Can you actually have an inexpensive fountain pen that’s good to use for beginners? We test out the Hauser Inx Jazz liquid fountain pen, a cheap and cheerful plastic fountain pen aimed at students. We found it to be a wonderful drawing and writing instrument, and a great starter fountain pen for those on a budget. We get into a lot of detail about this humble piece of stationery, so check it out.
Reviewing the Hauser INX Jazz Fountain Pen
Minjal: Welcome to Stationery Test Drive. My name is Minjal.
Samir: I’m Samir.
Vishal: And I’m Vishal and today we will be looking at the Hauser INX Jazz Fountain Pen. We have three of them here, it says Hauser Germany. It’s a very plastic-ky fountain pen which I can never seem to open right and I’ll tell you why later, it has this hooded nib, it comes in a variety of colors and we found these down our street. Samir, you want to tell us about that?
Samir: Yeah, I mean as stationery lovers we love to drop by our local stationery store and just see what new and interesting strange things they have. And I think on one of those kind of hanging shelves we came across these Hauser pens in a little flat pack with a bunch of extra cartridges which said XL, so we thought we might as well try them and these were very reasonably priced.
Vishal: These are 50 rupees, is what we paid for them which is about 75 cents in the US, I guess! Which for a fountain pen for people of our age, we’re you know old, elder millennials. The concept of a cheap fountain pen was almost non-existent growing up. There were cheap fountain pens and they weren’t good, they certainly weren’t 50 rupees or the equivalent of at that time. I think we all in school had something that people would call a Hero Pen which was a classic model that might still exist. But honestly I never liked or enjoyed writing with a Hero Pen.
Samir: I think the Hero Pen is kind of like a classic car, it has its quirks and you needed to deal with them.
Minjal: I did like the ink-filling pipette system, which meant that your hands would be completely soiled by the end of it.
Vishal: That pipette never had a brace to press down in some of them or they break very easily. I remember so you would be pressing and pressing against that and not only were your hands full of ink after a while but you just have gouged in these nice little marks on your hands.
But the Hauser to much to our surprise is a very decent pen for writing, for drawing, for pretty much every use we put it to, it is well beyond its 50 rupee value for us, we’ve used it for a year or two now. Mine is very beaten up as you can see, to the point where the barrel cracked. I put a band-aid on it literally because that just gives you a nice place to rest, that soft bits, and also at the time I didn’t have tape at home. Minjal and Samir have kept theirs in better condition, but I think mine has more mileage overall.
Samir: Absolutely, I’ve used it for quite a few drawings but not nowhere as much as you.
Vishal: So today we all did some things with our respective Hauser pens, so let’s just show them to you. And I think we’ve all gone for some degree of writing, so that it’s not just drawings. But, yes this is the range of things you can do with a Hauser INX Jazz Liquid Fountain Pen. That’s a mouthful and I’m sure Samir will tell us why they are Hauser INX Jazz Liquid Fountain Pen in these wonderful colors.
Samir: That’s expecting a lot that I should know why they chose three names instead of one!
Vishal: Well we can make it up, I’m sure. It’s not like people are checking.
Samir: You mean like they did.
Vishal: Like they did! Yes, tell us about how they made things up.
About the Hauser Brand & Flair Pens
Samir: I don’t know if they actually made things up but the the point is that Hauser is technically a German brand. I think from the history that we can find online the German brand started at least as a writing instrument brand, started somewhere in 1931 or but the current form of it, of course, is manufactured in India by Flair Pens which I think they started in 2014. From my understanding maybe the German brand lasted a century in some small way and then became one of those brands that people can license out and that’s what we’re seeing here.
Vishal: And this sort of licensing brands that start off in Europe and end up somewhere in Asia is quite common. Reynolds has a similar fate.
Samir: In fact I would say that Flair Pens who manufacture the Hauser might have kind of started off with Hauser in 2014 and then they are the ones who took on Reynolds in 2016. So maybe this was a test bed of some sort.
Features & Limitations of the Hauser INX Jazz Fountain Pen
Vishal: So it’s a cheap pen, it’s a good pen. What’s bad about it? Now I’ve talked about the barrel breaking because that’s just, honestly, I did not expect it to last this long either. But yeah what happened to your pens when you were using them? They lasted fine? Are they okay?
