Jinhao Shark Fountain Pen
$3 USD (anywhere on ebay)
Currently Inked: Colorverse Cat (as part of the Multiverse 3 series – Schrodinger & Cat) (bought at pen chalet)
Hello! Sorry for the long break!
I can’t quite remember 100% where I first saw this pen, but I think it was on an ink review by the popular pen blog, “The Well-Appointed Desk” , but I knew that once I saw it, I looked it up right away and immediately put in an order for one. I may or may not have read a couple quick reviews first just to make sure my $3-$4 was being put to good use. But let’s be real, it’s the price of a coffee, plus free shipping and speedy response time. Before I even got into using the pen, I was already happy with the ease of acquiring this pen. It does ship from china though, so it still took a few weeks to arrive. I am okay with this, I quickly forgot I ordered it within a week because of how busy I’ve been, but was happily surprised when this showed up in my mailbox!
A few things to start, this is my first Chinese brand fountain pen. I have really low expectations, if I had to be really honest. It’s not uncommon knowledge that Chinese pen brands are a hit and miss. But they’re also so incredibly cheap, so at the end of the day, there’s almost nothing to be disappointed about. I have been reading up on them, thanks to Frank Underwater‘s monthly summary posts about Chinese pens we should know, and so far from what I have read, it seems like the pen brands are doing more hits than misses these days. Perhaps I will jump on and grab another Chinese pen some day.
Another thing is that I’ve been on a bit of slow down of pen crazy in the past few weeks. One for my wallets sake, and also because I’ve just loaded myself with so many things to do that I’m spread a bit thin with my hobby blogging. But happily little surprises like this show up for a value price, and doesn’t show up two days after ordering it, so it gives me some time to think about it, use the pen sufficiently as well as work on my other stuff without feeling too pressured to produce on my weirdoforest.
This should be a fun one with also what I’ll call , relatively expected results.
Does this pen look super awesome? It’s pretty cute!
This pen has a sharkhead. That should be enough to go on. ‘ ‘<
The pen comes in a multitude of colours, and more often than not, they’re advertised to be bought in the full set of 12 or something. So whatever colour you’re into, they probably have a sharkhead pen for it! I picked yellow, because I like yellow, and because I’ve started a tiny yellow pen collection.
Aside from the yellow shark head twist cap, the body under the grip section is also yellow while the grip section is a transparent yellow tint. The grip itself looks almost exactly like the pilot penmanship, especially in the way it has been formed for a pinch grip hold. The transparent grip section lets you see into part of the feed and the converter to know how much ink you have left to use. Opening up sharkhead, we get a Jinhao branded “F” steel nib. There is a little bit of rectangular scroll work as well as the logo and nib size.
The pen itself is a little slender and also relatively long. It is just over 15cm, and about 6″. I think that’s considered pretty long. However, uncapped, the pen is only about 12.5cm (just less than 5″). I think this is due to the length of the sharkhead. To compare, a TWSBI 580 is about 14cm (5.5″) capped, and 13cm (just over 5″) uncapped. The cap itself, with the little fin, keeps the pen from rolling around, but also makes the shark look a little sad, tilted on it’s side. See a comparison with some of my other pens below:
There was no packaging (other than the bubble wrap and lots of tape in a brown envelope), so other than that, there isn’t much more else to say about the look of the pen. It’s cute and arguably sleek, but otherwise nothing too extravagant or special looking.
I have to say, I am not sure I will use this pen after this review. I may still keep it around for display though.
But let’s step back a little bit. When I first inked this pen up and took notes with it for at least a week or two. It was actually pretty decent. The ink was flowing relatively consistently, the nib was sturdy and unwavering. But I left the pen for a little while with the ink almost used up, and the next time I picked it up, the ink was as good as dried up. So I inked it up again to start reviewing, and I was met with hard starts and inconsistent ink flow. It just did not end up being pleasant to write or draw with.
To go into detail, every time I opened up the pen to use, I would end up having to push really hard, or re-write my first line because the ink didn’t flow out right away. That’s pretty frustrating for a writing instrument; I think everyone can relate. On top of that, even mid sentence the ink might skip and I’ll be left with another blank. Is that the pen’s fault or the ink had a bubble? I am not familiar enough with ink properties to know.
