Ballpoint pens.

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Bagels

You got Moxie, kid!
Apr 6, 2007
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#1
Let's do this.

Part 1 - Wooden pencils
Part 2 - Fountain pens
Part 3 - Mechanical pencils

A story:

When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface, and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 degrees Celsius.

The Russians used a pencil.


It's a great story if you are both anti-government and pro-communism (a rare combination!), but like all great stories - Noah's Ark, Santa Claus, the Moon Landing, my romantic conquests (or conquest, if you're counting. Why are people always counting?) - it's not exactly true. Both the US and the Soviets started out using pencils. However, you may recall that graphite is a good electrical conductor - exactly the kind of thing you don't want floating around in a spaceship. Grease pencils were a nice option, as they let you draw on windows, or draw penises on a sleeping astronaut's face, but they're all smudgy (the pencils, not penises, per se).

The famous pressurized (ballpoint pens are gravity fed) "Fisher Space Pen" was developed privately by Paul Fisher in 1965. He asked NASA to try it out and they eventually ordered 400, at $6 a pop. The pen is still a favorite of writing enthusiasts and proved a very profitable product for Fisher.

Suck it, Tea Party. NASA is awesome.

(Fisher, not Fischer)
Ballpoint Pens - cheap, reliable, not prone to smudging or leaking - are the most commonly used writing implements in the world.

It should surprise absolutely no one that an American gets credit for inventing the ballpoint pen. Cheap, practical, sort of shitty, easy to mass produce - throw in "freedom" and the ballpoint pen is everything we love about being American. Leather tanner John J. Loud was issued a patent for the ballpoint pen in 1888. It sucked.

The modern ballpoint pen was patented in 1938 by the Hungarian-born Bíró brothers. The key was pairing the ball mechanism with a viscous ink. In much of the world, a ballpoint pen is still known as a "Biro," whereas in the US, they're commonly referred to as "JJ LOUDs." I made up that last part, but please start calling them that.

Marcel Bich purchased the patent for the Biro in 1945. Bich shortened his last name to Bic (possibly because that terminal h made it look just a tad German for the post-WWII world) and his company went on to be world leaders in DISPOSABLE TAT - lighters, shitty razors, pens, you name it.

Several companies ripped off the Bíró patent during the 40s, saturating the market with ballpoint pens. These were sold at a premium price. The first commercially successful ballpoint in the US, the Reynolds Rocket, sold for $9.75 in 1946 (around $120 in modern fun money) at Gimbels department store.


What in the...?
[Movie buffs may recognize Gimbels from Miracle on 34th Street, where they played the bad guy trying to kill Santa (it's been a while since I've watched it). Who can forget Santa telling a doe-eyed child, "Ho ho ho! We don't carry that toy! Why don't you TAKE YOUR SORRY $@#! TO GIMBELS YOU PIECE OF %^$&! I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL CHOKE A $#%^ING ELF! SO SICK OF THIS $#^%!" Great movie!].

The classic Bic Cristal, the best selling writing implement in the world, and a classic piece of industrial design, was developed in 1950.
Bic struggled until a successful advertising campaign in the 1960s and a shift in the market to cheaper and cheaper pens helped propel them to massive popularity.

You can spend as much as you want on ballpoints these days. It's basically impossible to go to any kind of conference, orientation, bank, brothel, whatever, without being given free pens. Or you can get the same thing in solid platinum from Tiffany's. Sky's the limit!


Your Ballpoint Pen Questions Answered!

1.) What's the difference between a ballpoint and a rollerball pen? That sounds like the same thing...

Right on. A ballpoint uses an oil-based ink, whereas a rollerball has a water-based, fountain pen-y ink (although FP ink tends to be dye-based, whereas rollerballs use a pigment-based ink) specifically formulated to poison left-handed people as they smear it all over the goddamn page.

The boundary seems to have blurred a fair amount with waterproof gel inks (which still use water as a carrier solvent for the pigments) being used in rollerball and ballpoint pens. I think the general rule of thumb is that rollerball pens are pointier.

2.) Are there erasable ballpoint pens?

Yes.

3.) could you expand?

No.

(some people love 'em, but I've never been a huge fan)

4.) Despite your exquisite taste and refined manners, do you, Bagels, ever reach for a Bic Cristal?

Sure. I'm spinning one around as I write this. If nothing else, you need a ballpoint pen to sign the occasional check. Also, Mrs. Bagels is notorious for losing pens, so I keep a bunch around for her.

