marks days ballpoint pen review
Review

Review: Mark’s Days Ballpoint Pen

mark's days ballpoint pen review

Introduction

The Mark’s Days ballpoint pen is something of a sleeper hit. We have sold them for many years now and they seem to pass under the radar, rarely getting mentioned or featured and yet when I checked the sales they are quite a hit. So I thought I would address the lack of attention and give the Mark’s Days pen a full review all of its own. With the new orange colour just arriving recently it seemed the right time to review one.

Mark’s is a Japanese stationery brand that is known for producing quite smart, stylish if unfussy notebooks, diaries and pens. Often quite innovative, they are quite Japanese in being fine, practical and well-designed (or at least they fit with my idea of what Japanese stationery is all about!). The brand also has something of a French theme about it, and this pen is part of the Days range of books and pens.

 

Style

From the outset you can tell this pen is going to be a fine writer. It is a slimline pen in a satisfyingly bright colour. The range has the days of the week printed in French on the hexagonal barrel. It doesn’t come in a pen box but it isn’t aimed as a gift in its own right so that’s not a problem for me. Overall, it looks very nice although I would mark it down for being a tad too light in the hand.

I chose the orange pen as it was new, but there are six colours to chose from at time of writing so it should keep most people happy.

Score: 8/10

mark's days ballpoint pens - colour choice

Features

This is not a pen packed with features but then it is not intended to be. It is a lightweight pen, maybe too light for some, with simple push-button action to extend the nib. This is a ballpoint pen with a very fine 0.5mm point. It is a refillable pen so no unnecessary waste, and the refills come in any colour, as long as it is black. The barrel is hexagonal which means it won’t roll off the desk when left.

Score: 7/10

Usability

The key here is the fine point. Either you like a fine writer, or you don’t. I really can’t imagine someone who likes a bolder nib would be happy with this as it might feel scratchy. I do like a fine point and I would not describe this as scratchy at all. It is a consistent, even writer. The weight is, as mentioned, just a bit unusual but after a few minutes I forgot about the weight. It takes an OHTO refill and I have always had a soft-spot for OHTO pens so that is a plus for me.

Score: 8/10

marks days ballpoint pen - colours and french days

Value for money

This depends on how you look at it – compared to a cheap biro it might appear a lot (£5.95 at time of writing) but it is comparable in price to other refillable pens like the Noto from Lamy. I think this is a well-priced pen that is nice enough to make you look after it. It is the kind of pen you would feel disappointed if you left it at home or it went missing, and on that basis it is good value for money.

Score: 9/10

Verdict

I like this pen but the crucial is whether you like fine writers or you don’t. If not, look elsewhere. If yes, then don’t overlook this good little pen in favour of more expensive options.

There is also mechanical pencil version if that is of interest.

 

Style
Features
Usability
Value for money
winter stationery
Ideas

Winter Stationery

anatomy of winter stationery

Anatomy of a winter stationery scene

As we clear up after Storm Doris and the newspapers are full of winter weather bombs, it’s time to squeeze in a quick winter stationery blast from the colder recesses of our warehouse. Inspired by the obvious lead item – the Field Notes Black Ice edition was create with winter in mind – I assembled a collection of wintery themed stationery. Enjoy them all before the first green shoots arrive, spirng is upon us and everything goes green and yellow.

From Nordic Blue notebooks to Stormy Grey ink it might seem that there is a lot of winter stationery to choose from. In fact it proved very hard to find anything suitably themed around the idea of winter, especially if you try and avoid Christmas!

With help from Monica I did get there but it maybe says a lot about our aspirations that colours and products are notably leaning towards more hopeful seasons. Spring and summer obviously encourage positive thoughts and so people make and name their products and we duly buy them. Winter turns us off. That’s my theory anyway – here’s what I found in the meantime:

Bureau 2015 Stationery Awards
News

The Bureau 2015 Stationery Awards

Our Top 10 New Products of the Year

This is the 4th Annual Bureau Stationery Awards and each year we chose our top products of the year. The only criteria is that they are new to our range during the past 12 months, and we vote on whatever basis we chose – price, value, style, function, innovation, cute-ness. Whatever we like in a product. The votes are then compiled and a winner’s list announced. This year with so many more staff we extended the awards to a Top 10. So without further ado, here are the winners and runners-up.

