Recently I needed to find a 0.5mm metallic silver roller ball pen (yes, that specific) and thus made a sojourn up to Lee’s Art Shop, a famous New York midtown landmark. Directly to the right of the front door (requisite surly security guard included) is a most magnificent sight. A 6 foot inclined wall of pens. Glorious, glorious pens. Felt tip pens, ball point pens, fountain pens, permanent market pens, ink pens, roller ball pens, calligraphy pens, fiber tips pens, gel ink pens, and dozens of others I’ve nary a clue about. A man obsessed? Perhaps.
Lee’s is a mecca for those of you who actually care about the pen you write with (my weapon of choice is always the black Uni-ball Vision Elite Micro). I keep one in every drawer and pocket I own. It’s not tough to find, but it’s a tour de force when it comes to writing.
30 Second Primer to Pens:
Here’s a quick Gear Patrol primer/guide to a few of the most often used pens, when people started writing with them, and the benefits. Use it to figure out which pen is best for you.
Fountain Pen (1880)
The Good: The flaws of liquid ink is what makes it absolutely fun to write with a fountain pen.
The Bad: You need skill and patience.
Ballpoint Pen (1940)
The Good: Virtually maintenance free. Lasts a ridiculously long time.
The Bad: Not very expressive and looks like crap. Leave it for the post office and the bank.
Fiber Tip (1960)
The Good: A left-hander’s dream pen. Smooth writing and dries quickly.
The Bad: Some are spring loaded for smoother writing, but a bit annoying for lengthy writing or violent signatures.
Roller Ball Pen (1980)
The Good: Liquid ink rocks (is silky smooth). Known to explode when chewed on too often or when carried on airplanes.
The Bad: Those who don’t like ball-points won’t like roller ball pens. Those who do like the writing action will adhere to these… forever.
Gel Ink (1995)
The Good: Dark, rich ink that pours into paper fibers smoothly and can keep up with the fastest of writers.
The Bad: Crap lifespan.