In my first post on this topic I wrote with some amazement that a company could profitably manufacture, distribute and retail a fountain pen, complete with converter, packaging and shipping, for less than $2. Even in this globalised, mechanised world, surely the end result would not only be morally dubious, but utter rubbish? I ordered two to find out for myself. Here’s how it went.
You can choose from loads of colours, but only fine nibs.
I opted for an orangey-brown and a sky blue, both demonstrators. One arrived a week before the other. Both were in minimal packaging, but arrived safe and sound.
The design is, well, pretty good. This is a slim, light pen. As you can tell from the demonstrator barrel, it’s not much longer than the converter. The cap has an inner cap to shroud the nib. The clip is basic, but functional. There’s a silver cap band that seems to be plastic. The section is small and narrow, but has a helpful little flare, and because the threads are very shallow, there’s no chance of them causing pain.
The section screws in to the barrel and seals with an o-ring, unusually; yet the barrel is sealed at the other end by a plastic plug — the most ungainly element of the design and one that caused a crack in my brown pen.
The converter came installed in both pens and seems quite well constructed (doubly so for the price: I’ve paid a fiver for a converter alone before). The nibs are small but neat and tidy, and well-finished under a loupe.
More importantly, they write rather well, straight out of the box, without flushing. The line is more medium than fine, and has a slight stub feel. It’s a smooth ride, although there’s no line variation, obviously. The blue runs a little wetter, even though I loaded the brown pen with the lush KWZ Honey.
The blue is a great match for Pelikan 4001 Turquoise.
So, erm, that’s it. Any other niggles? The plating on the blue’s clip is imperfect.
Other than that, nothing to complain about. Each pen cost me £1.38 shipped, with converter — let me repeat that. And each is comfortable, writes well, and looks very good, albeit with one imperfection each. As giveaway pens, wow, nothing beats it. You can get ten for the price of a Lamy Safari and still go to Starbucks afterwards. Do I worry about what this will do to the market? Undoubtedly. But it’s quite an achievement nonetheless.