The Ultimate Guidebook for Chinese Pens

ABOUT THIS POST

I started this blog post trying to list all the useful information and buying links for the newly emerged stationery brands. It has always been a tricky task to get the pens you love imported if there is a lack of distributors. I hope my knowledge can come to your aide this time. This is also a project that needs encouragement to start. Thus I really want to thank all the readers that read my words and convinced me that a list like this would help. (Phil and Ann, thanks!)

I want to make three points clear before starting:

First, I have no affiliation or monetary relationships with the vendors or brands in this post, and I choose them based on my previous experience as a customer who has his own value and preferences;

Second, to get this post done, I went back to the success stories of people I know, but still, it may not be as holistic or through as you anticipated. Thus, I want to listen and learn from your experience in the future. Please feel free to share your experience here, so that we can make this list an evolving thing.

Finally, I intentionally screened out some blatantly copycat products. Generally, this wave of new products from the East has been a refreshing one, but among them, we can still find some products built with only one goal in mind—knockoff tested models and get a free ride, and I just don’t want to endorse them here.


Sheet 1: Basics of My Favorite Pen Makers and Retailers in China

Names and Site Links Chinese Name Top
Products
Note
Live in You Live in You里莜 (Taobao store) 里莜 Future (未来)

UNSEEN (看见)

MiTu (迷图)

The first individual designer brand in the Chinese pen industry. Combining German nib units with impeccable oriental designs, Live in You always over-delivered.
KACO KACO旗舰店(Tmall store) 文采 Square,

Cobble,

SKY,

SKY II…

A lifestyle stationery brand starts from 2011. Although its main focus is gel ink pens for office and school, a full line of fountain pen has been maintained by KACO. The company earned several Red Dot Awards and iF Awards over the years.
Green Stationery 上海君来(Taobao store) 格林文具 Wing Sung 601, 618, 698 … The company that starts it all by releasing the first modern Chinese piston filler, the 698, in 2016. It is also retailoring the updated HERO-100.
Shanghai Jindian 上海晶典文具社(Taobao store) 上海晶典 Penbbs series

HERO-329, 100…

Lorelei standard, acrylic, and AL

Moonman M1, M2, and Aspirin

My top 1 place to shop classic Chinese pens such as HERO-329 and 100 (including the updated ones). Besides being the exclusive distributor of Lorelei pens, the company is also developing new labels such as Moonman.
PENBBS PENBBS书写工具 (Taobao Store) PENBBS钢笔 /

中国钢笔论坛钢笔 /

坛笔

Penbbs 308, 309, 323, 267 … This is the store directly run by the webmaster of the PENBBS.com, the Chinese counterpart of FPN. Clearly more goodies are on the way. I am currently fancy a draw-filler.
Tang Fountain Pen 二柚记 (Taobao store) 棠钢笔 Tang AL,Tang acrylic Another individual brand with a sleek design. You can choose Schmidt or Online nib unit for your purchase. The store is also selling pens from TWSBI and Platinum.
M&G M&G Global Website (finally, an official site rather than store) 晨光 Ultra-simple (晨光优品) series Yes, this is a brand I never mentioned before in my blog, but it is actually the elephant in the room for the stationery industry. Its recent Ultra-simple sub-brand has so far been promising. My AliExpress order of my first Ultra-simple gel ink pens (which was designed in collaboration with BMW Designworks) is approaching.

For this sheet 1, it would be very handy if you are living in China or planning a trip there in the future, or have some friends happen to be traveling there—just directly open the Taobao links and search with the Chinese keywords.

For international purchase, this sheet might still be useful since there are ways available for you to work on the shipping. For orders shipped overseas, Taobao/T-mall offers two solutions:

a), Buyer contact and negotiate with the seller on a case by case basis to decide the shipment method and cost. When I was buying anonymously, I found it could always be hard to persuade the sellers to proceed like this;

b), Instead of mailing directly to you, the seller could send the package to an international shipping agent inside China, and you would proceed to check out the international mailing details with the agent later. UPS and USPS are among the available services. According to the platform, you can choose to combine your purchases from different Taobao sellers at this stage to save some money.