Another bit of trouble I had with the pen was the overall feel of holding, gripping and using the pen. The grip initially seems to have been molded to copy the penmanship grip exactly, but after holding both and using them, I think the proportion for the Sharky is just slightly off. Granted, after using the penmanship for so long and having tried many other wonderfully proportioned pens with better grips, I have to say the penmanship is no longer perfect for me. But this pen can’t even match it! I think it has to do with the length of where my fingers have to sit relative to the tip of the nib that touches paper. It’s just a long enough distance to make writing and drawing feels slightly uncomfortable and awkward. I end up choking up to get that correct distance, but then the shaped grip ends up getting in the way. It’s just not pleasant.
To add to that, unscrewing caps have started to become a bit of a nuisance for me if either 1) it takes too long to unscrew the cap or 2) the cap twist proportions don’t allow for smooth unscrewing. This pen satisfies both of the nuisances. It takes too long to unscrew this cap. I’m twisting the barrel in my hand in half twists, while holding the cap steady, almost 5 times. That’s a lot. There are some pens that unscrew almost instantly yet also keep the ink dry (see ensso). As for the awkwardness of the proportions, because the design of the Sharkhead pen to have a smooth cap to body transition (most caps overlap the pen body), unscrewing the cap ends up feeling really awkward because of where you have to grip the cap relative to where you have to twist. It’s hard to explain, but it makes sense when I do it.
The doodle page for this took me longer than usual because I had to wrestle with the ink skipping, hard starts, etc. But with persistence and increased pressure of nib to paper, I managed to whip something up. Additionally, the “F” nib is really closer to a western medium. It’s rolls down quite a think line, thicker than even a Lamy F. And that’s probably too much for me. I’m still an EF and F fan, mostly because of the control I get when drawing.
It may sound like I only have awful things to say about this pen, and so far it looks like I did. But let’s be real, this pen was 3 bucks. What really could I have expected. This isn’t the first cheap pen I’ve bought and reviewed though. (see platinum preppy) I think I had a similar conclusion about not feeling like I could use the pen long term because of how much added effort it took to get ink to flow well. So it is a little painful for me to give such a poor review for a pen I had no expectations for other than it’s cuteness. I do like cute things, but I am quite a fan of function as well.
So is this pen worth the money? I guess so. It’s functional, usable and it’s not bad looking. And it’s insanely cheap. But be warned that since the pen’s so cheap, quality control is not in your favour and you may end up with as frustrating an experience as I did.
- Cute pen design
- Multiple colour choices
- Extremely cheap
- Hard starts
- Ink skips
- Pen is awkward to grip
- Cap unscrews rough and too many turns
I mentioned in Bloggiversary that I would take a look at this ink in a little more detail in my next review. So here we are! This is the matching 15mL bottle of ink with my Schrodinger Colorverse ink pack. It’s not the same colour at all of course, being a nice deep and glittering blue compared to bright emerald green.
It’s too bad it doesn’t sell separately from Schrodinger, but luckily I enjoy both. In my previous inkish muse on the Schrodinger (link), I already talked about how neat and thoughtful the packaging was. Usually well produced packaging is met with less favourable reviews on the actual product in my experience, but I think newer companies now are really considering the quality of product as well as marketing. Returning to the ink then, I have to say that I quite like this ink! I have a lot of ‘blue’ ink, but in reality, they’re mostly teals and cyans, or on the other spectrum, a more purple blue. Hardly a true blue. So here we have a CAT that is as true blue-ish the way I’d like it. On top of that, the ink has some glistening pigment that makes it sparkle. It’s less noticeable when using for regular writing, but I think for broader or brush stroke use, the glisten will really show.
On the pamphlet for CAT we have:
No. 22/ 15mL
RGB: 42, 72, 157
Pantone colour: Reflex Blue U
Surface Tension of 40
PH of 8.0
I don’t know what these mean! But if I tried to deduce anything, this ink does feel ever so slightly thinner and more runny than the Schrodinger, so maybe that has to do with surface tension. In any case, it’s a great little bottle of ink. Perhaps in the near future, they may produce a bigger bottle of it, but actually I’m quite happy with these small sizes.
Happy Victoria day and thanks for reading!
A much more positive review is coming up, stay tuned!