Ballpoint Bliss: A Pair Of Ballpoints by Retro 1951

Retro 1951 ballpoints

My husband isn’t really into pens, but he was a great sport at the DC Supershow and even tracked down a great deal on some Retro 1951 pens. Pen Boutique had a 50% off deal running on all of their Retros so a purchase or two was a no-brainer. Their selection wasn’t huge (wish that they had the Ace Tornado, but alas, they did not), but I still managed to walk away with the Limited Edition Numbers Tornado as well as a pair of ballpoints- an Original Vintage Mickey Deluxe (Jubilee model) and a Harley-Davidson Hex-Pathfinder.

Retro 1951 ballpoints

I own a number of Tornado rollerballs (soooo collectible!), but no ballpoints, and while I loved the look of these pens, I had my doubts that the refill would be anything but average. A bit of scribbling at the Pen Boutique table instantly erased those doubts. The Retro 1951 branded Easy Flow 9000 refill (probably a Schmidt) is dark and super smooth. At 1.0 mm, it IS fairly broad, but it’s so crazy smooth, that I don’t mind the thicker line. In fact, THESE are the new pens that have nudged their way into my daily carry since I’m back home and back at work.

Retro 1951 Easy Flow refill

So we have a great writing refill coupled with Retro 1951’s flair for cool design. There’s so much fun and quality packed into these pens that they’re impossible to resist. While the Harley-Davidson pen is simply boxed (possibly a missed opportunity there), the Vintage Mickey tube would look at home in an antique shop. Covered with classic comics featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Pluto, the packaging and pen can’t help but make you smile. It’s a fun mood booster. While I’m not really a Harley fan, I love the sage green hex barrel on the H-D pen, and the branding is not at all in-your-face.

Harley-Davidson Retro 1951

Vintage Mickey Retro 1951

Both pens are twist action. The tip of the Harley-Davidson pen is extended by twisting the H-D branded end cap, while the Vintage Mickey twists at the pen’s center band. Both feature distinctive clips that integrate perfectly with the look and theme of each pen.

Harley-Davidson clip

Vintage Mickey clip

It should be noted that the refills DO sometimes “click” a bit when the pens are held in a certain position. I can tone this down by making sure that the pen clip points away from my hand. Not sure why this helps, but it does. Also, the refills are so glassy smooth that I feel like my handwriting suffers a bit. It’s as if the pen gets away from me a little. The Vintage Mickey pen is quite wide and hefty, so it’s possible to feel a bit of hand fatigue during long writing sessions.

Despite these quirks, I’m very pleased with both of these pens, and I’m grateful that Fred tracked them down in the vast sea of pens at the pen show. Super deal. Super pens.

Harley-Davidson Retro 1951

Vintage Mickey Retro 1951

The end(s).

By Chance: Bexley BX802 Cappuccino Fountain Pen

August has been a bit of a whirlwind. First a conference, then a bit of vacation that included the DC Fountain Pen Supershow. (What a blast that was!) My posting/life/work routine was blown out of the water, but I’m back now and looking forward to writing about the show and the handful of pens that I picked up.

Let’s start with the LAST pen I picked up at the show- a Bexley BX802 Cappuccino (F nib).


I was making my final laps around the two ballrooms, and was about to call it a day, when I heard the salesman at the Toys From The Attic booth tell a customer, “That pen is a steal at $50.” Hmmmm, what pen? I edged my way into the conversation and saw that they were talking about the Bexley BX802. The funny thing is, I had “Bexley” jotted down on my pen show list; not necessarily as something to buy, but as something to at least check out. And to this point I hadn’t really looked any any/many. (I will tell you, a pen show is a big giant blur of expensive/affordable/gaudy/elegant pens and inks and nibs and parts and paper and vendors and swarming, excited customers. Super fun, but also a bit overwhelming…in a good way. It doesn’t take long before you forget what you saw where.)

I circled through the show a few more times mulling over the Bexley the whole time. A quick online search confirmed that the price was indeed a good one, and so I made my move, encouraged by my new pen friend, Tracy, who said that she’d heard good things about the vendor. I had my choice of a fine, medium, or broad nib, and choose the fine (shocker, I know). What nagged at me a little bit, as I walked away with my purchase, was that I hadn’t WRITTEN with the pen. What if the nib was a dud?

Bexlet BX802 fine nib
Oh, the suspense! How will you write??

It was another 48 hours before I’d know the answer. As soon as we unpacked the car, I grabbed my new bottle of Iroshizuku tsukushi (“Horsetail”) and inked up the Bexley. A few scribbles later, a big exhale of relief. This pen is an excellent writer. The fine nib performs exactly as I’d hoped- smooth and wet and fine enough for everyday writing- a wonderful combination of nib attributes.

Bexley cap & band

To be honest, the look of the pen didn’t immediately grab me, but once it dawned on me that the acrylic looks JUST LIKE A CARAMEL SUNDAE (my favorite!), I was hooked. The caramelly swirls are somewhat translucent so it’s possible to catch a glimpse of the converter and ink inside- kind of cool.

