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The Perfect Signing Pen, At Last

11/26/2010

The search for the perfect signing pen may be over — for now. 

I’ve written about this before. It’s not a small thing for authors on tour: we need a pen that’s reliable, that’s bold enough but not too thick, that doesn’t leave blots or bleed through the page. 
 
The pen I used for years was a rollerball, the Uni-ball Gel Impact, once known as the Uni-ball Vision Elite. It was (and is) a great pen, with the essential advantage of not bursting or leaking on airplanes — crucial, on book tour. The Uni-ball is popular with everyone from President Barack Obama (that’s him holding one on the cover of Time magazine)
 
 
to motorcycle daredevil Kelly Knievel (see his right hand).
 
 
 
The Uni-ball Gel Impact is a terrific pen for everyday use, but I was never completely satisfied with it as a signing pen. I wanted something with a broader swath and more flair. 
 
So what about Flairs? They’re still made by Paper Mate(R), and have a good, strong fiber tip, but the line’s too thin. The Sharpie? Too thick, and the ink bleeds through paper (though it’s fine for baseballs, I guess). The Sharpie extra fine is also too thin. I found a pen I really liked under the OfficeMax brand, but they stopped making them.
 
Finally I walked into Art Brown, the International Pen Shop, when I was in New York City one day. I asked the guy behind the counter what he recommended.
 
“You gotta go with the original,” he said. “They never made ‘em better,” and he handed me a Pentel Sign Pen. As the catalog says: “Perfect for general writing, drawing and adding character to any signature.” 
 
So that’s what I used, and it was fine. Not perfect, but fine.
 
Last week I stopped by Boston’s Levenger, the store co-founded by my friend Steve Leveen and his wife. Steve happened to be there, and he handed me my new signing pen: the Levenger L-tech rollerball with the 2.0 mm (broad) fibertip refill. It’s not a conventional rollerball; it’s spring-loaded, with a broad fiber tip designed especially for signatures. It doesn’t bleed through, and feels great in my hand.   It may be the perfect signing pen — at last.