Fountain Pen Restoration

Early Paper Mate Chronology

Yes, Paper Mate made fountain pens, but they are not common, and the brand is synonymous with primarily Ballpoint Pens.  I decided to try and piece together some sort of Chronology of their first several years of ball points, only because I could not find a comprehensive one in print or on the Web.  That is not to say one does not exist, as I am sure that there are serious Paper Mate collectors out there, but I could not locate a thorough summary.

I have run across several Paper Mate ballpoint pens over the years in my hunts for Fountain Pens, and I recently pulled them together, cleaned them and began to try and organize them by names and dates.  Not as easy a task as I had thought, and I discovered a few holes in my assorted pens.

I started with a web search and a purchase of the most commonly referred to book on the subject: The Incredible Ballpoint Pen – A Comprehensive History and Price Guide (1998).  I was also aided by several print advertisements (models and years) and web searches for early history of the Company.  All print advertisements used here are from my collection and I would appreciate it if they were not duplicated (thanks!).

Patrick Frawley acquired a defaulting pen company (Todd) in the early 1940s to get things started in the Los Angeles, California area.  In 1949 he developed a ballpoint pen ink (Widco) that had quick drying attributes.  The pen name that delivered this ink was called the Paper Mate. (see here for a more detailed history)

Early pens (1950 – 1953) had a unique mechanism for exposing the tip of the pen.  A button was pressed and locked at the top of the pen, exposing the ball point.  To retract the point the button was tipped, unlocking it and the refill returned to the inside of the barrel.  Below are photos of two of these from my collection – blue and green.  I have also seen these in black and red.   I have not seen any advertising for them, and they resembled another California Pen maker’s pens – Blythe.  Here are two:

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By 1953, the Frawley Pen Company had grown to the point of spending $2,000,000 per year on advertising, using such Hollywood stars as George Burns and Zsa Zsa Gabor.  One of these advertisements, featuring Ms. Gabor is below.  At $1.69 ( $.49 refills) this pen’s main selling point was its cleanliness.  These retractable pens marked the real beginning of Paper Mate (and its double heart logo) and its becoming a household name for pens, even today.

This 1953 advertisement, and the Tu-Tone advertisement from 1955 below, mark the beginning of the Paper Mate boom into sales and marketing.

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Below is a close up of this 1953 ad, as well as two of these retractable pens.

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In 1955, Frawley sells Paper Mate to Gillette and a Division of Gillette is formed to produce and market the Brand.  Below is an advertisement highlighting the Tu-Tone ballpoint, a very colorful line of pens along with a couple of examples.  Interestingly to me, these were partially marketed as pens that you could purchase to match the color of your car in these advertisements – a very colorful time in history!  These are my favorite pens of the early Paper Mates – the mid 50s Tu Tones.

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During this time the Capri line of Pens commences in 1954 and goes through design changes until the Mark III and IV.

The first Capri Pen was introduced in 1954 is two are shown below, along with an advertisement featuring Art Linkletter.

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The black and silver Capri is still in its box and I find the message to be interesting.  I wonder how busy Miss Evans was?

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The Capri III and IV followed in 1957 and may be the most recognizable (other than the later Profile) to people who grew up during the mid 20th Century.  Here are five examples of these.

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By 1959, numerous advertisements reveal the expanding Paper Mate line of pens. Below is a Christmas ad showing the Holiday Pen, Capri (Mark III and Mark IV shown above) and smaller Lady Capri.  Examples of the unique Holiday Pen and Lady Capri are shown here, above this 1959 Christmas Advertisement.

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Another late 1950s, early 1960s model was the 98, which uses the top click button to promote the refill, and then a smaller button just above the clip to return the refill to the barrel.  I have no advertising in my collection, but here are photos of two different variations, three pens with metal buttons and a comparison with an earlier plastic clicker and button in the second photo.

1960 Paper Mate 98 2.0 photo DSC_0004a_zps3272f1f0.jpg

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Post 1960

By December of 1966, a Contour Grip and Profile pen appear, along with a gold plated Deluxe model and the continuing appearance of the Lady Capri.  These mark, for me, the entry into a new generation of Paper Mate pens, and even a fountain pen or two.  I will mention a few of these pens, but will not venture to catalog the models and variations past the 1960 date.

