even sure this one is a company…), Kaigelu and several others. I’m pretty sure it’s not a Jinhao. I don’t think it’s a Kaigelu either, but I do suspect a tie-in to that company though. The pens share a lot of the same type of components and attributes, with just a very few differences.

I just acquired a Kaigelu 316 in a white pearl and gray swirl. Overall, they seem to be almost the same pen. There are just a very few differences. Obviously, they are different colors. The mystery pen has a metal black cap that is a snap on. The Kaigelu is a screw on and is a resin material, the same as it’s body, but they are the same dimensions. Same clips, same twin gold bands, same top adornment, but different logo’s under each. The bodies seem to be the same resin material and have the same black painted brass end pieces. The Kaigelu body is shorter, but by the same exact measurement of it’s threaded portion of the section.

I know the Kaigelu is a copy of a Parker Duofold; is this just another company’s copy of a copy? If so, how do they both obviously share so many of the same parts?

Any ideas? Thoughts? Rants?

I’m posting this on the Fountain Pen Network as well. Anyone, please comment if you know anything!

 





Baoer 8 Running Horses

29 05 2014

Ok, so I’m really hung up on Chinese pens. Again.

Thank you pen addiction.

This is a pen that I bought off of eBay about a year and a half ago. I don’t remember now exactly, but I think it was about $9 with free shipping from China. Typical of a LOT of Chinese pens available on the market right now. This pen is made by a company called Baoer; I’ve read that it either owns, or is part of a larger company that also owns Jinhao.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

Ok. This is the most Chinese, Chinese pen I own. Some (a lot actually) would say that it’s gaudy. To me, it’s not – but it’s close. They make this pen in 3 finishes, silver, copper (mine) and , I think gold. The model is called Eight Running Horses. The name is from the barrel of the pen which is made of some type of metal with a clear lacquer finish with a depiction of eight horses running and some (to me) unknown Chinese characters. Here’s a little secret. Every other review I’ve read on this pen says that there are only six running horses, not eight. Well, they didn’t make a mistake naming this pen. Get out your loupe, look closely, and you’ll see that there are two steeds running beside another horse that is obscuring their bodies. If you first look at the horse bodies , you’ll see that there are two extra heads that are next to the other horses. Eight. Eight horses. They named it Eight Horses because there are eight horses running. Duh.

The entire pen is metal, with a black lacquered cap, the aforementioned copper body with the embossed depiction of the horses running, and a black end piece, with electroplate gold hardware. Actually, the pen looks to me like it was heavily influenced by the Pelikan line of pens. The pen comes with a converter and also takes the international size cartridges.

THE NIB & WRITING EXPERIENCE

As you would expect for a pen in this price range, it comes with a steel nib. What one might not expect is just how fantastic a nib it is. The nib is a two-toned job, the gold coloration a result of electroplating. Mine is supposed to be a medium, but is much closer, at least by western standards, to a broad. It is very, very smooth, and lays down a nice wet line. Only the slightest bit of line variation can be had, as the nib is fairly stiff, but not what I would call a nail. I have some nails, I know.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Chinese are producing some really fantastic pens right now and for the last several years. But there are some drawbacks. Among the brands I’m familiar with (Baoer, Huashilai, Hero, Jinhao and Kaigelu; there are probably many others as well) quality control has been very, well, loose, let’s say. It seems like every 3rd or 4th pen I’ve bought, regardless of company has been either a dud or in need of a lot of help to make it serviceable. Another issue is shipping. Expext a pen coming from China to take 4 to 6 weeks to get to your door. There are several North American vendors now who are carrying some of the more popular brands such as Jinhao. Check out Goulet Pens (http://www.gouletpens.com ). You pay only a couple of bucks more, but you’ll have your new pen in a few days as opposed to several weeks. No brainer.

In terms of value, I don’t know how you can beat these pens. Let me put it this way. My collection is at around 90 pens, most of which are vintage. I own two pens from what are generally considered “luxury-line” pens, a Mont Blanc 144 and a Pelikan M200. Both are at the low end of those companies lines, but are $100 + pens. While you can argue looks all you want when comparing those pens to this, they are no better to write with. No smoother, no more dependable, no more pleasurable, at least to me. And when you have a serious pen addiction, but not the serious money to go along with it, what’s a fella to do?

 

 

 





Waterman Laureat…….Writing Under the Radar

19 05 2014

Tonight’s focus is on a pen that I have a love-hate (actually more of a love-kind of dislike) relationship with, the Waterman Laureat. Here’s what I mean by love-hate. I love the way this pen writes. I mean LOVE the way it writes. Like butta. When inked, I can write with it for a bit, cap it, and then set it aside for weeks at a time. When I pick it up, uncap it and begin to write, it starts wet every time. I don’t own that many pens that I can store that long and stay “wet”. The hate part (again, hate is probably too strong a word) is that I just don’t like the way it looks. It’s just aesthetics. But, hey, did I mention how great this thing writes?

