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In Search Of: The Perfect Ballpoint


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#1 Deirdre

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 07:23

I have a great Cross 10K ballpoint. It works flawlessly.

But I don't actually like it. I've looked through the Cross catalog, and really haven't come up with anything that I like.

I've learned a lot more about ballpoints than when I bought this pen five months ago, and here's what I'm looking for:

1) Not black (or brown).
2) Not metal.
3) Prefer white metals, rather than yellow gold.
4) Want a brand that makes their own refills, because I hate it when they rattle around. Also, refills that are generally available.
5) Street price of $200 or less.
6) Given prior experiences with cheap pens, one with a retail price of at least $90.

Suggestions?
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#2 FrankB

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 08:30

I think you will find that ball points are as personal as FP's. I like Duofold BP's. They have a classic 1920's look to them that I happen to like very much. They come in a variety of colors, but you might have to look for some of the older 1990's pens. They have a good weight, and mine have been very durable. Parker refills are readily available, and I can even get them with broad points that are smooth and fun to use.

#3 Deirdre

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 09:01

I'm not taken with the newer Parkers that I've seen, but I admit to having a thing for many of the vintage ones. Then again, I'd probably want to see the pen in question before buying it, which probably means taking a Parker refill with me to a show for a vintage piece.

Then again, I'd never seen the Duofold check in blue before, and that is SO me -- thanks for bringing it to my attention. I'll see if the local sellers have any of the Duofolds about so I can see if I like the feel of them.

It's occurred to me (I'm a little slow sometimes) that this is a good chance to get a pen I'd otherwise want in FP, such as another Aurora auroloid, Visconti, or such. Many of the models I'd otherwise consider don't come in a ballpoint version, but I'm sure I can find several I'd like and narrow things down from there.
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#4 hari317

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 10:00

How about the Fisher Space pen? They seem to have a lot of designs, but most of them are metal pens, and they make their own refills.

Regards,
Hari

#5 Deirdre

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 10:08

QUOTE(hari317 @ Jan 3 2008, 02:00 AM) View Post
How about the Fisher Space pen? They seem to have a lot of designs, but most of them are metal pens, and they make their own refills.

I loathe them (and the Sensas that use the same refills). Thanks for thinking, though.

I really wanted a *nice* ballpoint, not just any old ballpoint.
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#6 CharlieB

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 10:22

The problem with most ballpoints is that they're too skinny.... even the ballpoints that are part of fountain pen sets. I agree that the Parker Duofold is a nice ballpoint. Another one to check out would be the Sheaffer Legacy Heritage. They're now out of production, but the Waterman Liaison is another good one. Finally, don't be too quick to dismiss Monteverde. They're available at nearly all Staples and Office Depot stores, and the upper end of their range includes some nice pens.

By the way, despite their thin design, I think Cross Townsends are the best-looking ballpoints, especially the ones with gold trim on a dark lacquer body.

Edited by CharlieB, 03 January 2008 - 10:24.

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#7 Deirdre

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 10:35

Charlie, thanks for the great suggestions.

I bought my Cross as a "replacement" for my much-loved (and dearly missed) stolen Townsend Lapis BP, but unfortunately it doesn't fill the right evolutionary niche.

1) Hadn't thought about that Sheaffer, thanks. A quick Google and eBay search shows that model seems to be either black or metal, so that's not really my cuppa.

2) Waterman Liaison! It comes in Ebonite. That would rock -- I'd totally forgotten about that one. I think we have a winner!

3) Monteverde has been a universal disappointment for me. They tend to be too heavy and their fit and finish doesn't meet my needs.

4) I like Cross Townsend, it's just that I don't want a lacquer one, nor gold, nor chrome, nor....

Edited by Deirdre, 03 January 2008 - 10:37.

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#8 CharlieB

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 10:57

Dierdre: Do you dislike metal ballpoints because of the feel or because of the weight? The Legacy Heritage has a "Look of Leather" version that does not have the feel or look of metal. It does, however, have the weight.

