Many years ago in high school an acquaintance came to class with a set of coloured pens in a plastic pouch which she used to take wonderfully colour-coordinated notes. The pens were Staedtler Silver Ball 404 rollerballs, and of course I instantly coveted a set of my own. I bought my own set at Staples as soon as possible, and used them obsessively for the rest of that year. I still remember those pens fondly, but I hadn't seen any in years. So I was delighted to come across a single Staedtler Silver Ball recently at the thrift store.
I am happy to report that the Staedtler Silver Ball 404 is still as good as I remember it. It writes smoothly with a fine line and bright colour. The ink does not bleed through as some rollerballs do (this was especially important to me back in high school, as I didn't use any particularly good paper back then). I have to admit that there is a tiny bit of feathering, even on Rhodia paper, and sometimes the ink skips a bit, but both issues are not that noticeable most of the time, and I honestly don't care because I still love these pens.
The pen itself has a very basic stick design with a round barrel. It's actually not that uncomfortable to hold, though; because the ink flows smoothly, I don't need to grip the pen as hard I am often prone to do. I remember that the full set of these pens came in a reusable plastic pouch, and I also remember them being fairly long-lasting - I used these pens a lot in high school, and I was still using the pink one (pink is my least favourite colour, so the pink pens in a set usually last me the longest) in my first few years at university. (That pen is pictured in this post, where I also mentioned that it bled through on thinner papers and that I wouldn't buy a set of the pens again - however, bleedthough now seems to be very minimal, and I would definitely buy another set.)
Overall, I still feel that the Staedtler Silver Ball 404 is a great rollerball pen, although not perfect. Sadly, they do not seem to be as widely available as they once were. An Internet search turns up a few sites that seem to sell them, but I haven't seen them in a store for a long time. I would gladly buy another set if I ran across some in person, though I doubt that I'd actively seek them out. (I have a lot of other pens to use up, so I wouldn't really need a set.)
Have you ever used these pens? What favourite pens (or pencils) do you remember from your childhood?