Jump to content

Everyday writers in the 1960's


Sparky

Recommended Posts

I am trying to learn what where the standard office fountain pens in the 60's that people used as everyday writers?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 29
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • welch

    3

  • Karmachanic

    3

  • saperry4890

    3

  • yubaprof

    2

I don't know what would make an office pen per se, but I would think that many office workers at the lower end of the scale would have carried a Parker 45, just as at the higher end of the scale they might have carried a Parker 51 or 61 or a Sheaffer Imperial. However, an older person might have carried a pen they had had since the 1950s or even earlier, so certainly Sheaffer Snorkels and Touchdowns are also possiblities. Parker and Sheaffer (I'm focusing on them because I know more about them) continued servicing models dating back to the 1930s into the 1970s, I believe.

 

And then there are the real cheapies, the late Esterbrooks, Wearevers, and Papermates.

 

best, Dan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

By 1964, the standard office pen was a ballpoint, as I recall. If you worked for the government, you used the standard issue black ballpoint that was stamped "US Government" on the barrel, generally manufactured by charitable organizations that employed blind workers. If you worked in a business, it was a no-name drugstore ballpoint or a Scripto, or just possibly a Parker T-Ball Jotter or a nice Cross pen that you got for graduation.

 

If you had a fountain pen, you probably had a Wearever, a Parker 45, an Esterbrook or a Shaeffer left over from high school (later it would be a Shaeffer "No Nonsense" ballpoint/rollerball/fountain pen but I'm not sure that I remember when these first appeared -- probably the 70's). That's if you were a low-level desk jockey. If you were a worker who didn't have a desk, you had a pencil or a ballpoint. If you were a manager, you might have had a nice 51 or a PFM, or a black Esterbrook but by the end of the 60s you were using a ballpoint like everybody else. If you were the President (nobody ever heard of CEOs in the 60s), you had a fountain pen that was large, black, and impressive but nobody except the secretary who filled it ever got a good look at the thing. Oh -- many mid-managers and above had desk sets of some kind -- Sheaffers, Parkers, or Esterbrooks.

 

As best I recall, anyway. My working life started in 1962, and I was definitely in the "pencil/cheap ballpoint" class at work (although I did own a fountain pen that I used for writing letters -- before email, you know).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As I recall the 1960s the ballpoint had completely surpassed the fountain pen and the fp was rellegated to a status symbol gift item. (Actually I recall using a fountain pen in school in 1959 for a short time and everyone thought it was silly.) I've noticed that people seem to forget or are unaware of the simple fact that the ballpoint pen almost completely replaced the fountain pen as it was a major step forward in writing technology.

 

 

By that time if you wanted a good pen you were buying a Parker Jotter or one of the PaperMate ball point pens. At that time PaperMate was bringing in enough revenue off of its bp pens to launce the nation wide TV "dirtyratapuker" campaign (you have had to see the commercial to believe it :) ).

YMMV

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We were a little slower to adopt ball point pens in Texas. Fountain pens didn't move to nerd status here until 1964 or 1965. ;)

 

I don't know why I didn't mention PaperMates. They probably were the iconic pen of the 60s (little hearts on the package, cool colors, Summer of Love, etc.). Also Flair pens (felt tips), which allowed a little self-expression with a variable line that you might have achieved a few years earlier with a flex nib.

 

Another thing that helped kill fountain pens (as I recall) was NCR forms (No Carbon Required) -- the coating was on the second and subsequent copies, but there was some kind of dusty stuff that always seemed to be on the top form and it would clog a fountain pen nib faster than STIB. Ballpoints were the only thing that really worked on NCR, short of a typewriter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We were a little slower to adopt ball point pens in Texas. Fountain pens didn't move to nerd status here until 1964 or 1965. ;)

California tends to be the earliest adopter for each new trend that comes along, whether it is for good or bad.

 

PaperMate was THE ballpoint pen for a while, until their marketing department drove them into the ground. They made quality pens and then Marketing decided they could make a lot more money putting the Papermate name on cheaply (as in the sense of low quality and breakable) made pens.

