National Ballpoint Pen Day


The riveting story of the invention of the Ballpoint Pen:

It is hard to believe, but prior to October 29th, 1945 the only writing instruments available were pencils and fountain pens. Lewis Waterman invented the practical fountain pen in 1884. Relatively quickly thereafter users began imagining and working on a version of a pen that would be less likely to smudge ink. Those ideas and failed inventions lead to the development of the modern ballpoint pen. Inventors around the world began developing the ball-and-socket technology. An American banker named John L. Loud received a patent on a less-than-perfect version as early as 1888.

Generally however, the Hungarian brothers László and György Bíró are credited with inventing the pen we still use today. László, is credited with the invention, he was a journalist who thought to use newspaper ink in pens and thereby eliminated the characteristic smudging of fountain pens. His chemist brother, György, helped him perfect the ink for the ball-and-socket technology. In 1938, László Bíró signed a deal with his early backer and business partner, Andor Goy, to produce and sell the pens in Hungary, but tensions were rising as World War II loomed on the horizon, Bíró was forced to flee with his family, even selling off his shares of the fledgling company to fund their travel. Bíró landed in Argentina, where he finally filed for a patent on his ballpoint pen. The patent was awarded on June 10, 1943, the anniversary of which is celebrated as National Ballpoint Pen Day—but the story didn’t end there.

Come and see the Reynold’s Rocket on Display at Bittner in Carmel on Ocean Ave.

Henry Martin, an English accountant living in South America, offered to back Bíró’s project, which he thought might be of military interest. Unlike the traditional nib pens, which leaked in flight, Martin believed the ballpoint pens would work just as well in the air as they did on land, making them the perfect solution for a nagging air force issue. Martin demonstrated the ballpoint’s ability for the Royal Air Force in London and the U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C. Both were impressed, and the pens went into production for the military. When the War ended ballpoint pens would go into commercial production. In June 1945 Milton Reynolds, a Chicago huckster who had made and lost several fortunes, saw a display of Biro pens in Buenos Aires. He hurried home and discovered to his joy that a similar pen had been patented by one John Loud of Weymouth, Massachusetts, in 1888. The ballpoint concept was in the public domain.

On Oct. 29, 1945, the Reynolds pen became the first-ever modern ballpoint pen sold in the U.S at Manhattan’s Gimbel Bros., Inc., thousands of people all but trampled one another to spend $12.50 each ($170 today) on the new revolutionary pen. The pen was made by Chicago’s Reynolds International Pen Co. In full-page ads, Gimbel’s hailed it as the “fantastic, atomic era, miraculous pen.” It had a tiny ball bearing instead of a point, was guaranteed to need refilling only once every two years, would write under water, on paper, cloth, plastic or blotters. Gimbel’s had ordered 50,000 pens to stock and sold 30,000 of them in that first week.

reynolds rocket gimbal ad
An advertisement from Gimbal’s for the Reynold’s Rocket Ballpoint Pens.

Other competitors soon followed, despite back-and-forth lawsuits between Reynolds, Eversharp and other manufacturers and distributors. Reynolds’ first-mover advantage paid off. In just six months, Reynolds had about $5.6 million in sales. Within months his $26,000 investment had turned into a fortune. The pens flew off the shelves, but they were junk. Air bubbles blocked the dye, ball bearings malfunctioned, and dye came out in blobs or even fermented, causing the pens to explode. To the horror of bankers and attorneys, the dye tended to disappear when exposed to light. The Reynolds was called the only pen that would produce eight carbons and no original. By the spring of 1946 Reynolds had sold two million pens, of which more than a hundred thousand were returned. The Reynolds Pen company went out of business within a few years.

By the time Reynolds was going out of business, Parker had invented their revolutionary ballpoint refill, and the rest is history. Sadly, Bíró never got rich off his invention. He fared better than Goy—who had remained behind in Hungary, where he became embroiled in a number of costly lawsuits when the country nationalized his company—but in 1945, he sold the patent to Marcel Bich, who founded Bic pens. However, his role in the ballpoint pen’s conception lives on with the celebration of Inventors Day on his birthday, September 29, in Argentina, and in the word for “pen” in Argentina: birome.

birome argentina
Advertisement for Ballpoint Pen “Birome” in Argentina.