Personally I have tried the method b recently and it did not went the way I anticipated.  The packages that contain stuff from KACO flagship store, Green Wing Sung and Tang FP did went through the inspection of the USPS agent. I tried a lot since the system altered me that these packages were refused to be further handle due to “violating certain policies”, but after two weeks of sending messages I still got no reply.


Sheet 2: Re-sellers for International Purchase

 

Resellers Top Products Price Analysis Note
art-pen-book-dy (eBay seller)

 

Wing Sung 601

Live in You Future series, MiTu

Moonman M2

Penbbs series

It seems to me that the seller converts the MSRP (which always get discounted in the domestic market) price directly into USD for the listings. The seller replied me that the 601s sold by him are all updated version. Many of my pen friends in the Big Apple Pen Club have been enjoying buying pens from this store.
office_supplies_pens (eBay seller) Wing Sung 698

Moonman M2

Penbbs series

Besides its overpriced 309 series, everything else similar to the above seller. It stocks Golden Star, another legacy Chinese pen brand.
Vanness Pen (Base in the US) Penbbs ink,

Wing Sung 698 14k,

Lorelei

For a single product, it is more expensive than the eBay sellers, but the service and shortened wait-time is a HUGE plus. Purchases totaling more than $40.00 will receive FREE USPS shipping within the U.S. Email them at vannessonline@gmail.com for international shipping.
Straits Pen (Base in Singapore) Wing Sung 698, 618

Caliarts Ego 2

 

I like their pricing for the Wing Sung pens. For all International Orders, there is an SGD$2.00 handling fee on top of postage. Contact them for more details
Amazon Marketplace Penbbs 308, 309

M&G Ultra-simple

Wing Sung 698, 618…

Some are more expensive than the mentioned eBay seller. But some are extremely well-priced and shipped from within the US! If you prefer Amazon as the platform, and you want to access the local stock if you are in the US, then you can try them.
Jinhao Official Store (AliExpress) KACO pen (almost full line)

Several Live in You pens

 

Very reasonable price for the Kaco pens, especially for the premium fountain pen lines. All the KACO and Live in You pens in this store are marketed under JINHAO brand, take your time to select the right items. And, do not buy LAMY there.
jewelrymathematics (eBay seller) Wing Sung and Hero pens (both modern and vintage ones)  A huge number of Wing Sung pens has been sold here! Recommended by Svanoort, its storefront definitely reminds me of one reputable seller at Taobao. 

Use this sheet if you don’t want to take the hustle to register for sites like Taobao/T-mall, and it is noteworthy that AliExpress maybe a hidden pearl for international purchase–my first order placed at the end of last month arrived last friday, and the tracking system proved to be quite informative and useful.


Updates Tracker and Notes:

Feb 4th 2018 5:15PM ET: The first edition of this post was out.

Feb 22th 2018 6:20PM ET: The eBay seller jewelrymathematics was added, along with some updates of the shipment of my personal international purchases.

 

22 Replies to “The Ultimate Guidebook for Chinese Pens”

  1. Wow! 😯 That is a far more comprehensive list that I was hoping for… Well done Frank. This will surely be a heavily visited page. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is great! I will have to take some time and really look into what would suit my tastes among all these brands. I will admit I have yet to step into the chinese pen market, but from your previous posts, have seen some things that I might consider!

    Like

  3. This is a good post! It’s worth mentioning the international seller JewelryMathematics on eBay, who is another well-trusted seller for Wing Sung (along with Picasso, Hero, and others). Would love to see a review of the Kaco or Live In You pens, by the way — they sound excellent, but are expensive enough an international buy seems risky. The PenBBS offerings have really impressed me, though! Top-notch build quality and lovely, velvety nibs. The Wing Sung pens also have been excellent, especially the nibs — though obviously the cheaper options (3003, 3008, 6359, etc) aren’t to the same standards as the 698 or 618.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Svanoort: Thanks for your kind reply and recommendation! I am trying my best to get my Future pens and new Kaco pens in hand ASAP, and I can’t agree more with your observation over PenBBS and Wing Sung products. BTW, would it be possible for you to give us a link to the seller you mentioned? I couldn’t find this name just now, thanks!

      Like

      1. @Frank Certainly, this is JewelryMathematics, AKA YCPens: http://www.ebay.com/usr/jewelrymathematics — they are the source of many of the original Wing Sung eBay photos (other sellers reuse the photos, I’m sorry to say). I concur with your assessment of office_supplies_pens and art-pen-book-dy, by the way — they’ve been good sellers for me too.

