Sandefur on the Perfect Pen

Timothy Sandefur has written an ode to his favorite pen, the Pilot V-ball Extra Fine Point. I had to laugh because I am exactly the same way. I am very picky about my pens and I absolutely hate most pens. I guard them jealously and threaten physical harm on anyone who steals a pen that I like. Unlike Sandefur, I don't have a single favorite that has lasted quite that long. My current favorite is the Bic Z4 Roller Blac, either in .5mm or .7mm depending on the nature of the document I'm writing. Since I send an extraordinary number of faxes, I tend to use the .7mm for those because the larger size is easier on the person receiving the fax. But I also have to fill out an incredible number of forms and documents that have tiny little spaces to write things in, so for that I have to go for the .5mm. And if you expect me to write with one of those cheap ballpoint stick pens that come in a big box, you're nuts.

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I too am a Pilot Finester. The real issue, however, is keeping the one&only pen on hand. I solved this by ordering a 12-pack every time I could not immediately find a pen. Bet I bought 10 boxes over time, but now Pilots are everywhere: on all desks, in the bathrooms, various strategic automotive nooks, ad nauseam.

Uni ball vision elite here. I absolutely abhor ball-point pins.

I'm quite fond of the V-ball. Currently at work I use a Pilot P-500 Extra Fine; I'm not wild about gel, but it works well enough in 0.5mm, and I didn't have to pay for the pens myself. :) My jacket-pocket pen is a Waterman Phileas roller.

Well it's nice to see that Sandefur and I are not the only people anal about our pens!

I, too, am particlarly fond of a certain pen. In my case it is an seventy year old Schaeffer fountain pen that at one time was my Grandmother's. I like beefy pens and this is beefy and has quite nice balance. The problem today is that most modern paper is not fountain pen friendly, resulting in feathery strokes, but for personal use I use Clairefontaine stationary. It's dear, but my does it ever take ink well.

And it's my pen , don't even think of using it. It takes a long time to break in a nib and after that, it only really works for one hand.

By littleboy (not verified) on 02 Mar 2005 #permalink

I always found even cheap fountain pens to have better ink flow on computer or notebook paper compared to ballpoint pens. Unfortunately, it's difficult to find fountain pens that aren't ridiculously expensive (any pointers?...).

By coffeedrinker (not verified) on 02 Mar 2005 #permalink

I like Pendemonium, http://www.pendemonium.com/. Papers (no, not that kind of papers), inks, pens, everything your writing heart could desire. Remember, most people won't futz around and steal a fountain pen, they're intimitated by them. A pen, with care, will last a lifetime. Mine dates to the early 1930's and works just fine, just keep them clean.

By littleboy (not verified) on 02 Mar 2005 #permalink

Uni-ball Gel Grip Signo 0.7 (non-retractable: sweetest mass-made pen available

By Elizabeth (not verified) on 02 Mar 2005 #permalink

If I recall correctly, Pilot was selling a disposable fountain pen some time ago. I used it for a while, but like I said, my handwriting isn't elegant enough to work with a fountain pen.

I'm sure there are much higher quality pens than the V-Ball, but one factor in my decision is affordability, and although the V-Ball is high on the scale of what I would pay for a non-ceremonial pen, its quality makes it worth it.

When new, the nibs on most fountain pen nibs are too narrow and too rounded. I have a what many would consider a good hand though I am not all that pleased with it. I used to go out with a woman who was a professional calligrapher. I saw her signature on a petition and just had to meet the person who owned that sig. Now that was a hand.

The trick is to get the nib custom ground for your hand. I know that sounds excessive, but it's worth it. For righties a left cut italic nib or maybe a cursive italic nib works nice.

Handwriting does not need to be especially ornamental, one just needs to practice a while and develope a personal style

By littleboy (not verified) on 02 Mar 2005 #permalink

Ya know, I write about the most controversial subjects on a daily basis - religion, freedom, theocracy, gay rights, evolution - and what post gets the most response? A post about pens. If I didn't hate my cat, I'd start catblogging.

As a teacher, I buy and use pens by the dozen, especially red pens. If I bought a good pen, I'd soon lose it to a student or colleague.

I'm fond of the new erasable ink pens; they're great for crossword puzzles and darts league score sheets.

