BP pens used to be my favorite pen believe it or not. Ever since I was a kid (and that was a long time ago) I've loved writing instruments. I don't
know why, but I always have and BP's always held a place in my heart. For the longest time I had this thing about simplicity and it's pretty hard to
get any more simple than the old Bic (crystal) BP pen. Back then I had tried FP's, but they were messy and required too much attention (the cheap
ones, I couldn't afford a nice one). BP's seemingly never ran out of ink, pretty much always wrote when you needed them to, didn't need to be
capped and could take a beating and still keep going. There was something about how a full note page written in BP took on a life of its own. It had
to do with the way the pen embossed the paper and changed it somehow. There was this sense of the effort it took to complete, a certain romance to
All of this was floating around in my head, unformed, when in about 7th grade there was this girl in one of my classes. I don't remember her name,
but I had a mad crush on her. She was as cute as the day is long, just drop-dead gorgeous, but she was a bad girl...a rebel. She slouched, she smoked,
she cut class...and she wrote on every single surface which would take ink. Nothing was spared. She doodled on paper, she wrote on the table, she
wrote on the wall, she wrote on her books, she wrote on everything. I'd never seen such a prolific 'writer'. She even wrote on herself. She had
beautiful handwriting too, and was a really good artist. I remember one day sitting there looking at her as she drew some exotic mural all over her
blue jeans. Her weapon of choice was a simple ballpoint pen. One end of it was chewed, but the other end was all business. I remember thinking to
myself how she must have had something inside of her which just needed to get out, and writing was how she was going to get it out. She didn't have a
favorite pen, any old pen would do. Heck, half the time she didn't even have a pen at all and needed to borrow someone else's. One thing was certain
though; she always used a pen, a blue pen to be exact, and it was always a BP.
The sheer quantity of writing / doodling this girl could do in just an hour or so was stunning, bordering on staggering. She would fill up a sheet of
notebook paper with so many things the paper would literally curl, and in the span of an hour she could fill an entire notebook of paper. Her sketches
were vivid and her writing expressive. Every surface in her world was covered in BP pen ink. I marveled at the things she could do with a simple BP
pen. I began to wonder how many BP pens she had used up completely in her life. It's pretty hard to use up an old Bic BP pen, pretty hard indeed.
Most will lose the pen before they use every bit of ink in one. We moved away after 7th grade so I never knew what became of her, but I never forgot
that girl and her writing.
One day I found myself looking at a Bic pen and marveling at its utility. Thinking back on the girl from 7th grade I set out on a quest of sorts. I
made up my mind I was going to take that pen and try my best to use every single bit of ink in it. I would find out it's nearly impossible to
completely exhaust a (medium) Bic BP pen. I came close a few times (where you could no longer see ink), but inevitably the pen would get lost or
permanently 'borrowed'. (Side note - Bic pens in fine point are fairly easy to expire for some reason, but the mediums will write forever). It
became a challenge to me...for many, many, years actually.
For years, everything I did in pen I did with a medium BP pen. Sure, I still used pencils (and there's another story here too) when the situation
dictated, but when I used a pen it was a medium BP pen. It started with the simple Bic crystal and eventually moved on to other pens like the Parker
Jotters and others. Then a funny thing happened. I realized that my love of medium BP pens now had me on a different kind of quest; I was determined
to find the absolute best BP pen available. The style of the pen meant little really, it was all about the writing experience for me.
Through High School and then college this quest continued. Even after college, in my professional career, I still sought out the ultimate BP pen.
Along the way pen technology changed. First there was erasable BP's, then rollerballs and ultimately gel (and more on this in a moment), but my focus
remained on BP's
I can honestly say, I believe I have tried just about every single type of BP pen known to mankind. I've traveled the World for business and
everyplace I ever went I made an effort to try every single BP pen a country had to offer. After all these years, up until just recently, my
conclusion has always been; it's pretty hard to improve upon the age-old Bic crystal BP pen. Sure, you can find more expensive pens in a prettier
wrapper, but the sheer utility and writing experience with a Bic is hard to beat. Recently though I've discovered a pen which just may have unseated
the venerable Bic, it is the Papermate Ink-Joy pen. Time will tell.
Then there's the fountain pen... (GAAA!!). Thank god I 'discovered' them after I had a good paying job!!!!
And now you know...the rest of the story. (to the extent you cared in the first place)
Best ballpoint pens are probably just your average Parker or cross click or twist pen.
I used to be like you, always used them. Then when I went to university, my dad got me some fine tipped fountain style pens, and they wrote like the
wind when you got the hang of it. I took notes clear and efficiently.
I got into calligraphy a few years ago, and have an assortment of writing instruments, but anything BUT a ballpoint for your average daily commute, or
when you are on the go, is terrible. I used to carry around a nice fountain Parker pen, but the nib would dry up, and it had to be kept upright at all
times while in my pocket or else it would bleed. Basically it's an office pen, nothing more.
Ball points are definitely the best over all, especially if you get your hands on the ones that writes upside down.
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk
FCD. I too enjoyed a good pen. I suppose it wasn't until junior high that I became enamored with the joy of an easy flowing ink pen that just seemed
so relaxing for some reason. I remember the erasable pen because it was the tool everyone had in their new Trapper tucked away safely inside that
plastic bag like pen and pencil holder. While at the time a wonderful idea, I just remember hating it for the sole reason it just didn't flow right.
Not the fact it didn't erase completely.
I haven't tried one for years but am sure the technology has evolved for the better. I have never had good penmanship, which annoyed me to no end no
matter how much I tried (and still try) to improve.
I remember my Grandmother had beautiful caligraphy like handwriting.
