Friday, March 30, 2012

Three Pens, Fifteen Dollars: In Which Dr. Inkenstein Reviews Guanleming

Guanleming is a brand of Chinese fountain pen that Dr. Inkenstein ever heard of. Luckily, a post on FPN about new stock at Isellpens revealed that there are at least three models, at FIVE DOLLARS EACH.
Sold! And here they are, in a sadly-murky snapshot:

The only one that I loaded was the Demonstrator ( with J Herbin Eclat de Saphir ink); the rest were dip-tested (my own mix called ‘Navy Green.’). Paper was a Rhodia grid pad, which is wonderful to write on, and Dr. Inkenstein loves a grid layout, but it looks a little funny in scans, so my apologies… will probably switch future reviews to paper with NO lines.   The handwritten scans appear above the review for each pen.

For such low-priced pens, they feel and perform beyond expectations. Each has a different look/nib, but they're all bulb-fillers, with the typical metal tube covering the bulb. They’ll hold more ink than a standard international cart, but not as much as a piston-filler. Not all the caps post, but the pressure-fit is pretty good.

The Demonstrator (2001) above: Advertised as ‘The Baystate Blue Pen,’ this little lightweight number would indeed be a good pen to dedicate to that tricky color. In fact, at this price, you could buy several just as ink testers, but the pen’s better than just that, with a smooth, responsive hooded nib that gives some character to your writing. I’d classify it as a ‘fine.’ It’s comfortable to hold, and the gold clip just looks cool. Dr. Inkenstein is having a lot of fun with this.


The 978 ‘Accountant’ pen, above, has my favorite look of the trio: brushed silver finish, gold trim contrasting with the shiny black bullet of a section also ringed with gold. This is a heavier pen than the demonstrator, with a comfortable grip. The clip is elaborately fashioned, with grooves and steps and an incised symbol, ending in a ball. The hooded nib writes a fine, firm line well enough that I wish I could fill it, but I’m a little afraid I put a hole in the bulb by twisting too hard when I removed the metal tube. One day, maybe, when Dr. Inkenstein is in the mood for inky fingers….

The 193 above is a fude, sometimes known as a Chinese calligraphy nib. The end of the nib turns up, allowing for a great variety of line. Held at a low angle, the pen writes like a B; upside down, it writes a hairline, and with a little practice you can get just about everything in between. It sports a brown and black finish, a black section which gives it a semi-hooded appearance (unusual in fude), and a gold Parker-type arrow clip. Though the nib is on the rough side compared to some other fude, for collectors (such as Dr. Inkenstein!) this little lightweight example of the genre is a good addition. The cap does not post on this model, but balance and esthetics are okay without it.

The pictures on the Isellpens web site are much, much better than mine, so go have a look.

Here they are, in Specials.

A couple of other pens (a Baoer, another Guanleming) arrived in that order. Look for those reviews coming soon.


  1. That is so funny that you just bought these 3 pens from as I just bought 3 from them as well and 2 were the same as you chose(the 2001 Demonstrator and the 978 Accountant). I did not choose to get the 193 but instead chose to get the Hero 360 for $3.88. Overall I have been very happy with my purchases as they all write very well.

  2. I don't know much about pens, but those colors look great! Nice blog missy! :)