Looking for reliable under-Php1000 fountain pens can be a bit challenging, but they are the right type of pens to get when you or someone you know is new to the nib hobby. There are go-to Japanese pens in Pilot, Sailor and Platinum. Then there are also Chinese options in Jinhao, PenBBS, and Moonman. And there’s the Japanese-branded Fonte Fountain Pen.
Disclosure: The pen and paper featured in this review were given by Artillery Philippines. Updated June 2023. Read our editorial policy on reviews.
The Fonte Fountain Pen we got is a demonstrator with silver trim and a fine nib. It is light on the hand with the balance point right in the middle.
For those who are new to the hobby, using a pen with a twist cap needs some getting used to. Some would instinctively try pulling the cap off, because that’s how it goes with most ballpoint pens. But the Fonte Fountain Pen has a snap cap, which can be a big factor for pen noobs.
As for the writing experience, the nib produces an actual fine line. It is not a hard starter (you can easily write right after uncapping the pen) and can take standard nibs and converters.
For the writing sample below, we used Waterman Serenity Blue.
We compared the Fonte to the Jinhaos because…
Fonte is basically a rebranded Jinhao 992.
At first, this might sound like a bad deal. China-made Jinhao pens after all, like the 992 model, are ridiculously cheap when you look for some at e-commerce sites. But you’ll never know if the pen is actually in good quality until you receive one and realize that you get what to pay for. Such has been the case for Jinhaos bought online.
Other local sellers that dip-test Jinhao 992s before selling has pegged the price at Php399. So why bother getting a Fonte at Php750? Did Fonte do anything else aside from slapping on its name in Monotype Corsiva on the band and the nib?
There are two main differences, which have been mentioned earlier.
First, it features a snap cap. Jinhaos had an issue of cracking at the threads for some units. Having a snap cap sort of addresses this risk. This was also an issue with the new Parker 51 2021, when it used twist caps, ditching the snap cap of its vintage version.
Second, it features an actual fine line. We borrowed two Jinhao 992s for this review, and the two other pens wrote in medium despite having the F on their nibs, although one seems to have been ground to a cursive italic. This can be an issue for those who have small handwriting, if they get an F-marked nib that writes in M.
The pen also didn’t have problems during frequent use for a week, switching between the Fonte and the two 992s. Some skipping would happen with the 992s, but Fonte didn’t have any problem at all.
Fonte itself is a reliable pen. Pulling the cap is convenient, and there’s a snug, satisfying click when putting it back. If you’re looking at an affordable pen that you can use to introduce someone to the hobby, or if you’re exploring pens to try, this is a very good option for newbies.
If you’re a relatively long-time collector, the pen being a rebranded Jinhao 992 might be an issue. Although it does come with a snap cap and a better fine nib.
Now, would these improvements make the Fonte worth the additional Php350 compared to locally-sold 992s? This bit is up to you. For us, there are better options for a much cheaper price.