I had heard that there were Chinese vendors selling an assortment of knock-off versions of Sailor and TWSBI fountain pens on Ebay. In the name of science, and to quell my curiosity, I decided to buy a couple to see how similar, or different, they really were. I purchased the Delike New Moon fountain pens in pink and blue (one of each from two different sellers for about $15 each) that were knock-off versions of the Sailor ProGear Slim. One featured an EF nib and one had the nib altered slightly to be a F nib by bending the end up in a fude style.
While we as fountain pen consumers immediately recognize these as knock-offs, nowhere in the listings did the sellers say they were Sailor pens or hint to that. However, the similarity in looks is unfortunate in that it could confuse a newer fountain pen shopper into thinking they were getting a deal on a Sailor. So, I wanted to point out very quickly the differences and similarities and why you might want to try these pens or want to avoid them altogether.
I purchased the pastel pink and sky blue colors with silver hardware because I did not have Sailor ProGear Slim pens in these colors. So, yeah for fun colors.
At first glance, the Delike New Moon and Sailor ProGear Slim are very similar. Width and length are just about identical. The New Moon has the metal hardware all the way to the base of the cap but that’s the most distinguishing difference at first glance.
Right out the the gate, I could tell these pens were not as well constructed as Sailor ProGear pens. The material was definitely more plasticky than resin. I could smell the off-gassing for starters. There is no end cap jewel.
On the clip, the end is more squared off. The Sailor clip has a rounded end. The band around the cap on the Sailor pen is engraved “Founded 1911” and the Delike says “Delike”. The Sailor ProGear has an extra band around the cap as well.
The threads on the cap are closer together and there are more threads on the Sailor. There is also another metal band on the Sailor.
Looking at the nibs, the Sailor is stamped with the anchor, “1911” and “14K” or “18K” respectively depending on your model and the decorative filigree. The Delike is considerably simpler with the globe, the Delike name and the size of the nib.
The Writing Experience:
I don’t have the exact same nibs on the ProGear Slims that are on the New Moon pens but I’m also comparing gold nibs to steel nibs so it’s pretty much an unfair comparison all the way around.
I do have to say that an EF/XF gold Sailor nib is WAY smoother than a Chinese steel nib and worth every freakin’ penny. I was asked at the D.C. Pen Show which pen was my favorite and I said the Sailor ProGear Slim Purple Lamé with the XF/EF nib and I stand by my statement here. This pen writes like butter. My Pink Love with the music nib is my second favorite so messing around with these knock-offs is humoring myself really.
They are cute and they sort of look like the real thing but they will never satisfy like the real thing. It’s like offering someone a Pepsi when they really want a Coke or a sugar-free snack when they really want sugar-laden. Close but no quite.
From the perspective of a pen for a new fountain pen user, I’m more comfortable loaning these out at a Fountain Pen Day event or at a Letter Writing Social where people may have little-to-no fountain pen experience where I might be less inclined to let my beloved Sailors loose. I’d also be willing to just give these away if someone fell in love with them as they are inexpensive, take standard European cartridges and came with converters. I also like that I could swap the caps and make my own goofball pens.
These pens also make great opportunities to learn nib adjustment and other tweaking or pen alterations.
Have you purchased any of the knock-off Chinese pens for experimentation? What’s your opinion? I waited a long time to buy any of these because I know a lot of people have very strong opinions about these pens. I just wanted to see if it was worth the wait. I don’t think I’d buy anymore if these but I definitely think it was a good learning opportunity.
20 comments / Add your comment below
Great post, thank you.
I got the blue one – nib is so scratchy, that I could peel potatoes with it :)))
Perfect for learning how to grid/smooth nibs.
Not worth $15 imho, if it was $1-5 then I’d gladly buy the pink to swap the caps around…
Few more of these ‘cheap’ pens and you can buy the real deal. Sailor Pro Gear is fantastic pen, worth every penny…
I don’t see where the added value of Sailor is. I like both pens. Yes, Sailor is better but not much. Price ratio of 1:2 would be reasonable but not 1:10. Delike is far better value for money.
Thanks, this is helpful! I’m wanting to get a Sailor next, so I might have been tempted by these. Think I’ll hold out for the real thing!
Hold tight. I have a review going up later this week on a Sailor ProColor which is a mid-tier Sailor with a steel nib that might be a better option.
Great post, Ana. Thank you. I’ve got a pile of Chinese pens, including a few “knock-off” models. Overall, maybe 3 or 4 Chinese pens knocked my socks off, but most are pretty average. Of the knock-offs, I’ve used a Baoer 388 (Parker Sonnet – decent nib, questionable build quality), Crocodile 806 (Duofold – good nib, pen fell apart), Jinhao 992 (Sailor ProColor – decent, but not worth the accolades it’s getting), Jinhao 159 (MB 149 – crap), and a counterfeit Hero 616 (Parker 51 – absolute disaster). I still have a Jinhao 599 (Lamy Safari) and a Wing Sung 698 (TWSBI 580) that I haven’t tried yet. My expectations are fairly low. This post is really timely, as I just received my first Pro Gear this week (Imperial Black…I’m in love!) I really don’t feel compelled to get this Delike model. I do enjoy buying Chinese pens, though. The low cost and interesting designs appeal to my sense of adventure…and when I do find one that writes great, it’s like winning the lottery.
Thanks for your super thorough review. I was playing with these a bit at DC, and I could have easily been tempted into buying one if they were cheaper. Guess I’ll stick to the real thing – and my lovely gusher of a music nib.
Thanks for doing this — someone had to! 😉 I think if Delike would simply make their own design, they would have a perfectly respectable $15 product because then people would stop saying they were fakes or ripoffs of Sailor. (That fake fude is actually quite intriguing!) The only Chinese fake I’ve tried is the one that looks like a Lamy Safari. It went into the trash. ‘Nuff said. 🙂
Going to try it , according to its reviews it seems pretty good!