There’s not an enormous amount of information out there about this pen. In fact, prior to writing this, all I knew was what I could see looking at it.

  • It’s a metal bodied pen (brass I believe) with a lacquer paint finish.
  • Medium steel nib with gold plate.
  • Takes international cartridges.
  • It’s a Waterman from France.
  • It’s skinny. That’s an absolutely quantifiable term.
  • It’s ugly. At least mine is.

When doing my research I came across the following post at Ravens March Fountain Pens (http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/?page_id=5209 ). By the way, if you haven’t already, you should check out the Ravens March blog, it’s really good! This is simply copied from that site – no plagiarism intended.

Lauréat

Maker: Waterman.

The Lauréat was one of Waterman’s nearly-fine pens of the 1990s; not one which lay on the bottom of the heap, but which was not out of reach of the average buyer.  Like the Super Master, it is less notable for its superb writing abilities than for its power to resist damage.  It is reasonably close in looks to Waterman’s iconic Le Man series, a move likely aimed at the same sort of combination of vanity and inability to either scrape up money or justify spending a lot on a pen which Parker served with its 21.

The Lauréat in use is something like the Expert II; the point is of very similar construction and performance.  It is perhaps a little better balanced, and is a somewhat more slender object overall.  The cap-station on the tail is another echo of the Le Man, and while it doesn’t have an actual gripper mechanism like the more expensive pen, it does make for very secure posting.  It is wide enough in the body to avoid my frequent accusation of over-slimness, and balances well with the cap posted or set aside.

Update: I’ve been shown a pre-1990 catalogue showing that this model and the Super Master were both in production at once, at least for a while.  It thus is not only of the 1990s, as the first sentence indicates, but also a little bit of the 1980s.

Production Run: c. 1985 – c. 2000

Cost When New: Based upon someone else’s public remembrance, it was $125 in 1992, but this seems too much based on the overall feel of the pen.  A 1999 catalogue shows it at $85.00 which seems nearer the mark (for modern values, try this calculator).

Size: 13.8 cm long capped, 17.0 cm posted, 12.4 cm uncapped.

Point: Plated steel.

BodyBrass, generally lacquered.

FillerCartridge, capacity approx. 0.6 ml or 1.4 ml (international pattern).

 

 

 

 





Another Chinese example of awesomeness! The Jinhao X750

2 05 2014

This will never happen again. Three posts within a week of each other. Something’s wrong here….

My first video review (imagine hearing a huge crowd like in a football stadium cheering in the background)! The Jinhao x750. I just looked at this and realized – I just did a commercial for the Goulet Pen Company. Well that wasn’t my intention……but…….I’ll be sending out my bill in the mail.

Here’s the review:

 





Noodler’s Ahab Flex Nib Review (It stinks…..Well, smells bad)

29 04 2014


I finally took the plunge and picked up a Noodlers pen. I’ve been a fan of their ink for years but I haven’t taken the next step of getting one of their pens.

To be honest, when the first generation of pens hit the market, I wasn’t super excited about their looks. more importantly, the reviews I was reading online were decidedly mixed. The second generation hit, and though they looked the same, the reviews definitely got better. Then came the Ahab….

 

This is a completely new pen. Aproximately 5.5″ capped, just a hair ove 9/16″ in girth (capped) and 6 ¾” posted. It’s light, but substantial. Two negatives almost immediately struck me. First, it stinks. No, I mean it stinks – it smells bad. Really bad. It’s made from something called “vegetal resin”, and….it stinks. Everything I’ve read is that this occurs with new pens and that the smell eventually dissipates. I sure hope so. did I mention that it smells really, really bad? Second, the cap posts, but not completely securely. I’ve had other pens where the cap didn’t post well, but those were always due to a lack of friction. That’s not the problem here. The cap will post, and seems like it will stay in place, but it doesn’t easily post straight and correct. It wants to be angled if you’re not careful. (Oh my gosh this thing stinks. Hard to concentrate on writing here…)

This is the first “modern” flex nib pen I’ve ever owned. I like it! I like it a lot! (Dumb & Dumber. Anyone? Anyone?) I have some vintage pens with flex nibs and I’ve just been ok with them. I tend to exert just a bit too much pressure and thus tend to get a lot of railroading (the tines spread too much and instead of getting a wide wet line, you get two thin ones at each tine tip). This one has railroaded on me but I was able to quickly figure out just how much pressure to use. Basically I don’t have to bear down really, but I do have to use considerably more pressure on this pen than my vintage ones if I want to achieve flex (that is, wider) strokes. The nib is large, stainless steel and very smooth. There’s no breather hole, instead a line running the entire length of the exposed portion of the nib. It’s very attractive I think.

Another really cool aspect (just one of many), it that the pen is designed from the get-go to be easily converted to an eye drpper fill pen. You simply remove the included piston filler (which holds a lot of ink on it’s own, by the way), slap some silicone grease around the body threads, fill ‘er up, screw the section back in and you’re ready to go. It holds probably a pint of ink. Finally, no special tools needed! for cleaning, for anything really. All parts are either thread together or friction fit together. Sweet.

