We have a WINNER! Hardy Boy’s Retro Book Pen Case

Congratulations to CORI,  winner of the super cool Hardy Boy’s Retro Book Pen Case. Random.org chose #32.   I’ve sent you an email Cori so hope to hear back from you soon.

Random HardyThanks very much to all of you who entered and for taking the time to read through my blog. Your quips and wit were entertaining and put a smile on many faces, mine included. I hope you chose to stick around and next month we’ll do it all again!. Thanks again.

Remember…..Write something nice

Review – Uni-ball Signo UM-151 – .38 mm

I am not proud of the amount of time and coin I have spent over the years in big box store stationery aisles. Most of the time is spent looking over my shoulder and cruising for the latest disposable roller-balls and gel ink pens that I didn’t have. This goes back many years before my current fountain pen obsession but I still find myself back there during every Staples or Office Depot run I have to make. Through time I have come home with a lot of uni-ball products. They never disappointed but rarely wowed me when I would try one from the multi-packs.  The remainder in the pack usually dried out before I could get to them. That is not a fault of the pen I just bought more pens than I could ever use up.  When I discovered Jet Pens I spent several months on each pay day purchasing the $25 free shipping limit of different brands and models of disposable pens because I could buy a single pen at a time. The order was placed on Friday and like the consistent timing on a fine watch my order would be in the mail box on Monday.  How they do that from California to Florida still impresses me.  Monday night was spent trying each one out and relegating the lesser performers to the kitchen catch all drawer.  Over that time many have ended up on my list as great writers for little cost and the one I go back to most often is the uni-ball Signo UM-151 Gel Ink Pen in a 0.38 mm. My day job requires a lot of spreadsheet updates in long hand so I always yearned for a very small pointed writer that wasn’t like writing with an ice pick. I found it and humbly submit to you my review.

The Pen Overall2Uni-ball Signo UM-151 Gel Ink Pen – 0.38 mm

  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Street Price: $2.50
  • Available in .28, .38 and .5 mm tips.
  • 5.43” capped
  • 5.13” uncapped
  • 6.1” Posted


Packaging from Jet Pens is none for single pens in this price range. Wasn’t that easy? You can purchase many of the colors and tip size combinations in a box of 10 or they sell a variety of different size multi-color packs. That is the route I recently chose and got a pack of 10 different colors.

Overall Appearance

Overall3 The Signo looks as generic as most disposable gel pens. The clip molds into the slop at the top of the pen nicely but other than that no distinctive features add to or detract from the pen. The clip, rubberized section and the plug cap on the end of the pen match the ink color. Makes quick identification easy.


The pen is of average length and weight so it’s as comfortable to write with as most disposables in this genre. The section is rubberized with shallow holes to aid in the grip. The section works well though don’t expect much cushion or softness due to its thinness. Non-slip is probably its primary role.

section2sectionConstruction and Quality

Construction is good with the few parts that make up the pen fitting together well. A metal shroud wraps around the business end of the refill and it threads on smoothly. The section seems to be glued down well and I got no rotation or sliding on my example.


The cap is unusually small for this type of pen. It has a nice positive snap covering the writing tip or being posted on the opposite end.


The clip is longer than the cap itself. I see no reason for that to detract from the pen just a design element I suspect. The clip is sufficiently springy without being too prone to breakage and the entrance and exit ramps are good angles.


The Signo line comes in .25, .38 and a .5 mm tip. I found the .38 much smoother than the .25 and still able to get a thinner line than the more conventional .5 mm that is available on so many other brands and models. Here is a picture of the .38 on the left and a generic big box store .5 on the right.


All of the above is probably yawner review material unless you’re Robin Williams Jumanji’ing back with us after 26 years with no access to writing instruments. The Signo just doesn’t stand out as a disposable gel ink pen until you pick it up and put the tip to paper. The writing is very smooth and the line is crisp and thin on any paper I tried.  I’m impressed how they pulled this off with such a small tip.

Cost and Value

At $2.50 each I confidently place these as a great value relative to the performance I experienced. If you just like to write small or you have a more technical need for a small crisp line the Signo line is priced comparable to most other major brand gel inkers.


I love these pens and have made a wooden 10 pen holder on my desk to hold all the colors I own. That is a first for me to display disposable gel pens on my desk. I use these that much. Don’t expect the same level of smooth as a double broad nib in your favorite fountain pen but if you need really fine lines in a great selection of colors I think you’ll be very pleased with the modest investment the Uni-ball Signo UM-151 commands.

