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
|Live in You||Live in You里莜 (Taobao store)||里莜||Future (未来)
|The first individual designer brand in the Chinese pen industry. Combining German nib units with impeccable oriental designs, Live in You always over-delivered.|
|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
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 /
|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
|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
|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,
|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 email@example.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
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.