 

Overall, Other than the horrible, awful, terrible, unholy, eye-watering, nauseating, bung-hole oder that this thing currently gives off, I give it two BIG thumbs up! This is a whole lot of quality and good looks for very little $. I’ll do an odor follow up in a few weeks.

 

There are a lot of really good, informative reviews on this pen out there. Here are a few I really liked (some video):





Time For A Notebook Review…..ARC by Staples

22 04 2014

Once again, toooooo long since a posting. Time to change that.

 

So Ok, I’ve been playing around with disc based notebooks for years now. I first saw the Circa system in the decadent “Levenger” catalog (LOVE their stuff. Expensive, but I love it). Soon after, I discovered the Rollabind system while in Staples one day, probably 2006 or 2007. Awesome, I thought, a notebook system just like Levenger’s Circa system (in fact, completely compatible) but at a fraction of the price. So, I picked up a couple. How could I go wrong at $6.99 ( for the Jr size)? I thought – I really thought – I would love it. But after a few weeks of use, my attitude was “Ehh…” (Exaggerated shrug of the shoulders). I found that I didn’t want to replace my daily planning/list notebook. I typically use a 5.5″ x 3.5″ moleskin knock-off notebook of some sort. I just like that size. But I loved the idea of being able to rearrange and better organize my notes. So for my daily work use, I went back to the small form factor. I did start using the Rollabind notebooks for church sermon notes and general Bible study (Yeah. I’m one of those….)

The Rollabinds soon fell out of favor for me because of the paper. My initial notebooks had very good paper that came with them. But once I had used up the initial supply, and bought refill supplies, everything went south. Obviously, due to very name of this blog, I’m a fountain pen user. Die-hard. And the refill Rollabind paper was so bad as to be almost unusable. The bleed through was so bad! So back to the shelf for the Rollabinds.

Now, move forward to 2014. I’ve never lost the infatuation for the disc system. But Rollabind was out for me and Levenger’s Circa is just too expensive for me to consider. I’m back in a Staples again about six weeks ago, and what do I see? A new disc system (I’d noticed the Rollabind products had disappeared a few years ago): M by Staples ARC System. And most intriguing, they had a leather product (at least it claimed to be) in a Jr size for $16.99. In an apples to apples comparison, the Levenger Jr size in leather is $79. A $62 dollar difference. So I came home without one, and went online to do some research before I plunked down $17 for another disappointment. ‘Cause I’m cheap like that. Reviews were glowing. The leather appeared to be real. Rollabind had offered a “leather” notebook (I have one). Nope. Vinyl. This thing appeared to be the real deal. And the paper was getting good reviews as well. So off I headed, back to pick one up.

That was about six weeks ago. And I admit, I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. I now have the leather Jr size, a leather Sr size, AND I bought the paper punch. That punch has proven to be the game changer for me. Now I’m using these notebooks and the disc system in general, for everything I’m doing. It allows me to use any paper item I need, to be securely bound in my notebook. I’m an insurance broker and now I can develop my own custom forms to use in my day-to-day business activity. The paper has been nothing short of fantastic. Just to be sure, I bought a refill pack, and it seemed to be the exact same quality as the paper they ship in the notebooks.

I can only compare this system to the old Rollabind system. To me, unequivocally, the ARC system is superior. Both systems are completely compatible. However, in the Jr size, the paper is slightly different in size, though, each will fit the others discs and covers. The paper for the ARC Jr size is exactly 5.5″ by 8.5″ (exactly half the size of a standard 8.5 x 11 letter page). The Rollabind is slightly smaller at 5.5″ by 8.25″.

The net is full of good reviews on the ARC system. Here are some I thought were worthwhile:

 

Inside cover of the Jr size ARC notebook. Test for fountain pen bleed through

 

 

Almost no bleed-through

 
   
   
   

 

Letter size ARC

 

 

The Punch. This is what REALLY makes this system usefull.

 
   




A Follow Up to my Esterbrook Collection

20 12 2013

This isn’t devoted to Esterbrooks. No, really I mean it. It’s not. But ……while snooping around eBay the other night, I came across this black estie about to end. I needed a black estie in the J size, so I sniped it. Black is easily my least favorite color in the Esterbrook line, but I needed a black one and this fit the bill perfectly. Cheap.

Black Esterbrook JWhat I found when I disassembled the pen is part of what I’ve come to love about these pens. They’re nearly indestructible. The sac was original and pristine. Absolutely pliable. I’m certainly not the most experienced pen guy out there – far from it. But this was the first time I’ve come across a pen that was probably 50 to 60 years old, with a sac that was perfect. I’ve bought other pens (actually, 1, a Sheaffer Sentinel) in the same sort of age range that was supposedly new/old stock. Never inked. But it’s sac had hardened and was useless.

Yes. Esterbrooks are awesome!

Perfect original sac  The next post WILL be about something other than Esterbrooks. I promise.

 








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