When it comes to writing instruments, I’ve long subscribed to two rules: 1) don’t spend much money on them and 2) don’t buy ballpoint pens. My tendency to lose pens and pencils explains the first rule. Sure, I would like a Mont Blanc, but I can almost guarantee that, if I made it my primary pen, I would lose it within two years. My distaste for the experience of writing with ballpoints and the visual results of that experience account for the second rule. Last year i gave a friend a Caran d’Ache 849 ballpoint pen for his birthday, and I told him that if I used a ballpoint pen, that was the one I would use. This year, I received a special edition of the same pen for my birthday and have been using it ever since. The results are hard for me to distinguish from those of other ballpoint pens, but the experience of writing with it is phenomenal—organic, smooth, and inspiring. Its weight, size, and balance are perfect. Is there a better ballpoint pen to be had for under $30? No, there is not.