Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ball Point Pen Day


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By Diane Forrest

I have a confession to make.  I am a closet Pen freak!  I love pens!!!  I guess my obsession stems from an early age.  I was in elementary school and we were ordered to use pencils only, no pens.  Well you know that only made me want to use pens more.  When I was finally given the go ahead to use pens I have never looked back, and can’t remember the last time I used a pencil.
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I really love free pens, the ones you get from pharmacy reps and at conferences and conventions.  I went to a nursing convention several years ago in New Orleans, and I had so many free pens I gave them out as Christmas presents!

When we moved to the house I’m at now, my next door neighbor, who was a retired Master Carpenter, taught my husband wood working.  They built a shop off the back of our other shop, we sent about getting the tools and equipment he needed, and then he set about learning this craft.  He purchased a lathe, and learned how to turn beautiful wooden bowls, however it was a long and tedious process.  They are priceless treasures now.  He then went on to learn to make pens.  While the task is still tedious, they can be completed in a few hours, where the bowls took several days.
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After he began on the pens, we began working with different styles and types of wood.  After my husband passed away, my father took up this art.  He has made several pens, and has even sold them at a charity auction for his Rotary club. There is a picture of a set my father made using a civil war bullet at the point, and a reproduction gun latch at the clip.  The wood he used came from the Catholic church here, that was a building here in town during the War.  My father has passed on the skill to my son and my cousin's teenage son as well.  I also learned that another cousin who lives in Virginia, makes pens too, a few are pictured above.
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Today is Ball Point Pen day, because on this day in 1943, brothers Laszlo and Georg Bíró filed a patent for what’s now one of the world’s most common writing instruments.  The Bírós perfected the design, named it the Birome, and opened a pen shop in Argentina.  In 1945, the pens 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, and Bic, which bought the patent, has sold 100 billion-plus since 1950.
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So today, when you pick up a pen to write something, remember that it was invented today, and how much better it is than dipping a feather in an ink well.

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