Friday, October 08, 2010

From The Desk 3

The shameful truth is out, Dave cannot live by pencil alone. He also requires ink.

A bit over a year ago I decided to push the boundaries and every time I went to use ink I asked myself the question “Do I really need to use ink for this? If I used pencil and someone erased it, or altered it, would it matter? More to the point, would it hurt me?” The answer was usually “No” so I started using pencil for even more things – signing memos and purchase orders at work, signing bank cheques (but still writing the amount payable in ink) and so on. No one has ever challenged me, and nothing bad has ever happened.

Still, as loathe as I am to admit it, the permanence of ink does have its uses. Only a real idiot would fill out the amount payable on a cheque in pencil, and the G-man insists on ink when you fill out your passport application form which seems fair enough.

So, on those rare occasions that I reach for ink, here’s what usually ends up in my hand - the Cross Century II ballpoint pen, in royal blue with chrome trims. Cross item 412WG-24 to be precise.
cross century ii pen

When it comes to writing instruments blue is one of my favourite colours, and this is a nice deep semi-lustrous blue body.

Twist action to advance and retract the tip. The top half of the body pulls off to replace the ballpoint pen refill. I use black ink. I occasionally hear a small squeak from the twist mechanism, but pulling the top off and back on seems to fix it.
cross century ii pen mechanism

Here’s my review of the Cross Century II mechanical pencil.

20 comments:

Rachel said...

I am left-handed and sometimes I use ink because the smear factor is different: ink and pencil both smear, but pencil continues to smear later, and ink stops once it dries. Also I am less likely to doodle in pen than I am in pencil, so I end up with cleaner notes on two counts!

That being said I just bought a Graphgear 1000 and a Lamy al-star and love both of them! Still, if I had to choose one, it would be the pencil.

Matthias said...

Ink, yeah! Blue, great! Ballpoint? Brrr!
Wouldn't you like to try a fountain pen instead? There is also some great ink that is forge-proof (from Noodler's).

PointFour said...

If you're concerned with permanence, as many people are, then Uni's rollerball range seems to have a particularly good reputation for waterproof, fadeproof, mostly pigmented inks, notably their Signo 207. That's a recent discovery I haven't tried yet, but for years I've used Uni's Micro Deluxe UB-155 in black. Bit scratchy, but fine, very dense line, and you'd probably have to destroy the paper to get all traces out. I also had good service from Uni's "Eye" range in blue. And, their Jetstream series has an ink that's claimed to dry fast enough for left-handers while being smooth to write with and again extremely resistant.

Anonymous said...

I recommend this for a fountain pen: http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/Pilot_V4_Disposable_Fountain_Pen.html

and this for a ballpoint (especially if you need to write through carbons): http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/Pilot_VBall_Classic.html#a94

Also a syringe or dropper, a cheap pair of pliers, and a bottle of whatever ink takes your fancy. This will take you a long, long way. I've been using these for the last 20 years or so, and I swear by them.

Sapphire said...

The Jetstream is nice and the ink is waterproof and fade proof - I've got some doodles hanging in my room that have lasted for ten years or more in the sun.
The Signo 207 is pretty near bullet proof. The usual solvents won't budge it and even strong stuff and acids leave enough of a ghost to deter any attempt at cheque washing.

Max said...

It's alright Dave!! I do it to! I use a Lamy 2000 ballpen on a daily basis. And there's no option. Documentation needs to be in ink and a fountain pen would be highly impractical. So, a ballpen it is.

Sapphire said...

Max,
What's the Lamy ballpoint like to write with?
I've got a Cross like Dave's (only black) which is the least 'blobby' I've found so far. I was wondering about a Lamy Accent but I don't know what the ink is like.

PointFour said...

I always liked Papermate ballpoints, much more so than the Parker Jotter, for a better feel and better ink. They don't make the Fine Black any more, so I eBayed a stock that should see me out, unless they invent affordable immortality pretty soon. Recently, though, I've been using a Pelikan Fine Black refill, which is a standard Parker G2 type, in a Parker Vector. It's excellent, as far as I'm concerned. I find that almost anything except ballpoint (or PENCIL, lest we stray too far from home) shows through Moleskine Cahier paper. But I too was wondering how good Lamy ballpoints are; I think they use their own proprietary design as Caran d'Ache do. Oh, and CdA refills, blue and red, are lovely and smooth and dense, not quite as much as a gel pen, but well above average. However, I found both blue and red not very fade-proof.

