UNICEF Fountain Pen–the Children Deserve Better

This pen is a human rights violation.


On my last day in Spain, I went to the post office to send postcards to new subscribers. Waiting in line for stamps, I noticed a cup of fountain pens for sale on the counter. They were €7 and the proceeds went to UNICEF. I picked out the blue one to test out on my train ride to the airport.


I love discovering fountain pens in places I don’t expect to find them. I wanted to like this one. Unfortunately, the pen was terrible. I say “was”–past tense–because I have no intention of writing with it again, and I wouldn’t gift it to my worst enemy. It’s so bad. The profits may go to charity, but this pen is a human rights violation.


The problems began when I tried to identify the pen. It has the UNICEF logo stamped on the barrel, but they don’t make pens, as far as I know, so there must be some lowest bidder behind this one. There’s something etched on the nib (poorly) and eventually I deciphered it. “STYB.” It turns out this is a Spanish stationary company located not too far from Valencia. Their homepage is the website equivalent of this pen. I get the sense that they just don’t care, even though their “about” section boasts of their dedication to quality and the global trust their brand has earned. Their slogan is “passion for writing.”

The Writing Experience


The nib is built to suck. Its tines are  at such a sharp angle that the pen scratches constantly no matter how you hold it. There is no sweet spot. There’s no breaking it in.

It has a good deal of flex, but that doesn’t do much for line variation, it just makes the pen leak more ink onto the page and lay down a wetter line that’s no wider.

Design and Looks

Design-wise, I couldn’t find too much wrong with it, apart from the cheap nib. This is a pocket-sized pen, just a couple centimeters longer than the Kaweco Sport.


The clip is flimsy.  If you’re lucky, it’ll just fall out of your pocket one day and you’ll have to replace it with something not so horrible.


It takes an international short cartridge and or converter. This would probably make a great eye-dropper pen if it were worth writing with in the first place.


If you want to donate to UNICEF, just send them some money, and maybe see if one of the trick-or-treaters collecting for them has a pen she’s willing to give you.


If you’re in the market for a cheap pen, I suggest the Platinum Preppy or the Pilot Varsity. Both of these are cheaper than the UNICEF pen and they write way above their price-point.

As if this one hadn’t given me enough issues, it exploded on the flight home.


Cape Cod, 2017