Ballpoint Pen Day

Today is Ballpoint Pen Day! This honours the Bíró brothers – László and György who filed for the patent on this day in 1943, and are credited for their invention of the ballpoint pen. Here, you can find out all about the history of the ball point pen as well as the benefits and drawbacks. So, I thought we could start this off with 5 interesting (and as fun as can be) facts about the Ballpoint Pen.


  1. World’s largest ballpoint pen was manufactured by Acharya Makunuri Srinivassa in 2011: 18 ft 0.53 in, weighing 82.08 lb 1.24 oz. What we want to know is how could anyone write with this?!                                                                 maxresdefault
  2. The inks used in pens dates back to about 2500 BC and were used in hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt and China.
  3. In America, there are English-speaking pen – computers, which is sold with a set of special paper. It corrects errors made in writing, and makes the translation into Spanish and back and says the words aloud.specialpen
  4. An average of 100 people die each year from choking on a ballpoint pen…

5. The most expensive ballpoint in the world is the James Bond Spectre Ballpoint  at the costly price of £900.


The first patent for a ‘roller-ball tip marking pen’ was issued October 30th, 1888 by John Loud, who wanted to produce a pen which could write on leather. His pen was never produced, nor were any of the other 350 patents for ball-type pens issued throughout the next thirty years.

I wasn’t untill 50 years later, when László Bíró decided that he would try to create a pen that used the same type of ink as newspaper as he noticed didn’t smudge like pen ink, and so teamed up with his brother – György,  and developed a viscous ink that he used within the ballpoint pen.

This profound idea successfully paired a well-suited ink to the ballpoint mechanism that prevented the ink from drying inside the ink reservoir or smudging on paper. Bíró filed his patent in 1938 and history was made.

laszlo-biro-ballpoint-pen-patent-art-2-1945-ian-monk                                             Lazlo-Biro

By the end of the war, companies all over the world lined up in an effort to produce their own ballpoint pen.

Milton Reynolds came across the Birome pens during his travels in Buenos Aires; realising how profitable the idea could be in America. Reynolds took and altered the design enough so that he could bypass any legislation, rather than seeking permission and licensing rights. With his ‘new’ initiative, he founded a company called Reynolds International Pen company and debuted his innovative pen at Gimbels, called the Reynolds Rocket. It was priced at a costly $9.75 and he sold all 10,000 pens that were in stock. Marcel Bich also introduced a ballpoint in the 1950s – ‘Bic’. Although initially unsuccessful, he managed to overtake the market when they ran an ad campaign with the tagline “Writes The First Time, Every Time!”.


Reynolds Rocket sales peaked within two years due to heavy market saturation. Within the same year, Reynolds company folded as the interest in ballpoint pens subsided.

In 1954, Parker Pens released their ‘technologically advanced’ pen which cost between $3 – $9 and featured a tungsten-carbide ball. This design sold millions of pens over the next decade. Due to this advancement, Eversharps sales began to fall and so Parker purchased their pen division in a rather hostile takeover.


  1. They rarely leak in comparison to others. In addition, the ink doesn’t smear or smudge like other inks as it dries quickly… For someone on the move, they are ideal due to the fact you can write easily and painlessly practically anywhere.
  2. They work for people who are left-handed. They don’t leave left-handers with annoying black smears all over their palms as they dry very quickly.
  3. Ballpoints are used by artists who want to create interesting effects to their work and experiment with different materials.


  1. Many people argue that the flow of the ballpoint pen isn’t very smooth at all.
  2. The ballpoint’s reliance on gravity to coat the ball of the pen with ink is a proven problem. However, a company called Fisher pens did develop technology which resulted in the “space pen”, which uses a more viscous ink with a pressurised reservoir to reduce the limitations of gravity.
  3. Lack of consistency in the flow of ink. This isn’t typically an issue with the more expensive ballpoint pens, but more so with cheap, bargain brands.

The ballpoint pen underwent many tweaks and new designs to get them as perfect as possible. It is said that “the pen is stronger than the sword”,  and if you think about it, a pen will sign the most important documents of your life; from mortgages and marriages to wills and testaments – there is no stronger tool than the pen.

What’s your favourite type of pen and who do you think is the strongest supplier?

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