PointFour said...

Supplementary question. Is the Lamy 2000 ballpoint the same size as the pencil, or bigger?

Kiwi-d said...

Lamy 2000 BP and MP use the same body so are essentially the same size.

Max said...

@Sapphire: I find it quite pleasant. It is quite precise and do not smear or leaves any blobs behind. It is not quite as smooth as Caran d'Ache or Parker. But I find the Parker quite 'blobby' ;)
I prefer the medium refills as I find that the fine has too much resistance - almost as if the ball can not move freely. You are right about the refills. They are Lamy's proprietary design.

@PointFour: BP and MP are exact same sizes (same bodies). And I agree about CdA. Lovely and smooth - but they fade. Lamy is not quite as smooth - but the ink doesn't not seem to fade.

PointFour said...

@Dave & Max; thanks! I agree about "blobbiness" of Parker refills. At least modern ones are acceptably dense. Thirty years ago, they were -very- pale. I see from Cult Pens that Parker are now making both gel and gel-hybrid inks in standard Parker G2 refills.

Curious fact; lots of stationers in the UK stock Cross *refills*, but very few stock Cross pens or pencils. Presumable people who have them, like them, but they're too expensive for most.

Anonymous said...

Dave, I think you've just created a monster. All this conflict of various ink types - it makes you want to reach for a simple pencil.

Kiwi-d said...

Yes, but what lead...HB, HB Hard, HB Soft, B, Ain, Stein, Nano Dia...

Anonymous said...

I think debates over graphite leads are generally quite civil. Debates over ink types produce a Sirocco type wind.

Time Waster said...

I've been eyeing up the Cross Torpedo and some Bill Blase models on ebay Bill Blass or blase is a fashion designer tha is no longer around but he seems to have alot of cross designed pens and pencils.

Sapphire said...

Point Four, Cross is one of those 'lifestyle' pen companies that only sell to 'approved' dealers.

The Cross pen to pencil converter actually works quite well. Any standard Cross ballpoint can become a 0.7mm pencil just by taking out the refill and putting in the converter.

It doesn't hold much lead though and the eraser brings a whole new meaning to 'useless'. If it was any smaller you wouldn't be able to see it!

Anon, you're right. I don't see wood vs mechanical getting as hot as ballpoint vs fountain pen or even Noodlers vs Diamine.

PointFour said...

Thanks, Sapphire. The same was, I think, true of Lamy in the UK, but they seem to be more willing to sell to general dealers now. Economic realities may have trumped upwardly-mobile aspirations.

Henrik said...

Ah, ballpoints.
They are very practical, easy to use, and cheap, they come in all colours and shapes, some can even be erased - they have everything you can wish for in a writing implement, except one: they make nice handwriting harder than necessary. A couple of pages and you have a tremendous writer’s cramp. For the occasional signature I guess it’s ok, but I wouldn’t rely on it for more than that. That’s why I like pencils so much.

Alas we cannot live without ink – so when I have to: a fountain pen. They are much easier to control and require almost no pressure.

Hope this was civilized enough ;-)

Regards Henrik

PointFour said...

@Henrik: ballpoints are also useful for pressing hard if you have to make carbon/NCR-paper copies, and also seem better than anything else for writing on glossy-finished paper and card. If you can live with a degree of ink fading, try a Caran d'Ache ballpoint because they're nice and smooth and need less pressure than most. Actually, I think many newer ones are pretty good, much better than they used to be. Rollerballs are often nice to use and need little pressure, but the wet ink tends to strike through many papers, and can smudge. The Uni Jetstream seems an anomaly; I believe they rate it as a rollerball but it's more like a gel pen. Gel pens too are very smooth and give a dense line with little pressure, but can blob and strike through. Pilot G2 are very nice cheap ones. I agree that fountain pens are best for encouraging good handwriting, but they're more fuss to keep clean and tend to be most expensive.