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  • A Fleeting Ripple

postcode envy: jinhao 80

Bright sunlight pours through from the open window. It’s cold outside, a clear day. The kettle boils while the oven heats up for some breakfast bagels. Then, the clouds float in from south. It gets darker gradually, then the rain starts falling. It hits the windows in almost perpendicular angle, a vicious splatter. It stops as quickly as it started. First, the day turns a little lighter, then you find yourself sitting in a pool of bright sunlight once again.

I don’t own many Chinese pens. The ones I tried out weren’t the best and the nibs were fussy.

On the other hand, Lamy 2000 is one of the best pens I own. The design is as timeless as it gets, not many pens have been in constant production for almost 60 years without much change. That might become a double edged sword soon, as it doesn’t supply the variety that a modern customer is offered.

As one of those slightly spoiled customers, I bought this pen for two reasons: firstly, it is a lovely grass green pen, and secondly, it was a 4€ risk to take.

Easy choice.

AliExpress’s package tracking never really worked for me, so I just ordered and completely forgot about it. When it arrived in a padded envelope, I just put it into my bag, thinking that it was a letter from my friends. I thought it would be nice to read on my half an hour tram ride to school, but no, it was my pen.

It has a “brushed” makrolon effect, it hides the mould injection lines pretty well, as long as the light doesn’t hit it the right way. The dimensions between the Jinhao 80 and Lamy 2000 are the same when they’re capped, but their sections and capping mechanisms are very different. The nib is open on the 80, which looks quite similar to the Lamy Safari nibs. I think you can even swap nibs between them (see this link).

Jinhao 80 is a simple pen with no extra gimmicks. Instead of the piston mechanism, there is the good old cartridge-converter and instead of the fancy hook mechanism in the cap of Lamy 2000, the 80 has a regular snap cap. One attention to detail that I wasn’t expecting from this pen is that the metal ring in the middle is not only a ring. The threads are actually plated metal and they hold pretty well. The nib is great too; much, much better than my previous Jinhao’s. A fine nib, true to size, deliciously wet.

Admittedly, the bar is much lower for a “successful” Jinhao, as the price is so low. It just has to work.

For a Lamy 2000 (and the price you’re paying for it), you’re not only paying for a pen what works great, you’re paying for the brand of Lamy and the long history of the design. There was a team of people that worked on the design. Someone drew those gentle curves and beautiful tapers, found the genius idea of using makrolon, prototyped and tried again and again to make this pen.

There was no thoughtful designer in Jinhao. It is a clone. You know how some people say “Oh, my child can do that,” when they see a Picasso? Well, if the child made the Lamy 2000, it would be Jinhao 80.

I’m being very harsh.

I do like the pen, even though the ethical dilemma has been in my mind as well. I use it. I enjoy it.

Everyone that enjoys the Lamy 2000 has been hoping for a colourful makrolon pen, but when Lamy delivers that, it is for anniversaries and still in muted colours. It still calls back to the pillars of mid-century design. Calm and collected, luxurious.

Jinhao brought the 2000 into the 21st century. They brought it into the age of unbridled mass consumption, of infinite choice for the consumer, of planned obsolescence. All those things that I don’t associate with fountain pens. I imagine that fountain pens are personal and thoughtful, you pick your ink and pens, it is not something you get off the shelf, ready-made. I imagine them to last almost forever -just take a look of the pens that have been in use for 100 years.

How can I say no when it matches my gigantic Aloe named Craigen?

Lately, I’ve been hearing that Jinhao’s have been arriving with some blue ink, probably dip-tested, like the Lamy pens. The pen in my hands feels sturdier than the previous Jinhao pens I had from a year ago. These make me want to believe that Jinhao has been improving their quality and the quality control. Perhaps this means that they can be an enjoyable competition to other pens.

I’m curious to see how the fast fashion of fountain pens will proceed from now on. It seems like the x159 is getting a lot of attention at the moment, and the 82 is getting mixed and matched just like Sailor Pro Gear Slim’s. Chinese pens are providing an interesting alternative to “big brand” pens cannot provide. Aurora cannot make an 88 that’s 10€. Jinhao can.

I have mixed feelings about this, because I don’t want to endorse mass consumption. Think about your pens, get to know them. On the other hand, I like this pen, especially for taking to school. It’s currently inked with Noodler’s Rome Burning. I like the ink, which also makes for a tiny metaphor for today’s article. No, I don’t agree with the Noodler’s man at all.

A bit of research showed that Jinhao 80 is somewhat more likely to be a Lamy 80 clone due to the clip and nib shape, but for all intends and purposes, I think it functions as a Lamy 2000 clone.

Thank you for reading!

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