Samir: As you found out, I mean they’re made of really cheap, light plastic, so it’s not something that you can throw around, keep under a heavy weight.
Vishal: Or or even a light weight!
Samir: Or physically sort of challenge in any way but as far as the actual writing mechanism is concerned, I mean it’s probably one of the smoothest pens I’ve used.
Vishal: From the position of drawing and just putting down some lines here the thing I like about it is that while there is a certain, it’s not like the smoothest thing in the world, the amount of control you have at all angles, and this is a problem with fountain pens where they’ll work at a certain angle and then they won’t work. Like drawing a circle with a fountain pen is sometimes quite difficult even on modern ones, but this one has a certain character to it that I like.
Samir: And there’s that slight flex of the nib.
Vishal: Yes, the flex, let’s talk about flexing because you can really push this and get a good degree of line weight change, all the way up to very fine.
Samir: And of course as a person who draws, just like Vishal does, it’s really great when you have a fountain pen which you cannot just use the right way around but the wrong way.
Vishal: This is something that maybe some of you discovered in school.
Samir: That is just an excellent amount of variety of line.
Vishal: And as you can see I’ve I think worked my pen more so it only gets finer over time which might be a problem with the writing, isn’t that true Minjal? You want something that’s more consistently thick rather than in some ways noodly and scratchy like this?
Minjal: I think it comes down to getting used to a particular pen. When I wrote with this it was very similar to the Hero Pen that I first started using. And yes you have to be consistent with the pressure because you know that if you lift the pressure it’s probably going to go down to fine lines which I did not want.
Samir: I think the reason that you found it very similar to the Hero Pen is the way that this nib. It didn’t break so that’s that’s a good thing. The way that this nib and the feed is set up is very similar to a Hero Pen. In that most regular fountain pens have an exposed nib with a feed that goes under it whereas this has this kind of hood which covers up most of the nib other than the very thin bit which is exactly like a Hero Pen. So the reason for this I assume is that you get to use a nib that’s much thinner since it has this support.
Minjal: And that gives it the flexibility as well.
Fountain Pen Converter and Cleaning Fountain Pens
Vishal: And that brings us in some ways to the other weird thing that an artist has a problem with. So here is my very artistic test paper from yesterday and this is a piece of tissue actually. Because when I had not used this pen for a long time, five or six months, it had dried up in here but it was empty. I’m using a converter actually on this one, which is I think it was a Parker Converter and thankfully it works on this pen so this Parker Converter costs about five or six times the actual pen but I couldn’t use it on my regular pen because there are different sizes and it’s not a perfect fit, you can see the ink is actually, this is Sheaffer’s cyan ink, I think.
But yes it goes well into this reservoir which is I think not a feature of Hero Pens. Right this is more of a modern, convenient fountain pen. Right, so your rig you’ll realize from your fountain pen pretty much goes away from the cartridge if you’re an old-school person who’s just used to seeing and checking it from there. It goes into this reservoir which has a comb structure almost.
Samir: I believe that almost every fountain pen in the past when it was first invented has some sort of structure like this it’s just that it’s not always visible.
Blending Inks with a Fountain Pen Cartridge
Vishal: Right, this one is exposed and visually visible. So before I had Sheaffer’s sepia ink in it and I’d done drawings with that. So I had to first clean out the thing by wetting it and getting rid of debris, the build-up, which was easy enough and then the sepia had to be slowly bled out onto paper and by this time I had already filled in the cyan ink so that’s what this ironing looked like just out of my ink pot but then that is what it looks like when it mixes with the residue of sepia and if you know your color theory blue and brown very often will give you these turquoise greens but like muddy green colors.
And that’s something I think you can possibly lean into because if you can, if the colors are showing up right on here, I started the drawing here and then as it went along you can see it’s greener here and then it slowly starts becoming bluer and bluer and bluer as you go. So I would suggest if you have access to many kinds of inks and you can use this function of the cartridge plus the reservoir fill in half of one take it out replace it with a different cartridge, shake it all about and see what you get because I think this is interesting and beautiful and I almost wish that this green had lasted a bit longer so that I could get an actual almost graded line.
