Jinhao 992 (Reprise)

I think I mentioned the Jinhao 992 some time ago when I bought a packet of five of them.  They worked out about £1.50 each, perhaps the cheapest pens of all.  I decided to use them for the inks I didn’t want to put in a more expensive pen.  The first one was filled with red ink which famously stains pens.  I don’t use red ink a lot but I’ve used up that first fill.

Another one was filled with Baystate Blue.  It has been used a lot and has been refilled several times.  I think I still have a couple of these pens unused in my desk drawer.

I’ve always taken an interest in Chinese pens.  I think it’s fair to say that the interest was not well rewarded in the early days, ten to fifteen years ago.  The pens cost very little but were still a bad deal because most of them didn’t work well at all, or fell apart within a few weeks.  That began to change a few years ago and I have some good Chinese pens, though as long as they were made out of brass tubing they were a bit too heavy for me.

The 992, however, is the first Chinese pen I’ve had that can actually challenge much more expensive Japanese and European pens.  It wrote, and wrote beautifully from the first fill without any flushing.  It weighs nothing which suits me very well.  The nib is very good – perhaps a little on the bland side, like a Pelikan, if that’s a fair criticism.  I’ve never been especially fond of ‘demonstrator’ pens – they’re lacking in aesthetic quality and all look pretty much the same but I’m forced to admit it’s useful to see how much ink is left in the converter.

The shape is pretty much a small cigar, quite similar to various models made by Pilot, Platinum and Sailor.  The white metal clip is unremarkable and it seems likely that it would do its job perfectly well.  I don’t clip pens to my clothes so I can’t speak from experience.  The broad cap ring covering the lip of the cap is what you see on many pens at the moment.

Several reviewers have commented on the little blob at the end of the barrel.  To be sure, they could have made a smoother outline but it’s hardly a big deal!

The most serious criticism people have made is that cracks appear in the barrel end.  I haven’t seen this in either of the 992s I use.  I don’t know how serious this cracking is – whether it leads to the ultimate disintegration of the pen.  On the other hand I don’t know what other people are doing with those pens.  I’ve been carrying mine in my pen case several times a week but I haven’t dropped either of them.  They seem quite robust to me and the fit and finish is adequate.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, and I have found these pens to be absolutely faultless, something I can’t always say about pens costing 100 times as much and more.  Neither pen has ever failed to start instantly and neither has ever skipped.  How many pens can you say that about?  In terms of durability, time will obviously tell but at the price they are currently offered, I wouldn’t mind having to replace one every few years!


11 thoughts on “Jinhao 992 (Reprise)

  1. I received a fistful of these pens as a gift, and I too am impressed. No cracking yet, but I’m always gentle with fountain pens seeing as they’re precision instruments.

    The Chinese makers have indeed stepped up their game, especially in the nib department.

  2. Many years ago I had a warning from some here today gone tommorrow admin person on FPN for advocating that we should give Chinese pens some recognition because they clearly had the potential to produce a quality pen at an affordable price. The admin person could not see beyond the Parker 51 and felt that the Hero brand to be avoided as one would a rabid dog, he did not want the FPN pages sullied by anything but criticism of Chinese brands.

    The Jinhao company makes a quality product and is a really useful pen for people who would like to try a new pen but dont want to spend too much money. I know of at least one father who sits down with his children on a wet sunday afternoon and plays at writing and composition, each with their own Jinhao 992 and a good notebook, writing down stories, diary entries and anything else that they want, imagine their joy in reading those notebooks in 20 years.

    If the pen breaks or the nib becomes bent from being dropped, its really no big deal.

    1. I agree with what you say and that’s a very encouraging story about the father and children sitting down to write with fountain pens.

      I left FPN several years ago because of the behaviour of Wim and the admins which had driven out all the people who were knowledgable about British pens.

  3. As I don’t put pen to paper, discussions like this leave me unable to join in – it’s not that I can’t string two words together (in fact too many strung together) – so assume the reason is I’m too busy doing other things – but for what they’re worth my twopen’th of thoughts on this thread might read something like this (as Bob Newhart used to say) …………….:-)

    I’ve never owned an example of the pen under discussion, but despite this would never question the positive attributes and glowing reports mentioned above – just possibly the only gripe I might have would be that firm nibs don’t allow much in the way of expressive writing – I do love the effects of a flexible nib for cursive scribbles.
    But – (apologies for starting a sentence with a conjunction) – how do we resolve the issue here of cost ……. how can a pen of this apparent quality be manufactured, sold and posted for £1.50?
    Isn’t there a problem of ethics here – highlighted in a much more serious and real sense by the current trade discussions between the States in particular, and their other markets, where the need for protection of domestic employment is giving rise to quotas and tariffs applied to those countries where an unfair advantage is given by some governments in the form of subsidies.

