Let’s start with some abject honesty; this pen is certainly meant to look very nearly like the Montblanc 149 Meisterstück. Put in a police line-up, turned to put the clips out of sight of the witness, and there is a strong possibility that the wrong pen would be convicted of… well, whatever crime a pen might commit. Only the clip makes an obvious departure in looks, the cap band less so, and to give credit where credit is due, the trim is chrome rather than gold-coloured. Interestingly, while Jinhao are capable of two-tone plating on their points, they don’t install plated points in the 159, which gives another point of difference… even though the impression indicates plating.
The 159 is a metal-bodied pen, and as it is the same dimensions as its German doppelgänger, it is a rather heavier pen. It is not, happily, as heavy as it could be, given those huge dimensions. When the cap is off, one also notices the lack of an ink-window and the chromed thread-band to hold the cap on. One also notices a bit of a step at the bottom of that band, which might give some sensitive writers trouble, although it is not a serious nor a sharp one.
If I have a serious aesthetic objection to the 159, it lies with the clip. The little escutcheon on it is the sort of thing one usually finds on cross-branding exercises, where a car company or electronics firm has ordered a batch of corporate gifts with their own logo glued onto the pen. I find it disruptive of the line of the clip. I can certainly be accused of nit-picking in this.
The writing experience with this pen will vary depending upon your views of posting the cap. With the cap poste, the balance of the pen is somewhat toward the tail; in large hands, this will probably not be an issue, but smaller hands will find the imbalance trying to tip the point away from the paper. With the cap set aside, almost half the pen’s weight is gone and it doesn’t feel heavy at all. The section of this pen is slightly narrower than that of the Montblanc, something which I find (with hands only slightly above average size) to make for more comfortable writing in long sessions. The point is firm, although it does exhibit a little spring– more than is found in a roughly comparable Sheaffer.
Given that it is an inexpensive pen, some quality control issues are usually expected. My example was free of such, and looking at others’ experiences I find general surprise at how well-performing these pens are. If problems do develop, I would expect them to appear in the dampness of writing, and the functionality of the converter.
Production Run: Unknown start, in current production.
Cost When New: LOW. Dealers on eBay offer them for less than $5.00, and extremely reputable online fountain pen stores carry them at under $15.00.
Size: 14.9 cm long capped, 16.6 cm posted, 12.7 cm uncapped.
Filler: Cartridge, capacity approx. 0.6 or 1.4 ml (international pattern), converter of 0.8 ml is usually provided.
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