Help us celebrate the National Ballpoint Pen Day at Bittner, and check out our all Ballpoint Back Shelf! Also, in honor of the day take 10% off any ballpoint not already discounted on the site with the coupon code: NATBPDAY

Did you know that Americans alone throw away over 1.6 Billion disposable pens a year alone?! Help us keep plastic out of the landfills and oceans and put a real pen in your pocket. Visit Bittner, The Pleasure of Writing, the mecca for ballpoint pens in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Image result for carmel by the sea

Lily Rothman, Oct.29th Time article
The Origin Story of the Ballpoint pen, Hannah Keyser, Mental Floss
Reynolds History

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Visconti Fine Writing from Florence

The Visconti Pen Company. Fine Writing Instruments and Limited Editions made in Florence. We here at Bittner, have been representing Visconti and their fine line of pens since their beginning and their inception 26 years ago. Today Visconti is considered one of the most technology advanced pen companies in the world. They are on the cutting edge of pen design and pen technology. Always pushing the boundaries of material design and innovation. Visconti has brought many creative innovations to the World of Pens. With the Homo Sapiens Visconti created a 21st Century Writing Instrument for modern demands. The material is break resistant, it holds up to extremely high heat and cold. The material is hygroscopic so it absorbs moisture from your hands while writing. The material is made from basaltic lava rock from Mount Aetna that is ground into a powder and then reconstituted with a high tech polymer thereby by creating an amazing tactile feel and space-age material. The Homo Sapiens, forged in a Volcano, dawn of mankind, it is a great design concept. The pen is available in the Bronze Age, the Steel Age and the Dark Age. Here at the Homos Sapiens is one of our favorite pens, not just in the fountain pen, but also in the amazingly comfortable rollerball, or ballpoint pen. In addition there is a pencil, that has been immensely popular.HomoSapiensVisBlog

Another innovation that has revolutionized the pen industry is the pure palladium 23 carat Dream Touch nib. Unlike most other fountain pen nibs that are made from steel or solid gold, pure palladium is used to create this wonderful writing pen. It is called the Dream Touch nib, because it hardly requires any pressure. Visconti says, “Do not press this and it will follow your dreams”, and that’s why it is a dream to write with. Visconti offers various filling systems for their pens was the most advanced being the high power vacuum filler. An ingenious filling system that holds one of the largest Inc. reservoirs and a double reservoir to equalize air pressure when flying. The iconic curved and hinged Visconti clip prevents the clip from bowing out and becoming loose when using in a jacket pocket or thicker material when clipped.

The clip curvature represents the radius of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, the company’s trademark. When you superimpose the clip on a picture of the Ponte Vecchio it lines up and has the same radius. Visconti features three distinctly different locking mechanisms for their pants. The Visconti Van Gogh line aptly named after the famous painter features an ingenious magnetic locking system. Other lines feature of the classic and traditional screw cap whereas the bayonet or a fast hook mechanism is employed and featured on the Homo Sapiens line and some of their limited editions. The Visconti Van Gogh line features amazing colors with innovative technology. A colored celluloid is injected into the resin right before it hardens to re-create the painter’s most famous paintings. If you have not tried a Visconti pen or seen there are many amazing designs you will be impressed. From craftsmanship to materials and writing performance Visconti rings amongst the best companies in the world. Please check out our YouTube review on the Visconti Homo Sapiens versus the Pelikan M800 below.