This is my first disposable pen review so I would love to hear your feedback if you’d like to see more or if you have a favorite really fine tip writers.

Remember: Write something nice……

model number1model number2

Giveaway – Unique Retro Book Pen Holder

I’m giving away a truly unique travel pen holder made from a vintage children’s mystery book.  My international friends may not recognize The Hardy Boys Series but I grew up surrounded by them. A very loved and talented member of my family created this really cool retro 4 pen holder on the inside with all the accompaniments.  4 separated sleeves, a flap for  security and protection and even a velcro closure.  I guarantee you will will be the only one in your office or social gathering that whips out one of these to retrieve your favorite writing stick.  One lucky winner will be traveling soon in retro style.  Front Cover

Inside with PensInsideAll I ask is for you to leave a witty comment as to why you should win it. Couldn’t be simpler right?

Saturday 3/29 @ 7:59 pm est will be the last time to enter. I will utilize random.org and email the winner Monday morning. The winner will have 3 days to respond. If I don’t hear back I will ask random.org for another number and repeat the notification until I get a winner.

Thanks for reading My Pen Needs Ink. I’m always encouraged by your comments and your wit puts a smile on my face.

Pilot – My Favorite Brand

I was recently blessed with a small bonus at work and couldn’t think of a better way to foolishly waste it than on another pen. I have acquired all the grail pen candidates my taste and wallet can bear so I wasn’t looking for anything extravagant. I landed on a Pilot Custom 823 when I learned I could get it from John Mottishaw. I chose his stub work this time as I love the line variation of a gentle stub without requiring the discipline common with a traditional italic.

Working with nibs.com is a real joy. John and team make you feel like your pen is the only one they are selling and you know you really matter to them as a customer. About a forever week later it arrived. The Custom 823 comes in a collector style box with a bottle of Pilot ink. Nice presentation as a gift but did little for me since it’s going to sit in a closet. I have never tried Pilot ink but now I have a bottle to put into my rotation. The pen is a nice transparent brown tint, a bit dark as a traditional demonstrator but clear enough you can see ink sloshing around inside. I like the look and after inking it up I highly anticipated the writing experience. I was blown away with how it wrote. Gliding is probably the best descriptor. Easy to control but ultra smooth. The nib started as a Broad so I wasn’t expecting a really wide stub and what I got is a really nice sweet size.

I realized putting away the big box on this one how many Pilot brand writing sticks I actually own, or have owned:

  • Custom 823
    Vanishing Point
    78G (Sold)
    Prera (Sold)

All of these pens write incredible smooth. I can’t point to any other brand I own that has hit it out of the park for my writing style on every model except for Pilot. My new 823 is my highest investment in a Pilot brand pen but I have other pens costing more that don’t write as well. Plus I have a few more Pilot models to study up on and hopefully own one day. I did write to the president of Pilot during InCoWriMo and I’m sure this blog is on his daily RSS feed so maybe those samples are already on their way!

Do you have a favorite brand or one that has never let you down?

Remember: Write something nice……

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Aurora Style – Pen Review

I have purchased a fair amount of fountain pens in the past couple of years. I started soaking up all the fountain pen knowledge I could find in my quest to learn what to buy. I ended up with many of the iconic pens that get reviewed and mentioned a lot. The Lamy 2000, the Lamy Safari, Pelikan M205, Pilot Metropolitan etc. All have been good pens but some of them just didn’t grow on me so my acquisitioning continued. I was intrigued by the demonstrator idea so I spent some time and coin collecting all the demonstrators I could afford. I maxed out my pen storage and price point tolerance of demonstrators and experienced the same thing, some grew on me but most didn’t so they got sold to fund new grail candidates. My current buying pattern is focused on trying to sample pens made in different countries. I have USA, Japan and China covered pretty well. Italy has an opening for a nice Visconti or an Aurora.

My new pen friend Ron over at Pen Chalet offered up an Aurora Style for review. I was excited at the chance to use some Italian craftsmanship. Thanks to Ron I humbly submit to you my review of the Aurora Style.

The Pen:

Aurora Style Resin Fountain Pen

style2 capped

  • Steel Fine Nib
  • Street Price: $80.00 +/- (Use the code MYPENNEEDSINK for 10% off at Pen Chalet)
  • 5 3/8” capped
  • 4 11/16” uncapped
  • 5 3/4” Posted

I was not familiar with the history of Aurora so for this review I found this page about the Aurora Pen Company at Pen Chalet’s site. Aurora has been making pens since 1919 and like most Italian goods they put a lot of thought and effort in aesthetics and design. The Style does not disappoint.



