Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hero 266 Fountain Pen

I recently bought a 10-pack of Hero 266 fountain pens on eBay, where you can find them for less than $15 with free shipping. Made in Shanghai, Hero has been around since 1931 and according to the PR is the most popular brand in China. I was keen to try these out for several reasons: they are a slim pen with a fine nib, which is my favorite; they are aerometric, loading ink using a pump to fill an unremovable resevoir, something I've never tried; and they are so inexpensive (though not cheap looking) that they seem like throwaways yet I want to keep using them--so how long will they last?

The pens, made of a lightweight metal that can look like plastic at a distance (or in a picture), came in two colors, gray and blue matte, and have a hooded nib. Loading with ink took a few tries: pump the metal against the resevoir to pull ink up through the nib, then turn the pen 180 degrees so the nib is up and the ink can flow through the small tube and fill the resevoir. (The picture at left shows the metal cage and pump around the resevoir. The picture below shows a comparison of an empty resevoir and one filled with ink.)

So how does it write? Quite nicely. I like the fine line of the nib, which doesn't drag too much across the Doane Paper. The ink line seems like it's between a fine and a medium width, something I've wanted given how fragile some of my inks look in fine point and how sloppy they look in medium. This is right in between, and it handles the Iroshizuku ink in Syo-ro beautifully (below picture). The pine green color comes through but doesn't overwhelm.

These are great pens, but I have no idea how long they will last. Nor can I change inks by simply emptying the converter and running warm water through to clean everything. Given the price I'm sure I'll be buying more quite soon, so I'll always have some empty ones around in case I can't figure out which ink to use for a refill.


  1. I've got several "fine" fountain pens - MB, Pelikan, Pilot, Waterman, Parker, etc. I think the Hero writes as well as most and better than some (the MB notably). It's cheap so I don't worry about losing it and it looks nice. The ink supply is paltry and they don't like to not be used. Put it away for a few weeks and they won't write unless you add more ink. Nice blog BTW.

  2. I didn't have any problem with mine and non-use, because I have so many fountain pens in daily circulation. It always just "works" when I pull it out!

    What I liked most about the pen was the extreme light weight of it: full of ink, it feels as if writing with an old skool wooden pencil instead of a very nice little fountain pen.

    I agree that loading took some patience. Finally I just filled the chamber, left the pen to its on devices on the desk for a half-hour, and when I came back to it, the ink flowed beautiully!

    Given it costs the same as (or less than) throw-away disposable pens which usually have atrocious leaky nibs, the Hero is a far better and "greener" option!

  3. Good to know you guys have had such a positive experience with these ridiculously inexpensive pens. I was a tad sceptical when I first saw them, but fears are now allayed; putting an order through today.
    Thanks, folks.

  4. Recently bought a set of 10 for $10. You simply can't go wrong at this price. They work well, maybe a tad scratchy but nothing unfixable or intolerable. Light, classy and highly utilitarian.

  5. I am sorry to know that the converter cannot be taken away from the pen. I have just bought one very cheaply (though much more expensive than $1) and I am very happy with it, but I am very sorry to know that its life is glued to the pastic converter... I wonder why they did not think of that. I also bought a Hero 9015A, which has a regular converter. It also writes very nicely. In fact I prefer it to the old, seconda hand Montblanc I got recently in eBay.