When these came up on the Book of The Face as being an actual real thing - a fountain pen from China for 99p, including P&P, there was nothing else for it but to buy ALL THE PENS.
Sadly, by the time I'd decided to buy them all, SOMEBODY else had pretty much snapped up all the black ones .... and I decided (after the initial frenetic need to buy! buy!buy! had subsided a little) that I didn't really fancy all the colours - so I bought two demonstrators (the clear one), two blue ones and one cofvefe (the single best thing that Trump has ever done; given us a new colour and morning beverage)
They arrived from China in a couple of weeks and I have been absolutely amazed at how much fun these pens are. I mean - IT'S A FOUNTAIN PEN. FROM CHINA. FOR 99P!!!!
I inked up a demonstrator straight away (Oxblood!) and started using it and really, I've got nothing bad to say about it. Not had any issues with leakage or splodging or a dry nib or anything like that. The nib itself is Fine (0.5mm) and I've not had any problems with uneven tines or needed to primp the nib to get it to work - a couple of taps on the paper and it's been writing like a dream.
Now, as I have said twice now, this is a fountain pen that has winged its way from China for the princely sum of 99p. OK, that's three times now. But let's not be pedantic.
Let's think about what that MIGHT mean, on the other side of the world:
* low rate of pay
* poor working conditions
* damage to the environment
I headed to their website where, apparently, the Jinhao factory works to ISO 9001 which is an internationally recognised standard for product/service quality. Which sounds pretty impressive. I checked out their ISO certificate and can see that it is issued under a 'UCS' banner and the certificate displays the UKAS logo. Huzzah! This UKAS logo means I should be able to check the UK ISO9001 list. And lo! Jinhao are there for 'UCS Judd rgb' skillz. It's something to do with optics and colour standardisations, I think. The ISO 9001 deals purely on the production of the colours for their products; very useful for trade ('You want your red Ferrari fountain pen to exactly match your red Ferarris? Of course, Mr Ferarri!'). Sing out in the comments section if I've got that wrong please!
I have had a good ol'google for the Shanghai Qiangu Stationery Co Ltd (for tis they who make the Jinhao) and can't find any stories (horror or otherwise) about the environment or pollution or anything. Nothing about wages, nor factory conditions. But then again it's China. They won't even allow folks access to Facebook. Or Justin Bieber.
So, what else was I to do but ask them about their factory conditions. I dropped them off an e-mail..... *tumbleweed blows gently over the empty vista of my inbox* .....and not any kind of reply has materialised in the last couple of weeks.
*** 27/7/17 Edit: This blog post talks about the economics of these pens in much greater detail. Thanks to Jonathan Baddeley for the link to Pen Economics. ***
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