The King Crown 551-1, or how to cram 3,000 years of culture into the body of a single pen.

I found this in a 7-storey bookstore on Fuzhou Road. On the third floor, I passed beneath an arch bedecked with flashing lights and neon Stabilo stickers to enter the pen section. The salesladies had no English and I had no Mandarin, so we invented sign language for “No, not the rollerball, the fountain pen!” on the spot.

Confucius

Confucius

Chinese scrollwork decorates the cap. Chinese characters are engraved on one side, and an image of Confucius on the other.

Confucius, clip

Confucius, clip

More scrollwork decorates the clip, which ends in a crown logo. (Do not think Krone thoughts at this point.) (King Crown makes Duke pens, I think.) The body looks like bamboo. I’m still trying to figure out how this was done. Bamboo laminate over brass?

Confucius, cap and section

Confucius, cap and section

More scrollwork near the collar, and the ubiquitous threaded metal section. The nib is where the pen becomes more interesting.

Confucius, Chinese calligraphy nib with overfeed (click to enlarge)

Confucius, Chinese calligraphy nib with overfeed (click to enlarge)

The nib is bent upwards, as is typical with Chinese calligraphy pens. What struck me when I first held the pen was the length of the bent portion – it’s almost 4 mm. The next thing I noticed was the overfeed. The only other modern pen I know of with an overfeed would be Sailor’s Nagahara Emperor series. The overfeed collects more ink and drives it to the nib.

Confucius, Chinese calligraphy nib, side view

Confucius, Chinese calligraphy nib, side view

Does it work? Yes, it does.

Confucius, writing sample (click to enlarge)

Confucius, writing sample (click to enlarge)

The bent nib also flexes (!).

Confucius, writing sample (click to enlarge)

Confucius, writing sample (click to enlarge)

The nib writes a fine, consistent line when used upside down. Varying pressure within a stroke does produce a brush-like impression.

Confucius, drawing sample (click to enlarge)

Confucius, drawing sample (click to enlarge)

I enjoy it for writing, but much more so for drawing. Duke Ink (24 RMB a bottle) produces both deep and light grays, and is a good match for the pen.

  • http://dannzeman.com dannzeman

    Wow, what a pen! I’ve never seen a nib like that. I mean, I’ve seen something similar but without the overfeed, and like you said, the only other pen I’ve seen with an overfeed is the Sailor’s Nagahara Emperor series. On my way to google to find out where I can buy this pen…

  • http://leighreyes.com Leigh Reyes

    Someone sells it on eBay.Inkophile found it! 🙂

  • http://missivemaven.blogspot.com/ Missive Maven

    That is amazing! Wow! I’ve seen those bent nibs, but not heard of an overfeed. Excellent concept, and you’ve certainly put it to gorgeous use with your artwork. I don’t think I even wanna look it up on eBay to see how much it costs there…

  • http://www.bleubug.com TAO

    That’s a fascinating pen. The overfeed is very interesting and unusual (although I know there are other pens you can purchase them on since someone corrected my bad memory). Love the picture you drew with it! It’s very fluid (ooooh, did I really say that?)

  • Carl

    I’m just trying to remember the last time I walked under an arch bedecked with flashing lights to get to the pen section of a bookstore. 😉

    Impressive pen and impressive drawing (as usual).

  • http://archer-rantings.blogspot.com/ clem

    very, very interesting nib, leigh. and again, excellent sketches! 🙂

  • http://jennyo.net Jenny Ortuoste

    Terrific pen and drawing too! Leigh, I hope you publish your artwork and poetry!

  • wai

    I learned Chinese calligraphy when I was a kid. And I’d hold the calligraphy brush in a way so that it is upright, vertical to the paper. I wonder if this nib has been designed for that holding position?

  • http://leighreyes.com Leigh Reyes

    Wai, it seems to be that way. The strokes become more brush-like the more upright the pen is vis-a-vis the paper.

  • Tris

    My wife will be in Shanghai later this week for work. Any chance you remember the name of that bookstore (there’s tons of them on Fuzhou Rd)? I’d like her to try and pick up a pen like that for me. Thanks much!

  • http://leighreyes.com Leigh Reyes

    I don’t remember what it’s called, but it’s un-missable. It has Duke streamers plastered on front windows and is quite a huge storefront. 🙂

  • Bri

    I saw this pen last weekend in another shop on Fuzhou Lu (on the east end near the Parker store). The price was 380RMB. Does that seem reasonable?

  • http://quillcraft.livejournal.com Anton

    Can you tell me how named same nibs? Maybe you know where I can buy this type of nibs?

  • http://leighreyes.com Leigh Reyes

    They’re called calligraphy nibs, although I would qualify that as Chinese calligraphy nib, or upturned nib. I’ve also seen them called “fude.” 🙂 HTH!

  • Matt Claus

    If anyone could link me to a site where I could purchase one of these please do! I am an architecture student and this looks like it would be great for doing sketches!

  • http://leighreyes.com Leigh Reyes

    Matt and Anton, I found an eBay BIN listing: http://tinyurl.com/34cyjnu 🙂

  • http://quillcraft.livejournal.com Anton

    Thank you! 8)

  • Den

    Engeika is seeling it on his ebay store

  • ethernautrix

    Wow! This post was linked in an fpn thread about pens appropriate for artists. And WOW! Look at that nib! Leigh, how has the nib held up?

  • leighpod

    Gosh, this was ages ago! 😀 The nib has held up very well. I should do a “five years later…” post.

  • leighpod

    Linky?

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