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The Montegrappa Game of Thrones Pen Series

Game of Thrones Pens
Representing the four main houses of the Seven Kingdoms, these fantasy inspired writing instruments are truly wonders to behold. Left to Right: Targaryen, Lannister, Stark, Baratheon
Montegrappa Makes Play for the Iron Throne with New Line of Game of Thrones® Pens
With its epic storylines of treachery and nobility, family and honor, ambition and love, and death and survival the hit HBO® series Game of Thrones has captured the imagination of fans globally and made it one of the most popular shows on television. Montegrappa is proud to announce a series of writing instruments that convey the grandeur of this most remarkable saga. Montegrappa’s collection of writing instruments represents of each of the four key families: Stark, Baratheon, Lannister and Targaryen. Each is available as a fountain pen, rollerball and a ballpoint pen. The desirability of the pens is enhanced by a collective style, each pen individualised for the family it represents through sigils and emblems representative of the clan.All barrels and caps are made with colourful lacquered surfaces, while the trims are fashioned of palladium, 18k gold or bronze plate, with “Game of Thrones” engraved on the cap ring. All of the fountain pens’ nibs are formed in stainless steel, decorated with a sword, and are available in the four writing grades: Extra Fine, Fine, Medium and Broad. The fountain pen is both cartridge and converter-fed. Montegrappa’s Game of Thrones pens arrive in a double box consisting of a rich, black outer carton bearing each family’s symbol. The inner box is covered in material evoking the styles of the historical period that inspired Game of Thrones, with sigils and patterns relevant to the four families.Colored a sombre charcoal, but accented in contrasting yellow gold, the House Baratheon pen features a stag’s head for its pocket clip, with a stag rampant on the cap’s top, above the motto, “Our Is The Fury”. A fleur-de-lis pattern decorates the cap.For House Lannister, a regal red accented in contrasting yellow gold is the dominant color. The House Lannister pen features a lion’s head for its pocket clip, and a lion rampant on the cap’s top, above the motto, “Hear Me Roar”. A floral pattern, reminiscent of the Tudor Rose, decorates the cap.

With House Stark’s northern origins, the colour chosen for the family’s pen is a silvery-white, accented in palladium, conveying winter. The cap is patterned with a runic symbol reminiscent of Norse artistry. A direwolf’s head forms the pocket clip, while the top of the cap shows the direwolf’s profile, above the motto, “Winter Is Coming.”

Only a fiery, metallic red against a coal-black background could represent House Targaryen. Naturally, a dragon’s head forms the pocket clip, while a dragon coils above the legend, “Fire and Blood”, on the cap’s top. A filigree pattern graces the cap.

Available in early March, be the first to get your hands on the Game of Thrones Pen Series. Pre-order yours, and claim your place in the Seven Kingdoms.
Fountain Pen: $350 – Rollerball: $325 – Ballpoint: $295

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How Writing Can Make You Smarter, Richer and More Attractive

Does that sound like a tall order? Sure, it’s easy to see how writing can make you smarter. Writing forces your brain to use neural pathways that normally go unused in day to day operations. The more you write, the more these neural networks strengthen. Your brain is a super computer. The thing is, most people don’t use it to their full advantage.

Creative writing especially engages the imagination and makes you think outside the box. In today’s modern world our ability to imagine has been drastically reduced. Prepackaged forms of entertainment like television and the internet have short circuited your imagination.

These artificial forms of imagination give our brains a prepackaged experience. We don’t need to use our brains to create a reality for ourselves because everything is virtual.

Some people don’t mind not using their brain.

They are happy to simply chug along with the worlds most powerful computer and not even use it.

It reminds me of the old story about the homeless gentleman who never had two pennies to run together. Everyday he would sit on an old dusty chest and beg to the people walking by.

They would ask him what was inside the chest he sat on and he always replied “nothing.”

One day he died and someone opened it up.

There was a small fortunes worth of gold coins inside the whole time but he never bothered to look.

This story is sad because most people will never understand how powerful they are. They will never understand that writing has the potential to awaken a creative force they had no idea existed.

With writing, nothing is impossible. When you write you become richer. You start connecting ideas together. Some of these ideas are worth millions of dollars. The best inventors and the richest men of all time wrote in their journals on a daily basis.

Coincidence? I think not.

