If you do any significant amount of pen buying you’ll see the phrase “sign pen” sooner or later. But what is a sign pen? How is a sign pen different from say, a gel pen or a marker… or whatever other kind of pen a sign pen might be like?
Simply put, a sign pen is a felt-tipped pen. These are more accurately described as “porous point” or “fiber-tipped” pens as it’s unlikely that the writing section is felt any longer. These pens are know for bright, water-based inks
The most famous sign pen is from Pentel, known as the Pentel Sign Pen. It’s been in production for over 50 years. Pentel is the inventor of the sign pen, and it’s been produced since the 1960s.
So why is it called a “sign” pen? That’s not because it’s used for making signs but rather because they are very good for signing your name (as in making a signature). In fact in Japan these pens are sometimes called “name pens.” The pens were popular in Japan for name writing partially because the felt tips resembled a brush, which is how Japanese characters would classically be drawn. The fiber tip is also useful for quickly signing your name on something — think of a professional baseball player signing a baseball.
While the Pentel Sign Pen is the original, other popular sign pens are the Paper Mate Flair and the Pilot V Sign pen.