Sherburne History Center

Sherburne History Center
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Saturday, June 12, 2021

National Ballpoint Pen Day: Memorable in More Ways Than One


Just a sampling of advertising ballpoint pens
 in the SHC collections
This past week we failed to recognize National Ballpoint Pen Day (June 10).  In an effort to rectify this gross oversight, today we note the significance of this significant invention and the impact on local history.

Patented in 1888 in Argentina, the ballpoint pen slowly spread throughout the world.  On June 10, 1943, the international patent was filed with the United States Patent Office.  Today the ballpoint pen sells more than 57 pens per second throughout the world.  It is also the most widely used writing instrument in the world.  It’s design simply puts a steel ball at the tip of a tube of ink.  The rolling steel ball regulates the flow of ink for an even application to paper.

An ingenious design, the inventors and early marketers overlooked a valuable sidelight of the pen as a marketing tool.  Today, a multitude of pens carry advertising for businesses throughout the world.  With the ballpoint pen, the evolution of business and marketing can be followed.

The Northern States Power Company
pen used as a promotional tool

In the case of Sherburne County, in the collections of the Sherburne History Center a variety of pens document business in the county.  In the collection we have pens from gas stations, such as Charlie Brown’s Shell in Elk River.  We have a pen to help document Northern States Power Company.  Pens from Sherburne State Bank and AgStar Farm Credit Services help record the history of financial institutions in the county. 

National Ballpoint Pen Day recognizes a significant invention in the world.  Equally important, the ballpoint pen provides unique tools to document business and history on the local level.  Happy National Ballpoint Pen Day!

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