Straight outta the “You sure looked different in your picture” file, an inexpensive Chinese pen from a mysterious manufacturer…
Yongsheng 088 Fountain Pen
Filling System: Cartridge/Converter (International Standard)
About the Company:
This one has me mystified. I’ve heard in the past that “Yongsheng” is a slightly different translation/Romanized spelling of “Wing Sung” and that they’re made by the same company (both of which would be owned by Hero now). And in seemingly logical fashion, the Yongsheng 088 did, in fact, come with a Wing Sung nib installed. Cut and dried situation, right? Except that I went looking for some background on Yongsheng and where the name came from, only to find reference to two separate Yonghseng pen companies: Jieyang Yongsheng Pen Manufacturing Factory and Zhejiang Tonglu Yonghseng Pen making Factory.
Now, Jieyang and Zhejiang seem like they could be different spellings of the same name; however, these two companies have different postal addresses, indicating that they are most likely different companies. Kind of a weird thing. More weird things:
- Weird Thing 1: Neither company mentions being part of Hero or having any affiliation with Wing Sung.
- Weird Thing 2: Neither company lists “fountain pens” in their product lines.
- Weird Thing 3: The Wing Sung nib on this pen has very shallow stamping on it, which could indicate that the nib is a counterfeit (or maybe it was discarded from Wing Sung for quality issues and sold to Yongsheng?).
- Weird Thing 4: Both Amazon and Aliexpress have listings for “Wing Sung (Yong Sheng)” pens, indicating that they are the same company.
- Weird Thing 5: A post on Fountain Pen Network describes a situation where “a couple of somewhat shady individuals in Wengang started making pens under the “Yongsheng” name but using the old Wing Sung trademark and name in Chinese.“
I can’t corroborate any of this. All I can verify is that Yongsheng is a county in northern China. But someone is making these pens. Someone is making design decisions and putting the Yongsheng name on them. I’d love to know who’s actually responsible.
I’ve never been a fan of pens that pair a silver cap with a colored body (one of the reasons I’ve never been in a hurry to procure a Parker 51). But (at least from the pictures in the eBay listing), I thought the design on the cap of this Yongsheng 088 looked interesting, so I gave it a shot.
When the pen arrived, I wasn’t as impressed with the cap design in person. It has five sets of carved/etched wavy grooves running down the length of the cap. The concept is interesting, and I wouldn’t say that it’s poorly executed. But it looks more like someone put a plain cap on an engraving machine and engraved them in rather than something manufactured in a factory that way. It’s not horrible, but not exactly impressive, either.
The rest of the pen is pretty nondescript. The barrel and section are metal that’s been painted glossy black, and the furniture and accents are all chrome. The barrel has a nice, gentle taper from the center band toward the end cap.
The end cap is a simple chrome button, flat on the end and sporting an angled bevel connecting the sides to the flat end.
The center band is a wide, flat band of chrome. It has YONGSHENG engraved on one side and 088 engraved on the other. There’s also a thin groove around the lower edge of the center band. I couldn’t help but notice that that the name YONGSHENG is closer to the groove below it than it is to the top edge of the band. This places more “white space” above the text than below it, which makes the design unbalanced. I then noticed that the 088 on the other side of the band is floated more in the center, meaning that YONGSHENG and 088 don’t line up with one another. Sloppy.
The section has a smooth, hourglass shape to it to keep your fingers in place. The section flares out a bit near the nib, ending in a chrome ring that completes the flare. The bevel at the top of this flare seem sharp, and looks like it would be uncomfortable to write with your fingers on it. I took one for the team and tried to write with my fingers on this sharp bevel to test out the pain factor, but I just couldn’t hold it like that for more than a second. It was slippery and way too close to the nib. It’s really not a good place to hold the pen, so I don’t think there are too many people who would run into trouble with it.
Much like the end cap, the finial is a flat-topped, chrome button, although the bevel around the “corner” edge is much smaller and softer than the one on the end cap. If you want, you can even stand the pen on the finial.
The design of the clip is neat. It’s a typical folded-metal clip, so the construction isn’t anything fancy. But the clip has a nice arc to it from where it attaches to the cap down to the smoothly rounded end. And the surface of the clip is just plain, smooth chrome, a nice contrast from the scalloped chevron designs on the clip. Honestly, I think the clip is the classiest looking part of the pen. Unfortunately, the clip doesn’t sit straight along the cap: it’s a mite crooked.
The nib is a typical #5 nib, similar to the ones found on many other Chinese pens. Like I said in the intro, the nib appears to be a Wing Sung nib, but I highly doubt its authenticity. I compared this nib to the one in my Wing Sung 3203, and found them to be completely different designs. The nib shape (the Yongsheng one is wider), scroll-work design (the Yongsheng one has small, weirdly positioned diamonds), and layout of the WING SUNG name are all different (the Yongsheng one has WING and SUNG on different lines).
The stamped design is really shallow on the Yongsheng pen. I don’t know if this means the nib is a counterfeit, if the nib was a reject that didn’t get thrown away, or if it means nothing. It’s a simple, polished, stainless-steel nib with some scroll-work around the outside edge, the Wing Sung logo in the center below the breather hole, the name WING SUNG below the logo, and an F (fine) below the name. This is another difference with the nib on the 3203, which does not have a grade indicator. Honestly, I’m leaning toward calling this nib a counterfeit. It just seems like a shoddy job.