    It’s beyond doubt that had they still be making f.ps., names such as Mentmore and M.T. would have gone to the wall in the same manner as many other older manufacturers of much that once was British quality, for the same reason that the States now objects to the unfair low pricing of imported raw materials.
    Does this mean that at the end of the day all that the punter is concerned with is cheapness – at the expense of domestic labour and traditional quality – or has the western worker priced himself out of a job?
    There is an ‘affordable price’, and then again there is an ‘affordable price’ – one of them is wrong.

    Yes, good to hear of a father spending time with children and encouraging writing and composition – but what happens if it doesn’t rain on several consecutive Sunday afternoons:-):-)

    Looking in Steve Hull’s ‘The English Fountain Pen Industry’ book, there is an August1930 ad. for The Dunhill-Namiki Lacquer Fountain Pens, with the top of the range model retailing for 140/- (one hundred and forty shillings – or £7.00). – makes you wonder how much of that went back to the skilled maker.

    Perhaps the better alternative is to buy a pre-owned f.p., with nib to suit, with which to assess our requirements, and then purchase something new at a price which reflects the true cost of a well made f.p.

    1. I make a practice of starting sentences with conjunctions. It livens one’s prose, I think. I take issue with the assertion that firm nibs don’t allow for expressive writing. They do. Flexible nibs make for one kind of expressive lines but there are others. There is rather too much made of flex nibs these days, in my opinion.

      There may well be an ethical issue – or, indeed, more than one issue – about the cheapness of these pens. I, myself, am in no position to resolve it and I’m not going to worry about it. I don’t think this blog is the right place to comment on the rights and wrongs of US economic policy, except to say that I find it worrying and I’m glad I live in Scotland now.

      Considering that Namiki is among the most successful manufacturers of fountain pens I would guess they did alright out of the deal with Dunhill. Indeed they still have a relationship.

      I’m not sure I really understand your last sentence. All I can say is that if we allowed politics to influence our fountain pen buying I think it would be easy to find sufficient objections that we wouldn’t buy any.

  4. of course Deb, please delete or prune however you wish – far too long winded. I suspect that it’s a malaise of modern life that for almost everything we buy competition reduces prices to a point where we wonder if a maker is actually getting a living, or perhaps only just getting by. It’s not a situation that affects me – I buy only older f.ps., and have reduced my nerve wrecking ebay purchases to a minimum.

  5. These are such good pens to hand out out to my university students, along with Platinum Preppys, when I find I’ve struck up a second or third conversation with a person about fountain pens. I make ink refills available, too, either cartridges for the Preppies or 5 ml vials for other pens, or a fill-up from a bottle I have reserved for this purpose if a student purchases or brings her or his own pen.

    These less expensive pens are also good to hand over when a student asks to borrow a pen, and I am just a bit unsure about handing over my “51” or even my TWSBI Eco for a moment.

    Most students are touched that I will take the time to talk pens with them, give them a pen, or actually buy us cups of coffee so they can tell me about their Dad’s fp (all my office hours are at Starbuck’s or the Library).

    All but short in-class paragraphs and graphs have to be typed (I teach sciences and upper-level philososphy and history courses related to the sciences) so the fact that handwriting is improved is not a self-serving aspect of my generosity; I am simply a fp evangelist. Soon I am adding basic lessons in cursive writing (which leads into a self-teaching course) just as I now teach basic Latin and Ancient Greek to those wishing to learn etymology. Fp are all part of the package, and durable, inexpensive good writers which are reasonably priced are most welcome.

    1. I’ve had one of these pens in constant use since October 2017. I use it for Baystate Blue and there have been no problems either with the ink or the pen. It never skips and is never hard to start. It was said that these pens tend to crack, especially at the base of the barrel but that hasn’t happened either. I think that it’s great that you’re passing these pens on to students. Some of them, at least, will benefit for the rest of their lives.

      You teach a tremendous range of subjects. My Latin is long forgotten and Greek was no longer taught in school in my time.

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