My bias is towards metal ballpoints because the plastic ones always crack for me. I tend to press fairly firmly with a ballpoint, and that subjects plastic to a lot of stress.
CharlieB

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#9 Deirdre

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 11:09

QUOTE(CharlieB @ Jan 3 2008, 02:57 AM) View Post
Dierdre: Do you dislike metal ballpoints because of the feel or because of the weight? The Legacy Heritage has a "Look of Leather" version that does not have the feel or look of metal. It does, however, have the weight.

My bias is towards metal ballpoints because the plastic ones always crack for me. I tend to press fairly firmly with a ballpoint, and that subjects plastic to a lot of stress.

Both feel and weight are issues, but also temperature. I've found that I prefer ebonite above nearly everything else (though this might be a phase).

Since I really only use a ballpoint for checks and the occasional signature, it's not something that's going to get a lot of stress. I just want a nice one.
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#10 dcwaites

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 11:27

I rather like the Rotring Skynn ball points because of the large, soft, somewhat squidgy end.

skynn_bp.gif

There are also some interesting new Parkers with a variety of shapes out there, just don't get one with a shiny end, they slip in your fingers.


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#11 Deirdre

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 11:45

QUOTE(dcwaites @ Jan 3 2008, 03:27 AM) View Post
I rather like the Rotring Skynn ball points because of the large, soft, somewhat squidgy end.

They do look comfy if one writes with ballpoints for a long time (which I don't), but it just doesn't seem the sort of thing to bring out of one's small purse in front of clients.

I think the Waterman will fit my bill, though I'm lusting after a Visconti as well. I might even splurge and get both.
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#12 Mike S.

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 12:07

QUOTE(Deirdre @ Jan 3 2008, 07:23 AM) View Post
I have a great Cross 10K ballpoint. It works flawlessly.

But I don't actually like it. I've looked through the Cross catalog, and really haven't come up with anything that I like.

I've learned a lot more about ballpoints than when I bought this pen five months ago, and here's what I'm looking for:

1) Not black (or brown).
2) Not metal.
3) Prefer white metals, rather than yellow gold.
4) Want a brand that makes their own refills, because I hate it when they rattle around. Also, refills that are generally available.
5) Street price of $200 or less.
6) Given prior experiences with cheap pens, one with a retail price of at least $90.

Suggestions?


Visconti Van Gogh. Visconti's gel refills are wonderful, and the Van Goghs meet your other criteria -- not black or brown, not metal, white metals, make their own refills, and under $200.



#13 Deirdre

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 12:10

QUOTE(Mike S. @ Jan 3 2008, 04:07 AM) View Post
Visconti Van Gogh. Visconti's gel refills are wonderful, and the Van Goghs meet your other criteria -- not black or brown, not metal, white metals, make their own refills, and under $200.


This is actually one of my top contenders -- and I might also pick up one of these. They are very beautiful, much more so in person than in photos. DH thought the pens were hideously priced until I showed him really good photos of them, then he thought they were stunning.
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#14 dcwaites

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 12:14

QUOTE(Deirdre @ Jan 3 2008, 10:45 PM) View Post
QUOTE(dcwaites @ Jan 3 2008, 03:27 AM) View Post
I rather like the Rotring Skynn ball points because of the large, soft, somewhat squidgy end.

They do look comfy if one writes with ballpoints for a long time (which I don't), but it just doesn't seem the sort of thing to bring out of one's small purse in front of clients.

True, I use mine to fill out jobsheets, which have three copies, requiring me to press rather hard. The fat, soft ends allow me to do that with ease.
If the pen you choose will take them, you could replace the standard refill with one of the Parker Gel Ink refills. These are a lot easier to write with.


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#15 andyk

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 17:39

Duofold BPs are nice, how about a Pelikan 600 or 800. All will take Parker Gel refills (or standard international refills).

Sheaffers are also nice, the Legacy is a nice size as is the Balance II version.

Andy

#16 Univer

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 17:55

QUOTE(Deirdre @ Jan 3 2008, 05:35 AM) View Post
[...snip...]

2) Waterman Liaison! It comes in Ebonite. That would rock -- I'd totally forgotten about that one. I think we have a winner!

[...snip...]