 

Nos. 10 to 8

The Bureau Top 10 of 2015 awards_no9 awards_no8

In 10th place was the useful-yet-fun smile clips from Ohto of Japan. Why clip papers together with boring old paperclips when these smiley faces will do the job for you?

In 9th place it was the Nuuna Glow in the Dark notebooks. Give them a good charge of natural light and flick the switch to watch it glow. Fun, but these are seriously nice notebooks as well.

In 8th place it was that old favourite, the Lamy Safari fountain pen. Why? Because this year’s limited edition (sorry, special edition) colour was Neonlime. Now sold out sadly but look out for a new special edition colour in April 2016!

 

Nos. 7 to 6

The Bureau Top 10 of 2015 awards_no6

Getting down towards the serious end of the voting, in 7th place was the fairly new arrival of Diamine Shimmer Ink. Ten colours of rather wonderful ink each with its own metallic shimmer inside.

In 6th place was another recent arrival – Maste washi tape from Mark’s Tokyo Edge. This is an alternative brand of washi tape, and whilst it is a direct rival to our favourite MT tape, we chose it for the very different designs it brought to the party, from baby pandas to cosmic rainbows.

 

And now the Top 5

The Bureau Top 10 of 2015

In 5th place was the only one of our Stationery Compilations to make it into the Top 10, but it was a very popular choice with the customers too. Known as Compilation No.10 it was made up of a Lamy Vista fountain pen and a bottle of the Herbin 1670 Anniversary Ink, it was packaged in a nice Lamy gift bag and made a good gift as well. The Vista was chosen as it is the pen of choice round the Bureau office – last count saw almost everyone with one (except me) – and because the clear barrel shows off the stunning Herbin ink to its best.

The Bureau Top 10 of 2015

Talking of Herbin Anniversary Ink, look what came in at number 4. Yes, the new Emerald of Chivor ink was the fourth colour in this amazingly popular range of inks and proved another big hit. Faisal’s gorgeous shot of the tempest-like ink says it all.

The Bureau Top 10 of 2015

And so to the Top 3 and in 3rd place it was the fun and playful Midori paperclips. As always, fun doesn’t mean frivolous as they are still a paperclip and serve a useful purpose around the office. But still, a paperclips shaped like a penguin or a cat? Surely makes you smile more than a boring old paperclip?

The Bureau Top 10 of 2015

And in 2nd place was the simply phenomenal Palomino pencil. Added to the range with a degree of uncertainty – after all, we have to sell them in boxes of 12 and they’re something of a punt if you’re unsure – they have proved such a success. The vote was for the three ‘core’ pencils in the range – the softer Blackwing, the harder 602 and the middle-of-the-range Pearl. There are also some limited editions out there such as the brand new 1138 edition, but we voted for the classics and they are a worthy second place.

The Bureau Top 10 of 2015

And so, to a trumpet fanfare, here is our Number One choice. And in true Bureau style we have voted for something you cannot buy. The special edition Copperorange Lamy Al-Star fountain pen was an object of beauty, rich and metallic and such a shame that it sold out in weeks. Maybe that added to the mystique around the pen? Anyway, as with the Lamy Safari we are due a new special edition in 2016 – look out for Charged Green sometime around February (think of a metallic lime-y green).