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The Profile, shown above and below in magazine advertisements is a long running Paper Mate model, appearing in the 1964 advertisement and well into the 2000s.  As you can see below, it came in three sizes – Husky, Regular, and Thin.  Regular and Thin models are readily available today to collectors, but the Husky size is more difficult to find.  Standard Paper Mate refills work for these, are still sold today, which makes them that more desirable.  These refills also fit the Tu-Tone, Holiday, and Capri III and  IV models from the 1950s.

1964 photo DSC_0001_zpsd5e28889.jpg

I won’t go any further, but suffice it to say that Paper Mate pens are still produced today in a myriad of styles and colors.  I will leave the post 1960 timelines to someone else, but I have enjoyed placing these extra pens gathered through the years in some sort of time line.  So, the next time you are rummaging through that cigar box of pens looking for a vintage Fountain Pen, don’t pass up some of the vintage Ballpoints….they have an interesting past, and can still be used today.


February 14, 2014 - Posted by | Paper Mate Pens | ,


  1. Wow, Phil, it’s a great article! Am not a big fan of ballpoint pens but the way you made this story made me think about them a little … softer 🙂

    Comment by Marta | February 15, 2014 | Reply

    • Thank you, Marta! I hope you are well. Regards, Phil.

      Comment by PKM | February 15, 2014 | Reply

  2. Thankfulness to my father who stated to me regarding this webpage, this weblog is in fact amazing.

    Comment by 24K Gold Plating Pen | March 11, 2014 | Reply

  3. Very happy with your post thanks also do you know some thing about two gold pens with diamond 2 different sizes papermate into same box

    Comment by Ricardo | September 21, 2014 | Reply

    • Yes, if these actually have diamonds in the clips, they are probably either the original Capri (c 1957) or the later Capri IV (1958). Both produced pens with diamonds in the clips. If you have a photo I could better identify. Both are highly collectible.

      Comment by PKM | September 21, 2014 | Reply

  4. Good stuff, Phil! Have you had any luck in adapting available refills to those oldest, tilt-button pens?

    Comment by ChthulhuMike | January 17, 2015 | Reply

    • Mike,

      I have not found refills for these. They remind me of the old Reynolds and Blythe. I would love to hear if anyone has found a suitable conversion, as these are plentiful.

      Comment by PKM | January 17, 2015 | Reply

      • Phil,

        I’ll eventually find a way to retrofit a modern refill, though it may require making a sleeve to fit around the tip of the refill. The best candidate so far is a cut-down Waterman refill with a custom butt-end cap and a shorter spring, but it would still benefit from a tip sleeve. We’ll see.

        Comment by ChthulhuMike | January 17, 2015

      • Keep me in the loop! I would love to buy a couple and promote your fix. Have a good weekend.


        Sent from my iPhone


        Comment by PKM | January 17, 2015

      • I used an emptied recent Paper Mate refill, a 1-13/16″ long piece of large bamboo skewer, and a D1-type mini ballpoint refill. The skewer needs to project a minimum of 1/2″ from the end of the refill for the actuator to work, and the replacement spring is 1-1/8″ long. The skewer also has to fit into the hole in the actuator, of course. I crimped and glued the skewer into the refill, and added a gentle crimp to the tip end of the tube to keep the D1 from falling out.

        Comment by ChthulhuMike | January 17, 2015

      • A let the tip protrude just enough more than the original that it should be perfect if I can find a clip for the pen.

        Comment by ChthulhuMike | January 17, 2015

  5. “I let …” Sheesh.

    Comment by ChthulhuMike | January 17, 2015 | Reply

  6. I love your post on Papermate Pens. I recently had a what I believed was Husky Profile Pen, there was a 3 on the backside of the pocket clip. It also looked larger then the any other Profile pens I’ve had in the past. I found that most Profile pens are marked 1 for Slim Profile and 2 for Medium Profile but not all of them are marked. Somebody recently bought what I believed was a Husky Profile pen from me and they said it was a Medium Profile pen. I immediately thought they were mistaken and they said they already had a Husky Pen which was larger then mine and the pen I sold him was the same size as a Medium Profile Pen they already had. What I’m asking is did they make a larger profile pen then the Husky and do the numbers on the back of the Pocket clip mean anything….

