Seven Year Pens, an Inky Love Affair - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Seven Year Pens, an Inky Love Affair

Seven Year Pens, an Inky Love Affair

By Taylor Mayol


Because one of these magical pens could replace all your other, ordinary pens.

By Taylor Mayol

It was love at first write. I saw the pen sitting in its perfect packaging, on display like something straight out of an Etsy shop. So I grabbed one from the shelf, forked over $8.95 and slipped out the hefty white pen with a silver tip and a micro version of the Golden Gate Bridge printed in signature red on its clip. Then I twisted the top and heard the crisp click and I knew it was all over. It was time to part ways with all of the other, lesser writing devices scattered in drawers, resting at the bottom of handbags and stored in strange crevices in my car. Gone were the days of lingering in the school supplies aisle at Target, debating the virtues of the countless pen packs on display. And I couldn’t be happier.

Seven Year Pens get their name from their life span. Designed to hold an ultra-large ink cartridge, they’re meant to last — yes, you guessed it — seven years. That is, if you keep your doodling to less than 1.7 meters a day. I’ve had mine for only two years, so I can’t personally vouch for the maker’s claim, but Gay W. Lam, the founder of Seltzer Goods, which sells the pens online and in artsy gift shops and boutiques across the U.S., says there are pens in the Seltzer offices that are far older than seven years. Plus, she says, the manufacturers conduct all sorts of rigorous testing.

The Swiss-made pens come in more than 35 brightly colored designs. Two of our personal favorites: the sun-yellow pen with a green pineapple and the white pen with a piece of sizzling bacon and a fried egg. Then there’s the orange pen with a navy-blue dachshund and the seafoam-green one with a purple mermaid. Really, there’s a pen for every personality. Avery Steele first saw the pens in grad school in Los Angeles when she was studying creative writing; her teacher was using one with glasses on it. She’s been “obsessed” ever since, and she now owns about 12. Her favorite? A pink one with a black cat. “I have three black cats,” she explains. “It’s me all wrapped up in a pen.” Some people, like Steele, treat the pens as collector’s items, and new designs, including seasonal ones, are released regularly. The pens are special, Lam says, because they’re “embellished with witty motifs that make writing more fun and add color to your office.” Her favorite is the Little Dipper. 

Aside from the cute factor and the bragging rights (my pen lasts longer than yours!), there are more practical reasons for turning to the write side. Each year, according to some old (and, oddly, the most recent) EPA data, Americans throw away close to 1.6 billion pens. Instead of buying and tossing pens into ever-accumulating piles of garbage, you can invest in one (or three) of these puppies and say sayonara to the others.

While it might not break the bank to lose a pricier pen, it does hurt a little more, as Christina Lam (no relation to Gay W. Lam) found out. The owner of digital marketing consultancy Cup of Joe Social bought a black-and-white pen with a cartoon panda on it (a fitting choice given her bamboo tattoo). Her 20-month-old toddler managed to hide it from her: “I now have lost a $9 pen, and I didn’t even get to take it for a test drive,” she says. 

It reminds me of the time when my pen disappeared, only to reappear a couple of months later, on a co-worker’s desk. The separation was tough, but at long last we are back together. The bigger problem is that I work with pen thieves.


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