From Issue Six of Gear Patrol Magazine.
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There’s no lack of love for the Montblancs, Sheaffers and Parkers of the world. But all pens needn’t be status symbols — like a good friend, the best examples inspire a quiet form of loyalty. They aren’t boastful, but if disparaged, demand defense. Here, six everyday options that deserve your allegiance.
Stabilo Point 88
Stabilo’s website describes the Point 88 as “classic, cult, cool,” which, if it were all but very few other brands, would be obnoxious. But in Stabilo’s case, the sheer dominance the many-colored, hexagonal marker pen has seen makes it seem more self-aware than arrogant — it has been the most popular marker pen in Europe for decades and cradled by creatives and thinkers everywhere else as well. The 0.4mm felt tip somehow evokes the joy of childhood and the feeling of writing something of great importance simultaneously — all for $1 a pen.
The most dominant pen in South Korea since its launch in the early ’60s, Monami’s supremely ubiquitous 153 model is a staple of the Korean office. It is cheap (less than $1 per pen, usually), light (less than 70 grams) and, most importantly, it writes well — it also happens to have sold upward of 4 billion units since its creation. Its name is derivded from the French mon ami, which literally translates to “my friend.”
The ICO Signetta was made by one László Bíró, who you should think of as the Agatha Christie of ballpoint pens — nearly everything about his masterpiece looks like a cliché now, but only because he created the thing that everyone else ripped off. The Signetta, which remains among the most popular pens in the world, was made in 1933. Bíró’s pen-making dominance was and is so complete, many European countries use “biro” as the word for a ballpoint pen.
Depending on where you are in the world, it could be called the Hi-Tec-C, but it means the same thing everywhere — the best gel pen you won’t mind having to replace. What it lacks in history it makes up for in performative prowess — its patented bipolymer resin ink perfectly balances quick-drying to prevent smudges, eliminates bleed-through, prevents feathering (when the ink starts to spread from where it was applied) and is water-resistant enough to dodge blurring if the page it’s on gets moist. Unlike most decent gel pens, however, it’s a whopping $3.
Marvy Uchida LePen
If you’ve spent any amount time with a doodler, a pen person or really just about anyone, you’ve seen Marvy Uchida’s LePen. Pen Addict called it “a gateway drug for young pen addicts.” It’s a felt-tipped icon of a drawing and coloring product, and one that everyone has a soft spot for.
Mitsubishi No. 460
The most satisfying click in the business — that’s exactly what made the Mitsubishi 460 famous. Since its 1973 release, the pen has carried an odd and generally inexplicable affiliation with stockbrokers and finance workers in Japan. Some say it was designed and made to write on the thinner paper used in securities exchanges and accounting, others say that’s apocryphal. Really, it doesn’t matter — it’s a $1 pen that’s remained in the penmanship zeitgeist for more than four decades.