Banks give them away, plumbers print their logos on them, and back to school lists still include them. Ballpoint pens are easy to use and convenient. But did you know how ballpoint pens changed handwriting?
Before inexpensive ball point pens became available in the late 1950s, people regularly used fountain pens. They require very little pressure to apply ink to paper. In fact, their chief benefit is the smooth flow of ink and the glide of the pen. Because of this, they’re ideal for cursive writing.
The downside of fountain pens is that they leaked. The ink was thin and didn’t dry quickly, which resulted in smears if the writer wasn’t careful. The ink just kept flowing, so the pen had to be physically raised from the paper to stop. Because of this, drips and blobs marring the paper as they fell from the pen tip were an issue. If you spilled water on a document written with ordinary fountain pen ink, the writing would wash away.
In recent years, writing with a fountain pen has become popular again. Those interested in developing elegant penmanship or writing in journals use them. People interested in the arts of calligraphy and lettering find the choice of ink colors and selection of nibs attractive for artistic expression.
Ballpoints Use a Different Method
Where a fountain pen delivers ink from a reservoir through a nib with gravity and capillary action, ball points use a different method. As the name implies, there’s a small steel ball in the tip of a ball point pen. It rolls around, coating itself in ink thicker a fountain pen’s ink.
Ballpoints can write in any direction. They require more pressure to apply ink to paper than a fountain pen. They don’t drip if you lift them off the paper. You don’t need to use an inkwell or blotter. The ink dries quickly, and the ball in the tip prevents air from entering and drying out the pen.
Ballpoints changed handwriting because the pen requires more pressure to write with than a fountain pen. Ballpoint pens made it easier to separate letters on the page. As a result, connected cursive writing declined. Ballpoints took over in the mid-20th century because they were inexpensive and highly portable.
Sometimes it seems that everything, including writing, has gone entirely digital. But with the renewed interest in analog writing spurred by a burgeoning community of fountain pen enthusiasts, ballpoint pens have evolved. With their close cousin, the rollerball pen, ballpoints now come in elegant styles with grip-friendly barrels. The barrels address complaints of cramping due to the increased pressure required. These premium pens provide all the benefits of the ballpoint, along with the panache associated with fountain pens.