Structure of a Fountain Pen & Wick Feed Fountain Pens
Samir: It’s very interesting that you have found a positive aspect of this particular feature of this pen because it’s generally considered to be a a huge negative. So a quick primer on what makes a fountain pen the way it is. I mean obviously besides the barrel and the lid, of course, you have the ink that’s in the cartridge or in a converter and then it goes from here into this comb structure.
Now the comb structure and this little piece of plastic below the nib that’s the feed and every fountain pen has one of those, so what that does is to take in the ink from the cartridge and let it flow to the nib in a controlled manner while also not letting air bubbles or things like that stop it. Now the thing about a cheap fountain pen is that in a regular fountain pen, a good quality, the feed needs to be of extremely good quality and material and the same goes within with the nib. The feed kind of sits under the nib and just due to capillary action the ink goes into the nib.
Now in a cheap fountain pen you don’t want to spend as much time engineering this feed and to get away with a simpler design which you can use across various nibs. You probably can’t see it on video but there’s a bit of fabric right between the feed and the nib, you can you can kind of make it out when you’re cleaning this pen and that’s what’s called a wick feed. So it’s literally like a piece of fabric that wicks the ink from the inner part of the feed up to the nib.
Vishal: So it’s a felt tip fountain pen!
Samir: Exactly. So because you have a piece of fabric that’s carrying the ink from the lower part of the feed to the nib you don’t need to have precision engineering for the capillary action to work perfectly. So what this means is that when you’re making a cheap fountain pen, maybe Hauser just has one feed design which it uses across all of its pens and by having that fabric in between they don’t need to make special nibs for special feeds, for special pens all the time, so it’s a great trick.
Now the reason that purists will hate a wick feed is because it absorbs some of the ink and holds onto it. So when you clean out, when you get a new piece of ink, a new color of ink coming in from the back that wick is still holding on to the old color and that’s where you get the you know that blending that’s happening. Now the the reason that most people don’t like this kind of feed is because when you wash this pen water sticks to that fabric and it takes much longer for the pen to restart than a normal capillary action pen would. But having said that, just as Vishal mentioned, I think I actually find this to be quite a nice pen to kind of clean.
Vishal: Yeah, I’ve used some more old-school fountain pens and it takes as long to clean. I’m sorry, this is, yes, it’s cheap and strange and the results are chaotic but I think if you lean into that chaos you will get a nice result. I mean I’m happier with this test, I’m as happy with this piece of tissue as I am with this for some reason, aesthetically.
Samir: And I think most importantly look at the gorgeous piece of design that this is.
Vishal: Yeah! I think this green, if it’s showing up on camera the way it is in real life. My God! It’s like you can see it across the room, you could see it from the surface of Mars. It sang to us, it called us out. We walked into the stationery store with all this clutter and stuff and we saw this on the shelf and we were like “I need this in my life.”
Samir: But we’ve been singing its praises long enough, Minjal what have you felt about writing with this because we always come come at this through the point of view of people who draw rather than write.
Lettering with the Hauser INX Jazz Fountain Pen
Minjal: If you remember we were discussing the handwriting improvement books that you know as kids we were forced to fill.
Vishal: You were forced to fill handwriting improvement books?
Minjal: Yes, we all had pattern writing books in school. Everyone remembers that, at least in India we had to fill multiple books to get our handwriting straight and right. I did some research on who actually came up with these books. You know the penmanship styles that children actually use in school.
So there’s an educator by the name of Marion Richardson. She was somebody who observed how children would paint and she observed their hand movements and she came up with two distinct styles of handwriting improvement or handwriting techniques. I actually was very dedicated and I bought one of these books which is ‘Speed Writing in Improved Handwriting.’ I am not sure I managed to really improve my handwriting too much but it was fun!
Samir: But speaking of school and handwriting and doing the right things, Minjal don’t you think there’s something that needs to be added here?
Vishal: Don’t you think something is ‘suppossed’ to be different in this?
Minjal: Yeah, I mean. see if I were to grade myself I would give myself 6 out of 10 for the handwriting and maybe one of you all can just maybe point out the very glaring mistake in this.