Hi,

Just got a new Fahrney's catalog: the Liaison BP is on clearance for around $114. Checked the website, and it seems to be available.

No affiliation...and there may be even better deals out there. But that seemed like a decent price to me.

Cheers,

Jon

PS On the other hand, my perfect ballpoint is a vintage Sheaffer Stratowriter. But that's a whole other story.

Edited by Univer, 03 January 2008 - 17:56.


#17 Sharkle

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 18:08


If you want something very very pretty, check out Aurora Optima Burgundy (or Blue) with silver-colored trim. It takes Aurora BP refills as well as Parker-style refills, which means you can use Visconti gels if you need a fine point. The pen is expensive but can be found under $200 if you hunt around.



#18 ipse dixit

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 19:21

I like to carry my fountain pen and a matching ball point or roller ball for carbons and other FP unfriendly paper.

I have Parker 75s, and Sheaffer Silver Imperial, both of which are metal and not what you want.

I also have both cobalt glow (blue) and crimson glow (red) Sheafer Balance II in matching FP and ball point. These are nice and meet most of your requirements, but they have gold trim.

I have a new Parker Doufold FP in pearl and black, but I have ordered the roller ball because I don’t like that the ball point sticks up an inch or so above my shirt pocket, that may not be an issue for you.

The Parker Doufolds and Sonnets have matching ball points and have silver trim available.

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#19 gregoron

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 19:59

The Caran D'Ache Metal Collection might be for you: http://www.goldspot.com/Caran_D'ache_p.../CA-849001.html

It's metal but it's painted white so you don't have that cold metallic feel on your fingers. It's very sturdy and not that expensive. It takes its own refill, and it also takes Parker's.

PS. It does not have that "cheap" feel or look to it.

Edited by gregoron, 03 January 2008 - 20:02.

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#20 Hoarder68

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 20:32

I have used a cap activated Parker 45 For 40 years and the only problem was one broken clip which I have replaced and am still using the pen.

#21 Deirdre

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 20:34

QUOTE(Univer @ Jan 3 2008, 09:55 AM) View Post
Just got a new Fahrney's catalog: the Liaison BP is on clearance for around $114. Checked the website, and it seems to be available.

Yep, I just ordered one because it seemed like a good deal to me, too. That said, I don't have to limit myself to one ballpoint. smile.gif
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#22 artaddict

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 20:53

QUOTE(Deirdre @ Jan 3 2008, 07:10 AM) View Post
QUOTE(Mike S. @ Jan 3 2008, 04:07 AM) View Post
Visconti Van Gogh. Visconti's gel refills are wonderful, and the Van Goghs meet your other criteria -- not black or brown, not metal, white metals, make their own refills, and under $200.

This is actually one of my top contenders -- and I might also pick up one of these. They are very beautiful, much more so in person than in photos. DH thought the pens were hideously priced until I showed him really good photos of them, then he thought they were stunning.


Deirdre,
The metal section of the Visconti Van Gogh might bother you.
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#23 Deirdre

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 20:53

QUOTE(andyk @ Jan 3 2008, 09:39 AM) View Post
Duofold BPs are nice, how about a Pelikan 600 or 800. All will take Parker Gel refills (or standard international refills).

Sheaffers are also nice, the Legacy is a nice size as is the Balance II version.

Pelikan is one I hadn't really thought of. Their fountain pens are nice.
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#24 Deirdre

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 20:54

QUOTE(Sharkle @ Jan 3 2008, 10:08 AM) View Post
If you want something very very pretty, check out Aurora Optima Burgundy (or Blue) with silver-colored trim. It takes Aurora BP refills as well as Parker-style refills, which means you can use Visconti gels if you need a fine point. The pen is expensive but can be found under $200 if you hunt around.

This one is also on my list, so I'm going to see if I can go see one in person in the area.
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#25 Deirdre

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 20:55

QUOTE(gregoron @ Jan 3 2008, 11:59 AM) View Post
The Caran D'Ache Metal Collection might be for you: http://www.goldspot.com/Caran_D'ache_p.../CA-849001.html

It's metal but it's painted white so you don't have that cold metallic feel on your fingers. It's very sturdy and not that expensive. It takes its own refill, and it also takes Parker's.

