Don’t judge me. I found this by accident whilst innocently scrolling for pens, on Amazon (don’t judge me, again).
To give it its full description, this is the Jinhao 80 Gray Fiber Brushed Fountain Pen. I chose the Fine nib version. There were also options for a black pen with either a silver coloured or black clip and options of Fine or Ultra Fine nib.
To acknowledge the elephant in the room, this is clearly based upon a certain well known iconic, much loved German fountain pen designed in the 1960’s although there are many key differences, including as to body material, nib and feed design, grip section material and filling system. The snap capping is also simplified.
Conveniently leaving aside the ethical considerations of purchasing such a pen, I will describe the pen and give you my opinion of it on its own merits. Let’s call this a homage to the Lamy 2000.
I was curious as to how the pen would feel, compared to the unique, tough and textured Makrolon of the Lamy. I have to say, that the plastic used does look and feel good and there is a textured finish in the plastic, which is pleasant to the touch.
The cap features a chunky, brushed steel clip which is sprung and works very well and is really quite astonishing given the price by western standards. There is no visible branding on the pen body or the clip, until you get to the nib. The cap finial is also just like that of the Lamy 2000, except in a matte finish rather than glossy.
The cap pulls off with a click. It is secured by the raised lip at the at the nib-end of the grip section clicking into the inner cap, as opposed to the horse-shoe metal ring (with its two protruding ears) of the Lamy. There is a plastic inner cap and I have not encountered any nib-drying and hard starting so far.
The grip section is of the same textured plastic as the cap and barrel and is very comfortable to hold. Where it joins the barrel, there is a shiny plated metal ring on the barrel. The absence of any step makes for a comfortable grip, wherever you wish to grip the pen.
On the Lamy 2000, the join between the barrel and piston knob is famously almost invisible. On the Jinhao 80, you cannot see the join either, but this is because there is none: it is a cartridge-converter pen, not a piston filler.
At the foot of the barrel, there is a steel disc inset, which presumably is just cosmetic here but gives the pen a distinctive look on a desk and shows attention to detail in this homage.
Unscrewing the barrel, the pen comes with a converter which works ok although I would have liked it to contain a metal coil ink agitator. This would help prevent ink sometimes sticking at the back end with surface tension rather than sloshing down to the nib and feed. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the barrel had metal screw threads inside and so you have metal-to-metal threads for the barrel to grip section.
And so to the nib. The pen came with a Jinhao steel Fine nib. There is no pretence of making a Lamy 2000 style semi-hooded nib, but rather Jinhao has adopted the design of a Lamy Safari or Al-Star nib, which has its advantages.
On mine, the nib wrote a fine line which was very dry. The nib was smooth with nice even and level tines but they were too tightly together for my taste. As I had chosen an ink that was also new to me (Rohrer & Klingner Isatis, limited edition of 2021) I soon found that in such a dry nib, the very thin single coat of Isatis, with no back-wash, looked very pale indeed.
It may be that the nib set-up would have suited someone with a more conventional writing style, but as a lefty overwriter needing a wetter flow, I tried to ease the tines a little, with brass shims. This proved to be quite difficult, there being no breather hole and the face of the nib being flat, rather than curved over the feed. After struggling with this for some minutes, I gave up and instead swapped the nib for one from a Lamy Al-Star. This operation was quite easy, using a piece of Selotape wrapped over the nib to pull it directly off the feed.
Now, with a Lamy steel nib, the pen is writing very nicely. I have refilled it with Waterman Serenity Blue, filled from a bottle, which is the ink that I normally use when trying out a new pen.
The cap posts, both deeply and securely and the pen feels comfortable and well balanced whether the cap is posted or not. It feels comfortable, lightweight and solid and writes very well.
Giving credit where it is due, the pen has been made to a good standard of quality. Whilst the supplied nib was a bit too dry for me, the pen makes an excellent vehicle for a Lamy Safari-style nib which can be enjoyed without the Safari’s faceted grip. You could even fit a Lamy gold nib if you were so minded.
For its very modest price, which was just £9.49, the pen is undeniably good quality and value. The only issue is whether your scruples allow you to live with yourself for supporting what some would call a “knock-off”. In my case, I did not buy it because I wanted people to think I have a Lamy 2000. I can flaunt my own Lamy 2000 to do that. But for a low cost writing tool and now benefiting from a Lamy nib, this is, leaving aside the ethical debates, a great pen. There are plenty of examples of pen homages for those who would like a low-cost alternative to a Parker 51 or Duofold, Pilot Capless, a Montblanc Rouge et noir, or even a Lamy Safari, perhaps to use as body double whilst our originals stay at home.