    Comment by Gary | March 7, 2015 | Reply

    • Hi Gary,

      Thank you for your comment! I am unaware of any larger size Profiles than the Husky. The “3” should be the Husky. It is possible that they made some larger , but they were not mass produced, maybe just prototypes, or promotional.


      Comment by PKM | March 7, 2015 | Reply

  7. Reblogged this on william's space and commented:
    Wonderful history. Great story of a great pen line. Would love to have some of these. Esp sic the 2 tones if they were to work with the deluxe powerpoint refills! Yow!!

    Comment by wneal5796 | December 8, 2015 | Reply

  8. Hello, great article. I have a clearly very early ballpoint pen impressed USA at the top of the clip and fitted with a Paper Mate G6 refill. The pen has no makers marks and I wondered if it could be a very early Paper Mate

    Many thanks


    Comment by Ian | April 2, 2016 | Reply

    • Hi Ian,

      Papermate usually marked their pens, so I am thinking it is not one, but a photo would be helpful to identification.


      Comment by PKM | April 2, 2016 | Reply


    Comment by ANTHONY MAIO | November 1, 2016 | Reply

    • This is what I have does any body have any information about it this is papermate thanks

      Sent from myMail for iOS

      Tuesday, November 1, 2016, 6:06 PM -0500 from Fountain Pen Restoration :

      Comment by ricardo patino | November 3, 2016 | Reply

  10. […] The Capri pen was one year old when it was advertised in this 1955 scorecard. Paper Mate introduced the luxury pen in 1954. For more history of the Capri pen, see the blog post Early Paper Mate Chronology. […]

    Pingback by Idea: using the ads on vintage scorecards to call out highlights of the game - 57 hits | November 14, 2017 | Reply

  11. Great post! Thanks.

    Are there any modern refills that fit the Deluxe and Capri Mk. 1?

    I am aware of the Capris I, III and IV, so wondering what happened to the II?

    Comment by middlemores | December 20, 2017 | Reply

  12. I have a pen that says Write bros. on the clip with the double heart logo at the bottom. Any ideas what era? It is red with a white top that pulls off

    Comment by Pat Caporuscio | January 29, 2018 | Reply

    • Pat,

      These were a Papermate brand that was relatively short lived and low priced. 80s?. Often colorful and dependable, but designed to be used and tossed. Thus, not as many survived.

      Comment by Phil Munson | January 29, 2018 | Reply

    • Since my previous comment I now own a Deluxe and a Capri Mark 1, a Schneider Express 75 works fine in the Deluxe, a Lubriglide fits in the pen but the top has to be at slightly before fully tightened for the mechanism to work. The Mark 1 came with a dry Piggy Back refill but there is a part missing from the mechanism to say what works correctly.
      I have a couple of those Write Bros. Ballpoint/gel refill tubing can be used to make an adapter to fit a Lubriglide.

      Comment by middlemores | February 1, 2018 | Reply

  13. Any idea on the value of the early 1950s pens with the odd locking button at the top? I have a black one with U. S. Government engraved on the barrel. Any info would be appreciated!

    Comment by Joseph Brow | November 15, 2018 | Reply

    • Joseph, Probably not very valuable, but certainly cool. Looks as if it may accept current refills, which is a plus!

      Comment by PKM | November 17, 2018 | Reply

      • Is there a definite modern refill that will properly fit?
        I had a Paper Mate “Tilt” arrive today with an empty refill. Of the pens I had handy, one was a Linc Starnock. The refill is long so I trimmed it to match the Tilt, I used some long nosed pliers to flatten the original crimp then make a new one the same position as on the Tilt. Now with the modified refill in the Tilt works fine. My only concern is that the new crimp stands up to the spring long term.

        Comment by middlemores | November 21, 2018

  14. Hello.
    My Father in Law made the prototype Brass Papermate pen Holder , one handed as he had had a stroke
    he with his 2 sons ran an engineering company J.G. Skilton Enginerring, behind Maldon Manor Train station Surrey
    maybe there is info somewhere in the Archives ? that would be a comfort to my Husband he is immensely proud of his Father’s achievement

    .Would Apprciate any
    info . Thansk


    Comment by Brenda Skilton | March 13, 2021 | Reply

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