white house

What Pen Does the President Use and Why?

Pens are powerful tools in the hands of prominent historical figures. After all, they’re used to sign important documents that change the course of our history, but they also provide whoever’s using them with a unique writing experience. 

If you’re looking for a premium pen or are simply interested to know which pen the president uses, take a look at our list of US presidents and their favorite pens. Without further ado, let’s get into the topic of what pen the president uses and why.

Noteworthy President Signatures

A presidential signature is a tribute to a moment in time when a prominent figure made a change that affected the United States on a smaller or larger scale, so first, let’s take a look at the most noteworthy presidential signatures.

George Washington

George Washington

One of the most iconic US presidents is definitely President George Washington, and his handwriting is just as iconic. It’s one of the most regal-looking signatures that can’t be easily forged and is known for being the most popular autograph because a piece of paper with his signature is worth a lot.

William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft

While this president isn’t one of the most well-known US presidents, his signature definitely is. It’s a truly unique signature that exudes self-confidence and is a proper tribute to this great man and leader of the states.

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

President Andrew Jackson had a signature that couldn’t go unmentioned. It’s a striking signature that almost looks like a poet’s or an artist’s signature due to its noticeable curves and the underline, which show his outgoing personality.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Probably one of the most controversial signatures is that of President Donald Trump because of the bold statement he makes. He uses a significant amount of pressure to deliver this continuous loop-less signature. According to some analysts, it pays tribute to the black-and-white way he views the world.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden

The current President, Joe Biden, has a quick and rather simple signature when we compare it to his predecessors. According to signature analysts, his signature represents his open nature and transparent presence. 

What Pen Does the President Use?

To create their unique signatures, most presidents have that go-to pen they use to sign documents, bills, and other important pieces of paper. They often use multiple pens to sign one single document, which makes these pens a perfect gift and a souvenir for some of those present at the signing. 

Since the days of Ronald Reagan, American presidents have always used a pen from the Cross collection, and the only president that strayed from that tradition is President Bill Clinton who opted for a Parker pen. Let’s see which pens specifically were favorites among past and present presidents.

Ronald Raegan

Roland Raegan used the Cross Classic Century ballpoint pen that instantly became a sensation and a bestseller.

cross classic century

This ballpoint provides a smooth and consistent ink flow, which is what’s needed when signing important agreements between states. It features the conical tip that’s a trademark for Cross and a slim twist-action that retracts the ballpoint pen inside the barrel. It’s a pen with a lifetime mechanical warranty that’s extremely reliable.

George HW Bush

President George Bush continued the same tradition and used the Cross Classic Century ballpoint pen similar to President Ronald Raegan.

Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton used the vintage Parker pen called Parker Insignia, a ballpoint pen that has black and gold trim and the presidential seal and signature imprinted on the pen.

parker insignia

This pen is no longer manufactured, so if you want to get your hands on one, you’ll need to purchase it secondhand.

George W Bush

cross townsend pen

President George Bush went back to using the Cross pen, although a different collection than the one his father used. He opted for the Townsend pen, which has similar aesthetics to the Century and Century II. He also switched to using blue ink instead of black ink, which was quite common with former presidents.

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama also continued using the same Cross pen as President George W Bush, the Townsend, but instead used black ink. He also used the Century II pen that was used by Presidents George HW Bush and Reagan.

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump initially used the same pen as President Obama, the Century II, however, he later changed his go-to pen with a Sharpie that was made specifically for him.

He asked the company to make him a black pen that looks rich, and that’s exactly what they did. The pen is all black, writes with black ink, and has Trump's signature engraved on the black plastic pen in gold letters.

We’ll give you more details about this further below.

Joe Biden

President Joe Biden went back to the classics and uses the Cross Century II rollerball pen. The Cross Century II is an upgrade and combines the design of the Century Classic with a bolder and more statement-making wide profile of the new pen. It has an elegant black lacquer finish and details that are plated with 23k gold. By changing the refills, you can quickly convert it to a felt-tip pen and back to a ballpoint pen in no time. It has a lifetime mechanical warranty, same as the Century Classic.

The Presidential Beloved Cross Pen

The presidential Cross pen has been used for nearly 40 years and almost every president since the 1980s has used it as his go-to pen. The Cross pen is priced at $110, a hefty price tag which is due to the metal construction of the pen, the gold-plated tip, and the deep black lacquer that covers the pen.

But this wasn’t the pen that was always used by US presidents. Prior to Clinton, the presidents used different types of pens to sign documents. For example, President Roosevelt preferred the Waterman pen, Eisenhower and Truman used Parker fountain pens, while John F. Kennedy used the Parket 45.

Donald Trump's Custom Sharpie Pen

donald trump pen

Everyone knows that President Donald Trump prefers a Sharpie pen over any kind of pen, which is quite evident when we look at his bold signature and thick lines that a Sharpie makes. So, what’s the origin story behind this significant pen?

The Story of President Trump's Pen Choice

While the President started his administration using the Cross pen, left behind by president Obama, he ultimately changed it to a Sharpie. He actually reached out to the company and wanted them to make a black pen that looked rich, and Sharpie delivered. Apart from shocking pen aficionados, this swap was a big gesture that signified exactly how the president was going to govern and the changes he was going to make.

What Were Trump’s Reasons for Switching From Cross to Sharpie?

According to the New York Times, the President didn’t quite like how expensive the pens in his office were and wanted to switch to a more budget-friendly option. He didn’t appreciate the way that these pens cost a lot more than a regular Sharpie, which the President stated “costs almost nothing” and “writes much better”. It was a decision that was scandalous among pen enthusiasts, but made a statement for President Donald Trump.

Can I Buy the Same Pens the President Uses?

Even though the pens that the presidents use are more high-end, pen enthusiasts actually have the chance to purchase the same ones. The Cross pen has been a favorite among presidents in the past 40 years and the exact same pen can be bought directly from the manufacturer.

Cross Century and Century II pens can be purchased as rollerball pens and fountain pens directly from the Cross website. Just remember that most presidents opted for the rollerball version of the Cross pen.

If you’d like to try out some luxurious high-quality pens that are in the same quality category as the presidential pens, we suggest taking a look at the ST Dupont collection of rollerball pens, the ST Dupont Neo Classique President Magnetisme pen, and the Limited Edition Rollerball Pen collection in the Truphae store.


What kind of pen does Obama use?

President Barack Obama first used the Cross Townsend felt-tip rollerball pen and later switched to the Cross Century II.

What is the most prestigious pen?

The most prestigious and iconic pen is the Montblanc - Meisterstück and especially the Meisterstück Classique 163, which is a high-quality luxury product that has been produced for over a century and it’s just as popular today as it was back when it first came out.

Why does the president use different pens?

Presidents use multiple pens to honor the people who gave them the pens. Generally, one pen is used for one stroke of the signature. When signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, President Lyndon B. Johnson used over 75 pens to sign the document.


The type of pen that presidents use has a symbolic value and forever marks the moment when a specific document was signed. For that reason, presidents throughout history have opted for using luxurious and high-quality pens from various manufacturers, while in the last 40 years, Cross pens have become the norm.

While the pen that each President uses is important, what’s most important is the document that they sign, and regardless of the pen that was used, that document was signed by the President, and with that, it makes a huge impact on the world.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get Exclusive Pen Offers and Updates Delivered to Your Inbox

1 comment

  • Natalie

    What a fun and interesting article. You’ve given me a new pen-hunting quest! Thanks, I think ha-ha.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.