Writing is a force you cannot even begin to understand until you take action. Unless you pick up a pen and write, you will never truly comprehend the power that dwells deep inside of you. Simply jotting down your thoughts is enough to spark a chain reaction of ideas. These ideas have been hiding in your subconscious mind, perhaps guiding you in mysterious ways.

Writing frees up your mental RAM and makes way for fresh ideas. Writing can quench your fears and reveal creative solutions to the challenging difficulties of life.

And what about becoming more attractive? Well, intelligence is always going to be an attractive trait in both sexes. Especially in today’s world, smart individuals stand out like a lone wolf making his way across a silent tundra.

I could go on and on about this.

The most important thing for you to do now is start writing.

We have an entire web store where you can select a perfect pen for your new adventure. We have beautiful journals and endless supplies of ink.

Give us a call, send us an email, or stop by our store to ask us questions. We know you will be satisfied with the results that come with the purchase of a fine writing instrument.


Bittner, the Pleasure of Writing



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The Pirates Pen from Montegrappa

The appeal of the pirates life is no mystery. A life chock full of adventure. A life of swashbuckling, plundering, treasure troving, sword fighting, and a little mutiny for good measure. Legendary pirates like Blackbeard sailed the 7 seas in search of ships carrying precious cargo. Jewels, gold, money, and other valuables were plundered mercilessly, especially during the golden age of piracy between 1650 and 1730.

Pirates, despite being portrayed as a wild and directionless bunch, operated under a strict set of rules that all members of the crew had to follow. A pirate was not to steal from another crew member. Women were not allowed on the ship. At any time, the crew members could vote in a new captain of the ship.

And most importantly, the spoils of the days plunder were to be split evenly among all members of the crew. Failure to follow these rules carried heavy consequences – violators were whipped, killed, or marooned on a desert island.

Pirates were perhaps the most inviting bunch of individuals, often times plundering slave ships for their goods and then liberating the slaves – giving them the option to join the crew.

And many did.

Pirates, however, didn’t just wake up one day with the skills to captain a ship.

Many pirates got their chops as privateers – crew members with official orders from the British to attack and plunder enemy ships during the war. After the war, privateers like Captain Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard, simply continued doing what he had been doing for the British – attacking ships and taking over their goods.

Except now he was operating on his own. The legendary pirate would plunder booty and then sell his goods to the colonies. Blackbeard, despite his gruesome and brutal personality, was welcomed in the colonies because his goods were always cheaper than what was usually available to towns folk.

And who doesn’t enjoy freshly plundered booty imported straight from the high seas?

Montegrappa delivers (we had a feeling they were pirates!)

The Pirates Pen is a true masterpiece of a writing instrument pulled straight from the treasure chest. Take a look. Adorning the barrel of this pen is the iconic Jolly Roger skull and crossbones.

The legendary power of Jolly Roger right in your pocket.

The spirit of the high seas and endless treasure at your fingertips. This is a one of a kind pen that remains unmatched in both detail and story.

This pen is yours to plunder in both fountain pen and rollerball versions.


The legacy and spirit of the pirate lives on.


Bittner, the Pleasure of Writing

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The Montegrappa Mule – For the Writer and Drinker

It’s well known the best of writers of all times were voracious writers and voracious drinkers. Something about drink and pen goes together so smoothly, so undeniably. The long hours at the desk with nothing but pen and paper and a bottle of private stock. Night gives way to day – though you do not notice – and words drip from your pen with little resistance.  This under-the-influence style of writing gave way to classic works of literature. Coincidence? I think not.

I wonder what Ian Fleming, the genius mind behind secret agent 007 would have to say about this? He notoriously enjoyed a stiff drink while he worked – gin and martini to be exact – shaken, not stirred.

Montegrappa has connected the dots, and being an Italian pen company, it only make sense to dedicate this pen to the classic Italian beverage – Grappa.

Grappa is produced in distilleries using leftover grape skins and seeds from the wine making process. The materials from the equipment used to create this signature beverage – the distillery itself – has been worked into the very aesthetics of the pen.

