≡ Menu

The Crime a Pen Cannot Commit

You know what I’m talking about here – the one thing a pen cannot do if it is to be a keeper. A minor infraction here or there might be tolerated, but consistently ignoring the rules means banishment.

Of course I’m talking about writing. A pen must write. The first time, every time it’s expected to.

Yeah, if it’s a fountain pen that’s been sitting for a few months I don’t have high expectations, but if it’s been only a week or so that’s no excuse.

For a gel pen it depends. If it’s one that comes with the little blob on the point I take that as a sign that it’s not designed to handle being left unused for very long, but it should behave as well as a quality fountain pen. Otherwise, I expect it to be like a ballpoint.

For ballpoints it’s pretty much zero tolerance for anything that hasn’t been full on abandoned in the glove compartment.

We all have pens that are in jail serving time for this crime. In the drawer, the pencil cup, maybe even back in the original box. My memory fades and something about them calls to me. I revive them, give them some loyal usage, and I’m reminded about why they were banished.

However some pens are trustworthy. Pelikan’s fall into this category for me, with Lamy and Namiki a very close second. Nearly anything else (forget Parker) is probably at least on probation.

Fisher refills may drag like a dog with no legs (although they reward loyal usage) but they will always write in my experience. Most other ballpoints are pretty reliable as well. I do have a Caran d’Ache bold black refill that ALWAYS skips the first letter requiring a do-over. It’s pretty much killed my enthusiasm for the 849.

The Pilot G2 doesn’t give much trouble, but the fancier, finer, and much rarer pens I’ve gotten from Japan are more finicky. They’re fine within a day or so, but not go-to pens for the cup next to the phone.

So how about you? What pens do you have in jail?

5 comments… add one
  • RMinNJ September 10, 2012, 10:02 am

    Probably all of my Cross ballpoints. The blue is just light and faint and scratchy. My wife uses her ATX everyday and I put a new Cross broad point refill in it but the blue is light and its never writes on the first stroke…Cross should really stop putting out new finishes and pens and fix their BP refills.

    • Steve September 10, 2012, 9:25 pm

      I’m kind of surprised to hear that about a Cross pen. I’m not a fan myself, but there are lots of folks who swear by them. Then again, there is a contingent of folks who believe the quality has suffered a lot since they started making them in China.

      I agree that in a ballpoint or rollerball/gel pen the refill is 90% of the performance. Get it wrong and your done.

  • Pablo September 12, 2012, 4:35 am

    I tried Caran d’Ache this summer and they hold great but dont like the refills. Same with Cross.
    A pricy option that has never failed to me is Montblanc B size.
    But the one that never fails: Uniball jetstream 1.0. I stopped using ballpens until I discovered this and always carry one.

  • Randall H. October 21, 2012, 5:20 pm

    For me, any kind of pen that is too blotchy stays in jail, or worse, goes to File 13. There are some (I am looking at YOU, PaperMate InkJoy) that continually belch ink onto the page until it seems like one big blotchy mess. A little blotch now and then (such as happens with the PaperMate Write Bros. pens) is actually on my happy list, and gives me great pleasure when I write with these pens. But that’s about it.

  • David Kiphuth March 3, 2013, 10:10 am

    I draw detailed renderings all the time with Bics and there are virtually no blobs.. Ditto Mont Blanc. Cross is fair, ESP the fine, but they need to work on blobbing and Parker blobbing refills need to be fixed. Pilot and Pentel ball points are hopelessly in reliable

Leave a Comment