Richard’s Pen Collection : Vintage American Ballpoint Pens & Pencils

Writing instruments on this page are part of my personal collection and are not for sale.

Nostalgia Was Almost What It Used to Be Shiek and Sheba

Manufacturer logoNext are my Parker Big Red pens (clip-type men’s and ringtop ladies’ versions) from about 1972. The Big Red, an obvious tribute to the Parker Duofold of the Roaring ’20s, played heavily on the wave of nostalgia that swept the U.S.A. in the early ’70s. It’s patterned after the Streamlined Duofold that appeared in 1929, and advertising for it featured a “Roaring Twenties” cartoon that is a virtual copy of “Teaching old Dogs new tricks,” a February 18, 1926, Life Magazine cover by John Held, Jr., that shows a couple dancing the Charleston. (The Parker version subtracts about 30 years from the couple’s ages and adds a ringtop Big Red flying at the end of the rejuvenated girl’s necklace.) My men’s Big Red is 512" capped and 51316" posted. Including its ring mount but not the ring or chain, the ringtop is 5532" capped — distinctly shorter than the men’s version — and 41732" uncapped. (Posting a ringtop makes little sense…)

Ballpoint pen Magnifying glass
Ballpoint pen Magnifying glass
Kimberly, the Pen That Saved Eversharp

Manufacturer logo

These little gems, Kimberly Pockette by Eversharp, are my smallest vintage ballpoints; they’re only about 312" capped and about 478" posted. Kimberly was founded in 1945 and quickly became one of the companies Eversharp sued for patent infringement. The enmity between Eversharp and Kimberly ended with the former acquiring an interest in the latter in 1947. Eversharp bought bought additional outstanding stock in 1955, to acquire outright ownership in Kimberly, and continued marketing the pens until Parker bought Eversharp two years later. The Kimberly used a refill that was completely different from that in the Eversharp CA, and the pen didn’t suffer the reliability disaster that almost put Eversharp out of business. The Pockette sold well, and there were many trim variations. The first one sits at the upper middle of the range, with a 120 12K gold-filled cap band.

Ballpoint pen Magnifying glass
Ballpoint pen Magnifying glass

Next is a pen that I like to think of as the direct precursor to the Fisher Space pen. This Pockette is made of aluminum, and it even has a finger-type snap/slip cap clutch like that in the earlier Fifth Avenue.

Ballpoint pen Magnifying glass

And this Pockette is at the top of the range, with 120 12K gold-filled cap and barrel.

Ballpoint pen Magnifying glass

By 1950, the Pockette had apparently gotten lonely, and Eversharp introduced a full-length version called the Reporter. With its longer refill, the Reporter was 5316" capped and 51116" posted and featured a greatly increased capacity.

Ballpoint pen Magnifying glass
Ballpoint pen Magnifying glass

Within the next three years, the Reporter had lost its metal cap and had become the Star Reporter. And it was joined by the Retractable and, shown here, the Deluxe Retractable. These pens were 51132" capped and 5516" posted

Ballpoint pen Magnifying glass
Ballpoint pen Magnifying glass
My First Mechanical Pencil

Manufacturer logoNo, this isn’t the first mechanical pencil in my collection. But this 5716" Scripto K780 Classic pencil is probably the archetypical school pencil of the 1950s. It’s a 1988 reissue of the first mechanical pencils I ever owned, the great “spiral” pencils I bought every September when it came time to trudge back to school after the all-too-brief summer hiatus that had seemed endless in June. Along with new Foremost jeans (Penney’s house brand, featuring a roomier cut in the crotch and extra-dark indigo dye), a 3-ring binder with 3-to-the-inch ruled paper, a new 12-inch ruler, a Pink Pearl eraser, and a shiny box of 32 fresh Crayolas (64 if you were rich), those Scripto pencils were de rigeur at the Whittier Elementary School. The only difference between the pencils I got then and this one is that this one was made in Mexico, not the good ol’ U.S. of A. Oh, and they had red erasers back then. Ah, nostalgia…

Mechanical pencil Magnifying glass
Looking at Three Sides of the Question

The 1930s saw the birth and death of Rhode Island’s Tri-Pen Company, which produced pens and pencils with a triangular cross section. They were elegant pens, but the cap design was problematical, and pen manufacture was very short lived. Pencils lasted longer. This pencil was probably used as a promotional giveaway by the Thurston Manufacturing Company, whose name is engraved on the barrel. The absence of the Triad name and logo that were prominently imprinted on the clips of both pens and pencils marks it as one of Tri-Pen’s lesser models. (There was for a time some doubt in my mind as to whether my pencil was even a Tri-Pen product, but its pedigree has been confirmed by two of pencildom’s most knowledgeable collectors.)

Mechanical pencil Magnifying glass
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