The Penbbs 456, an affordable and well-built vacuum filler, was one of the top Chinese fountain pens of 2019.
The Penbbs’ most notable features is that it is an affordable, reliable vacuum-filling fountain pen. Usually found in high-end pens like the Pilot Custom 823 and the Twsbi Vac700r, the 456 was one of the first quality vacuum-filling Chinese fountain pens to be sold. Considering the sub-$50 price point, this got fountain pen enthusiasts quite excited.
The vacuum-filling mechanism is not only impressive in action, it also means a large capacity for fountain pen ink, more than any cartridge or converter, or even piston-filling pen.
The Penbbs 456 has stainless steel nib and is sold in Extra Fine and Medium sizes. The company calls these “Round Extra Fine” and “Round Medium” nibs. The pen is sold in a number of colors with the most popular being clear demonstrator and translucent green to show off the ink chamber. The pen is also sold in acrylic plastics with more ornate designs, like Cloud and Smog.
The 456 uses a #6 size nib, which is larger and more ornate than is typical for a Chinese fountain pen, but expected given the higher price. The nib is slightly upturned, making for an aesthetic not everyone enjoys but a nice writing experience that is similar to a fude- or waverly-style nib. The nib is steel but it’s bi-color with a line of gold-coloring. Because it’s a standard #6 nib it can be swapped with a JoWo German nib, which would be the same used by Edison, Twsbi, Goulet, and others.
The larger nib is a match for the larger pen, which makes sense. It’s also a heavier pen, with a weight approaching 30 grams. Part of the weight is a result of the metal plunging rod that creates the negative pressure in the vacuum chamber. The weight of the Pilot Custom 823 is 29.0 grams, almost exactly that of this pen.
When purchased directly from Penbbs, the 456 fountain pen includes a gift box. It’s red and black and made of heavy card paper. There is a label on the outer box explaining the model’s information, but it’s in Chinese. The only information that will be clear to English readers are the model (in this case, 456-16) and the color (Clear Glass for the clear model pictured here). No instructions, spare parts, or tools are included.
Penbbs 456 Fountain Pen Information
|Street Price||Check Price|
|Pen Type||Fountain Pen | Vacuum (built-in)|
|Barrel Color||Clear, Translucent Green, Translucent Blue, Ivory, Dark Green|
|Body Diameter (mm)||14.5|
|Grip Color||Clear, Translucent Green, Translucent Blue, Ivory, Dark Green|
|Grip Diameter (mm)||12.0|
|Country of Origin||China|
|Capped? Retractable?||Capped - Screw On|
|Length Capped / Retracted (cm)||14.7|
|Nib Material||Steel, 12K gold|
|Nib Sizes||Extra-Fine, Medium|
|Writing Sizes||0.38 mm, 0.5 mm|