Click here to view the 3rd Annual Awards in 2014

Click here to view the 2nd Annual Awards in 2013

 

 

Views

My Weapon of Choice

What you will find on my desk today…

weapon of choice

A recent Instagram post I did made me think it was worth sharing a bit further and wider. Like most people, I’m sure, I have a selection of pens that are in favour at any one time. For some people it may be a collection of chewed Bic biros, for others it may be a treasured collection of Mont Blanc fountain pens. I guess I sit somewhere in the middle. Bureau-loyalty also sees me leave the Mont Blanc pens I do own at home, of course! I do admit to having one or two Bic Biros on my desk somewhere (not chewed – someone else in the office is guilty of that crime), but they are relegated to the status of ’emergency pen’ and when I used one yesterday it left an inky splodge on my weekly deskpad. Tch. So on my desk today you will find….(left to right):

Lamy Safari pink fountain pen with an extra-fine nib and purple Monteverde ink

lamy safari

This Safari is the most recent addition to my armoury. I already had one with black ink (see below) and I wasn’t prepared to wash out my pen to swap ink so I added a pink Safari pen and I’m experimenting with Monteverde purple ink for a contrast. It’s a nice ink, maybe a bit more pink than I had hoped for but it has a strong depth of colour to it. The Safari pen is as you would hope – a really nice pen to write with.

Papelote pencil

papelote pencil

I needed a pencil to sketch out some of the lettering I have been fond of lately, and whilst one pencil is pretty much like another when it comes to this kind of work, I do like these pencils with their Czech writing (it translates as ‘one pencil can write 50,000 words).

Ohto Dude rollerball

ohto dude

I recently wrote a piece about my re-discovery of the Ohto Dude pen, and so the feeling continues. It really is a lovely pen, that lays down a nice fine line of ink and suits me just right. In fact I would put my Dude pen as my No.1 on this list.

Herbin rollerball with Herbin bleu pervenche ink

herbin pen

A stalwart of the Bureau range now, the Herbin pen has so many inks you can choose from. In fact, once you pop in a universal converter you can have any ink. I like this one, which is a strong turquoise colour. I loved this pen from the first day it came in, but many others don’t so it’s something of a ‘marmite’ pen.

Lamy Safari yellow fountain pen with an extra-fine nib and black Lamy ink

lamy safari

I acquired this pen a while back (I think it was out of a photo shoot one day but can’t be sure), and I wasn’t sold on it. I then went back to it and decided to experiment with nibs. In case you hadn’t noticed by now, I quite like a fine point for writing and so I tested out some finer nibs – I went for an extra-fine nib, and even then I would have gone a bit further, but it was fine enough and I now love my Safari pen. I use it all the time, and if I leave it for a few days it still writes. It’s a pleasure to use  – so make sure you find the right nib for your writing and maybe it will make the difference.

Ohto Horizon orange ballpoint

ohto horizon

A former favourite, and although I still like this pen I have started to realise why ‘ink’ pens are so much better. There is something in the way that ink flows from a rollerball or a fountain pen that is so much more satisfying than the ink that a ballpoint lays down. Having said that, I do like the unusually fine point that the Ohto Horizon has so it still has a place in my affection today.

Review

Staff Picks Revisited – Ohto Dude Pen

Dominic’s Choice

Ohto dude

I wrote my Staff Pick on the Dude last November, but my love for the unusual lines and general chunky-quirkiness of the pen were displaced by a new source of my affection – the Ohto Horizon. Sad to say but the Dude was consigned to occasional glances and it no longer took centre stage for me. In fact it was thanks to my wife that it has come back to my attention. She also has a Dude pen, and after repeatedly asking for a refill I did remember to get her one, and she once again waxed lyrical about how nice it was. At that point I realised why I had stopped using my Dude pen – I too needed a new refill. One new black 0.5mm refill later and the pen writes beautifully again.

The point of my Staff Pick Revisited? It may seem like an obvious point to make – that a pen writes better when an old refill is replaced with a new one! – but in this case it wasn’t obvious that the refill had run out. In fact, it hadn’t run out but it must have been running very low and the lovely fine ink lines that I now get were just a scratchy irritation. I still love my Horizon pen, but the Dude gets first picking in my bag every day now.

If you happen to own a Dude pen and have become similarly disappointed with its performance, why not treat yourself to a C-305 0.5mm refill, in black or blue?

