Saturday, November 18, 2023

Fountain pen clones - Terminology - A first try

Clones of Dolly - Sheeps from the U. of Nottingham, c. 2000
I have always been facinated with the Clones, fountain pens that were trying to claim the spotlight by pretending to be another, well known pen.   From the early days of my collecting life I was initially fascinated by the fake Parker Sonnet from China and I wrote a number of postings with the main one on (see but also on FPN.  Of course this is a trend that started neither with the fake Montblanks of the 90s, nor the Parker Sonnets of the 2000s.  It is rooted, deeply I would say, in the Fountain Pen History.  Misterlook  and a bunch of  Esterbrook "clones"  pop up often in my mind because the copied pen did not have to be an expensive one.  Anyway I digress.   

The clones have come along way.   They are now easily traded even on Amazon.  But what exactly consitutes a clone?  Or is this the exact term that we should use?  People use more gentle terms like inspired, or tribute, or even the even more refined "hommage".  I always thought that the last one is just a low trick to use a not so common word to avoid calling it a clone.  So I propose to standardize and use the following terminology:

  • When a pen has some visual similarities but there is no doubt that the "original", genuine pen is different enough, we should say that this "clone", which is really not a clone, is pen INSPIRED by the original one. Example: 

    Jinhao 15 Guangzhou Tower (or Wasteline) model (still been sold in Amazon!)

  • Waterman Serenitè (ORIGINAL)

  • When it is hard to distinguish a pen with a quite look from the original genuine pen, then we will call the pen a WANNA BE. I would reserve the term TRIBUTE or HOMMAGE if the original pen dates decades before that the date of the issue of the "Wanna Be".  An important condition for this category is that the "Wanna Be" pen does not carry the name of the original pen.

    Seagull (Japan) from

    Parker Vacumatic

  • Finally, in a class of their own, we have the "TRUE FAKES" or "GENUINE CLONES" - pun absolutely intended - which they carry the name of the original pen make, even if there are visual minor difference between them and the original pen.  

Typical Chinese Sonnet Clone sold in Ebay (2023 Fall)

Original Parker Sonnet Ciselé

What do you think?  Of course we can always add internediate grades as TRUE FAKE- or WANNA BE+ to cover gradations and introduce the obligatory ambiguity :) :) :)   

Let me know what you think. 

No comments:

If you reached this page, chances are that you are interested in the history of fountain pens. Patents offer an interesting insight for the history of our beloved pens. You should consider purchasing George Kovalenko's book on Fountain Pen Patents 1911-1950s. Click here for more information. This is a labor of love and is the most comprehensive collection of pen patents that exists. George works currently on the first volume, which I am waiting anxiously for.