My search for the perfect pen

8 MIN READ | UPDATED 5/2/2019 | Namrata Valecha

Billions of people communicate every day, How can the instrument that helps it communicate - Be less than perfect?

There are more than billions of pens manufactured annually in the world. With so many options of pens available, finding a perfect pen should be easy, right? No, it’s far from easy… As a person on the quest for a pen that meets my (and every average person’s) various writing requirements, I tested a number of pens. I tried international brands over the years, throughout my growing up years as a student and as a working professional on this journey. I realised how difficult it was to find a pen that I can confidently put in my pen pocket and leave for the day knowing it will be enough.

Do you know those kids in your class who were always taking things apart to figure out how they worked? That was me! Until I was about the age of 8, I was ahead of the academic curve. It was when I reached class four that my grades started to slip. I was doing well in my class, but not in my exams. My mother thought that the problem was my handwriting, but my handwriting had never been a problem before. My father, who was a big fan of murder mysteries, insisted that handwriting experts say that the key traits of handwriting don’t change. Guess who solved the mystery? Me!

I realized that the problem wasn’t my handwriting; it was the change in the writing instrument. In class four, it had become compulsory to use pens. I had moved from writing with a pencil for writing with a pen. Case closed. That’s when I realized that I needed to find the right pen that worked for me, and that’s when my pursuit of the ideal student pen began.

At age 8 it was simple, it had to meet a set of defined demands. They were:

  • Neat Handwriting (it should be a smudge free pen)
  • Fast writing (thus the pen should be a smooth writing pen with a free flowing and quick dry ink)
  • Sleek, Light weight pen with comfortable grip

So I tried a number of pens, of all shapes and sizes, round, hexagonal, Triangular barrels also. Which pens would you try first? I started with best selling pens. Back in the early 1990’s when I was growing up in India we had a fair bit of choices. The brands I remember using mainly were Reynolds, Uni-ball, Staedtler, Hero and Pilot as school pens.

With time I developed a way to have all my requirements from a pen fulfilled. Just not from a single pen… When I wanted my handwriting to appear very neat then I would use a Pilot pen, such as for journals and projects. For note-taking, I would use the Staedtler ballpoint pen with smooth and fast ink flow. My best exam pen was the stick pen, as it was light weight and had fast drying ink and in terms of price too the best deal for exams.

Over the years, as newer products were introduced. I continued my quest for the perfect pens. I started using gel pens for neat handwriting. Do you remember when gel pens became all the rage? Some even came with a rubberised grip for comfort grip. My friends and I used to trade colours. At any point, I would have the top selling pens in the market.

My quest was now a hobby as well. Do you know how kids today, save money for the next PSP or X-box? I saved money to buy pens! I have had some wonderful memories too with this hobby. Back in the day, Parker was a well-known pen, not only was it considered a good pen, it was a cool pen to have. It felt like such novelty to own one. I still remember that moment when I got my first Parker pen! However, throughout my entire school and college years my desired ideal school pen remained elusive…

There are billions of people who are reading and writing every day. In a world that is constantly changing and growing, how can the instrument that helps it communicate and grow be lacklustre or less than perfect? We often hear the saying, “a pen is mightier than the sword” I wondered where this mighty pen is? My search for the best pen continued and over time my demands increased.

Have you ever read any of those books about dressing for success? I have and when I got my first job I decided I had to have the best quality pen with an original design- A pen that I would use to sign important documents and would adorn my shirt pockets.

The office supply pen was a Bic pen, which was nice, but I was determined to set myself apart. (Besides, I already had it as a part of my collection. In fact, by that time I had enough office supplies to last me a few years.) I set my eyes on International brands. Are you one of those people who have to go to every tourist spot when you visit a new city? I am one of those people who hit the stationery stores. On trips, I started visiting stationery suppliers to buy new pens. By now, I had a detailed understanding of various mechanisms, design features, ink types, and the ergonomics of pens. Which ink do you prefer, blue or black? I personally prefer black pens; I find it makes my handwriting look neater.

The one pen category I hadn’t explored much was the click pen. In the USA, I tried Papermate Inkjoy Retractable pen (You know, the one that makes the clicking sound.) I immediately took a liking to it. It had most features of my ideal pen. My go to pen at that time was a Japanese pen, Pentel. It still ranks in my top 10 pens and soon there were more, such as Lamy from Germany and Zebra that I brought home from Japan.

It had been a fun journey so far, having tried a number of international brands with some great quality pens, I certainly felt closer to the finish line but I hadn’t arrived there yet…

Do you remember when the Chinese manufacturing industry started booming? Well, I tried a load of Chinese pens. They were always fun because they were cheap pens to buy. Some of them were actually really nice, such as the M&G pens by one of the known China pen manufacturers. The best deal was to buy the Chinese coloured pens to give as gifts or to add to my ever expanding pen stand! I used and changed these pens so often that soon I started thinking about sustainability and the plastic waste caused by my Chinese plastic pens and premium plastic pens. A new criterion was added to my list. This time it was for the pen maker. I decided that in the future my pen should be from a pen maker that have high standards for sustainability, preferably zero plastic wastage.

Were you like me and thought that a product manufactured oversees is better? In India, we tend to think that. So when I had completed school, I mainly looked for international brands. I just assumed that companies from first world countries were more likely to make a perfect pen. But I was about to discover just how wrong I was.

The only pen that met all my requirements in terms of ink quality, precision, ergonomics, design and longevity is from a brand named Lexi pens, An Indian Pen brand!

During college, I made a friend who shared my passion for pens. We would often share our latest findings and musings with each other. He knew a lot about pens because for the last few years he had been working with a ball pen exporter. While my fascination was for fine writing and “the perfect pen”, his was for creating doodles. One day, while I was talking about fine writing that can be achieved using a particular low viscosity, oil based ink ballpoint pen, he was raving about a pen brand named Lexi. Everything he told me that day about the brand sounded very good. Then he handed me a Lexi pen. The design was sleek, I decided to give it a try. It was smooth while writing, caused no smudging, had a good grip, and was lightweight. It was a fine writing pen. So far so good! I immediately asked my friend for the packaging. And can you guess where it was manufactured?! It was made by one of the pen manufacturers in India, my home country!!!

I had travelled the whole world in search of the perfect pen when the whole time it was sitting in nearly every shop in the market near my home! Not only was I surprised, I was impressed. Oh, but what about my latest criterion? I jumped on to lexipens.com and a few clicks later, I discovered that Lexi pens, an Indian brand, not only has zero plastic wastage but also is at the cutting edge of the Eco friendly movement and every one of its factories is ISO certified!

After all my years of searching, I found Lexi, my perfect pen for the 21st century, in my own backyard.