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] Anyway. 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.