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.

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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.

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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 | , | 28 Comments


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