PS. It does not have that "cheap" feel or look to it.

Caran D'Ache has some very nice pens, but for a pen at this price point, I'd definitely want to see it first.
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#26 Deirdre

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 20:58

QUOTE(artaddict @ Jan 3 2008, 12:53 PM) View Post
QUOTE(Deirdre @ Jan 3 2008, 07:10 AM) View Post
QUOTE(Mike S. @ Jan 3 2008, 04:07 AM) View Post
Visconti Van Gogh. Visconti's gel refills are wonderful, and the Van Goghs meet your other criteria -- not black or brown, not metal, white metals, make their own refills, and under $200.

This is actually one of my top contenders -- and I might also pick up one of these. They are very beautiful, much more so in person than in photos. DH thought the pens were hideously priced until I showed him really good photos of them, then he thought they were stunning.

The metal section of the Visconti Van Gogh might bother you.

The point around the end is something I'd expect to be metal, but I'm planning to check one out next time I'm in Berkeley.
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#27 gregoron

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 01:19

It's very solid and has no section breaks as it is made of die-cast metal and painted with enamel. The advancing mechanism is the entire button, which is pretty ingenious. It's rather slim though, like a regular pencil.

Another one is the Aurora Ipsilon in resin or metal. Here's the photo: http://www.goldspot....in/AU-B31Y.html

This is thicker and I believe that it has a cap-activated advancing mechanism.

I'm not endorsing the seller, just using it as a basis of reference.


QUOTE(Deirdre @ Jan 3 2008, 10:55 AM) View Post
QUOTE(gregoron @ Jan 3 2008, 11:59 AM) View Post
The Caran D'Ache Metal Collection might be for you: http://www.goldspot.com/Caran_D'ache_p.../CA-849001.html

It's metal but it's painted white so you don't have that cold metallic feel on your fingers. It's very sturdy and not that expensive. It takes its own refill, and it also takes Parker's.

PS. It does not have that "cheap" feel or look to it.

Caran D'Ache has some very nice pens, but for a pen at this price point, I'd definitely want to see it first.


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- Edits done for grammatical purposes only.

#28 Deirdre

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 01:24

QUOTE(gregoron @ Jan 3 2008, 05:19 PM) View Post
It's very solid and has no section breaks as it is made of die-cast metal and painted with enamel. The advancing mechanism is the entire button, which is pretty ingenious. It's rather slim though, like a regular pencil.


Hey, that does sound cool. It also sounds like a ballpoint I might like in rotation.

QUOTE(gregoron @ Jan 3 2008, 05:19 PM) View Post
Another one is the Aurora Ipsilon in resin or metal. Here's the photo: http://www.goldspot....in/AU-B31Y.html

This is thicker and I believe that it has a cap-activated advancing mechanism.

I'm not endorsing the seller, just using it as a basis of reference.

I have the Ipsilon in a fountain pen, and I'd gladly get a ballpoint if I could get a matching one -- but I have it in a discontinued color (teal). Besides, it's a good opportunity to get more auroloide if I go up to the Optima instead.
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#29 Deirdre

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 01:34

Summary of recommendations, ordered by mfr:

Ones I'll look at:
Aurora Ipsilon (gregoron)
Aurora Optima (Sharkle)
Caran D'Ache Metal (gregoron)
Cross Townsend (CharlieB)
Parker Duofold (FrankB, CharlieB, andyk, ipse dixit)
Pelikan 600 or 800 (andyk)
Sheaffer Balance II (ipse dixit)
Sheaffer Legacy Heritage (CharlieB)
Visconti Van Gogh (Mike S)
Waterman Liaison (CharlieB) -- ordered an ebonite one

Ones I've ruled out:
Fisher Space Pen
Rotring Skynn
Monteverde (haven't had much luck with them)
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#30 lovemy51

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 09:31

i use MB Meisterstuck with the yafa capless gel refill and writes... thumbup.gif

http://yafaoutlet.co...cagelretof.html

of course, it sounds like deirdre is looking for something different.

Edited by lovemy51, 04 January 2008 - 09:33.

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