Vintage ballpoint pens – from Sheaffer, Parker, Bic, Paper-Mate, Scripto & more – were revolutionary tech (1940s-1990s)

1950s woman holding vintage ballpoint pens

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Vintage ballpoint pens were a simple invention that revolutionized how we write

While it’s considered common now, the basic ballpoint pen is a relatively new invention. In fact, they were invented by Laszlo Biro in 1938. Biro, a journalist from Hungary, was looking for a way to write for long periods of time without the ink smudging or drying up.

He came up with the idea of using a tiny ball bearing in the pen that would roll as the pen was moved across paper, allowing the ink to flow out smoothly and evenly.

The invention of vintage ballpoint pens revolutionized the way people wrote — and largely marked the end of the era of fountain pens.

Old Eversharp presentation pens (1945)


Vintage BB pens (1948)

Vintage BB pens (1948)


Waterman’s Ball Pointer pen (1950)

Waterman's Ball Pointer pen (1950)


Vintage Flo-Ball pens (1950)

Vintage Flo-Ball pens (1950)


Vintage ballpoint pens: Paper Mate pens with George Burns and Gracie Allen (1953)

Paper Mate pens with George Burns and Gracie Allen (1953)


Scripto ball pens (1953)

Scripto ball pens (1953)


Parker ball point pens (1955)
Parker ball point pens (1955)

Vintage ballpoint pens from Wearever (1956)

Vintage Wearever pens (1956)


Scripto ball pens (1956)

Scripto ball pens (1956)


Vintage 1950s Sheaffer’s Skipriter ballpoint pens (1958)

Vintage 1950s Sheaffer's Skipriter ballpoint pens (2)


Sheaffer’s Skipriter ballpoint pens

Vintage 1950s Sheaffer's Skipriter ballpoint pens (1)


Parker pens (1963)

Parker pens (1963)


Parker pens from 1963

Parker pens from 1963


Sheaffer ballpoint pens (1966)

Sheaffer ballpoint pens (1966)


Parker pens for a girl-size hand (1966)

“A girl-size hand needs a girl-size pen (…and it’s time the men who make pens did something about it!)”

Parker’s got the message. You can now get the new Compact Jotter ball pen for girl-size hands. It writes as long as our man-size Jotter.

Girls — and girl-size hands — delight in the new Compact Jotter. It’s smaller, daintier, a joy to write with. Yet the Compact Jotter has the same giant ink supply as our man-size Jotter!

Stainless steel in Parker’s new writing point gives you a clean, clear line up to 80,000 words without refilling. Choice of four point sizes, too. And it sells at the same famous-value price: $1.98 at your Parker dealer’s. That’s little enough for a pen as ladylike as you are.

Parker pens for a girl-size hand (1966)

Sheaffer ballpoint pens (1967)


Trippy Ops’n Pops retro ballpoint pens from PaperMate (1968)

Wow! Papermate Ops ‘n Pops are here (Featuring groovy op art)

Trippy Ops'n Pops retro ballpoint pens from PaperMate (1968)


Sheaffer ballpoint pens for guys ‘n dolls (1970)

For the guy: The 1920-style White Dot pen that put Sheaffer on the scene. Slip it on in colors like — Lime Alive, Tumed-on Orange, Fired-up Red. Dress up your writing … and your wardrobe. A fun thing just to own.

For the doll who relates: We’ve turned on Sheeffee’s White Dot pen from the 20s with a version just for dolls. Let it hang free and swing with your “mod”-est fashions. For the “doll.”

Sheaffer ballpoint pens for guys n dolls (1970)


Parker ball point pens (1971)


Vintage NoNonsense ballpoint pens from Scheaffer (1974)

Why would a practical, back-to-basics product from Fort Madison, Iowa, suddenly go color crazy?

Vintage NoNonsense ballpoint pens from Scheaffer (1974)

Retro NoNonsense ballpoint pens from Scheaffer (1975)


Vintage ballpoint pens: BIC 4-Color Pens (1974)

The Bic 4-color pen. It puts a drawerful of pens in your hand.

If you’re so busy that you don’t have time to think, you probably don’t have time to change pens either. So what you need is a Bic 4-color pen.

With the Bic 4-color pen, you don’t have to waste time rummaging through your drawers, looking for an appropriate pen. With the click of a button, it lets you write red, blue, black or green.

You can get the Bic 4-color pen in medium or fine points for just $1.19. Or for 69¢ there’s a Bic 2-color pen. For people who want a slightly smaller drawerful of pens in their hand.

Vintage ad for BIC 4-Color Pens (1974)

Retro-style BIC 4 Color Ballpoint Pen
$6.04

Before we had smart phones and other Information Age wizardry, kids were totally impressed with the voodoo of these all-in-one 4-color pens. Turns out you can still capture that nostalgic magic today.

Shop now
02/19/2024 04:29 am GMT

Hank Ketcham (Dennis The Menace) signs it with a Sheaffer (1976)

When your pen looks like it was designed for a space flight, it’s hard to come up with a tired, old idea. And how can you be dull when you’re using the shiniest pen you ever saw?

The Sheaffer 2002. It promotes bright, new ideas for only $5. You can have it as a refillable ballpoint or marker with a Tektor tip. And either way, as the ink flows, so will your creative juices.

Hank Ketcham (Dennis The Menace) signs it with a Sheaffer pen


(Baseball player) Willie Mays signs it with a Sheaffer (1976)

Willie Mays Sheaffer


(Playwright) Tennessee Williams signs it with a Sheaffer (1976)

Tennessee Williams signs it with a Sheaffer

ALSO SEE
A pen you can erase? Yes: The Scripto Erasable Pen (1984)

Vintage ballpoint pens: Kaleidoscope by Sheaffer. So much fun to write with, it’s hard to put down. (1977)

How can you stick to business when your hand is sailing the high seas? Or chasing a rainbow? Or carrying a tune? All these adventures and more are yours with the enchanting new Sheaffer called Kaleidoscope (available as ballpoint or rolling ball pen). The fare? Only $3.98.And since Kaleidoscope is refillable, the journey goes on and on and on…

Kaleidoscope by Sheaffer ballpoint pens (1977)


Bic Wavelengths pen designs from the 1990s

Bic Wavelengths pen designs (1991)

Bic Wavelengths pen designs (1994)

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. Except for styling, ball-point pens haven’t changed much over the years. Even the “retro” 4-color Bic pens are mostly the same — they were popular when I was a kid in the ’70s, and kids still love them today. One thing that has changed a lot is the price. When ballpoints first came out in the ’40s, they were hugely expensive (as is any new technology). The rather ordinary pens shown here that retailed in the 1950s for $1 each would cost $12 in today’s money. Nowadays, you can buy a box of basic but reliable pens for a couple of bucks.

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