        I also have good things to say about *some* of the Hero and Picasso pen offerings after getting a chance to try them out on a trip to China… but there’s so many different models there (many of the Hero pens being copycats) that it’s very hard to recommend the brands in general and I can definitely understand why they’re omitted.

        This is my reminder that it’s long past time to do a PenBBS review, now that I own 4 of their pens and have seen that their quality is consistent.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Great Svanoort! I have updated the vendor list and I really appreciate your inputs here. Your understanding of the current state of pen brands like Picasso and Hero is in line with mine (glad you got the chance to try them out in China), and also thanks for the understanding of my editorial choices.
        BTW, where can I follow you? I really want to check out your PenBBS review in the future.

        Like

      3. Ahh, thanks Frank! I see you found my little mini-blog — the PenBBS 308 review just went up today: https://codeablereason.wordpress.com/2018/02/23/penbbs-308-review/ — there’s still a bunch of mini-reviews I need to migrate over from the /r/FountainPen reddit (and imgur albums).

        Anyway, stoked for more news on the PenBBS vacuum/plunger filler, when it comes out. That one is a must-buy.

        Like

  4. Wooow. This was much better than what I envisioned, including comments from sellers! Definitely bookmarking this page. Sincere thanks for all your effort and time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ann! More works would be done to improve the accuracy and efficiency of this list, glad you like it!

      Like

    1. Hi, Fernando, most of the pens with open nib design in this post are fitted with a steel nib, but you can easily change the ones in German standards into gold pens if you have spare #5 or #6 gold nib. Meanwhile, most of the hooded nib pens in this post come have variants that feature gold nibs, i.e., the Wing Sung 601 and HERO-100.

      Like

  5. Frank,

    A collection of excellent articles on newer Chinese fountain pens. I have enjoyed every post since signing on to your list. The “newer” (at least to me) Chinese fountain pen manufacturers are showing flair. The Tang fountain pens look great, both the acrylic and the aluminum models. Unfortunately, I have had no luck in trying to purchase them through Taobao or T-mall.***SIGH***

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Matthew, thanks for your kind words! I am feeling sorry for your experience with Taobao or T-mall, and I am having the same issue as yours now. More than half of my recent Taobao/T-mall packages couldn’t go through the shipment agent and are destined to waste another week or two in the warehouse due to the Chinese New Year. My shipment agent (who uses USPS services) flagged some of my fountain pens, i.e., Wing Sung 601, as banned products without further explanation while allowing pens like Moonman m2 to pass their system. I tried to contact the customer service people from the platform for four times during the past week and got no reply. This process indeed is a tedious one with too many variables.
      What’s your problem? Let’s lay out the major obstacles so that I can try to optimize this process in the future.

      ***CHEER UP***

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Frank,

        Thank you for the response. I believe the biggest issue is when I have the websites translated into English. Important information is being lost in the translation. I can go to the websites but I’m having issues getting the item into the cart. If I can get the item into the cart, completing the purchasing steps breaks down. I’m of the opinion that using a service (such as ZenMarket when I purchase items from Japanese companies) would work but I have not had success in locating a Chinese equivalent to ZenMarket as yet.

        I have not given up hope, as the Tang fountain pens appear to be worth the time and effort. If anything, I am taking a little respite due to an increased workload and to not get so frustrated that I give up.

        Please continue to write about the Chinese pens and the manufacturers. There are some fantastic writing instruments coming out of China that show great promise and a unique way of looking at a “simple” instrument.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve just discovered how fantastic these pens are and can’t wait to try out more of them. This post though is absolutely fantastic as it can be hard to understand where to buy from and getting all the different brands and sellers in a straightforward way like this is just what I needed. Thank you a lot for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a wonderful list! It is a lot of fun to know the evolving Chinese fountain pen. I purchased some pens according to your list. Both M1 and M2 are amazing pen!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. is there better place to track new Fuliwen pen products besides their official site? maybe something on Taobao? seems like their site isn’t updating with all products because i cannot find 016 model there and some other from their line, only place i know where to look for their pens is Ali and Ebay

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.