I see it all the time. A tourist purchases a cheap postcard from a souvenir shop. Inevitably the postcard has a glossy back, as most cheap touristy postcards do, because there is no designer on staff to think about details with these publishers). Said tourist grabs a pen – or horror of horrors borrows one from the first person they meet. A scribble here, a scribble there, a quick address, stick of a stamp and the postcard gets sent off. I have to admit, I’ve even done this in pinch. But the problem is, on glossy postcard backs the ink does not have time (or capability) to dry and the writing gets smudged. I have even seen this happen with the spray-cancellation from the post office. And then, with a little bit of rain just before the postcard is popped into the mailbox, and the address becomes unreadable – and therefore undeliverable. It’s very important that the ink is waterproof, especially if you live in Seattle or in the hurricane zone!
I did a quick test of all of my favorite disposable pens on semi-matte postcard backs (Max & Co. Post postcards and Lantern Presspostcards). Here are the results (where S = Smudgeproof and W = Waterproof):
|S & W||Not S; W||S; Not W||Neither S nor W|
|Sharpie Permanent Ultra Fine Marker||Bic Ultra Round Stick Grip Ballpoint||Bic Classic Stick Ballpoint||Pentel Hybrid Technica 03|
|Staedtler Permanent Lumocolor||Faber-Castell PITT Fine||Pilot G2 10|
|Zebra F301 Ballpoint||Sharpie Pen Fine||Stablio Point88 Fine 0,4|
|Staples Opti Flow|
|Zebra Japanese Brush Pen|
|S after ink dries; W||S after ink dries; Not W|
|Pigma Micron 01||Pilot Precise Rolling Ball Fine|
|Pilot VBall 05|
|Uni SuperInk Uniball|
That’s why I make it a routine of carrying my favorite pen with me when I travel – a Sharpie Ultra Fine Permanent Marker. Sharpies dry fast, so there is no smudging – even if it gets wet. I am going to Dick Blick to see what other colors they carry in the Staedtler Lumocolor. I did like the feel of the black one I have, but it would be fun to have some other colors to use for mail art!