I’d been mulling over the idea of getting a new fountain pen for a while. Perhaps doing so might provide me to write by hand more, and take extra care over my writing (I’ve become accustomed to scribbling out only To Do lists of late, rather than lengthy journal entries).
I still have (at the time of writing) my old high school pens, in particular the common (at least it was then) Parker (below, top), but long since out of ink. Plus, I wasn’t all that attached to it; its medium nib was a little to broad for me.
The last pen, or pens I bought, were a bulk load of ‘biros’ (above, bottom), and my stash was running low.
It’s not that I wanted anything fancy; I just wanted something that would work… for me, in particular I wanted a fine nib, and not another bulk load of biros.
I came across the Wing Sung 6359. Pretty much one of the cheapest fountain pens available, and widely described as a knock-off/clone of the “Lamy Al Star”, so I learned. This video is one of the reviews I reviewed: [link]
It’s a refillable pen by way of a “converter” and available in a variety of colours. I’d not used such a converter thing before, my fountain pens were all “cartridge pens” as we called them, and had always required replacements cartridges (annoyingly of the three I have, all taking different ones).
I actually priced up ink bottles vs cartridges and determined that a bottle of ink didn’t actually work out cheaper, ml on ml, or if it did, not by much. You could certainly spend more. But, alas, I would be using less in the way of plastic, particularly if I opted for ink in a glass bottle over a plastic one. I remember when I wrote a lot with an old cartridge pen that took small cartridges and it seemed like I was forever replacing them (see final notes). This is primarily why my Parker has been out of ink for so long; Parker-branded cartridges seem to be particularly costly for what ink you were getting (it’s a similar issue to printer ink cartridges). Having said that, in the end, the ink I got was Parker ink since these are available in (the somewhat odd size of) 57ml.*
Actually, I originally ordered some even cheaper ink from China (and admittedly in a plastic bottle), but when I saw how slowly it was leaving China (it has taken a month so far, and hasn’t even left the country) I grew impatient.**
The Wing Sung pen (I chose black) and bottle of Parker ink (black again) arrived within a couple of days (quicker than expected, and both arriving on the same day even though they came from different ‘suppliers’.
While I’d opted to order both from ebay, the supplier of the ink had done the crafty and done the whole ‘drop-shipping’ thing and it arrived in Amazon packaging with a return address for Amazon. While I thought I was getting a good deal on ebay (and looking on Amazon also), and had done much procrastination and choosing, this was one of those occasions where I could have got an item for a few quid less on Amazon. Oh well, this isn’t the first time this has happened to me, no matter how thorough I try to be!
The pen arrived in minimal packaging, even less than in the review above, being only wrapped in plastic within the small packing envelope. But no matter, I certainly wasn’t bothered given the price of £3.59.
I successfully filled the pen (I’d watched a video on that before hand, so just like any Youtube How-2, I considered myself knowledgeable in the feat). It filled fine, taking a few pumps in and out to get the pen topped up, and it writes… fine. As to be expected really, no issue there. The 0.38 “Extra Fine” nib I would consider to be “Fine”; other reviews prior to this one have generally agreed with this.
However… while the review video is already a few years old, which may explain this, the pen I received has a number of differences.
(1) The first thing I actually noticed was that the part of the pen that you grip to write is not so well finished. The design of this part is formed with two indents but of one length of each of these indents (there being four such lengths in total) has a slight but noticeable ridge, whereas the others are nice and smooth (seemingly as they all should be). I try and illustrate the area I mean here:
This gives me the impression that this part is not as nicely finished as it should be. Some gentle buffing with some wet&dry paper will probably address this, so I may well give this a try, although this will have to be done carefully, and only to the ridges, as the plastic (acrylic?) here is transparent and it would be a shame to dull that.
(2) In the reviews it was generally pointed out that the Wing Sung was not trying to hide the fact that it wasn’t something else as it proudly “WING SUNG” stamped in the barrel. However my version lacks this.
(3) In the review above it is pointed out that the end of the pen has a circular Wing Sung logo embossed in it. My version lacks this also.
(4) The other end’s end cap, the one in the actual cap, is not sitting flush/flat. I’ve tried pushing it flat in case it just hasn’t seated right upon assembly, but I can’t improve it (perhaps I can pick it out with a scalpel and reattach it). You can sort of make this out this issue in the image below:
(5) The reviews often point out that the barrel’s receiving thread is formed in a metal insert and that cross-threading can occur quite easily. My pen’s thread here is in plastic and not a separate metal insert, however it doesn’t seem all that easy to cross-thread, although I’m accustomed to reverse-threading things first until threads line up.
These things make me suspect that even Wing Sung’s ‘version’ may have been copied and produced even more cheaply. Either that, or Wing Sung themselves have made their own pen even cheaper by avoiding the name-embossing phase of production and reducing the number of parts.
Going back to the Parker ink, even this could be a knock-off, who is to know?
As a final comparison, here is my old Parker along side the new ‘Wing Sung’:
The Wing Sung makes the Parker look quite dainty. It is so much more chunky that it will not fit in the pen holder on my ‘Filofax’ which I had thought I might keep it with. The Parker just fits, so I may well get a converter for it after all*.
Converters by the way, and as an overall observation coming from someone relatively new to the fountain pen world, seem somewhat shorter than what they could be, particularly in this pen; the barrel could accommodate one a good 1cm longer, and more ink still if the end winding part was shorter. This would all mean less having to refill. Of course this would also change the weight and handling of pens somewhat. I’m not sure how useful the viewing window on this particular pen will be, it’s somewhat short realistically only able to reveal a drop in ink level of about 5mm. I had actually considered a clearer pen [link] but thought all the plastic would make it feel (more) cheap and too lightweight, plus, there were no reviews for it.
If you’re interested in what is being sold as a Wing Sung 6359, then it’s currently available on ebay UK here: [link]
For Parker ink, AmazonUK: [link]
*I did actually find a converter I could use with my Parker, which would cost “only” marginally more than the whole Wing Sung pen with converter, but I felt like having a new pen for getting back into writing with. When the Wing Sung arrived I did actually wonder if its converter would fit any of my other pens, but no. I’m torn between doing the minimalistic thing and disposing of the other pens I haven’t used for years, or maybe if I get more into writing, getting a converter for the Parker after all.
**It amuses me that something as inexpensive as a cheap bottle of ink purchased from China can go through so many stages with details provided logged along the way (3 weeks in and it hasn’t even left China!)…