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Knock It Off

Posted by Dirck on 18 June, 2013

One of the pens on my bench at the moment is not a product of S.T. Dupont, makers of stuff you probably can’t afford since 1872.  Nor, happily, does it’s owner labour under the misapprehension that it is such a creature.  “This being a Chinese knockoff,” I was told, “I’d like the point amended into a big flat italic.”  I’m still not officially doing that sort of stuff, but that’s not a complex amendment so I took on the brief.

And then the pen arrived, and I was brought up short.

Do I have a witty caption for this?

Say, that is a big, well-made pen… from this distance, at least.

Because I’m currently well engaged with the class of person who only admires Dupont pens from afar, and because past examinations of their work has left me with a benign indifference to their designs, I’m not a great spotter of knock-offs, and the general feel of this thing wasn’t crying out that it was an imposter.  The only instant tip-off for one of my ilk is the setting of the little gem on the clip– which is not a gem at all, but a short black rod which protrudes slightly out the back.  Until I spotted that, I was as I say brought up short, wondering if somehow a bait and switch had been mishandled and the client had unwittingly come away with the actual item.  Second looks confirmed the truth of the pen’s nature, though– that odd hemi-demi-semi-hood over the point is something one almost expects to find on middling Chinese pens, and the means by which the cap snaps on is a little low-grade.

Low-grade relative majestically expensive pens, that it, as the whole story told by the interior of the cap is one of a pen makers entirely capable of making a quite decent pen.  I’ll go so far as to say that if it weren’t pretending to be a Dupont pen, this would be a fantastic alternative to the Sheaffer 300; the size, weight, fit, finish and function are all quite on par with the Sheaffer, apart from that slightly clumsy clip decoration.

The works of the pen are also surprisingly high quality for a fake pen.  Usually one expects to find bits of tin can and rusty ball-point springs in a knock-off pen, but the point and feed of this pen are as good as any I’ve found in a modern pen, and that includes some moderately expensive items like Montegrappas and Edisons.

Now about thissun?

This is not the exploded view I though I’d down-loaded.  Since I can’t fix that immediately, here’s a close view of the point, showing the rather good two-tone masking but not quite showing the mendacious 18K~750 impression which is a hair-line laser etching.

It almost seems that there’s an effort to console the incautious buyer.  “You didn’t get the pen you expected.  But you did get a decent pen.  Life could be worse.”  If one spent half as much as one expects to on a Dupont, that will be little consolation indeed, but… if is was 10% of the real price, it’s not too bad a price for what you got.

I’ve since had a look at Duponts, and I think this might be meant to emulate an Elysee Diamondhead.  Seen side-by-side, the differences are apparent and profound.  Knockers-off rely on the buyer not having one at hand to look at, and also upon the buyer adopting his own greed as a blindfold to avoid spotting the wrongness.  I am thus not, despite the notes of praise I’ve struck above, suggesting that this is a pen to seek out– counterfeit goods are a general evil, as seen by diverse tainted food scandals in the past few years, and those who perpetrate them are not to be encouraged.  My real point here is a caveat emptor alert, which has become mixed with a sort of baffled wonder; if you can make a pen this well, why not just flog it at an appropriate price under your own banner?

Today’s pen: TWSBI Vac 700 (a pen made in east Asia, of moderately good quality and marketed under it’s own banner– see?  It’s possible!)
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah

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One Response to “Knock It Off”

  1. […] also practiced grindery.  These were not the first I had done this to, but in previous examples the stakes were relatively low.  This most recent batch were different in that it was a pair of Montblanc 149s and a Pelikan 800; […]

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