Vintage advertising pens

Discussion in 'The Chatterbox' started by gorgo2, Oct 9, 2022.

  1. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    My new job affords me more downtime than I've enjoyed for some years so I went on the hunt for a new, cheap pastime, something I haven't engaged in before.

    One day, I recalled a ballpoint pen my mom kept in her checkbook when I was little - a simple red/white/blue flag ballpoint. If you're over 50 you probably recall seeing them. Before I knew it, I got a few from the 'bay.

    And another rabbit hole began digging itself.

    Now, a few pen lots later, I have a box of maybe around 75, I haven't counted, from several different American companies. A few of the pens are busted but most of them work...mechanically they're so simple that not much apart from breaking them in two can go wrong. I've got some nice PaperMates cartridge pens from the 1970s and '80s, a few that look to be incredibly ancient in ballpoint evolution (1950s if not earlier), and one made by a former razor company we all know.

    Now, I didn't buy these just to horde them -- at least that's what I tell myself. I have to write a lot at work and, like you, I enjoy variety. Besides, ink refills for a few of these are difficult to obtain.

    No, the real reason for this thread is that, from the first, I was impressed by the fit, finish, and overall quality that (once upon a time) went into a cheaply made product mass produced by the millions -- one that easily could be refilled but was mostly expected to be lost or tossed. That goes for some nicely made metal ones as well as the usual injection molded polystyrene. Not a few of these are truly impressive, despite (or perhaps because of) what they are.

    But at the same time, it's also sad because there's nothing comparable to them today. Yes, there are gaudy, overdesigned ballpoints meant to be given away but nothing that comes close to the old level of thought and quality. I kid you not, some of these rival the construction I've seen on Zebra or even lower end Cross pens that now go for $50. Unmistakable PRIDE went into what was the 1960s equivalent of disposable junk.

    [old man rant OFF]


    This thread will take a running look at yet another bygone part of America: the humble advertising ballpoint pen. There will be pics and commentary but you're welcome to post your own vintage ballpoints if you have any in the back of that untouched junk drawer. And you probably do.

    If you're as easily amused by such things as I am, stay tuned.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2022
  2. stingraysrock

    stingraysrock PIF'd away his custom title

    brit likes this.
  3. jimjo1031

    jimjo1031 never bloomed myself

    Growing up my Dad had dozens of boxes of pens. Many of them with advertising. They ranged from the 1950's to the early 1970's, local (Rochester, NY) and national. Wish I still had them today.
    brit likes this.
  4. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    A brief word on ink refills, without which any ballpoint is useless.

    There is at least one company that is producing brass barreled refills (see Amz). They perform well but whoever makes these knows he's got the corner on this market because you'll pay to get ahold of them. But they work well.

    More readily available, and cheaper, are Chinese refills with plastic barrels. These work with many old ballpoints but for some they're either too short or too long, or the point is too wide for the opening of the pen barrel. However, I've found workarounds for these problems.

    If you buy old pens in the hopes of writing with them, almost every one will come with the original refill inside. About 1 in 10 will write again if you use the old flame-on-the-tip trick. If that doesn't work, some will begin to flow again if the refills are soaked in hot water with the open end sealed off (to keep liquefied ink from leaking out). But most of them will be permanently dead.
    Frijolero, brit and Ijustmissedthe50s like this.
  5. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    I swear, they're neat just to sit and look at.
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  6. jimjo1031

    jimjo1031 never bloomed myself

    Many different types, styles and shapes.
    brit likes this.
  7. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Eversharp ballpoint, ivory and gold...1950s? Don't know, haven't looked it up but it's a great writer and very well made. I can't get the business end open so I can't lube the internals but it's held up this long. It has the usual pushbutton to extend the tip, but you press the pocket clip to withdraw it. Neat!

    It did take a cheap modern refill just fine so if you come across one...

    Attached Files:

  8. Ijustmissedthe50s

    Ijustmissedthe50s The Warnee

    This is going to be fun to watch!
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  9. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    I hope so. I'll post a Pen of the Week.
    Ijustmissedthe50s and brit like this.
  10. brit

    brit in a box

    i have a few old ballpoints i have found over the years.mostly when i worked on cars.when we scrapped a parts car we would go through it first,and would find many cool items,tools,old coins,a set of nice darts once..lots of pens.some of these cars had sat for decades.
    at present i use a $40 cross pen and an all stainless zebra pen.the zebra is a treat to write with but the refills suck,i buy the cheaper 3 for $9 metal/plastic versions to rob the refills from(all metal refill)..
    will post a few pics of what older pens i have in the coming days once i dig them thread..:):eatdrink047:
  11. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Please do!
    brit likes this.
  12. brit

    brit in a box

    just a few of the nicer ones..all stainless zebra on cross is at idea of the age ,i know i have most of these for well over a decade in storage.all but the zebra were car finds..i have more but need to find them.:eatdrink047:
  13. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Nice. I see the stainless steel Zebra.
    brit likes this.
  14. brit

    brit in a box

    thank you.:):eatdrink047:
  15. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Resize_20221015_145549_9166.jpg 1950s (?) Ritepoint, USA made, a very common producer of advertising pens. Institutional/hospital green and ivory. Side pushbutton release. Takes modern refills. Nice writer.

  16. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned the old floaty pens.
    Enrico, gorgo2, poppi and 2 others like this.
  17. brit

    brit in a box

    i remember pens like these..very cool.
    Ijustmissedthe50s likes this.
  18. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    I see that you are not posting the nudie ones.
    Ijustmissedthe50s and brit like this.
  19. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    The "tip and strip" pens? No. Family friendly forum and all that.
    gorgo2 likes this.
  20. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Woodlyn bicentennial ballpoint and Esso r/w/b mech pencil (mfg unknown). Both U.S. made. Resize_20221022_080956_6475-01.jpeg

    This is the pen I got first and seem to carry the most. It's almost weightless and takes smaller tip modern refills with careful heat adjustment to the opening (you can just see this at the tip, I need to sand and polish it a bit more). Some of these come with a metal tip that keeps the old styrene from splitting, as they're apt to do, which requires a bit of reaming for modern refills.
    Ijustmissedthe50s, ewk and Frijolero like this.

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