The Quality of Ink


By the early twenty-teens, I’d gone through a few penned love affairs.

The Pilot G2 — like a mid-nineties Honda Accord — well proportioned, approaching a platonic ideal.

The Sarasa Series — with nail salon varietals including Fuschia, Mahogany, and Etcetera.

And yet in any of these gel-based pens — despite the smoothness of the actually pen on paper and supposed magical quick-drying polish — one bled too much, or smudged a bit more between pages. So eventually after a few flirtatious periods, I’d settle back to a standard Bic, returning to the appreciation of a ballpoint and its coca-cola ubiquity.

But then one day a very sturdy version of a uni-ball Jestream appeared in the office, into my hand. As mysteriously as that time a paperclip just fell into my ear — when no one was around — some metaphysical Douglas Adams improbability masquerading as an office prank1.

I could write at length about its hybridization and tension between ballpoint and gel, its surgically precise .38mm version, or how pleased I was to learn that The Wirecutter agrees about the value instilled by certain specific qualities:

It dries quickly, which makes it good for left-handers, too, as it won’t smudge under their hands. This is thanks to uni-ball’s special pigment-based ink, which is designed to sink into the paper, which has the added bonus of making it much more difficult to wash away, preventing check fraud.

But I’ll just link you to their full view of “the best pen”, instead.

  1. If you don’t see a mark, you are probably the mark.

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