 

Even before the NCR (hate that stuff, makes my arms itch) the advantages of the ballpoint over the fountain pen had drove it into a nich market where it remains today. If you think about the attributes of an ink writing instrument and you make a list of them, then put two columns to the side, and mark which one has the advantage, then it becomes self evident why the Papermates and Jotters gained such quick control of the market. I still prefer the fp for personal correspondence, but that it.

 

I'm driffting here but I seem to recall that even in the early 1950s the pencil was used more often than the fountain pen. The letter would be written in pencil (for the majority who couldn't absorb the expense of a Dictaphone) and then go to the typist.

YMMV

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure about the office, (in fact, I'm not sure about anything from the '60s as I wasn't born until the '70s) but both of my parents used fountain pens well into the end of the 1960s. My father said fountain pens were required in his high school, and he graduated in 1967. My mother wasn't allowed to use ballpoints until she started high school, and she graduated in 1971.

 

My father used Scripto and Sheaffer school pens in high school. My mother owned a Wearever school pen, but remembers when they were first taught to use fountain pens instead of dip pens in grade school. Her teacher bought a Sheaffer Snorkel for every student in the class, and inevitably, one of the boys in her class discovered it made a great squirt gun. When the teacher had to send a young lady home with an ink stained shirt she decided to keep the Snorkels for herself and gave the students simple lever fillers instead. Mom doesn't remember what brand the lever filler was. I'm not sure how a teacher could afford to buy a Snorkel for every student in her class, though. That still kind of puzzles me.

 

Tom

A pen is a good deal like a rifle; much depends on the man behind it. Paraphrased from John Philip Souza

Link to comment
Share on other sites

During the '60's I was using either a Parker 51 or 75. At home, I used a Sheaffer desk pen (FP, of course!) that eventually failed to survive a move. When I *had* to use a BP, it was a Parker, either matching the 75 FP or a stainless steel jotter.

 

However, my continuing affection for the fountain pen seemed to pass from eccentricity, to holdout, to an outright oddity and at one point I thought that I was one of the last users of a fountain pen.

 

Then, in the mid 90's, I bought another fountain pen, and then, another, and yet another....

 

Now I'm here, a fountain pen addict, and proud of it!

George

 

Pelikan Convert and User

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My experience is quite similar to Bill's. Went to work with the Feds in '66 (Canada). While I perservered with my Parker 45 Flighter, the office had nothing but generic bp's labelled 'Govt of Canada - Misuse is Abuse'. Don't think I'll ever forget that motto. We tended to invert it for some quirky reason, known only to young fellows with not enough to do <grin>.

 

In those times you could sometimes find the large bottles of FP ink - but we never were sure of the pedigree (it always had some govt. designation and Public Works / Supply Canada number on it) so we didn't really want to put it in our FP's.

 

It soom became a completely BP dominated world, save a few hold-outs who retained a FP. Finally rollerballs and gel pens became common. Even saw a few disposable FP's for a while, but they were truly awful.

 

Thanks for dragging me down memory lane there.

 

Regards,

 

Gerry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started school in 1958 and we were allowed to start using ink in Grade 3 or 4 -- our first fountain pens and it was a real big deal. Until then we had been using pencils. And about the next year both the public and Catholic school systems in Calgary decided to allow ballpoint pens in the classroom. A few of us used Sheaffer cartridge fillers in later elementary and junior high. Both my parents kept using fountain pens until the end of the 1960s at least. They both used Sheaffers; Mom's was a Tuckaway and Dad's was large and black with a gold band. I can guess that it was a lever-filling Triumph from the late '30s or early 40s, but that's a guess.

I was young in the early '60s so my memory may be faulty but I don't think ballpoints really took off as the standard writing tool until the early to mid-'60s. The Jotter may have been out for almost a decade but I recall hearing that a reliable ballpoint was so expensive as to be a low-end luxury item. A reliable, workaday fountain pen was cheaper.

By the time I got into the full-time workforce after university in the '70s my use of a fountain pen was idiosyncratic or weird. I had used ballpoints off and on, but I tried to use fountain pens for good writing. Since it was the 1960s, adolescent rebellion was a requirement, so I defied the family Sheaffer tradition and got a Parker with the first aerometric filler I had ever seen.

To really pin down when the shift happened, did anyone notice when the unmodified word "pen" came to mean a ballpoint and you had to say "fountain pen" if that's what you meant?

