What’s in a Pen?
The Wirecutter has a 6,500 word review of not only what it considers the best pen (a uni-ball Jetstream), but all sorts of facts and tidbits about pens in general.
Take a look:
There are pretty much three types of non-fountain ink pens currently on the market that you can get on the cheap: ballpoint, rollerball and gel pens. All three are closely related, but, generally speaking, each has some advantages and disadvantages over the others…
…Ballpoint technology, invented in the 1800s, is the grandaddy of all of this. It was designed to be a better and easier way of dispensing ink—embedded in the point of a pen, a rolling ball transfers the ink to the page. Ballpoints use oil-based ink solutions, which dry quickly on the page, don’t bleed through much and don’t dry out easily in the pen itself. But ballpoints tend not to be very smooth to write with.
Rollerballs use water-based ink, which provides smoother, finer lines. They are available in a wider array of colors and require less pressure to use. But their inks tend to dry slowly on the page, can easily smudge and bleed, and can dry out in the pen itself.
Gel pens are technically a rollerball variant, but use a much thicker, more viscous ink. So gel pens don’t bleed as much as most rollerballs, and you still get very smooth, fine and vivid lines. But they still generally have smudging and drying problems, and the ink runs thick; a 0.5 mm gel pen will put down a wider line than 0.5 mm in other types.
But… pens? Why not grab whatever’s available?
Because, as the review says, the “difference between an awesome pen and a mediocre one is just a couple bucks.” So, awesome. We like that.
We also like that the pens reviewed had to be less than $5.
Image: The FJP’s Jihii Jolly demonstrates her handiwork with a pen by transcribing the first of Rainer Rilke’s Duino Elegies. Via her Instagram. Select to embiggen.