Early thoughts on the Jinhao 159 fountain pen.

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.

The unboxing.

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.

Jinhao 159 uncapped

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.

Nib-pic. As smooth and well-tuned as you could wish for.

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.

The supplied, Jinhao-branded, push-in converter.

Size and weight.

This is a big pen! Capped, it is around 148mm long: uncapped, a chubby 125mm.

Some size comparisons: Left to right: Lamy Lx, Sailor 1911 standard, Aurora 88, Montblanc 146 (75 years anniversary edition!), Jinhao X-450 and the Jinhao 159.

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.

Jinhao 159 posted. “That’s not a knife. THAT’S a knife” (Crocodile Dundee).

Conclusion.

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 🙂

10 thoughts on “Early thoughts on the Jinhao 159 fountain pen.

  1. This was the first Chinese clone pen I bought and the best. Mine wrote well though was some what anonymous. I gave it away to some one starting up in fountain pens who needed a cheap reliable writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My recent purchases of inexpensive Chinese pens include two Jinhao 159s, one black/chrome with a steel nib, the other orange/gold with a two-tone nib. Both nibs are fine, which suit my style. Bearing in mind that one cost £6.99 and the other just £4.13 (including p+p from China), this is outstanding value for money for pens that write so well and look so impressive. The only minuses I’ve experienced are, posted, they are too heavy and unbalanced for me and the metal thread on the barrel doesn’t give me the best holding experience.
    The other pen I’ve bought this week is the Wing Sung 699 in translucent dark blue (a Pilot 823 clone), which is about the same length as the Jinhao but much slimmer and lighter. This is a beautiful pen and my current Chinese favourite. At £19, another bargain. Thanks Rupert for steering me towards it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ron! I can imagine that many may find the Jinhao 159 too heavy to use posted. Personally I tend to hold pens quite far back from the nib and so I appreciate the extra length that posting provides and also, holding the pen higher means less issue with pens becoming back heavy.
      Yes, that Wing Sung 699 is quite something and the Wing Sung steel nibs are very good too. It is also easier to clean than a Pilot 823 since you can unscrew the section to get at the main ink reservoir, whereas on my Pilot 823 this does not seem to be an option.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting pen review, but there was just one point which made me gasp……… you didn’t have a set of hex keys?!!!
    Time was when I used to carry a multitool incorporating a set of hex keys with me every day in my handbag. Mind you, when I was working as an admin assistant on a construction site, many of the labourers used to comment that the tool set I had in my desk for odd jobs was more comprehensive than theirs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Excellent eye for detail. No I confess to not having a set at the time. Multitools are great but to get to the top of a pen cap, needed quite a long reach. I will be better prepared next time!

      Like

  4. An interesting take on a pen that is easy to dismiss as ‘just a cheap Montblanc clone’. Thank you for this review.

    I have had mine for a few years, some of which it has served as my kitchen pen, for lists and notes though being a wet writer, it is not necessarily best suited to that.

    I would be interested to hear if you have noticed nib drying when not in use? Mine has suffered with this since new. Not a problem day to day but if left unused for longer than a couple of days it needs coaxing to get it to write and then it’s very saturated.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you. It is good to hear that your 159 has been in service for a few years. They do seem built to last.
    I have not had any hard start issues with mine so far but have not yet left it unused for intervals of more than 24 hours.

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  6. Nice review Rupert, good read. I got a 159 last year to see how I liked fatter pens and I also got a good one, very well behaved wet medium nib, it’s just a shame I only had the option of black and chrome as your gold finishing makes it look so much smarter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Martin. I have been impressed with the quality of the 159. A well behaved wet medium nib is a good description. I had to decide between gold or chrome fittings and went with the gold this time for that classic look. There was even an option on Amazon to get both plus a third pen with a matt gold finish, but I managed to resist those.

      Like

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