When Is a Pen Vintage, Antique or Just Popular?

As I sat doodling around an article about vintage dresses, I wondered if any of the latest inventions in the pen world might become collectable or vintage in years to come.

Waterman Vintage Fountain Pen Advert

Image Credit Period Paper

There appear to be differing views as to when the so called Golden Age of Pens was.  Some suggest it was between 1880 & the 1930’s, others in the 1920’s.  What isn’t doubted is the fact that there were many manufacturers competing to create innovative designs.  However, as we all know all good things must come to an end & by the time of the great depression many had gone out of business.

It would seem that mass production of fountain pens started post war, although by then there were just a handful of companies.  The mid 40’s saw the beginning of the ballpoint.  Although this new invention did have problems with leakage in the early days, the teething problems were soon resolved.  By the time the 50’s arrived the ballpoint had pretty much displaced the fountain pen & become standard technology thanks to the Bic pen company.

Vintage Bic Ballpoint Advert

Image Credit Bic World

No doubt advances in technology will continue, the 80’s saw the inception of the rollerball.  A pen reported to have been created to be as convenient as a ballpoint but with the smooth wet ink effect of a fountain pen.

More recently, the Zebra Expandz collection made an appearance, this was made to hide the tip once the barrel is retracted.  It’s available in a variety of colours, including that eye catching pink & black zebra print.

Zebra Expandz Pink Black


Then there is the Cross Edge, a capless rollerball that can be converted into a ballpoint should you choose to change the refill.  Pencils have also been a source of innovation. The Rotring Rapid Pro is a nice looking chrome mechanical pencil with a push mechanism & a useful built in sharpener.

Rotring rapid pro 05 pencil

The age to which the term vintage or antique applies seems to depend on the commodity.  Clothing as recent as the 80’s for instance has been labelled this way.  In the world of pens, those with an interest in collectables will as a rule, say anything pre 1965 is vintage.

Who knows if one of our favourites will become an antique of the future, with so many different types of collectors out there, from the investor, hoping to make a small fortune one fine day, to the hoarder that squirrels away just about every pen out there, we will just have to wait to find out.

One thing’s for sure in the famous words of Ray Evans “Que Sera Sera”

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Tony Bridges

As a seasoned journalist and freelance writer, I've spent over three decades telling stories and exploring the world through the written word. With a passion for writing instruments, I found my niche at The Pen Vibe, a blog that shares our collective fascination with pens, pencils, and other tools that have shaped the art of writing.

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