National Ballpoint Pen Day

June 10th of each year is National Ballpoint Pen Day. This particular day marks the anniversary of the patent filing for the instrument on June 10, 1943. The pen was patented by Brothers Laszlo and Gyorgy Biro, and you will sometimes hear this type of pen referred to as a biro.

Later, the patent rights were purchased by the British Parliament and the pens were used by the Royal Air Force during World War II. The ballpoint pen serves two major functions that makes them so important: the ball acts as a cap to close in the ink and keep it from drying, and the ball lets the user control the rate at which the ink comes out of the pen. These two innovations came in very handy for the Royal Air Force because the ballpoint pens could be used without a problem at high altitudes with reduced pressure. The fountain pens they had previously used, flooded.

Although available readily and inexpensively now, in the beginning, the pens were luxury items. In 1945, the pens first went on sale in the U. S. at Gimbel’s in New York for $12.50 each ($145, inflation adjusted). The store sold $125,000 worth on day one.

Many writers still use pens to write rather than keyboards. I’m happy to produce fun things like this blog directly from keyboard to screen, but if I’m writing for more serious reasons, I usually write it out first. There’s something about pen and paper that’s different than a keyboard, perhaps the slower pace of getting down the words.

When I was traveling last year, the souvenir I most often bought to remember a place was a pen. They are small, portable, useful, and often quite creative. The graphic  below is like one I bought in England.

A few fun facts about ballpoint pens

  • 125 ballpoint pens are sold every second.
  • An average person in the United States uses 4.3 pens annually.
  • A ballpoint pen has a lifespan of about 50,000 words.


Quotes about pens

Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword.
–Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Anyone who thinks the pen is mightier than the sword has not been stabbed with both.–Lemony Snicket (When Did You See Her Last?)

You want to be a writer, don’t know how or when?
Find a quiet place, use a humble pen.
–Paul Simon (“Hurricane Eye”)

Muses are fickle, and many a writer, peering into the voice, has escaped paralysis by ascribing the creative responsibility to a talisman: a lucky charm, a brand of paper, but most often a writing instrument. Am I writing well? Thank my pen. Am I writing badly? Don’t blame me blame my pen. By such displacements does the fearful imagination defend itself.–Anne Fadiman (Ex Libris)

Pen-bereavement is a serious matter.–Anne Fadiman (Ex Libris)

I used to always read with a pen in my hand, as if the author and I were in a conversation.–Tara Bray Smith

When the lyrical muse sings the creative pen dances.–Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium)

Never let anyone use your toothbrush or your pen.–Wllm Worth (By Gone Daze)

How can one not dream while writing? It is the pen which dreams. The blank page gives the right to dream.–Gaston Bachelard (The Poetics of Reverie)

The pen is an instrument of discovery rather than just a recording implement.–Billy Collins

Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world. Malala Yousafzai

There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write. William Makepeace Thackeray

You have moments of grief in life, and if you can put pen to paper and capture that, that’s something wonderful.. John Lydon

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s