Thursday, May 10, 2012

Some Like It Cheap: In Which Dr. Inkenstein Goes Black and Gold

One thing Dr. Inkenstein loves about the hobby of fountain pens is that there’s a level for anyone and everyone. Whether you collect vintage, Montblanc, Sheaffer, or are perfectly content with a jar full of Pilot Petit 1 fountain pens in every color, nothing stands in your way.
Dr. Inkenstein happens to love cheap fountain pens like the Hero 616, Baoer Sonnet or Skywalker, but often hears of them referred to as ‘knock-offs.’
They are not. Nowhere do these pens pretend to be Parkers, or Sheaffers, or Montblancs. They do not carry the logos of those brands and make no attempt to deceive the buyer. They are rather homages.


While the Baoer reviewed here is a Sheaffer homage, the others… aren’t. What they are: black-bodied, with gold-tone trim and nibs, they convey an air of understated elegance, even at this cheerful price point.

However, due to blogspot's unworkable new 'interface,' it took about two hours to post what I could previously manage in a mere fifteen minutes.  Blogspot's 'functions,' once easily used, no longer function at all. 
Baoer Sonnett 

This neatly understated gold/black pen has a needle-fine nib, yet the ink flow and nib are both smooth, and I really enjoyed both the look and feel; it’s fun to write with. For a fountain pen that costs around nine bucks, you can’t do much better. The heaviest and most ‘impressive’ of the three pens, the Baoer is an astounding value, and while it comes with a converter, it also takes standard international cartrtidges.
Guanleming 956
This model is supposed to exhibit some flex, and it does, but not much. As with any flex nib, its operation takes getting used to. A featherweight carrying through with our gold and black motif, the GLM 956 has a tapered cap which appeals to Dr. Inkenstein. The fill system is a removable pump-type from which (unlike the Hero 616) the metal tube cannot be removed. This Guanleming is among the five-dollar deal available from isellpens.
Kaweco Sport 


The last of the black-and-golds, this mini-pen is the only one that didn’t come from isellpens. It’s widely available, and I got the medium nib. Dr. Inkenstein has heard complaints about the Sport’s scratchiness, but this one is a wet, juicy writer, at least when using my custom blue ink.
Ever since a tragic ink-cident (the cap of Dr. Inkenstein’s fountain pen fell off and rolled under the desk as we were grilling, ahh, interviewing a victim, ahh, subject for a local paper), we have not been sanguine about allowing fountain pens to leave the home base. If any pen could change that, the cute little Kaweco Sport might. It’s MADE for travel, a true pocket pen that is a mere five-ish inches posted, and four-something capped. The only non-Chinese pen in the bunch (it’s German), also most expensive of the trio by far, yet is still considered an inexpensive pen.

So there you have it: black and gold. Elegance on the cheap.   


  1. I'm glad you were able to make this post (in spite of Blogspot's difficulties). These are really nice cheap pens.

  2. I am definitely liking the Sheaffer look-a-like. (The Baoer, I believe it was.) Reminds me of a Sheaffer Agio that was gifted to me.
    Linked here from the FPN!.