A withering glance at a wish list reveals an item you thought you’d never see again. Pens! What’s that, you wonder because you are of the digital age and it is such an analog tool. You’re into mouse clicking, stylus and finger navigating and voice interface. Now someone has the audacity to ask for ballpoint pens. Who does that? Well, there are those Volkswagen guys. You know the ones – they’re twirling pens while closing the deal. It turns out that pens seem to hold their own in the midst of digital clutter. Okay, so the fountain pen is not among the stalwarts here but the ballpoint is no slouch. In England and Australia it’s called a Biro, after the Hungarian newspaper editor who wanted a pen that wouldn’t smudge. John Loud, a tanner looking for something that would easily write on leather patented the ballpoint.
For anyone looking to add pens as stocking stuffers this holiday season there is much to consider in terms of inks, tips, points, fragrance and the like. But it isn’t just a matter of stopping in at the nearest office supply store. It is necessary to ruminate on this matter. Of course there’s the question of writing. But, does it sound like a rodent scratching across the page? How well does it work on a vertical surface? What are the prospects for carrying it in pockets without their protectors? Behind ears? In purses? Do the caps stay on? Several years ago, journalist, YiLing Chen-Josephson evaluated the mighty pen along these very lines and decided that the best ballpoints were the Pilot Easy Touch, Papermate Widemate and Bic Round Stic. The best rollerballs were Pilot Precise V5, Staedtler Liquid Point, Sanford Uniball Micro, and Uniball Vision Elite – for airplane use. The best gels were Uniball Signo and Pilot P-700. As for pen twirling – who knows?
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