An ode to the Ballpoint pen

Much maligned but always loved, the ballpoint pen has been a staple of office pen pots and creatives drawing tables for generation after generation.

Chewed caps from the turning of cogs and the endless drumming of nibs on tables in back-to-back boardroom bore-fests haven’t stopped our devotion to this singular stationery wonder.

That’s why Ballpoint Pen Day seems the perfect time to celebrate our oft forgotten friend.

First patented in 1883 by Hezekiah Hewitt, what was then called the ‘Eureka’ pen featured a ball underneath the point of the pen, decreasing friction and ensuring a great durability – something that the soft metal of the vintage fountain pen did not originally have.

This saw the ballpoint discover new frontiers – DIYer’s could finally make marks on wood, market stall holders could write on rougher paper and the pen started to become more accessible.

Since that (ball) point, the ballpoint pen has rapidly become a stationery institution.

And the ballpoint isn’t just a tool for writing anymore. It might be one of the first things we use when we earn our pen licence (let’s not open a can of worms with that one!), but its versatility has ensured its long lasting nature.

Artists have doodled with it (there are twelve great artworks in this article from The Pen Company-, businesses have conquered the tough corporate landscape with it, spacemen have written home in space with it! The ballpoint really is a small but mighty beast.

When Edward Bulwer-Lytton said “The pen is mightier than the sword” in 1838, he must have foreseen the power of the humble ballpoint.

So here’s to you, humble ballpoint, forever in our hearts and up there with the most powerful of all stationery!

You might be chewed, drummed, tapped, thrown, scratched and forgotten, but we love you.

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