But why “Mule” you ask?

In fact, the original inspiration for this pen came from the infamous “Moscow Mule”, a strong drink made from Vodka. The original Moscow Mule was reimagined in Italy and is now made with Grappa but still served in the traditional copper mug.

Available in three versions, the Montegrappa Mule will suit the user of fountain, roller or ballpoint pens. Further individualizing the Mule is the choice of writing grades to suit the owners of the fountain pen, with nibs in Fine, Medium and Broad, and carry its ink supply with either a cartridge or converter.

With your purchase you will receive a traditional copper mug emblazoned with the Mule itself and the secret recipe to mix your very own “Montegrappa Mule.” (Grappa not included!)


Sit back, let the good drink flow, and allow the words to follow suit.


-Bittner, The Pleasure of Writing







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Introducing The Montegrappa Grappa Pen

Grappa – an Italian alcoholic beverage made exclusively in Italy. Many hold this unique beverage in higher regard than the finest fines. It is indeed, just as complex and fun to drink. The distillation process of Grappa makes use of the remaining grapes and seeds left over from the wine making process. You could say Grappa is all about efficiency and leaving nothing to waste. Grappa was born from this leave-nothing-to-waste value system and pays homage to the days where what you owned had to last.

Montegrappa has captured the essence of Grappa with a remarkable addition to their signature cult collection. The Grappa pen draws direct inspiration from the history of the beverage. Copper, stainless steel, and brass – the same materials found in the original distillation vessels – have been forged together to give this pen the aesthetics of the original distilleries.

Attention to detail and unique features line this pen from top to bottom. On the top of the cap is a disc made of the same cork material used on the finished bottles – and taking it one step further – dipped in aged Grappa. This pen even smells like a bottle of Italy’s finest.

It’s the perfect pen for the Grappa drinker.

Imagine, sipping the finest Grappa and writing a hand written letter to an old friend with this pen. Classic experience.

Alas, the pen is more than just a beautiful throwback to Italy’s most popular beverage.

The pen is a smooth writing machine. Not surprising when you use an 18k gold dutone nib. You will notice the nib is embellished with a bunch of grapes on the vine.

If you like Grappa, you’re going to love this pen.

And, of course, the final finishing touch – this pen is a limited edition.

In a final display of homage to Italy’s finest, Montegrappa will only be rolling out 1,912 of these pens.

Grab one today before they get snapped up into the hands of a Grappa drinker who probably shouldn’t be using the internet under such influence.


Bittner, the Pleasure of Writing




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The Momo Design Alumina Collection

Let’s talk about strength. Let’s talk about durability. It used to be that we made great things in this world. Everything we touched started with the foundation of strength and durability. Nowadays you can’t buy anything that lasts.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

Momo Design has manufactured one beautiful, one strong pen. This pen? Built to last. Machined out of solid aluminum, you can roll a tank over the barrel and turn around to write your lover a delicate note.

Yes, the pen is indeed mightier than the sword but this Momo could be used as both.

Step aside James Bond, I’ll be cutting the checks from now on.

A litte known fact:

Momo teamed up with Delta to create this pen.

Now, we’re talking about two leading companies comitted to style coming together to create.

Effortless creation, seamless design.

The details…

The pen comes in three distinct modes: twist ballpoint, capped rollerball and fountain pen. Load it up with ink using the standard international cartridge or converter. Stainless steel nibs are available in fine, medium and broad and choose a color too: black, titanium, or blue.

Choose one for your pocket today.

To a strong future,


Bittner, the Pleasure of Writing


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Introducing The Visconti Homosapiens Dark Age Edition

The dark ages aren’t exactly known for being the best of times. Yet, through the ashes of this dark history we can see how far we have come and experience the greatness and determination of our ancestors.

This special edition of the Visconti Homosapiens Pen pays tribute to our ancient ancestors in a way that no other pen has. Forged with lava from one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, Mount Etna, this pen puts ancient materials in your pocket and fire in your words.

