I am a true pen geek. I spend more time testing, researching, shopping for, and writing about pens than I do actually using them. For a long time I was a fan of the Pilot G2 gel ink pen but recently, after much testing, I have thrown aside the G2 in favor of the Uniball 207, a pen with ink that meets all of the criteria of Mike Shea Certified Archival Quality ink.
In order to meet my standards for an archival quality ink, the ink must meet the following criteria:
It must be acid free so it will not degrade over time or eat away at the paper over time as highly acidic ink does such as old style iron gall ink.
It must be fade proof so it will survive even if exposed to the sun for long periods of time.
It must be water proof so it will survive even if it gets wet.
It must be chemical proof so it will survive even if subjected to chemical scrubbing or washing.
These sound like extreme criteria but when we now have pens available for around $1 each that meet these criteria, there is no reason to settle for anything less.
I recently performed tests on five different kinds of ink,
from six different pens in addition to a Mirado Black Warrior pencil.
These tests included subjecting the ink, written on a sheet of
acid-free paper, to numerous chemical washing including water, bleach,
and dish soap. I concluded from the results of the test that Noodler’s
black fountain pen ink, Fisher Space Pen ink, Mirado Black Warrior
pencil writings, Sakura Gelly Roll ink, and Uniball 207 ink all
survived these tests.
While it is unknown if the Mirado black warrior pencil or the Fisher
Space Pen ink would also resist fading when exposed to light, the other
inks are also labeled as "acid free" and "fade resistant" by their
The G2 ink, while acid free, fade resistant, and water resistant, is
not resistant to chemicals and fades when submerged in water for long
periods of time. For this reason, I no longer recommend the Pilot G2 as
an archival quality pen.
It is important to note that the acid free nature of an ink is not
nearly as important as the paper. When writing anything of any
importance, one should always write it on acid-free pH neutral paper.
While ink will change and possibly degrade over time if highly acidic,
the paper will crisp and yellow within ten to fifty years if it is
highly acidic. One can see these results in old newspapers or paperback
Like the Pilot G2 ink, the Uniball 207 ink cartridge will fit many
fancier rollerball pens including Waterman and Rotring rollerball pens.
Uniball also makes a pen called the Uniball Primer 207 that resembles the larger Pilot Dr. Grip for about $5.
While my own preferred writing instrument is a fountain pen loaded with
Noodler’s Black fountain pen ink, this is not practical for most people
and is far more costly than a traditional pen. The Uniball 207 can be
purchased in many point sizes at a wide variety of stores including
office supply stores, grocery stores, and pharmacies across the United
States for somewhere between $1 and $2 a pen depending on the amount
For archival quality ink that will survive sunlight, water,
oxidation, and chemical washing, one need not look further than the
Uniball 207 gel ink pen. The Uniball 207 is the new official Mike Shea
endorsed Archival Quality pen.