I currently use a Pentel R.S.V.P medium, black. However, I've been all over the place and never found a pen, ball point or otherwise, that I liked for long. The Pentel is a little too thick but it is cheap and works on most writing surfaces..

Cross Ion. It's compact, elegant and clips to your key ring. Fantastic if you need to have a pen at all times (I'm a journalist, a cryptic crossword fan and a pathological pen loser). It won't explode in your pocket like a biro, either.

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 02 Mar 2005 #permalink

I've always prefered pencils myself.

I do not use any specific pen since my coworkers or girlfriend will inevitably borrow/take it and promptly lose it. I like the clicky type pens, not the twisty or capped kind.

By GeneralZod (not verified) on 03 Mar 2005 #permalink

My husband uses exactly the same pen that Tim prefers, the Pilot V-ball Extra Fine Point--and for many of the same reasons; his handwriting is awful, too.

In the old days I had a Schaeffer fountain pen, and I liked it just as littleboy said: nice, even inkflow; solid, weighty feel. Years ago I lost it, though, and it was like losing an old friend. These days I seldom write anything in pen or pencil; nearly my every word is electronic. (And am I the only one like this?)

I've switched from V-balls (I preferred the .7 mm) to Pilot G-2s. I prefer the .7.

I use green for correcting papers -- red scares the kids -- and the Pilot G-2s are worthless. I have a collection of various green pens I'm trying out, including the Sanford Calligraphy pen (2.5 mm), a Pentel RSVP, a Sanford Expresso Extra Fine Point, several Sakura Gelly Rolls, and a Marvy Gel Excel. The Gelly Rolls, in darker green, are fun to use.

For general fancy writing I use a Marvy calligraphy pen, 2.0.

And for pocket use I have a Cross Radiance fountain pen and a matching roller ball, in black. I prefer blue ink, but the blue fountain stuff from cross is not water resistant. Anybody have a solution?

And, Ed -- what do you use to write on the cat? Have you thought about blogging that? It would mix your love of pens with your hatred of your cat . . .

By Ed Darrell (not verified) on 03 Mar 2005 #permalink

FWIW, I like to use a Pelikan Kugelschreiber--a "Pelican" ballpoint pen. It isn't too thin (as Bic pens are), and it isn't too wide (as Mont Blanc pens are). And they're cheap to buy in Germany.

I'm still just astonished that of all the things I write about, this post gets 20 comments and multiple trackbacks. When I read Timothy's post I thought, "Cool, I'm not the only one picky about his pens", but I never imagined we were in such good company. Either that means he and I are more normal than we thought, or we're just surrounded by people as abnormal as us.

As we, Ed, as we. Bwahahahhh!

No, seriously, of course your readers are as abnormal as we--otherwise they wouldn't read us. People never read blogs they disagree with.

Re. Darrell's .7 mm--I find that works much better on heavy stationery, like the legal stationery around here. My extra fine points put out too little ink for thick paper like that. And I'm also stuck re. blue ink. The color of the blue ink in the Pilot V-Ball is beautiful, but it's so watery and it stays wet so long that my hand gets all smeared with it. Is there a good alternative(--not gel!!!!)?

What I would like is an ink that doesn't reproduce well in color copiers. I have to sign off on docunents that are often copies of the originals, plus the originals themselves. I use blue ink for this to maintain some control over the distribution of those copies as they get further distributed through the paperwork foodchain.

By littleboy (not verified) on 03 Mar 2005 #permalink

Re: blue fountain pen ink--Levenger (www.levenger.com) makes wonderful ink. It's not water resistant, but I don't think any ink that's suitable for a fountain pen will be. It does dry quickly, though. I use it for taking notes in class and rarely get smudging. The cobalt blue is a really great, dark shade.

By Megan Good (not verified) on 03 Mar 2005 #permalink

I'm going through a batch of the Pilot V5 pens. Mostly a good experience, though now and then one quits laying down ink and it takes some cajoling to get it going again.

My absolute favorites are Koh-i-noor technical pens... give me a 0.5 mm and load it with black ink and I am ready to go. They're expensive and require periodic cleaning, which is best done with an ultrasonic cleaning tank. Which is why I am using the Pilot V5 as a consumer-grade close approach to the Koh-i-noor.