I'm looking around my Fortress of Calligratude and I have a pretty good collection of rollerball and ballpoint pens tucked in with the paint brushes, pencils, colored pencils, etc etc.

I definitely prefer rollerball pens over ballpoints. You get better ink saturation with less pressure and without the bleed through you often get with fountain pens. I just can't write for shit with a ballpoint - the feel is all wrong The gel ink Pilot G2 is frankly a pretty great pen. For some reason, the green ones tend to suck. Anyone else experienced this?

Even with ballpoint pens, I find that some are just better than others. I like the Papermate InkJoy - it skips less and writes more smoothly than a Bic Cristal.

Also, if it has a kitty on it, I'll buy it.

5.) Can you use ballpoint pens to make amazing art?

Here's a photograph:



And here is a version drawn using ballpoint pens:



Wikipedia on ballpoint pen artwork.


The article points out that ballpoint pen inks aren't quite the premium qualities that say, fountain pen inks are. You can buy a Noodler's ink that is both water resistant and resistant to laser pulses. On the other hand, ballpoint pen inks can have a variable sensitivity to UV light, making the artwork a bit harder to preserve.


I'll round up some pen recommendations as they roll in. Please let me know what pens you like to use (with links to places to buy them, if you'd be so kind)!


Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out parts 1-3 for more refined ways to record your deepest, most provocative thoughts:

 
#2
Pilot G2 is a great, cheap pen. The Pilot "envelope" pen (which as far as I know is not sold here, but you can get it from sites like jetpens) is probably my favorite ballpoint to write with. edit: ...which is a gel pen and not a ballpoint after all, it seems. So I guess that makes the G2 my fave :)
 
Jan 28, 2008
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AB
#5
There are few writing implements I hate more than ballpoint pens, but maybe I've just never had one that felt smooth enough to write with. I always feel like I'm exerting more pressure than is necessary.

My little pencil holder on my desk here is full of mechanical pencils, one extremely fat Staedtler marker, some Pilot Varsities, and the one exception - a Zebra Sarasa (Pilot G2s are also nice).
 
Jan 21, 2014
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www.terrisus.com
#9
I live for Pilot G2's. Read the thread while gnawing on a .38 "ultra mega fine" black. Usually go with .5's, but sometimes you just gotta write so tiny. Pilot G2 .38 is the steez.

OP said:
In much of the world, a ballpoint pen is still known as a "Biro," whereas in the US, they're commonly referred to as "JJ LOUDs." I made up that last part, but please start calling them that.
I lost it. A+ OP.
 
Jun 10, 2013
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#11
Where do all these ballpoint pens come from that magically keep rolling out ink after 3min of use. Every time I request more pens be sent to my office, I find 3 good ones out of a pack of 30...
 
Sep 21, 2006
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deletionquality.net
#13
Why don't you like erasable pens? Pilot Frixion clicker is pretty okay but I guess it's gel based.

Also a big fan of Ballograf Epoca, Parker Jotter and Cross Classic Centuary.

Where do all these ballpoint pens come from that magically keep rolling out ink after 3min of use. Every time I request more pens be sent to my office, I find 3 good ones out of a pack of 30...
Just buy a good pen and then get refills, it's a lifesaver.
 

MLH

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Jul 18, 2010
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#17
Unfortunately it doesn't matter how fancy the exterior of your ballpoint pen is, the ink cartridge will dictate how well your pen works.
I bought a pack of these:
http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/Parker-QuinkFlow-Refills.html#a16796

and they have been the worst, the ink is 'weak' requiring lots of pressure to write and it frequently breaks flow. Maybe I got a bad batch but my general experiences with Parker pens throughout my entire school life has been hell; crappy fountain pens & ink, and now crappy ballpoint inks.

Tell me what are the better ink cartridges for ballpoints?

Edit: or maybe rollerball is the way to go?
 
Jan 25, 2013
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#22
I hate ballpoint pens with a passion. The inconsistent ink flow and the skipping drive me insane. I don't keep any around, the cheap pens that I do keep around are all gel pens and even then they drive me crazy from time to time.
 
Sep 29, 2011
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#25
I hate ballpoint pens with a passion. The inconsistent ink flow and the skipping drive me insane. I don't keep any around, the cheap pens that I do keep around are all gel pens and even then they drive me crazy from time to time.
You need to step up your pen game, son.
Life's too short to waste on inconsistent ink flow. Get a proper pen.
 

ponpo

( ≖‿≖)
Aug 22, 2011
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#27
Forget the Pilot G2, you're missing out on life if you haven't tried Muji pens yet. I thought they would be trash at like ¥80 each but it's the best pen I've used in years. Great gel ink. I write fairly small and they have a 0.38mm size as well, yahoo.
 