Vishal: Well if you have been a long time and by now we hope you are a long time Stationery Test Drive viewer you will be very familiar with the Reynolds 045 Fine Carbure new laser tip (since we’re doing all the names this week) ball pen. You’ve seen our episode on it, you’ve seen what we did with it and I suppose we should put it to the use that all of us remember it from in school. I should do the honors here. I think the standard way was to do this, but do it furiously, I will not do it furiously because I’m, like I said I am a human being. And then something like, “See me after class!” I think teachers and doctors share the same kind of handwriting.
Samir: Minjal, we’re sorry to give you the first red mark ever.
Minjal: No! My mother will be really proud because I’ve never had any of these, I’m really happy!
Different Types of Papers to Use with Fountain Pens
Vishal: Validation and trepidation in equal measure. Now we’ve talked about the details of these things but I just really enjoy using this pen. Like I said I’ve used it on dozens of pages in cheap paper in a cheap notebook and had some of the best times during the pandemic at least whatever you can creatively. You’ve used copy paper, right Samir? You try to go for the simplest, thinnest papers too.
Samir: Yes and I’ve used this particular pen on copy paper before to do some drawings and I just thought that it would be a good test of you know how well it handles bleeding and things like that. It’s pretty good, it’s not like I would use this to write two-sided.
Vishal: It seems to spread a bit more as in mine on this paper which is a cartridge paper, I know that it would take a lot of time to dry so there’s a few smudges here and there but it seems to go down pretty well on that.
Landscape Sketching and Lettering with the Hauser INX Jazz Fountain Pen
Samir: Yeah and I’ve actually used it very loosely and very roughly in this case which I wanted to try out and it’s pretty good. I mean in spite of the fact that I’ve been kind of using it in a very scratchy way to do this drawing and the writing itself, the line is consistent it doesn’t blot too much, it’s you know, it’s a really good usable pen.
Vishal: Can you tell us about the quotation you have? Or if you can read it out that would be great too?
Samir: “If a man happens to find himself, he has a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the days of his life.” I just wanted to write something with the drawing because I think the pen is really a good writing instrument.
Vishal: I think we’ve all done that except for Minjal who hasn’t drawn anything. But who is Gregory Orr, Minjal? Do you know? Do you care? I mean it’s a good quote.
Vishal: What is this quote which was ‘suppossed’ to be something. Why don’t you read this out for us?
Minjal: No, we’ll get Samir to read it!
Samir: Why am I the reader now? Okay. “To be alive. To be alive: not just the carcass. But the spark. That’s crudely put, but if we are not supposed to dance, why all this music?”
Vishal: I think he has tinnitus.
Samir: And leave it to Vishal to come up with the least romantic explanation for all of it.
Character Art Sketch with the Hauser INX Jazz Fountain Pen
Vishal: As I said to someone that’s because I am a romantic. And this easter egg is for about 4 or 5 people will get this. This is from a picture of Orson Welles and the quote is “In July? But that makes no sense!” And if you know where that quote is from and where that anecdote is from you and I can be friends. So, this has been the Hauser Germany INX Jazz Liquid Fountain Pen. Are there any other kind of fountains that are not liquid? Are there solid fountains?
Minjal: Chocolate fountains?
Vishal: Chocolate’s still a fluid, still a liquid. Are there gas fountains? Are there solid fountains? Are there tumbling rocks? Is a landslide technically a fountain?
Samir: There are gas fountains on Jupiter.
Vishal: See, you learn something new every day on Stationery Test Drive and not just about pens. If you have any other cool facts about Jupiter or its moons..
Samir: Or stationery since that’s what we’re supposed to be talking about.
Vishal: Or ink capillary action and wicking fountain pens, please write to us, leave a comment, like, subscribe to this. You can subscribe to the Inky Memo newsletter at inkymemo.com. The link’s in the description for everything and over there you can find these wonderful new products that Inky Memo has carefully and lovingly made. It’s good for all your sketching and liquid fountain pen usage needs. I think that’s all from us for this episode. We will see you next time with more stationery, more test drives, more interesting facts about them and nonsense, of course which we hope you enjoy. Until then, I’m Vishal.
Samir: I’m Samir.
Minjal: This is Minjal.
Vishal: And find those liquid fountains in your life and cherish them!