I have been fairly good at resisting the temptation to buy new pens this year, although there have been a few. But it is nice to have a new thing. My latest pen acquisition was not an expensive one. It cost just £8.99 but don’t let that put you off reading, as this is an extraordinary pen.
I first laid eyes on one of these a year or so ago, when Annie, from our London fountain pen club, produced a bright yellow one from her bag. It is a mighty beast. It put me in mind of those batons that ground crew use when directing passenger aircraft.
This is a Chinese pen. Jinhao produces a range of fountain pens, at prices which are astonishingly good value by western standards. Previously I have purchased an X-450 which was a heavy, lacquered metal pen with rounded ends, similar in shape and size to a Montblanc 146 but a bit shorter and much heavier.
This will be a short paragraph, as there was no box. The pen arrived in a well padded envelope and inside a polythene sleeve. A soft black pen sleeve was included. It is quite refreshing not to have a gift box. I was impressed that I ordered the pen from Amazon on a Sunday afternoon and that it arrived the very next day.
Appearance and construction.
If the Jinhao X-450 looked like a Montblanc 146, then the Jinhao 159 is a bigger version, like a Montblanc 149. It is a traditional, cigar shaped pen with rounded ends, very smooth and tactile. It is available in various colours or even in twos or threes of different colours, but I chose a classic, glossy piano-black finish with gold coloured fittings.
The cap unscrews, in just under one full rotation. The threads on the pen are metal, also gold-coloured but not sharp. The section is of the same glossy black and, thankfully, not faceted. The section is of a generous girth, widening from the nib from around 12mm to 14mm. The pen barrel has a maximum width of around 16mm at its widest point just after the threads.
The barrel unscrews, with metal-on-metal threads. A cartridge converter was included.
The inner threads of the cap are plastic. Peering into the cap with a torch, there appears to be an area of bare metal after the plastic threads, and then an inner cap. I do not yet know whether the 159’s cap can be disassembled. I just mention this because on the X-450, the inner cap screws into the cap using a long Hex key. I only know this because I once pulled off the cap only for it to leave the inner cap still clipped over the nib. I had to buy a set of Hex keys whereupon the problem was easily fixed although the Hex keys cost more than the pen.
The cap can be posted. It needs a firm push and a twist to grip securely onto the barrel. Be warned that this does make for a heavy pen although I rather like it.
Another thing I do not know is what the black finish on the pen is. It could be a lacquer over a metal body, but I do wonder whether it might be an acrylic layer, perhaps to give a warmer more pleasing feel to the pen rather like a Kaweco Dia 2, where different materials are used in combination. But whatever it is, the finish looks very handsome and is nicely done giving this pen an impressive presence.
The nib and filling system.
The nib is a bicolour, stainless steel, number 6 and mine is a medium. It features the Jinhao horse-drawn chariot logo, the name Jinhao and 18KGP, indicating this to be gold plated. The patterned border in silver between the gold plated areas, is attractive.
What is remarkable though, is that the nib appears so beautifully finished and tuned, for super-smooth effortless writing. The tines and tipping material were level and symmetrical, there was a tine gap, tapering from the breather hole down to the tip but still leaving the tiniest of gaps at the tip, which is exactly as I like them, for a good ink flow and well-lubricated writing experience.
The pen uses standard international cartridges but came with a converter. I flushed both the nib section and the converter before filling and was pleased to find that the converter worked smoothly and well. The twisting knob for the converter is flat on two sides, like on a Lamy converter.
Size and weight.
This is a big pen! Capped, it is around 148mm long: uncapped, a chubby 125mm.
But it is the weight of the pen, that is the elephant in the room. It is a Jumbo sized pen. A cruise ship of a pen. Metaphors abound. The pen uncapped weighs around 30.5g. The cap weighs around 19.5g, giving a total for the pen capped or if posted, at a hefty 50g.
The writing experience.
This Jinhao nib is very smooth and produces a good medium line. It is not a feedbacky nib but my experience so far shows that it copes well with smooth papers, with no skips. There is no downward pressure needed, to make for tiring writing. Interestingly, the pen’s weight seems to make it easier to use rather than harder as you might think. The pen feels substantial and solid and not skittish or prone to jerky writing, that you might encounter on a lightweight model. Perhaps, like the cruise ship, it has greater stability and needs more planning to change direction.
I have been using this for only a week so far but am greatly enjoying it. I have tried writing with it posted and unposted and tend to prefer the former unless just for a brief note. This also has the advantage of providing the pocket clip as a roll-stop.
It is too early to give a more extended use review, but I can confirm that it is a comfortable well built pen that writes well and is fun to use. I have not had any hard-starts so far, using it with Conway Stewart Tavy, blue black ink from Diamine. Time will tell how the finish stands up to longer term use and how the pen feels after long writing sessions, although I have had no problems when writing a couple of A4 pages.
For anyone contemplating a larger pen, such as a Montblanc 149, this could be an inexpensive test to see how the size feels, although admittedly the weight and luxury will both be very different. But you might just find the Jinhao 159 meets some needs without investing in a 149 at all 🙂