Hmmm I find these type of posts stupid. Its comparing a $15 pen vs a $100. One has a steel nib & the other gold…… What is a better comparison is the Pilot Prera. The Prera has almost identical dimensions to the Delike, and a similar steel nib. Plus the Prera is only $30. Against the Prera the Delike holds its own….. Apples to Apples.
I was not comparing so much as making sure people did not mistakingly purchase one thinking they were buying a Sailor. I also have a follow up review of a Sailor ProColor with a steel nib to appear later this week.
I love love love the look of these, but I have set out to collect cheap (under ~$100) fountain pens for funsies. I’m going to add these onto my knock off ebay hunt!
Thank you so much for your reviews. They really help 🙂 I’m a stay at home mom. I’m all for cheaper pens, in fact that’s pretty much all I have. This is the first time that I regret buying a pen. I just received it this morning. I have the pink with an EF nib. I was really disappointed. It looks very nice, but the nib is so scratchy! It’s like writing with a syringe! I’ve never adjusted nibs, so I’m not really comfortable playing around with them, even on a 15$ pen. On the other hand my 2$ Jinhao 992 writes like “buttah”, just goes to show that the money you spend is not a reflection of the pleasure you will have from using the object. I tried removing the nib to see if I could swap it for something else but it seems stuck on there. Guess this pen will be decorative only 🙁
If you have a one of those nail file blocks with the four grades down to “buff” and “shine” you might try doing some gentle figure 8’s on the “smooth” or “buff” side to see if that helps. If you are giving up the pen at the point anyway, its doubtful you’ll make it any worse. I’ve managed to smooth and save a few hopeless nibs with a drugstore nail buffer!
I just got a Delike and had the same experience – dry and scratchy. Took a lot of work to make the nib passible (and I’m still not a big fan of the pen). BUT – at the same time, I purchased a Lingmo Lorelei and that one writes like a dream. It looks to be a knock off of the Sailor ProColor. I liked it so much I turned around and bought 3 more and all have been excellent writers – unlike the Jinhao 992s (which I also really like, but can be spotty as heck).
I have bought a couple knock off pens, like the JinHao 992 and 159, and I did it for a couple reasons (which you’ve already mentioned). First, I get to really try out the approximate size and weight of a pen before buying it. Second, even if I don’t like the pen, I get to have a pen to hack up and have fun with. Lastly, as I’m still starting out my pen collection, it’s nice to get more pens for my buck early on, and then save up for the nicer purchases.
I have a Sailor 1911S Peacock Demonstrator; it’s a limited edition, of which only 100 were made, and exclusive to Anderson Pens. It’s my absolute favorite color, so I snapped it up when I first saw it. I had to pre-order it and then waited eight months for that pen. I got it in a B nib, and it writes like a dream. But yeah, it ought to, it cost $245! However, I have been disappointed in nibs that cost more on occasion. I am happy that after such a long wait, it turned out to be an excellent writer.
Well: recently I bought a Jinhao clear demonstrator (I don’t know the model name/number). I didn’t know it was a Sailor 1911S knock-off till I had it in my hand and was struck by its resemblance to my Peacock 1911S. I held them up side by side and the looks were almost identical. The cap band was slightly different, like the ones in your pink and blue examples. Otherwise, very similar. Well, what really knocked my socks off was how good this $8 pen writes! I didn’t really expect much in that regard; I just hoped it would be decent. Well, it writes so similarly to my $245 Peacock Sailor that I am floored. I’ve never had a cheap, stainless-steel nib pen write this good before. And even though it says it’s a F point, it writes just like my Sailor B point.
Now, I don’t expect to order more of these Jinhao pens and have them work out to be such good writers. My experience with several inexpensive Chinese pens tells me otherwise. But in this case, I am very happy for the fluke experience of a cheap knock-off that writes like a WAY more expensive pen.
Have you come across any Chinese pens with an EF nib and a buttery-smooth writing experience?
Received a M nib Delike today and for the first 10 minutes I used it, it is remarkably smooth and quite attractive. I also have a Sailor Pro Gear with a 21K nib, but unfortunately since it was used quite extensively the nib is no longer as smooth as it was out of the box years ago. After reading a few blogs it’s apparent that I’m not alone. Many have argued that 21K is too soft for extensive use. Not sure that’s true; it may be the tipping material that’s worn thin. In either case, I’m either going to have to buy a new nib or a new Pro Gear pen. And to do the former, the pen has to be sent to the Sailor office in Japan. Nibs are not for sale. To me that seems like paranoia or elitism or both. What’s the big deal? Sailor, sell the nibs and save us the trouble.
Another observation: Many talk about the inferior build of Chinese pens, and certainly Jinhao and other models have glaring weaknesses. The Delike, however, is comparatively sturdier. A point of comparison is an Aurora Talentum I bought about a year ago that — to date — has had 2 cracked grips, one mouth/feed that was cracked, and a misaligned, asymmetrical nib, and a cracked feed mechanism. That’s 5 defective pens; the latest is in the shop — all covered under warranty. As you know the price point is high and yet Aurora has provided no explanation, no apology and no courtesy. And add insult to injury it takes at least 2 months to get a pen back from that firm. Let’s face it, there are many affordable, let’s call a spade a spade, cheap Chinese pens that aren’t that defective.
It’s no wonder buyers take delight in the Chinese line of pens. Now the ideal would be to produce a product akin to Sailor or what Aurora used to be for a far more reasonable price point. I betcha, looking at this Delike, it won’t take that long, maybe 5 years. And then fountain pen enthusiasts won’t be exploited by the traditional elitist pricing schemes.