Aug 9, 2011
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#28
I have a Sapper Lamy Dialog 1 at my desk for when I need one. I love how it looks, and the triangle shape is comfortable. The lamy M16 refill isn't amazing or anything, but I avoid using BPs except for carbon forms, bad paper etc. I have a zebra telescopic pen in my bag for emergencies.

Writing more than a line or two is just so much more pleasant with a fountain pen so I stick to those mostly. I usually have 1-3 fountain pens, emergency ballpoint, and a clutch pencil highlighter with me.
 
Jan 25, 2013
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#29
You need to step up your pen game, son.
Life's too short to waste on inconsistent ink flow. Get a proper pen.
It's why I jumped onto fountain pens and went back to using pencils. The only pen I actually carry around daily is a uni ball and I only really use it if my FP runs out of ink.
 

Bagels

You got Moxie, kid!
Apr 6, 2007
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#30
I have a Sapper Lamy Dialog 1 at my desk for when I need one. I love how it looks, and the triangle shape is comfortable. The lamy M16 refill isn't amazing or anything, but I avoid using BPs except for carbon forms, bad paper etc. I have a zebra telescopic pen in my bag for emergencies.

Writing more than a line or two is just so much more pleasant with a fountain pen so I stick to those mostly. I usually have 1-3 fountain pens, emergency ballpoint, and a clutch pencil highlighter with me.
Heck yeah! You can see it in my writing sample - I'm like, pen, pen, pen, FOUNTAIN PEN WOOOOOOOOOOOOO! It's just so much more fun to write with! If you're going to write by hand nowadays, I just don't really see the appeal of being all utilitarian about it. I'd rather fall in a well and die* than spend the claimed 15 years writing with a shitty ballpoint.

I need to check out Muji pens! I don't have any yen, so I converted it over to US fun bux. 78 cents. Jeez.

I forget to mention Pentel Energel pens. They make some very smooth rollerballs.


*LITERALLY
 

ponpo

( ≖‿≖)
Aug 22, 2011
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#32
I need to check out Muji pens! I don't have any yen, so I converted it over to US fun bux. 78 cents. Jeez.
I think they sell for a little more in the US but it's still (probably) the best gel ink pen you can get for cheap. Even ignoring the price it's really good.

Before these I was using a Uni Jetstream. I think outside of Japan uniball is the same name but not sure about the 'Jetstream' model name. Really good anyway, but no desire to use it after the muji ones.
 

Bagels

You got Moxie, kid!
Apr 6, 2007
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#38
I do agree that we need a thread about me, but I'd feel a little but selfish unless more people requested it.

Anyone else?
I'm willing to write a really dismissive history of your life, if that will help.

I've never been comfortable with ball point pens. They turn my hand writing to shit.
Right? They're too...slippery.

I swear, every time a friend who likes my handwriting comments on it in front of someone, I'm holding a ballpoint, or chalk, or a dry erase pen. And the new person is all interested and I'm like DERP. Every damn time!
 
Jun 2, 2013
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#42
I'm more of a Wacom kind of guy, but I've been through my fair share of pen related obsession. Staples being my early stomping grounds. Oh... Those luscious and temping aisles of multicolored and exotic pens... The search for the perfect white out, liquid? Paper?
Those might have been the days, but digital ink has since become my writing utensil of choice for those moments when typing just does not cut it.
 

Dryk

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Aug 22, 2013
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#44
I lose pens too often to get attached to them, and I can't stand anything thicker than fine. So these are my go-to, relatively disposable pens.



For the longest time I used these, but the grips started rubbing my fingers raw
 

Bagels

You got Moxie, kid!
Apr 6, 2007
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#46
I love your OPs OP.
They love you right back. Especially this one, which turned out more erotic than I had planned...

I lose pens too often to get attached to them, and I can't stand anything thicker than fine. So these are my go-to, relatively disposable pens.



For the longest time I used these, but the grips started rubbing my fingers raw
How do you sleep at night?
 

Pau

Member
May 3, 2010
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#48
Love your writing Bagels. <3

So my favorite cheap pen is this purple Papermate. Usually comes in this pack:



Problem is that I don't want to pay a gazillion dollars to only use 2-4 pens out of 12. But thanks to this thread, I thought to look 'em up and found these:



I know what I'm getting with my next pay check.
 
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