Enjoyed by young and old alike
One of the biggest pen innovations of recent years emanated from Japan in 1984 when the Sakura Color Products Corporation launched gel pens.
Their Gelly Roll Pens are hugely popular with young and old alike, taking on an almost cult-like following among not only the wider public but artists too.
According to Sakura many years of research and development went into the gel pen. The first stepping stone was the introduction in 1982 of Pigma®, the first water-based pigment ink. Two years later these revolutionary new inks were to find their way into another Sakura world first, the Gel Ink Rollerball pen which was rolled out commercially as the Gelly Roll.
Sakura's gel pen innovation was just one of a long line of inventions by the company. They have a distinguished history of bringing unique products to market stretching back to 1925 with the launch of CRAY-PAS®, the first oil pastel, a drawing medium combining oil and pigment.
The impact of the gel pen with its amazing palette of colors and glitter inks cannot be underestimated. Indeed the gel pen has spawned developments in society not seen since the introduction of ballpoint pens in the late 1940s.
Quite a claim. But can it be substantiated?
Take art, for example. The gel pen has inspired and influenced a generation of artists to use the medium in their work. Arguably, the gel pen has created a new school of art, the gel pen stipplers who employ gel pens in the same way as the Impressionists did with paint.
And gel pens hit the headlines following the discovery that gel inks were thwarting check fraudsters. Until gel inks came on the scene and made life more difficult for the criminals, 'washing' stolen checks was commonplace.
The modus operandi was for checks to be stolen from mailboxes, the signature covered by cellophane tape and the check washed in a solution of acetone to remove the dollar amount and payee information. Dried and ironed, the 'washed' cheque would be written out for much larger amounts and cashed with the original check signature still intact.
While most oil and water-based inks could be easily removed, those checks written with gel pens offered much greater resistance to the cleaning procedure, the gel inks stubbornly remaining ingrained.
That's art and crime influenced by the gel pen, what's next?
The third piece of evidence is tradition. School yearbooks - that most American of traditions that indelibly maps out scholastic endeavour and which maintains a milestone of life - have not evaded the reaches of the gel pen. The end-pages where students write end-of-year messages are now turning black as gel pens are suitable for all colors of paper.