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.

Bang!

Manufacturer logoBack during World War I, some bright bulb got the idea to make pens in the shape of a rifle cartridge. That was a different time: people were a lot less jaded, and a wave of patriotism swept the country as America’s boys went off to war. The pens, viz., my Salz “Army & Navy” bullet pen, sold. It turns out that rifle cartridge-shaped pens still do sell, as attested by my Fisher Space Pens. These pens are built using real rifle cartridge casings as their caps; the bullet part is rather stretched, but you have to get a whole pen in there somehow!

The first one is built with an H&H .375 Magnum cartridge casing as its cap, and it turns out to be 4332" capped and 412" posted. Do I need a rifle-cartridge ballpoint? No. But it’s guaranteed to write under water and over grease.

Fountain pen Magnifying glass
Fountain pen Magnifying glass

I never thought I’d focus a subcollection on ballpoints, but these rifle cartridges are rather compelling. Next is a .338 Lapua Magnum. This one is 4316" capped and 4516" posted. The .338 Lapua Magnum was designed for sniper duty.

Fountain pen Magnifying glass
Fountain pen Magnifying glass

Even more compelling to me, because of my interest in World War II history, is this .50-caliber Browning machine gun cartridge casing that Mike Kennedy made into a ballpoint for me. The wood of which the ”bullet” is made came from the deck of USS California, a battleship that was sunk at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Raised and refitted, she steamed off to combat in the Pacific in January 1944. This pen is 52732" retracted, 52932" extended.

Fountain pen Magnifying glass
In the Trenches

Military personnel sometimes find themselves with a lot of time on their hands and not much to do. During World War I, his situation was especially prevalent among the soldiers in the trenches of France, where whole divisions sat immovable for months on end. To entertain themselves and keep their hands busy, the troops turned to pursuits like the creation of trench art. Not all trench art is created in the trenches, and in fact not all of is even created in wartime. The rifle-cartridge pencil shown here, an example of small art that was easy to carry, was probably made by a U.S. soldier who fought in World War I, but the remains of its silver plating suggest that he actually made it after the Armistice. Including its ring, it’s 31132" long closed; and with the longest piece of pencil that will fit into its hollowed-out bullet cap, it’s 458" long open. The crest it bears is an Army uniform lapel pin that has been curved to fit the casing and soldered into position.

Trench art pencil, open Magnifying glass
Trench art pencil, open Magnifying glass
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