Today on “Days to Remember” we celebrate the first ballpoint pens to be made commercially which went on sale at Gimbel’s Department store in New York at sale price of $12.59 each, on October 29th 1945.
Let’s go back in history a little and find out who invented this pen that all of us have used from time to time.
The first patent for a ballpoint pen was issued on October 30th 1888, by fellow by the name of John J. Loud, who was attempting to make a writing instrument that would be able to write anything.
Another inventor by the name of, László Bíró, a Hungarian newspaper editor frustrated by the amount of time that he wasted filling up fountain pens and cleaning up smudged pages, noticed that inks used in newspaper printing dried quickly, leaving the paper dry and smudge free. He decided to create a pen using the same type of ink.
Bíró enlisted the help of his brother György, a chemist, to develop viscous ink formulas for new ballpoint designs.
During the same period, American entrepreneur Milton Reynolds came across a Birome ballpoint pen during a business trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Recognizing commercial potential, he purchased several ballpoint samples, returned to the United States, and founded Reynolds International Pen Company. Reynolds bypassed the Birome patent with sufficient design alterations to obtain an American patent, beating Eversharp and other competitors to introduce the pen to the U.S. market, debuting at Gimbels department store in New York City on October 29th 1945.
I wonder when the pencil was invented.
Actually the pencil was invented before the ball point pen.
The “lead” pencil (which contains no lead) was invented in 1564 when huge graphite (black carbon) mine was discovered in Borrowdale, Cumbria, England. The pure graphite was sawn into sheets and then cut into square rods. The graphite rods were inserted into hand-carved wooden holders, forming pencils.
Why did the department store called Gimbels sell the first ball point pen?
Before there was Macy’s, Gimbels was always competing for better prices with Macy’s,
The two retail giants were fused in the mind by location, competition and the original movie version of “Miracle on 34th Street,” in which the kindly Macy’s Santa tells a mother that she can find a pair of roller skates (sold out at his store) at Gimbels.
Its competitor had a parade, but Gimbels had something else: a bargain basement, the first of its kind in New York. And though the store’s prices were low, the advertisements did not stint on hyperbole.
When the nation’s first ballpoint pens went on sale at Gimbels on Oct. 29, 1945, the store ran circulars promoting what was described as “a fantastic, atomic era, miraculous pen.” And preceding the slogans of countless used-car dealers, the store boasted, “Nobody but nobody undersells Gimbels.”
When Gimbels closed, some business analysts saw the event as marking the end of retail marketed to the middle class, and wondered if 34th Street had a future in retail. It did, of course; the street is still home to Macy’s, and the Manhattan Mall set up shop in the former Gimbels building.
The director Jon Favreau concluded that the Gimbels name was worth $5,000, which he paid to Mark and Beth Gimbel of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, the current owners of the trademark, for its use in the 2003 holiday film “Elf.”
Like the old Penn Station and the Brooklyn Dodgers, Gimbels had become another paramour in the New York love affair with what it has left behind, but what wasn’t left behind was the ball point pen making its debut at Gimbles Department store on October 29th 1945.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell