Graduation is coming soon and that means finding the perfect gift for that scholar in our lives. Because fine writing instruments are a perennial favorite among graduation gift ideas we decided to write a short blog series outlining the types and styles of pens available. There are hundreds of pens to choose from with a wide range of price. We hope that this short series gives you a better understanding of the offerings that exist. Today we are going to talk a little bit about qualities and attributes of the ball point, rollerball and fountain pen.
Point of fact: According to the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association, most ball point pens have the ability to draw a line 4,000 to 7,500 feet in length. Whether or not the line is straight is, of course, up to you. The earliest this little-known fact could have been tested was in 1888 when the first known patent for a ball point pen was issued to John Loud. Mr. Loud devised the pen as a means to write on the leather goods that he created as a tanner. Although the use would eventually spread from tanned leather to paper-like products, the original pens were much too rough for use on materials less durable than cured hide.
Today disposable ball point pens are found in every nook and cranny of our world. They are so cheap to produce that many organizations give them away free as advertising—with logos emblazoned on the side. It’s easy to consider the ball point as only a disposable item, but this is far from the truth. Many people prefer a quality ball point pen over any other type of pen because of their ease of use and design.
Ballpoint pens use an oil-based ink and a tight ballpoint that requires more pressure than other pen types. The oil-based ink lays down a nice tight line the size of the pen tip and resists bleeding. The tight ballpoint at the tip prevents the pen from leaking, making it a perfect candidate for the purse or pocket. Unfortunately, the oil-based ink in conjunction with the pen tip makes the pen unsuitable for all surfaces.
The ball point pen dominated the writing instrument market with little variation until 89 years after John Loud received his patent. It was 1977 that saw the invention of the rollerball pen. The concept behind the rollerball was to create a hybrid of the ball point and the fountain pen by introducing a water-based or gel-based ink. This gave the pen an ease of use associated with ball point pens as well as a nice wet, penetrating stroke like a fountain pen.
Rollerball pens have a number of unique characteristics that make them popular among pen enthusiasts. Because rollerball pens use a thicker ink the ball at the tip of the pen does not need to be sealed as tightly. This allows the user to exert less pressure when writing. The thickness and ‘wetness’ of the ink produces a more consistent stroke with less dry skips that sometimes appear with a ball point pen. Gel based inks also come in a wide variety of color, in contrast to their oil-based counterparts.
The actual origin of the fountain pen on the world stage is a little hazy. This is because a pen designed with an ink reservoir has been documented as early as the 10th century. It is because fountain pens have such a long, rich history in nearly every nation of the world that so many people are drawn to them, but at the same time shy away from using one themselves. Many people feel that a fountain pen requires a great deal of effort to learn to use, that they are hard to take care of and that they are fragile. The fact is that modern fountain pens are extremely user-friendly, easy to take care of and more durable than earlier iterations.
Modern fountain pens are the product of science and art. The old problem of spilled ink and leaking pens has been solved with pre-filled cartridges, although it is still possible to purchase fountain pens you fill manually. The design of the nibs – the tip of the pen that transfers the ink to the paper — now come in a variety and quality that accommodate all writing styles. Advances made in the construction of modern fountain pens have made them as durable as they are beautiful. The greatest advancement in the fountain pen, however, is the price. No longer is the fountain pen a writing instrument for the wealthy and royal. Affordable fountain pens exist erasing the only real reason not to try one out –or to give one as a gift.
That is our quick trip through the types of pens you can expect to see at Executive Essentials. All three have their own unique style and history and all three have their own character. Take the time to browse through our online catalog to get a sense of what is available. Next post we will talk a little about a few of the companies out there that are producing high-quality pens that are fun, inventive and unique. Until then, feel free to leave a comment and ask a question. We’d love to hear from you.