And regarding the F, I wouldn’t call this a fine. It’s probably somewhere between medium and fine.
Build Quality (3.5/5):
The Yongsheng 088 is a solid pen. The fit and finish are mostly solid, assembly tolerances are tight, and the threads marry up well. It performs mostly well with no wiggle, waggle, or wobble.
All parts of the pen seem to be made of metal. The section is made of brass (you can see the exposed brass inside the section opening). The pen is fairly heavy, but maybe a little lighter than I expected, so I’m guessing the cap and barrel are made from aluminum instead of brass.
The cap’s sealing “mechanism” is interesting. It looks and operates just like any other snap-cap, but there’s some heavy resistance from the plastic sleeve inside the cap. About a quarter-inch (6 or 7 mm) before it closes, the flared ring on the section meets a narrower portion of the inner sleeve, and it requires more pressure to completely close it. It also takes a some force to remove the cap, although I don’t think it requires an unreasonable amount. This could be a design flaw, but I sort of like it. It’s clearly a very secure closure, and I know the cap isn’t going to come off unless I want it to. So the Yonghseng 088 would probably make a decent “toss it in your bag” pen.
The downside of the pen has to be the materials it’s made from, which aren’t of the highest quality. As I mentioned above, the nib stamping is really shallow. It probably should have been tossed in the recycle pile. The section is slick-feeling. It’s not slippery when I write, but it just feels slick to the touch, which I don’t care for.
And the cap is kind of a mess. The etched chevron pattern looked nice in pictures, but doesn’t look as well executed in person. The color of finish on the cap body is slightly yellower than the other chrome parts (finial, end cap, center band, cap band, section lip, and clip). I didn’t notice this at first, but now I can’t un-see it. Also, the plating on the cap body has a chip in it (I got the pen that way), so I don’t think the plating is done well.
Finally, I’m not convinced the clip is all that sturdy. It’s springy enough to hold it in your pocket, but it has a lot of side-to-side play, so I’m not sure it will hold up over time. The bump on the underside of the clip that holds pocket fabric is also scratching the plating on the cap body. It’s smooth to the touch, so I’m not sure if it would do any damage to your pocket or if it’s just another indication of poor plating on the cap.
The upside is that the pen can be completely disassembled for cleaning. You can easily remove the nib and feed and clean each individual part.
I wouldn’t say I’m thrilled with how this pen writes, but I’m not exactly disappointed, either. It puts down a very wet line that’s mostly consistent. The nib is smooth, but it has quite a bit of weird feedback that I can only describe as a resistance or pulling on the paper as I write. It’s not scratchy, just resistant. It kind of feels like writing on one of those pink erasers…where the writing surface wants to hold onto the nib slightly.
I’m on my third fill of ink and I haven’t seen any skips or hard starts under normal writing. If I leave the pen uncapped for more than 30 seconds, it will dry out and hard start, so I wouldn’t recommend it for a note-taking pen during classes or meetings. 30 seconds is a little too fast for drying out, in my opinion. If you’re just going to sit down and continuously write with only short breaks throughout, then this pen is pretty dependable. If you’re taking notes and have to stop to listen, then this pen might annoy you with hard starts.
Despite the narrow and smooth section, I don’t find the 088 slippery. I’m able to maintain a light grasp of the pen as I write, so I haven’t experienced any cramping. The pen is about normal in size, so most people can probably use it un-posted.
The cap does post securely if you push it on the back of the pen with a little pressure. It’s not going to come off on its own. I’m afraid that doing this will crack the plastic sleeve inside, though, so I don’t like to post it. When it is posted, I think it’s a little too long and back-heavy for my taste. Unless you have really large hands, you’ll probably find using this pen posted to be awkward.
Writing Experience (3.5/5):
Although smooth, the nib does have that annoying feedback I mentioned, and I find that a bit distracting. Combine that with the nib’s short drying-out time, and I think this pen isn’t one I’d reach for most of the time.
The pen is a wet writer, though, and it puts down quite a bit of ink. On the good side, this lets the ink really show off properties like shading and sheen. On the not-so-good side, it makes it hard to write with small handwriting because letters like a, e, and o will fill in sometimes.
But the pen is mostly comfortable to use and writes consistently, so it’s an overall decent writing experience.
I paid just under $8 for this pen, and that included shipping from China. Normally, I’d say that makes it a fantastic value; however, for about the same price, you could get a number of pens from Wing Sung, Yiren, Lanbitou, Dikawen, Jinhao, and Baoer that will be better writers (and that are nicer looking, too).
$8 is still a decent price, but I think there are better pens out there for the money.
The Nutshell: Overall Score: 19/25
|Best Qualities||Worst Qualities|
|Wet, smooth, consistent writer||Nib dries out and hard starts in about 30 seconds|
|Very good build quality||Not the greatest materials|
|Pretty dependable||There are better options available at this price|
This isn’t a pen I expect to use much. In fact, once the current ink runs out, I’m not sure I’d ever use it again. It does the job, but it doesn’t have anything special about it that will prompt me to reach for it. I have way too many nicer pens.
And like I said way at the beginning, I’d love to know who is behind the Yongsheng brand. So if you have any actual information on the people or company that creates Yonghsheng pens, please let me know!