Former President Barack Obama is an accomplished author with three books on the bestseller list. His most recent memoir, A Promised Land, published in 2020, sold 1.7 million copies in just its first week. So, it’s no wonder that people want to know more about Obama’s writing process, including his favorite choice of writing tools.
After the publication of that novel, The New York Times published an article including an interview with the former President. In the article, Obama disclosed information about his process and how he likes to pen his first drafts by hand instead of typing. Obama said he likes a yellow legal pad as his paper of choice and prefers a black Uni-Ball Vision Elite rollerball pen with a micro-point.
The Uni-Ball Vision Elite
So what are the characteristics of the Uni-Ball Vision Elite that make it a favorite for Obama? According to the Uni-ball product guide, available at uniballco.com, the Uni-Ball Vision Elite is bend-resistant and crafted from stainless steel. It also writes smoothly without leaving skips and ghost marks in your writing.” Sounds pretty good so far because nobody likes a pen that breaks or leaks in your pocket.
They also claim the pen has a smooth flow of ink which allows for fluid and vibrant writing, But for a jet-setting former President like Obama, one can imagine one of the biggest perks is the air-plane safe design, which prevents the pen from leaking or exploding while in flight.
It baffles some people that a former President with so many resources available to him would choose an average pen with just a $3 price point. But Obama has a reputation for being down to earth and accessible, so maybe his choice in pen is simply an extension of that.
It has nothing to do with prestige or using the fanciest, most expensive pen on the market. For Obama, it’s simply a matter of what he likes best. If you decide you’re ready to pen your next novel, you can buy a twelve-pack of Uni-Ball Vision Elite pens from Amazon for less than twenty-five dollars.
The President’s Favorite Pen
When Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, he used twenty-two pens to sign his name. Obama kept one of the pens for himself as a memento, while several others were handed out to important figures who stood by his side when he signed the bill. Two of the famous pens wound up in the National Archives to commemorate the occasion.
The pens that Obama used to sign this document are a frequent choice in the White House and have been used by other former presidents during their terms, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. They were customized Cross Townsend pens manufactured by the A.T. Cross Company. These pens are specially designed for use in the oval office.
Obama’s Townsend pens featured both the Presidential seal and Obama’s actual signature, as is customary for the sitting President. The pens have been a staple in the White House for decades and were originally manufactured right here in the United States. Around a decade ago, the company started to outsource its production to China, but the customized Presidential line is still made in the U.S.A.
What’s the difference between Obama’s favored pen and the Cross Townsend pen? How about $147 to start. Specially customized for the White House, one would expect these pens to have a hefty price point, but even the base model of the Cross Townsend can cost this much.
Obama’s Favorite Fountain Pen
Obama has also been known to use a Montblanc Meistertuk 149 fountain pen and was photographed using the pen on more than one occasion. There are rumors that Obama would prefer to use the Montblanc to sign his official documents, and it’s the political tradition of using the Cross Townsend that’s responsible for his choice.
When everyone in the country, and even sometimes the known world, is scrutinizing your every move, even your choice of a pen can stir up controversy. Seeing how the Montblanc Company originated in Germany, it might make waves if Obama endorsed their cornerstone fountain pen over an American Company, especially when signing official documents.
It is worth noting that Obama was caught using the Montblanc pen several times, but while in the White House and under the hot lights of the American press corps, he tended to make sure the Cross Townsend pen was in the picture and hid the Montblanc pen away.
A Pricey Point
If you want your very own Meisterstuk pen like Obama’s, you can buy one from the official Montblanc website for a head-spinning $975. Surprisingly, this doesn’t come close to Montblanc’s most expensive pens. The layperson shopping for a pen might not be able to reconcile spending that much for a pen, but for pen aficionados, a good pen is worth the money spent.
And if you weren’t aware that there was an entire population out there who are crazy about office supplies to that degree, well, now you know. If you’re thinking about joining their ranks, check out this article on how to figure out what kind of pen fanatic you are.
The Presidential Trio
When it comes to pens it seems like Obama has a few favorites. The Cross Townsend was his pen of choice for signing official documents during his two terms as President, despite what the critics say his motivations were.
Obama likes to use the Montblanc Meistertuk 149 fountain pen when nobody seems to be looking, and it’s not outside the box to think he probably has one or two hanging around his house now that he’s “retired.” But when it comes to putting old-fashioned pen to paper, it’s the Uni-ball vision elite with a micro-tip that makes the grade.
There is something fascinating about a former president preferring a standard pen and a plain yellow legal pad to craft a series of best-selling novels. And maybe that’s why Obama was and continues to be a popular figure with so many people. Let’s just hope he keeps writing, no matter what medium he uses.
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