Fineliners, the Felt-tipped Pen

My love for fountain pens is not waning. My interest in fineliners is growing.

These are the fineliners - felt-tipped pens - that I've tried so far.
These are the fineliners – felt-tipped pens – that I’ve tried so far.

 

It’s a practical decision, and one that I don’t take lightly. I need a pen that will work for the purposes that I give it. For my current purposes, I need a pen that writes well, is affordable, is disposable, is replaced easily (enough), is durable, feels nice, and borders on being just a little bit fancy.

I’m not a fan of ballpoint pens. You know, the regular, run-of-the-mill Bic pen? I don’t like writing with them. I like writing with ink, liquid ink. The problem with this is that a lot of the paper I use is not high-quality paper, and ink is, quite literally, sucked right out of the pen. If I were using a ballpoint pen, I’d have very few issues.

This school year, for whatever reason, probably just a passing fancy, I decided that I would try fineliners — felt-tipped pens. Last year, I used rollerball pens. Specifically, I used uni-ball Vision Needle pens. There is nothing wrong with these pens, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with them. My hand would tire quickly, and I found that a lot of ink was bleeding through the papers I was using. Even still, I think they’re a great everyday pen to have around.

These are pretty easy to find - most Staples stores carry them. They write well, and the range of colours is fun for mind-mapping, drawing, or accenting your notes. I think I paid about $13.00 for these.
These are pretty easy to find – most Staples stores carry them. They write well, and the range of colours is fun for mind-mapping, drawing, or accenting your notes. I think I paid about $13.00 for these.

Before about a month ago, I hadn’t used a fineliner in years. Why I decided to try them again is, again, likely a stroke of chirographic luck. When I went looking for some to try, I found that they’re incredibly hard to come across. The Staedtler Triplus Fineliners are pretty easy to come by, but they come in a package with a range of colours. These are great, but what I really need want is an everyday black pen, blue pen, and a pen of a different colour.

I went in search of the Pilot Fineliner that I remembered from years gone by. It’s a simple pen — rather lackluster — but it writes well and is affordable (about $2.00 each). Finding one, however, meant that I had to source out a specialty stationary store. This isn’t an issue for me, as I quite enjoy just looking at fine writing instruments, quality paper products, and unaffordable writing accessories. I found a store that carries them, Wonder Pens, in the east end of Toronto. It’s a nice little shop, tucked into what used to be a warehouse but that has now been converted into retail outlets. So, I drove out there and about myself a couple of pens — one blue, one black.

These are pretty decent pens, and they come at a nice price, about $2.00 each. They do come in a range of colours, which you can buy separately. This is a great pen if you like using pencils but have to use a pen.
These are pretty decent pens, and they come at a nice price, about $2.00 each. They do come in a range of colours, which you can buy separately. This is a great pen if you like using pencils but have to use a pen.

I bought only two pens, and a third — a brown one — from Write Impressions, which is in my neighbourhood, because, well, I thought I’d try them out to find out if I like them. In this vein, I set out to find more fineliners. Thinking that the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners are nice, I was looking to buy just one black and one blue pen to use. They’re really hard to find on their own. Purchasing them online would mean that I’d spend more money on shipping than the actual pens, so I thought I’d check out another stationary store.

Today, I walked to Laywine’s in Yorkville, in downtown Toronto. On my way there, I caught up on some podcasts. While walking down Yonge Street, with my earbuds in, a guy stopped me to tell me that he is straight. He said it twice before I even noticed him, and then a third time when I took my right earbud out to hear what he was saying. I said only, “Okay.” That seemed to be enough to put his mind at ease about his sexuality and mine, and he continued north and I south.

If you’re looking for an interesting podcast, I listened to CBC Ideas’ Lafontaine-Baldwin Symposium episode, called Doing the Right Thing, today. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi delivered it this year, and it was interesting. As a child of immigrants, and sharing a similar history to Mayor Nenshi, it was a good companion for my overtly homosexual, hypersexualized walk to a stationary store in a fancy part of town.

At Laywine’s, unlike at Wonder Pens, I found traces of my memories of Reid’s Stationers. If you live in or visit Calgary, you must make a pilgrimage trip to Reid’s. It’s an incredible store. The only other similar store that I have a similarly fond attachment to is papeterie nota bene, in Montreal. I’m getting a good feeling from Laywine’s. What was nicest about Laywine’s was that the staff took an interest in me and assumed my knowledge of pens and paper.

I haven't used these pens yet but they show real promise. r0tring has a history of quality, so I'm expecting good things. While a little on the expensive side, at $6.00 each, if they work well, I'll pay.
I haven’t used these pens yet, but they show real promise. r0tring has a history of quality, so I’m expecting good things. While a little on the expensive side, at $6.00 each, if they work well, I’ll pay.

At Laywine’s I was looking for the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner but found the r0tring Tikky Graphic. I didn’t even know that r0tring still made pens (I am pretty sure that they had stopped making pens in the ’90s for a while). I bought two. They’re a bit pricey, at $6.00 each, but can you really put a price on a good quality, disposable, everyday-use pen?

I was tempted to buy more notebooks for myself but refrained. I, arguably, already have too many. Several times, the staff asked me if I was doing okay, as I stared off into the yonder filled with well-crafted fine writing instruments, journals, diaries, notebooks, and unaffordable writing accessories. I could say nothing but, “Sorry, I’m just lost in my head.” When, in fact, I was feverishly looking inside my brain for any reason to justify buying more than I had come for.

I haven’t used the r0tring pens yet, because I’m, foolishly, writing — on a computer, using a keyboard — this post about finding them. They tested well at the store, and I’m looking forward to trying and using them.

I do want to encourage you all to find a nice pen to write with. It doesn’t have to be expensive, flashy, or yours (unless it’s a fountain pen) even, but it should give you pleasure when you’re writing with it. In an age when computers rule and run the world, taking out an enjoyable pen to write with and a precious piece of paper to write on can bring you a satisfaction that’s unmatchable in life. Bringing your own words to life in your own, truly unique, handwriting is but one way that you can leave a marked impression on the world. It’s a slower and more intimate way of creating a path between your thoughts — your words.

You should send your friends and loved ones a real letter or note when you can and you should do it often. When they read it, they’ll be reading something immensely beautiful that you have created with the simplest of tools.

Pens are not beautiful because of what they are but because of the potential to create that they hold. So, hold a pen in your hand.

If you’re starting to, or already do, wonder about the type of pen that you use when you write love letters, class notes, or diary entries, then this post will likely make some sense to you. If you’re not, then you’ve just read roughly 1300 words about a guy who bought 15 pens that are barely distinguishable from one another.


What type of pen(s) do you prefer? Why? Please leave a comment with your thoughts because it would bring me joy.

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