The Visconti Homsapiens Pen is made with real lava from Italy’s largest active volcano – Mount Etna

Yes, you heard that correctly. The Homosapiens Fountain Pen contains over 50% of pure basaltic lava catalyzed together with a patented resin formula. This lava has a number of powerful characteristics that make it a must have for any pocket.

Thanks to the lava, the grip is something out of this world. The texture of the lava rock makes you feel the words as you write them. This pen is a pure joy to write with.

But how about the indestructibility? Lava rock is well known for it’s strength and the material is virtually fireproof. No need to worry about breaking this pen. Its hygroscopic characteristics allows the material to absorb sweat from your hands, giving you a custom one-of-a-kind grip you will not experience with any other pen.

There is a reason why this is one of our favorite pens in our store.


But, with these unique features pen aficionados still have one question to ask:

Yes, the Visconti Homosapiens is a pen with historical significance.

Yes, no other pen company has attempted to create a pen using raw volcano materials.

But how does it write?

In a word, beautifully.

Visconti uses their legendary 23 kt Palladium “Dreamtouch” nib to give this pen the classic Visconti writing experience.

That means a smooth drag and effortless flow across your paper.

You can easily see why this pen is flying off of our shelves.

In fact, we are always getting positive feedback from our customers:

This is by far my favorite pen! The lava is so smooth and grippy, I find myself using it more and more for my day to day writing. I particularly love the locking system for the cap!

Speaking of the cap, Visconti has pushed the envelope once again to create a patented bayonet locking system. This unique design secures the cap with a push-and-twist engaging system, making it easy to remove but unlikely to accidentally fall off in your pocket.

We guarantee that you will find this pen to be of superior quality and expert craftsmanship. The pen also comes in the ballpoint and rollerball varieties. Order one today from our store!


Best Regards,


Bittner, the Pleasure of Writing





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Bittner graces The New York Times


The New York Times recently did a piece on the best places to shop in Carmel. We were excited to see our name printed next to our friends at The Cheese Shop, The Hat Shop, Eco Carmel, and Weston Galleries.

Here is what they had to say about us:

Detlef Bittner, the owner of this 25-year-old shop, is passionate about keeping the art of old-fashioned writing alive. He carries about 30 brands of pens from countries like Italy, Germany and France, but the ones from Japan, like a black lacquer emperor pen, are particularly notable. The international selection of cotton paper is the ideal accompaniment.

– The New York Times

Good on the New York Times for mentioning our quaint little corner of the world.

Carmel packs a big punch in a small space that simply cannot be ignored.

We extend a big thank you to the NYT.

But here is the interesting part…

As we read the article we realized that we have a lot in common with the New York Times.

If it’s one thing that the New York Times understands it is the importance of the written word. Writing is a core part of what they do and it’s a core part of what we do.

But it’s not just about writing.

It’s about writing with the best possible instruments. It’s about respecting the sacred act of taking a thought or idea and bringing it into the light of the physical world.

It’s also about your personal style and knowing that wherever you go you probably have the coolest pen in the room.

Writing is all these things because it is multi-dimensional. Multi faceted.

It is true, nothing beats the smell of fresh journal paper or the sound of a fountain pen dragging effortlessly across the page.

And what about the deep colorful hues in a bottle of fresh ink you ask?

Yes, it’s all part of the subtle pleasure of writing.

If you haven’t already you must visit us at our shop in Carmel By the Sea.

However, if California is too far you don’t have to miss out on our collections of fine writing instruments.

We have built a web store to bring the Bittner experience to you. It is packed with all of our finest pens, ink and stationery.

We know that we have something that you will fall in love with. A pen that adds to your unique character. A pen you will find excuses to use.

The old saying is true…

The right pen could be the one thing missing from your life, or at least your pocket.

We would like to thank the New York Times for featuring us in their paper.

We would like to thank you for supporting us for the last 25 years!

2016 is going to see some seriously awesome stuff in the world of fine writing.

Subscribe here to stay updated.



Bittner, the Pleasure of Writing





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