Advantages Lovely smooth ink flow, classic design, inexpensive
Disadvantages Separate caps are prone to being lost
The Berol Handwriting Pen is one of those classroom essentials that has remained popular for so long that even I remember them from my own schooldays! Like the Helix plastic ruler or the Oxford Maths Set, the pen just keeps on and on, even though the lessons of today are very different – not least in the types of technology employed – from those I remember back in the Jurassic Period. The reason for that continued success isn't hard to work out: this is a pen that sets out to do a particular job, and does it very well, while being cheap and widely available. That's a winning combination in anyone's book.
I can still remember the excitement that went around my middle school class when we were given out our Handwriting Pens. (All right, so we were easily excited back then!) In most cases the only pens we'd ever used before were ballpoints – it wasn't so
The design of the Handwriting Pen is virtually unchanged from three decades ago. I have a feeling that the early models didn't have the pocket clip they do now, though that change may have been brought about by the need to ensure that swallowing a cap didn't prove fatal to a child, rather than any aesthetic reason. The script used for the model name along the barrel has changed a bit too, but what hasn't is that it's a long, round, bright red pen – instantly recognisable in the way that those striped Staedtler Noris pencils are. Each end is dark blue, this rather unsurprisingly indicating the colour of the ink contained within.
A remarkable feature of these pens is that they seem equally comfortable in the hands of children and adults. You wouldn't think the entirely smooth, gripless barrel would work at all for rapid adult handwriting, but in fact it's no problem whatsoever. A huge plus point – and perhaps the pen's best feature when it comes to use by younger children – is the extremely smooth flow of ink from the plastic nib. Scratchy ballpoints can be difficult to control well for those not yet fully in command of joined-up writing, but the Berol lends itself well to the attractive style encouraged in what we used to call "copy writing" lessons. (Two words. Not the same as copywriting, nor even copyrighting!)
Yet another point in favour of the Handwriting Pen is its low price: this has been the case for as long as I've known about the things, and these days they work out at about a pound each. That's pretty good value in anyone's book, and as it's possible to obtain a box of 12 for less than a tenner, it's hard to see any fault at all with Berol's product. I do hope the name is retained now that Papermate have acquired the firm, since somehow "Papermate Handwriting Pen" doesn't have the same resonance and satisfying roll off the tongue. Every school should have them – and, actually, they're great for home use too. Thoroughly recommended.
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Berol Handwriting pens are plastic nibbed and designed to promote the development of good handwriting. The washable ink will wash out of most non...
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