Review

Staff Picks – The Ohto Dude Pen

Dominic’s Choice

ohto dude

Sometimes a new item of stationery appears in the building and you just do a double take and quietly think to yourself ‘I want one of those…’. We took on the Ohto range of pens earlier in the year and the stand out pen for me was The Dude. Unless you are looking at a Yoropen or a Pen Again then pens all conform to the same basic design, making it all the more challenging to create something unique. The Dude succeeds for me because it eschews sleek, slimline aerodynamics in favour of slightly ungainly angles, contrasted by a nice curved grip section. It is this that makes it a more individual pen, one that might have its critics as much as it has fans.

The pen itself also writes in a style that appeals to me, with a very fine rollerball tip that Ohto seem to like to specialise in. My only regret? Not waiting a bit longer, because the new blue Dude really is a good looking pen.

Ohto dude

Views

Staff Picks – Faber Castell Textliner

Kate’s Choice

faber castell textliner

So, it turns out that we are all rather enjoying writing our staff pick articles. In fact, it is fast turning into my favourite job.

This week, I’m reviewing the product that I use the most frequently out of our entire range of stationery-the Faber Castell Textliner Highlighter pen. It is safe to say that I. LOVE. THIS. PEN. Dominic and Jo first brought one back from the 2012 Stationery Show as it had won an award for Best Writing Instrument, so it must be good.

Although I said in my first Staff Pick review that I didn’t know anything about stationery when I arrived, upon thinking about it I suppose that’s not strictly true. I come from a family of artistic types, and I used to spend a lot of time drawing and painting as a child. I remember being given a set of really lovely Faber Castell coloured pencils by my Grandfather, who was a keen watercolourist and was always encouraging me to draw the flowers in our garden. I was quite proud of those pencils, as they were in a smart tin and I kept them sharpened all to the same length- they looked nicer that way. Needless to say I rarely draw these days, but Faber Castell must have left a lasting impression on me as I love their products.

I am drawn to anything loud or fluorescent in colour like a moth to a flame. I have fluorescent yellow trainers and am not afraid to wear them, often paired with odd socks just for good measure. So of course I wanted this pen as soon as I saw it. In fact, Faber Castell describe it as being ‘Super Fluorescent’ which meant I found it utterly irresistible and pretty much snatched it out of Jo’s hand before she had a chance to show it to anyone else. It does come in Pink too, but I’m not much of a girly girl so I prefer the Yellow.

It’s also satisfyingly chunky as a highlighter should be, and is really comfortable to use as it has an ergonomic grip section. It’s got an angled tip so it writes in 3 different widths, 1mm, 2mm and 5mm which is really handy although I mainly use the 5mm angle to get maximum coverage. The best feature of this pen however, is yet to come. Somehow, the genius pen inventor people at Faber Castell have made it refillable, so I have now had the same pen for well over a year and am not even half way through the bottle of ink which I think is really good going.

And now, to top it off, they’ve decided to sell them in a pack of 4 different colours. The Yellow and Pink pens are available to buy individually, but in the pack you get both these colours along with Green and Orange. We’ve also got the ink refills in the Pink and Orange and have just taken delivery of the Green ink too. So now you have no excuse to forget any of your appointments as they should all be highlighted!!!!!

And in an unusual twist, just as Jo’s OHTO Promecha Ballpoint pen matches her silver toenails, my Faber Castell Textliner matches my glow in the dark nails too. How cool am I.

Views

Staff Picks – Ohto Promecha Pen

Jo’s Choice

ohto promecha

This is my favourite pen right now and despite my being a bit fickle (only with stationery though), I think it will end up being a firm favourite. I must confess to being a non-fountain pen user – not that I don’t like them but I don’t like waiting for the ink to dry and all the smudging and so on. I have never really taken to rollerballs either so that leaves me with ballpoints which are kind of the lowest ranking pen type in the pen kingdom. Having said that, the Ohto Promecha is a really outstanding ballpoint with its super fine nib and its mechanical styling reminiscent of the Rotring pens of my youth. It’s silver too so it matches my toenails which can only be a good thing really.