A Cross Rollerball Pen, why Barack Obama didn’t use a fountain pen, and what it had to do with Richard Nixon, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s Irish linen hankie.
President Obama didn’t sign with a fountain pen. He was left handed and fountain pens smudged. His Signing Pen was actually a Rollerball – a regular ballpoint’s not that Presidential
Obama’s Rollerball Pen of choice was the Century II Rollerball made by Cross Pens of the USA. It writes easily, dries quickly, and the ink refill is archive quality. And it’s available HERE
It’s a pen of choice for left-handers signing things of importance – from Presidential decrees, to wedding certificates, real estate contracts… all those things that really matter which we’d like to respect with an appropriate signature.
Obama’s Cross Century II Roller is in polished black shellac with gold trim. It’s a tad more streamlined than conventional chunky corporate pens, and looks fine in the hands of women and men (OK, maybe not REALLY big men). It’s a pen of dignity which doesn’t scream for attention, but is still capable of causing an envious glance.
The Cross Pen Company is America’s oldest pen company – founded in Rhode Island USA by Richard Cross in 1846. Over the years, it has shared the honour of supplying the White House pens with other American pen manufacturers such as Parker and Waterman, but in recent times Cross has had the glory – President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton used Cross pens.
Interestingly, the White House actually pays for their pens. President Obama’s Cross Rollers were purchased from a Washington distributor. No freebies for the President, despite the PR value.
Another factette about Presidential Signing Pens is their need to be affordable – significant parties to an American Bill are frequently given a Signing Pen as an appreciation of their role. Sometimes this can lead to a lot of pens, so diamond encrusted ornamental pens are nowhere to be seen. The Cross Century II is as luxe as a responsible President can go…
And what did Nixon and Moynihan have to do with all this ? Well, they were first responsible for the disappearance of fountain pens from The White House.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan was to be a famed U.S.A. Ambassador, and Senator, but in 1968 he was President Nixon’s first Secretary of Urban Affairs. In his initial days in office, Nixon attempted to sign Moynihan’s department into existence, and the only pens available were the fountain pens left by his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower. They leaked, and Moynihan had to ruin a perfectly good Irish linen handkerchief to clean up the mess.
That was to be the end of fountain pens in the Oval Office. President Clinton, by the way, was no chance – he was left handed.
Like Obama, he may have used the Cross Century II Black/Gold Rollerball. Except it was only created in Obama’s second term. You can buy it HERE
*this comes with a standard medium black gel rollerball tip. For bigger bolder situations, optional felt tips are available