Translucent swirls
See the translucent swirls?

The clip is firmly springy, and the chase pattern on the cap’s band adds a bit of interest. I don’t normally go for gold-tone accents, but in this case, they look just right. It’s a look that’s grown on me.

Posted pen

The pen’s dimensions fit my hand nicely. Capped it measures 5-1/4″, while uncapped/unposted it measures 5″, a length that’s perfectly usable for me. With the cap posted, the pen measures 6″ give or take a hair. The cap posts securely and doesn’t throw off the pen’s balance at all so I’m equally happy using it posted as I am unposted. By my unscientific measurements, this Bexley weighs around 20 grams so it’s a lightweight– but NOT in the performance department.


In the dizzying environment of the DC Fountain Pen Supershow, I’m glad I happened upon the chance conversation that led me to this pen. Getting this “Made In the USA” Bexley with its deliciously swirly looks and excellent nib, all at a super price, was the icing on the DC Pen Show cake. Or should I say, the cherry on the caramel sundae?


In any case, YUM.

Winner of the OfficeMax Brand Products Giveaway!

Apologies! I thought I published this last evening but see that I didn’t! Eek.

And the winner is lucky #12…

Pensive says:
August 14, 2013 at 3:28 pm (Edit)
OfficeMax sounds like it’s doing things right with their branded products.

I’ll email the winner for their address. If I don’t hear back by Friday, a new winner will be drawn.

Thanks to all who commented!

Back To School Giveaway Thanks To OfficeMax

The products included in this review were provided to me by OfficeMax to facilitate this review and giveaway. I was not compensated in any other way, and the opinions expressed here are my own.

Prize package
Prize package

I’m just back from the DC Fountain Pen SuperShow, and though I was quite conservative in my buying, I have a number of interesting purchases to share with you. But not this week. THIS week, I’m offering you a chance to win a fun selection of OfficeMax products. You know, the things students need as they get ready to head back to school. The basics, done right.

Here’s what’s included:

A 4-pack of retractable gel pens…
Gel Pens
Black ink, 0.7 mm tip

Probably the least distinctive product in the bunch, these pens looks very generic, but write smoothly and without any skips. The line is dark and solid with no globbing or clumping. The rubberized grip makes for a comfortable, if somewhat unexciting writing experience. There’s certainly nothing wrong with these pens. Your student will love them. It’s just that visually, they lack pizzazz. As a utilitarian gel pen, they do the job, and do it quite well.

Retractable Gel Pens
Visible ink supply means no surprises from a dry pen!

A 12-pack of mechanical pencils…
Mechanical Pencils
I’m liking the colored grips!

I gave a few of these to Laura, a student working with me this summer, and they were an instant hit! The colored grip and matching eraser are both eye-catching and functional. Laura immediately commented that the eraser worked quite well and we discussed how so often erasers either don’t work or can even make things worse by smudging what they’re supposed to be erasing. Not the case here. This eraser erases.

Pencil grips

The rubberized grip provides a nice accent as well as a comfortable writing experience. Laura and I both like the look and feel. We were also impressed with the retractable metal sleeve that protects the pencil lead. Because it DOES retract, it won’t get caught on your pocket or purse…a nice touch!

Retractable tip
Retractable tip protector

A 10-pack of liquid highlighters…
Liquid highlighters
Nice color assortment

When I offered these to Laura, she was quick to select a couple of the less typical highlighter colors…green and purple. I’m partial to the orange, but all of the colors are nicely balanced- not so dark that they drown out your writing. The chisel tip makes it possible to draw three line widths, which is nice if you prefer to underline rather than highlight.

Highlighters at work
The highlighters at work

Chisel tip & liquid ink supply
My favorite part? The sloshing ink!

Unlike highlighters with opaque barrels, these highlighters don’t keep you guessing about the ink level. The ink is visible AND sloshable. Which might not be a word, but it’s a fun feature in a pen.

Writing sample
My OfficeMax test drive

The summer is winding down. Sniff. Time to dust off those backpacks and lunch boxes, and stock up on school supplies. But before you go shopping, why not try to win the products reviewed here!

Here’s how to enter:

1) Leave a comment on this blog by 11:59 PM Sunday August 18th. One comment per person, please!
2) Each comment will be assigned a number based on the order in which it was posted.
3) A random number generator will be used to select the winner of the set of gel pens, highlighters, and pencils. The winner will be announced on this blog the evening of Monday August 19th. OfficeMax will ship the prize package to the winner directly.
4) US residents only, please.

Why I Love Pens

Spotted at Fort Niagara

Returned from my conference with a lot to catch up on and found that my hard drive was dying. GREAT.

Pen and paper rarely fail so savagely.

Back to the “quill and scroll” for me for the time being, while my computer is nursed back to health. Episodes like this make me wish I had a hard copy of EVERYTHING.  Just ink and pens and notebooks and fewer headaches. That’d be the life. I love my technology, but when it fails, it’s a heart-breaker. When a pen fails, it can be repaired (often by the user) OR you can pick up another one without breaking the bank.

Gearing up for the DC Pen Show!! Cannot wait.