I asked her once how she learned to do this because she came to the United States as a girl of 9 from the "old country" as she would say. (Croatia)
She told me they had an entire hour of penmanship a day with the old quill like ink pens that one would dip into an inkwell on your desk after every
other couple of words or so. This hour or so of penmanship was done in both Croatia and the U.S.
I don't remember spending much time as a child that was devoted solely on penmanship. I don't have children so I have no clue what is done about the
art of penmanship these days.
I would imagine typing skills are more important these days with the proliferation of computers in the classroom today.
Jeez I remember it being a big deal that our school had 8 big old computers to teach "computer science". I think teaching code is what was done in
these classes and I had no interest in learning another language and the extent of my computer experiences back then were the 3 dollars in quarters I
used playing Centipede on Saturdays at the Mall.
At work when I am writing out ideas for some proposal or another it is always done with my beautiful Mont Blanc Classique Fountain Pen. My penmanship
still sucks and I have ruined more pairs of pants and shirts that I really feal comfortable saying, but I get into a Zen like trance when I'm
Thanks for bringing up a topic that I have never really put into words or even discussed with anyone before!
edit on 2-11-2015 by Spader
because: (no reason given)
I am a self described writing instrument nut! Fountain pens are definitely the top of the line for writing experiences, but the ballpoint is hard to
beat for its all-around utility. Rollerballs and gel pens, gel pens in particular, are good for some things, but not all. No one pen can do it
"all", but BP's come closer than anything.
Yes, the Fisher space pens are nice (the ones that write upside down or in zero 'G'), I have several.
Interesting you mention the erasable pen...I was just now working on a follow up piece to my OP regarding the same. It is entitled...
Rollerball Killed the Ballpoint Star
On August 1, 1981 (at 12:01am) Music Television, or "MTV" as it was known then, debuted and the very first song to air was a tune called Video
Killed the Radio Star by a group named the Buggles. The song was a celebration (of sorts) about advancing technology while worrying about its
effect on the future. Not too long before this (1979 actually) a similar fate befell the venerable ballpoint pen.
Prior to 1979 the gold standard in general use pens had been the ballpoint pen. Even though rollerball pens had existed for well over a decade at the
time, they were not widely recognized/marketed and the ballpoint's rule over the common writing world was secure. However, in 1979 all that
Strangely, it wasn't the rollerball which dethroned the ballpoint pen, but rather another type of pen...the erasable ballpoint pen. In 1979 when the
first erasable ballpoint pen was introduced by Papermate company (most commonly known as the EraserMate 2) the ballpoint pen world was thrown into
chaos. (Note: there actually was an EraserMate 1, but most people have never seen one of these). Up to this point people viewed pens as being
permanent and pencils being erasable. The erasable pen changed all that. The erasable pen blurred the lines between a pencil and a pen, but they also
did something more.
Because the paradigm had changed, people who historically would have used a pencil began using erasable pens for many things. Likewise pen users,
fearing a mistake and resulting cross-out, also gravitated towards erasable pens. At the same time something more subtle was happening.
The quality of writing with an erasable pen was terrible. They jumped, skipped and smeared, but because they were erasable people still used them. In
time people forgot about the differences in writing quality between a regular ballpoint and an erasable ballpoint; they viewed them as the same, but
they were far from it. This had, in essence, lowered the bar for all ballpoint pens. Seizing upon this quality gap the Japanese pen companies who had
developed the rollerball a decade and a half earlier saw an opportunity and began flooding the market with rollerball pens. The rollerball had been
developed originally as a bridge between the fountain pen and the ballpoint pen, but with the ballpoint's firm grasp on the market, and its low price
point, there was little hope for the competing rollerball.
When the erasable ballpoint hit the market and ultimately 'dumbed' down the ballpoint pen writing experience the market was ripe for a competitor.
From there the rest is history. The rollerball moved in and quickly dethroned the ballpoint as the pen of choice. At just about the zenith of the
rollerball's reign the gel pen was introduced. Gel pens turned the common use pen world on its head and the ballpoint was relegated to the bottom of
the proverbial junk drawer.
Rollerball pens, and gel pens in particular, do have some sizable down sides however. And it was these down sides which kept the venerable ballpoint
in existence. Rollerball pens can cut paper (especially on forms) and gel ink is worthless around water. Ballpoints avoid both these problems.
In the end though it was like ballpoint manufacturers just gave up. Rather than improve on the ballpoint experience they just accepted the crappy
status quo. (This is the fundamental issue I have with ballpoints by the way). Only recently has someone stepped forward with a real improvement on
the ballpoint experience, and that company is none other than Papermate with their Ink-Joy product (which really is a pleasure to write with,
surprisingly). Time will tell.
So Rollerball didn't really Kill the Ballpoint Star (it just sounded cooler in the title), erasable ballpoints did.
And lastly, just for fun...a rewind all the way back to that famous video from August 1st, 1981
edit on 11/2/2015 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)
Well I am no pen afficanado
Though like the bic that has the four colours, play with the four sliders when you are thinking, under pressure or just chatting on the phone
Damn thing is always on green when you sign an important document
Oh Thank God. I thought I was the only pen nut. Every pen I see, I write my name or a few sentences to see how it'll perform. If it doesn't have the
right "drag" or is too "slick", doesn't flow the way I like or just doesn't have the right feel in my fingers, I'll just put it back in the jar and
move on to the next one. Right now, I carry a Sharpie extra fine tip that does very well. Doesn't leak, smear or smudge and has the perfect [ for me ]
When it comes to writing ... Pilot fine point BP pens. Accept no substitute. They made several different ink colors: pink, red, black, blue, green and
purple. I used one of each in college to take my notes. Different color for each day so I had an easy time distinguishing each day's notes.
Always wrote smoothly, never had ink "hiccups" and lasted forever. The barrels were slender, not fat.
You can't find them anymore unless you specifically order them from the manufacturer. I do.
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