Retrospective: Retro 51 Fountain Pens & Rollerballs

By Jessica Coles

The Retro 51 news hit me hard.  If you haven’t heard yet, Retro 51 announced that they would be retiring and closing the business at the end of the year. I’ve loved Retro 51 pens since I first became enamored with pens and the first two pens I purchased in a brick-and-mortar pen store were both Retro 51 pens. Over the years I have purchased more of these collectible treasures and sold many, but the two original ones have stuck with me.

When working on this article, I broke up my collection into four groups. The first group consists of pens that have special meaning only to me. Below are my first Retros (the teal and pink) and my Amazing Find Retro. I found three Retro 51s together, still in their presentation boxes, and tucked away behind a massive amount of knick-knacks at a flea market one day. This is one of the bunch I kept for myself.

The next group consists of my Space Retros. Retro 51 has designed many AMAZING space-themed pens over the years and I have purchased those that have caught my eye or those containing a design that is meaningful.

The black pen shows our solar system and the orbits of the eight planets. But if you look closely, Pluto is shown – all alone and with no orbital path.

On the far right is a Retro showing the astrological signs in both stars and drawings. Plus the stars glow in the dark! Of course, so does the solar system pen, although I didn’t know that until after my purchase.

The two pens on the left are the Apollo 11 and the first steps on the moon, both produced last year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that historic event. What an amazing time!

I believe in you, Pluto! You’ll always be a planet to me!

Group three are Retro 51 pens that don’t really fit into another category but are still treasured. The 2018 Christmas special edition Retro was a retro theme – Retro retro! I love how it was paired with antiqued brass furniture to push that retro feel even farther. Then there’s the Bomb Pop pen. This was designed by a good friend, Michael (a former co-host of the BYOB Pen Club podcast). Plus, I love Bomb Pops. Brad Dowdy (Pen Addict) sold these and was even nice enough to send #23 to me.

Group 4. Ok. I know that it contains one pen that was already part of the Space group but ROSE GOLD. This deserves its own category no matter how many groups these pens are in.

Again, the Apollo 11 pen is here, showing its eye-catching rose gold furniture. Cioppino is the name of the second pen – paneled with abalone shell and black lacquer. This is from the reissued Cioppino release (unlike Laura’s amazing vintage find) and is my most expensive Retro 51. The weight of the pen differs from other Retro 51 fountain pens and I love it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour of my Retro 51 pens. I will miss the thrill of waiting to see their newest releases and the hope of finding a certain pen that has special meaning. I wish the best of luck to the owners! Thank you for all of the pens over the years. Not that I am giving up hope, though! I may or may not have a few more coming to me as I type and I will continue to support you until the closing is final.


DISCLAIMER: All of the items included in this review were purchased by me. Please see the About page for more details.

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4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. What?! Nooooo!! I hadn’t heard about that and in fact am eagerly awaiting the release of the LEAP limited edition Retro 51, to commemorate the leap year! Well, shoot. What a bummer.

    1. It was announced a couple of days ago and, at least where I checked, the preorders sold out almost immediately. I hope that you have better luck finding a source
      .

  2. I know how you feel, my collection includes fountain pens, rollerball pens, and mechanics pencils.

    I got one of their Birthday pens in red.

    I enjoy the fountain pens the most. When they came out with the stub nib last year, I was excited. I had expected that nib to show up on future fountain pens for years.

    I hope someone buys Retro 51, and keeps it much as it is. If not, I will miss them too.

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