Packaging is nice for this price point. Hard cardboard sleeve with glossy black paint and red Aurora logo. The sleeve wraps a nicely padded matte black clam shell box that coddles the pen in the normal taffeta style pillow and retention band. Depending on your box keeping habits, this one could go either way. Nice for gift giving.

Overall Appearance

style4 capped

The Aurora is a traditional styled pen with tapers down to the point and a tapered cap that ends with a unique wedge design at the very top of the cap. They complement each other nicely. Being familiar with other Italian products I’m sure there is a lot more design and thought put into what I see as simple tapers but the result is attractive.

The Style is available in a wide range of finish options: Bronze style, Lacquer, Satin, Lacquer Gemstone and Rose Gold editions. Additionally most of those styles come in a variety of color choices. My example is called Paprika, a pleasant hue of red.


I am a no posting, cap on the desk, type writer so when I first measured this pen uncapped and unposted I was a little concerned with the small number. The fear was dispelled when I picked up the pen for the first time and began writing with it. Maybe my grip is farther down the section than normal but this pen was quite accommodating to my larger hands. The pen is extremely light and although I don’t obsess about pen weight much I can barely feel this one in my grip so I suspect long writing sessions would not stress my hand.



The section is a smooth black tapered plastic with a raised ridge near the nib end that makes for a convenient finger stop. The cap is the snap on variety so no threads get in the way of your grip. The transition from the pen body to the section is a slight step down with a tapered chrome trim ring that eliminates any sharp edges or grip irritants.



The cap is a snap on style. Capping the pen is firm with a good positive audible confirmation. The tug to remove the cap is just right to my preference. The cap securement is not so tight that you risk an ink bomb by having to tug and making the pen break free abruptly. There is a plastic insert inside the cap that probably helps that.

cap end

I am a fan of snap on caps for their quick deployment capabilities. A positive grip of cap to pen is essential to keep the cap on when you want it to stay on. This one seems to seal good based on my faucet dousing test.

Aesthetically I like the wedge formed on the top of the cap. There is a chrome guitar pick shaped chrome medallion on the top that is interesting. Leave it to the Italians to come up with an unusual and unique look. The chrome band around the bottom of the cap is attractive without unnecessary bling and the AURORA name and ITALY is engraved in it. Nice touches without the advertising billboard effect.



The unadorned clip is a clean slight taper shape which is a nice complement to the pen. The steel tension and entrance / exit ramps are well designed so clipping it on clothing, bags, folders etc. works nicely.

Filling System

The Style uses conventional cartridges or converter. The pen came with a large cartridge ink of the blue/black hue which got me writing quickly. The feed primed much faster than a lot of cartridge fillers I have used. I understand a converter is available so I would reach out to Pen Chalet at purchase time if you’re more of the bottled ink type.



The steel nib is a traditional sized fine. It’s not especially ornate but it has some attractive scrolling, an F for fine and AURORA engraved on it. Out of the box the tines appear to be well aligned and flow was about a 7 on a scale of 1 (Dry) to 10 (Soaked). A wetter nib tends to fatten up a typical FINE line of ink. I suspect the Style supports that habit though I’ve never had any other Aurora nibs to compare it to. The ink line laid down by the Style is a good representation of FINE, no leans to a medium width or X-Fine. Just a wet FINE and that suits me very well.


The writing experience is comfortable. My FINE nib example wrote every time without hesitation, skipping or slow starts. I didn’t get any ink blobbing and leaving the cap off for 15 minutes didn’t bother it a bit, started right up. I can’t fault the Style’s reliability, consistency and ink to paper transformation at all. I would prefer the nib to be a little bit smoother. This could be partially attributable to choosing the FINE over a MEDIUM nib. MEDIUMs typically lay down more ink which can act as a lubricant and smooth out a nib to paper marriage. The nib doesn’t grab or drag and some writers even enjoy this bit of tooth and feedback from the pen.


style3 uncapped

I’m glad I’ve tried what the Italians have to offer. I suspect a medium nib with some Noodlers ELL lubricating type ink could make a positive impact for my writing with motor oil on glass tastes. I still really like the pen and if you like the styling, which I do, you can’t go wrong for the investment.

SPECIAL OFFER: If you want to try a Style or any of the fine pens that Pen Chalet carries don’t forget to use the code MYPENNEEDSINK for 10% off.

Any fine Italians in your collection?

Remember: Write something nice……

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