Sometimes a technology reaches perfection and further development is just tinkering. The fountain pen is a good example of this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started school in 1966. When we got to third grade and had good writing we were given Staedler plastic BP's with caps (Toronto school system). The most prevalent pen that I used was a Bic Cristal Stic (I liked the black ones). I discovered fountain pens about 72. All my friend's dad's had Jotters and my grandfather always had a Paper Mate (A frugal Scotsman).

I remember in the 70's most of my teachers had Paper Mates (Malibu's, Villagers and Profiles), and the No Nonsense pens. A couple had the Custom Jotter (45 cap actuated BP) and a couple teachers had 45 Fountain Pens and one even had a PFM III.

Besides the Bic Stics and Jotters I also used the NN in all it's forms - BP/Soft tip and FP.

I recall such as I can that the prevalent pen was the Jotter and Paper Mates. Oh yeah there was also quite a few who had the Sheaffer Pocket Protector clip pens also (I liked those).

BTW I really like those US Government issue BP's that were made by handicapped folks. I got my mitts on a bunch when I served in the Canadian Forces.

 

 

Thought I'd share.

 

rowdy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Oh yes. It was the mid-60s when I got my first real job in a Hong Kong Bank. Fountain pens were still very much in, although the t-ball jotter had improved with a steel tip, but it was still not very good. We were supposed to enter ledgers with fountain pens. Everyone carried one. I remember the popular ones were Parker 45, Mont Blanc 32, Sheaffer Imperial , Parker 51 and 61 for those who chose to invest a bit more in a daily user. Each was bought by the user, no company issues at the FP level.

 

Couldn't afford anything more expensive, I had Parker 45 and 21s. People also like matched pairs of FP and BP. Other popular BPs were the Biro's. I don't recall that Papermates were popular. But we had a lot of Japanese disposables BPs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Ireland most I saw were "51", 61, 45s. Conways were also fairly popular.

Administrator and Proprietor of Murphy Towers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 17 years later...

What Fountain Pens would $0.59 USD in 1960? I assume that would it would have been a cheap fountain pen probably plastic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

40 minutes ago, saperry4890 said:

it would have been a cheap fountain pen probably plastic.

 

Or, for some, a $35 plastic Montblanc 149

Add lightness and simplicate.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/5/2024 at 4:14 PM, saperry4890 said:

What Fountain Pens would $0.59 USD in 1960? I assume that would it would have been a cheap fountain pen probably plastic.

 

Almost none. The Sheaffer school pen was about $1, Parker released the P-45 in 1960, and it was $4.98. 

Washington Nationals 2019: the fight for .500; "stay in the fight"; WON the fight

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And the Wearever 'free' pen was about a buck, if it existed in 1960.

 

I want one.

 

 

My latest ebook.   And not just for Halloween!
 

My other pen is a Montblanc.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was in a UK school in the 60's. The most common pens were Parker 51, Osmeroid or Platignum depending on the how wealthy the students parents were. One lad had a Wyvern 404 (he was of farming stock).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We used Parker and Shaeffer cartridge pens in the 1960's, and it seems like they came in light blue, light green, red, and black. I don't remember which was which. I can't imagine my parents using one of those leakers at the office. I remember a Parker 51 around the house so maybe that is what was used? Ball points were taking over offices at the time and maybe that is why the 51 made its way home.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used a Shaeffer school pen in the late 1950s, starting about the 4th grade. We all learned using some sort of inexpensive fountain pen. I got a Parker 45 in 1960, and used it until I graduated high school in 1966. There was nothing exotic about using a fountain pen in those years, although more students began using ballpoints and fiber-tip pens like the Flair. I can't say what "grownups" were using in offices, but my local department store had a pen counter that sold fountain pens. Nearby, a drugstore sold office supplies, including 3-ring binders and paper, and the 20-pound paper took all sorts of ink. The drugstore also sold Sheaffer and Parker ink and cartridges, plus "school" fountain pens.

 

We bought a second-hand manual typewriter, and I typed my reports from 7th grade onward. At college, starting in 1966, most students had electric typewriters. Still, many people carried fountain pens. 

Washington Nationals 2019: the fight for .500; "stay in the fight"; WON the fight

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now







×
×
  • Create New...