The Refill Detective at Work

Some time ago, Diane got a nice pen as part of a Thanks! award at work:

Free ibm.com pen

There wasn’t anything particularly special about the pen, but it felt nice in the hand and wrote well. For a while. But it ran dry awfully quickly, so I disassembled it this morning and found that it had a teeny tiny refill, about two inches long (the pen is five inches long).

Teeny Refill

The obvious plan was to visit the local office supply store and get a refill — but they didn’t have anything which fit. So then it was time for Plan B: Google.

But it was not obvious what I should search for. Since the refill said “Ministar E”, I Googled for that, but I didn’t find anything useful (many spam pages, though). Ditto on “Ministar pen”, “Ministar refill”, and “Ministar pen refill”.

Then I turned the refill over, and found intriguing markings.

Refill, showing ISO 12757-2 DOC

It looked like an ISO standard number, ISO 12757-2, so I Googled that, and found Dark Matter, which told me that ISO 12757-2 is the standard governing archival ballpoint pen ink. And that there was a related standard, 12757-1, which described the dimensions of refills.

A little more searching took me to the ANSI Store, where I could buy the standards: $53 for part 1 and a mere $40 for part 2.

I passed, although I did ask the librarian at work if we happened to have those standards — we didn’t.

So then I followed a sponsored link to the Colorado Pen Company, which offers many, many refills — and pictures, too. There are two which look similar to mine, one for Alfred Dunhill pens, and one for Lamy pens. The Lamy refill even has the magic phrase “ISO 12757-2” on it. But it costs five bucks, plus shipping, which seems like a lot to pay for one refill (though it is a full 4-1/4 inches long).

So I may do something entirely different. While I was chasing down the standard, I stumbled across this Digg, pointing to these instructions on using Mont Blanc refills in inexpensive Pilot G2 pens. Our local office store is having a sale this week — eight Pilot G2 pens (plus two bonus pens or pencils) for $6; they’ve got the Mont Blanc refills at two for $12. So for just a little more than I’d pay for one refill plus shipping, I could have what purports to be the world’s best writing pen. Hmmm….

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10 Responses to The Refill Detective at Work

  1. carol says:

    Great Pics! I’m looking for the exact same refill. However, mine came from a “spy pen” which had one of those USB flashdrives in it. That makes it a little more difficult to replace than a standard pen.

  2. Greg says:

    The LAMY M21 will fit if you take the plastic off the existing refill and put it on the M21. That’s what we do with ap en that my wife has. Ministar also make a compatible refill and their website shows dimensions, etc. Cross also make a refill, and I’m sure there must be others.

  3. Tony says:

    Go to the below web site and you’ll
    find the ministar refills. I’ve
    ordered a package of black and a package of blue refills.

    http://www.stylusplus.com/refillsonly1.html

  4. Leo says:

    StylusPlus’s offers looks good, but the site itself looks …. well, looks weird.
    Tony, are you satisfied with them?

  5. Leo says:

    That’s the company, that makes these refills!! http://www.starminen.ch/en/shop/

  6. Joyce says:

    Thanks for this blog. It was what finally helped me find the Ministar F refill for a pen I bought from a fundraiser at a school.

    Thanks!

  7. Paula says:

    I found more refills that work. The refill is the same size that fits the “PenAgain” (http://www.penagain.com/) which Walmart sells. According to the PenAgain package (WalMart item 303968), the following refills can be used: Fisher – TripleZction, Schmidt-S600 Series, Staedtler-Multi Action, Cross-Micro Pen, and Zebra-Pocket Pen4C. I was able to find many web hits for these refills.

  8. Paul Yearron says:

    Hi, Just wondering if anyone has found a felt tip type refill for these small pens.
    I actually want to use it in a logitech IO2. Cheers Paul

  9. Keith says:

    In ’02 I purchased three 5-packs of “Ministar” refills from StylusPlus’ website for my Belkin F8U0304. I finally used them all and searched through my old credit card statements to find them again. Although certainly not a fancy site by any stretch, the refills from StylusPlus are an exact fit and haven’t dried out in the nearly 4 years I’ve had them. I’m reordering again without hesitation. They are a bargain @ 5 refills for $4.45 plus S&H.

  10. Brian says:

    Thank’s for all the help, I received a pen from asp, when I ordered a pair of
    handcuffs I love the pen, it makes a good ticket writing pen, however it soon went
    dry I searched every store and was unable to find the refills, I found this site and
    went to some of the websites mentioned and found exactly what I was looking for, so
    thank you very much.