When you think of fountain pens more likely than not China would probably not come to mind. However, this is why I wanted to bring up Chinese-made fountain pens today and talk a bit more in-depth about one which I bought and tested to see how it compares to more better known manufacturers. Click review if you want to skip straight to my experience with the pen or here which opens another tab if you have already made up your mind and want to give it a go yourself. 🙂
The fountain pen we are looking at today is the Yiren 878. A lot of this company’s pens have a numbers behind them like the Yiren 359 and Yiren 361 which may be simultaneously easy or confusing to distinguish between them based on your association with numbers and names. I haven’t quite found out the reason behind the numbers yet but I suspect it has to do with how they sound in Mandarin. For example, the number 8 sounds like the word for prosperity in Mandarin. This is also partially the reason why Chinese websites are usually a series are commonly a series of numbers. The second is because it is much easier for the majority of Chinese to remember since English has much fewer speakers. I probably will find out the reason eventually and will either put the reason in another post or the comments so look out for that!
Behind the name
I wasn’t sure what Mandarin characters “Yiren” referred to since the meaning of the word could change depending on the tone. I initially thought it referred to talent but with some further digging, I discovered it actually is “依人” or something akin to reliability or dependability. Now that made a lot more sense. The company is located in Nanchang (南昌) county in the southeastern part of China and the picture below is the only one I could find of the company. I thought it might be interesting I suppose since I wanted to see the exterior of a Chinese fountain pen production facility.
You can just make out the company name and logo on the building and on the surrounding wall in this image. They were founded in 1996 and also manufacture other stationery apart from fountain pens but we’ll talk about that some other time. For those who have a degree of familiarity of Chinese fountain pen brands, you probably will have the impression that a lot of the designs take after more established brands. However, a lot of them have come into their own which is what I’d like to showcase today.
This is a slightly zoomed out view of the Yiren 878 fountain pen in all it’s glory. The surface is a bit reflective and it comes in 2 versions – silver and gunmetal grey. The one I have is in gunmetal grey as I thought the sinuous wave-like grooves which wrap around the body and cap of the pen would be more visible. As the surface of the pen is reflective, gunmetal grey seems to be a better contrast rather than the silver finish. Or at least in my opinion.
The weight of the pen makes it comfortable to write with, being slightly on the weightier side but not uncomfortably so.
The waves or grooves on the pen body are spaced such that no matter how you decide to cap the pen, the grooves on the cap and pen barrel give the illusion of always being perfectly aligned. It comes with a pen clip for those who like to have their EDC or “everyday carry” in their shirt pockets. The clip is quite sturdy and is comfortable tight enough that you probably won’t need to worry about your pen falling out of your pocket or moving about.
One more amazing thing to note about the cap is that the interior is lined with plastic. What does this does is that the friction fitted cap fits just right, closing with a satisfying click. No more having to worry about whether or not you’ve shut your pen properly. With this cap design, you’ll know.
Now there is something quite interesting about the nib. To start off with the basics, it is a gold-plated stainless steel nib engraved with “Yiren” and the logo on it. The sides of the tines are in gold and the rest of it retains the stainless steel base material, as though the nib has been dipped in liquid gold. If you happen to have heard of Yiren before, it may sometimes be labelled as “Iraurita” fountain pens or (a bit more accurately) Iraurita nib fountain pens. The reason for this is that Iraurita is the name of the nib manufacturer and Yiren obtains their supplies from them.
I thought that this was quite unique actually since I used to be under the assumption that all companies which manufacture fountain pens would also manufacture their nibs. Turns out that another nib manufacturer, JoWo also manufactures nibs for other companies but more on that in another post.
To be honest, I didn’t have many expectations when it came to writing with this pen, being unfamiliar with the brand and not having heard many people talk about it before. When I started using it though, it really did manage to hold its own in terms of smoothness and comfort. The section is made of the same material as the pen and that provided an even feel throughout. There was no skipping at all and the flow was even throughout.
Writing on different types of paper was also an extremely pleasant experience. The pen I have has a nib thickness of 0.5mm which is actually somewhere between a usual fine and medium thickness. You can see a sample of my handwriting using the pen above. I usually use a Parker Quink for new fountain pens and this was no exception. If you are looking for a beautifully made yet affordable fountain pen I would highly recommend this one. Not only is it a delectable writing experience but it also comes with a converter. The usual cartridges are not included however but that is hardly an issue. It readily accepts any standard sized cartridges so apart from needing to have a bottle of ink or your own ink cartridges handy, you’re good to go.
I decided to include a picture of the converter as well after finishing a “write cycle”. The transparent top of the converter is slightly grooved for easier turning so if you wanted to bleed some ink out to get the capillary action started, this let’s you do just that with a fine degree of control. The sides of the converter also seem to be made of a material which is slightly hydrophobic and does not leave any residue on the surface when fully depressed. This is also due in part to the plunger mechanism functioning as intended and leaving a partial vacuum in the converter body itself. Having a pen come with a converter really saves me from having to fit one from another pen or buy another one at the risk of it not fitting. They are also fairly pricey when bought individually.
With all that being said, you can pick up your own at the link below and give it a try yourself. If you do, remember to leave a comment and tell me about your experience with this brand or this pen!