28 July 2011

Matching (X)

The controversy is always there: Is that pen original or a copy of another? Which company did father that idea? Sometimes, the answers are clear…

We all have heard the idea that the Japanese did not invent anything but they merely copied other countries’s products. And even thought that might have been true at some point, I do not think a leading country in technology could be accused of not creating anything new. So, the accusation is now directed to China—they just copy and manufacture fake products.

It only takes a quick look at the history of technology to realize that with the single exception of the UK, every country’s industrial revolution started by copying goods and products created previously in more developed areas of the world. And now is the time for China.

So, it should be no surprise to find copies of Western products manufactured in China. And in the case of fountain pens, copying the very successful Parker 51 seems like a rite of passage.

The section is closer to that of a Parker 61, showing the damascene decoration to point out where the nib is.

Such is the case of the pen with which I am writing these lines—a Rainbow 202.

Externally, it is a well constructed pen. It feels solidly made, with good quality materials. All the parts fit well. The cap attaches firmly to both section and barrel through an internal clutch. And there is even a small window between section and barrel to check the ink level. However, disassembling the section and discovering the nib quickly break the spell. Steel nibs are all right, but they need to be made of good quality steel and well manufactured. And as the picture shows, none of those conditions is fulfilled.

No second breathing hole but just a defect on the steel. The only engraving on the nib is a subtle "IRIDIUM" close to the feed.

But, how does it write? I have two units of this pen and one of them is terrible and the other is surprisingly good, drawing a juicy and reliable line. In any of the cases, I would be very concerned about the corrosion that might arise in such bad quality steel.

These are the pen dimensions:
Diameter: 12 mm.
Length capped: 133 mm.
Length uncapped: 127 mm.
Length posted: 144 mm.
Total weight: 18.8 g (empty).
Cap weight: 6.7 g.
Ink deposit: 1.4 ml.

China, as Japan or Italy or Spain did in the past, is learning by copying. And by doing that they run along the thin line of intellectual property rights—just as others did in the past and even today. Condemning or absolving them depends too often on what side of the fence we stand on.

(Rainbow 202 – Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue)

Bruno Taut
July 27th, 2011
[labels: Rainbow, Parker]

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