Chinese replica fountain pens – a good starting point?
Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. And going by the saying, there is no way one could question the sincerity of the Chinese. They have flattered almost every major manufacturer of fountain-pens, to the extent of making an industry out of flattery. Their sincerity in the form of Chinese replica pens, indeed, is beyond reproach!
What is remarkable is the extent to which they go to make these imitation pens, often matching not only the look and feel of the original, but even quality and performance. Well, I know I am erring on the wrong side of emotions here – one who has paid a fortune to acquire a name-brand fountain pen will justifiably not agree with me, but the facts remain. And what also needs to be considered is that the Chinese replicas also come in different qualities – with the first copies being extremely well crafted and almost impossible to differentiate with the naked eye, even for seasoned pen lovers.
But why? Why do the Chinese make the copies that they do? I mean, with craftsmanship and manufacturing prowess of such high order, why do they restrict themselves to churning out copies when they can jolly well have originals that can be winners in their own right? Well, I am yet to figure out a plausible answer and the closest that I got was from an old pen peddler in Bangkok. “American and Japanese pens are very expensive” he said, “many people want to buy and use them but can’t. The Chinese make pens that everybody can buy. So that everybody can have the pleasure of writing with beautiful pen without paying fancy price.” What he was trying to tell me was simple, convoluted as it may sound – the Chinese are doing a great service to the fraternity of pen lovers by making the replica pens. By creating copies, they are actually spreading joy – the Chinese Replica to the rescue types !
If one were to go by this logic alone – and many young fountain pen lovers would tend to agree – Chinese knock-off’s are a great entry point. As a matter of fact, as many pen lovers have told me, the Chinese replica pens only go on to refurbish the desire to acquire the originals. The desire for the “Real Thing” is actually strengthened by the copies, encouraging beholders to work towards the acquisition, often with more focused dedication. Besides, some Chinese replicas are so good that they can easily be passed off as originals, the muted nods of admiration that they elicit, making the whole effort worth it, especially to the greenhorns.
That brings us to the next important question. Which replicas to buy? Naturally desist from buying the cheap fakes that are sought to be sold as originals. Instead, go for the Chinese pens, if you must that is, that look exactly like the real deal, but come with their own names. These pens can easily be bought off the shelf in most Indian pen selling shops or can be acquired in the net, which seems to be inundated with them. The Chinese replicas generally cost a fraction and are, in most cases, very good to write with. However, be warned – cases of leaking feeds and scratchy nibs are very common and the possibility of getting replacements or refunds is virtually non-existent. To put things simply, some of the pens that you buy will almost invariably turn out to be duds. But then again, at the bargain basement, you cannot expect to win every time, can you?
For the adventurous and the uninitiated, I have tried to draw up a list of Chinese pens mentioning next to them the pens from which they draw their “inspirations”. This is naturally, by no means the definitive list, as I must admit upfront, that my knowledge about the matter is limited. Besides, I don’t have access to all the replica pens that are made out of China or sold as such in the net or otherwise. I do have a sizeable collection of Chinese pens, keep adding to them whenever something catches my fancy, but have never seriously studied the Chinese replicas, leave alone delve deep into either the economics of the trade or the psychology that leads to their creation in the first place. Point is, I am not the right guy to address your queries, this piece being no more than the ramblings of a raconteur on a lazy afternoon.
Please feel free to add to the list through the comments section.
Hero 616 – Parker 21/51
Baoer 388 – Parker Sonnet
Duke 209 – Parker Sonnet
Jinhao 159 – MontBlanc 149
Wing Sung 3003 – Pilot 78G
Wing Sung 6359 – LAMY Al-Star
Jinhao 992 – Sailor Procolor
Lingmo Lorelei – Sailor Procolor
Delike New Moon – Sailor ProGear
PenBBS 308 – Sailor Procolor
Delike Alpha – Kaweco Al/Brass Sport
Lanbitou 3059 – TWSBI ECO
Lecai Acrylic – Franklin Christoph
Baoer 801 – Parker Vector
Monte Mount Snake Clip – MontBlanc Rouge et Noir
Kaigelu 316 – Parker Duofold