Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Pick-a-Pen: Uni-Ball Vision Green and Evergreen

Palimpsest is delighted to publish the first contribution to the Pick-a-Pen series. It comes from Andy Welfle, fellow blogger, pencil enthusiast and author of wonderful Woodclinched

Although I am now primarily a pencil user, I recognize the time and the place for writing in ink. I love pens, especially a good quality rollerball. And, when possible, I prefer using green ink.

There was a time in my life when I was obsessed with finding the perfect green ink pen. When I was about 14 years old, I read 
Operation Ciceroby L. C. Moyzisch. It’s a memoir that read like a spy novel. In the story, the author was an attaché to the German embassy in Ankara, Turkey, and the ambassador wrote everything in green ink. If an embassy employee received a memo in green, he knew it was from the boss.

I liked this idea. Green ink is unusual, though not unheard of, highly visible yet bright and colorful, and, as with the German ambassador, produces a document recognizable as belonging to its author without ever being signed.

The first thing I did was convert my fine writing pens over. I found green ink cartridges for my newer fountain pens, bought a beautiful bottle of emerald green ink for my reservoir fountain pens (Yes, I had several fountain pens as a high-schooler. Got a problem with that?), and started a search for the perfect disposable rollerball. I had to have something to take with me to school, after all.

After months of looking, I finally chose a Uni-ball Vision pen with evergreen ink. It laid down a thin but confident dark green line that didn’t smudge easily. I found them, piecemeal, at Office Depot, but finally relented and ordered a couple dozen online.

Sure enough, green ink helped me develop a trademark in my writing. I was “the kid with the green pen.”

Over the years, my arsenal of green ink is still going strong, although those evergreen Uni-balls aren’t in production anymore. (I can get Vision GREEN pens, but EVERGREEN, a darker, richer green, was my favorite). My current favorite disposable green pen is a Koh-I-Noor, an unusual little art pen of Czech manufacture available at a Blick Arts store. The color is darker even than evergreen, a deep, rich emerald ink, the color of a healthy, verdant blade of grass.

For everyday note-taking, calculating, proofing, and editing, I use a pencil (and that’s a whole other column!), but for letter writing, envelope addressing, or check signing, I pull out my green pen. The iridescent pigment is still enough to give me a smile, and that reminds me of why I love to write about the process and mechanics of writing in the first place.

Photos and text by Woodclinched.


  1. It was the first director of MI6, Mansfield Smith-Cumming, who is credited with the idea of signing documents in green ink. This tradition is kept alive today in the British military; our generals still sign documents with green ink today.

    More here:

  2. I have a set of those Koh-I-Noor pens. I had never heard of them until I ordered them from a seller on Amazon. Not on purpose, though. The listing said they were calligraphy pens - obviously the wrong info - and the seller graciously offered to let me return them, but I like them so much I decided to keep them!

  3. Ah yes, the Uni-ball. I have a couple of Uni-ball Eyes and I love them. Very smooth pens.