An article, with some updating originally published in the Nixon Collectors news letter
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THE NIXON PRESIDENTIAL PEN
It began as a joke. Imprinted pens and pencils, long a campaign item, had always been left behind at the White House door. Until that is President Truman began handing out the first American ball point, a ‘Reynold’s Rocket’, imprinted with "I Swiped This From Harry S. Truman." Richard Milhous Nixon however, was the first Vice President to have a specially imprinted pen and it was during his presidential years that the ‘Presidential Pen’ attained its classic form. I am presently in the process of putting together a catalog and overall article on the approximately two hundred specially imprinted Presidential Pens (excluding campaign pens) from inception with President Truman through today and am taking this opportunity to relate to you what I have learned about the approximately twenty Nixon and Nixon administration pens in the hopes that you in turn will help me ‘fill in the gaps’ and pass on corrections and varieties by comparing the pens I describe below with those you have or know of. Also to the extent you have ‘bill signers’ actually used, I would appreciate it if you could pass on the pen model and date of use.
Vice President Nixon was the first Vice President to have a specially imprinted pen, first in a rather conservative silver metal capped blue plastic barrel Reynolds push activated ballpoint imprinted "Vice President Richard M. Nixon" but then followed by a rather garish two color ball point with the same imprinting. I have seen the pen in orange and yellow but understand that some equally ‘attractive’ combinations may exist including one with a white barrel and green cap.
President Nixon had at least three different Parker ‘bill signers’ (i) an all blue plastic cap and barrel Parker ‘45’ fountain pen with silver metal trim inscribed in silver on the barrel with "THE WHITE HOUSE" and the President’s signature; (ii) a similar fountain pen with the same inscription but different in that the cap is silver metal, rather then blue plastic, and the metal trim is gold, rather than silver (this variety is known to have been used for bill signing in 1970); and (iii) a similarly inscribed Parker ‘45’ roller ball (or ball point or felt tip depending on which refill is inserted) with a silver metal cap, blue plastic barrel and silver metal trim. The placement of the imprinting on the barrel of these pens vary randomly from very close to the cap to almost centered. The presentation box that accompanied these pens had a white card board top, rimmed with gold metal, imprinted with a centered gold presidential seal and the President’s signature imprinted in black to the lower right. I have seen this presentation box in two size varieties, one having a 156 mm long top and the other being 158 mm long (also the longer box’s bottom portion is 16mm deep while the shorter box bottom is 19mm deep). Interestingly, while the signatures used on the three Parker ‘bill signer’ varieties are identical, as is the signature used on two box varieties, the pen signature and the box signature are different. An early version of this presentation box is also known with the gold metal trim at the bottom of the sides of the cover rather then rimming the top.
An early Scripto "200" felt tip with a black plastic barrel and a light gold aluminum cap imprinted with the presidential seal and Nixon's signature is also known. It is possible that this pen may have been an early 'bill signer' contender. In any event it is rarely found today.
The President also had a Parker ‘Jotter’ ball point (the one that ‘pushes’ to activate) with a silver metal top half and a blue plastic barrel inscribed in white with his signature (a different signature then that used on the ‘bill signers’ or presentation boxes). There is also a series of gold metal ‘push to activate’ ball points of a presently unknown manufacturer imprinted in black on the barrel with the signature of the President, the First Lady, or either of the daughter’s married names (e.g. ‘Julie Nixon Eisenhower’). One series of these pens are identical (other than in the signature) with a smooth 10 mm wide ‘ring’ at the base of the top half. In addition the President, the First Lady and Julie had similar pens with four narrow (rather then one wide) smooth ‘rings’ at the base of the top half. In the case of both the First Lady and Julie the ‘four ring’ pen is also thinner, being 8 mm in diameter rather then 9 mm.
Inaugural Pens: I know of only two inaugural pens (although I suspect there are more)
both for 1973. One is a black barrel, silver cap Parker ‘45’ roller ball imprinted in block letters with President Nixon’s and VP Agnew’s names. It came in a white cardboard, gold metal trimmed presentation box similar to the ‘bill signer’ box excepted it is imprinted only with a centered, gold inaugural seal and "1973" beneath. The other is an Esterbrook ball point with a dark blue (or maybe it’s black) plastic barrel, an aluminum top half and silver metal trim. The barrel on this pen is imprinted in silver on two lines with "Presidential Inauguration [/] 1973".
Vice President Agnew had several pens, including two Parker ‘45’ roller ball "bill signer" pens in presentation boxes, one with a black plastic barrel and the other with an olive green plastic barrel. Both have a silver metal cap and trim, are imprinted in silver with the Vice President’s signature and come in a silver metal trimmed black card board box imprinted in silver with the Vice Presidential seal (centered to the left) and his signature (to the lower right). A very rarely found fountain pen version is also known with a silver cap and gold trim. There are two imprinting variations for the pens, one closer to the cap then the other. Like President Nixon's presentation box, Agnew's came in two slightly different sizes.
In addition I know of three different ball point styles of unknown manufacture. One (in three varieties) has "Venus" engraved on the clip. It is a ‘push to activate’ pen but you have to press a small button on the clip for the point to retract. This pen has a silver metal top half and trim and is found with a either black barrel printed in silver with the Vice Presidential seal and signature or with a green barrel imprinted in black with the signature only. A blue barreled variation has also been reported but I do not know the imprinting.
The second ball point type is, except for color and signature like one of President Nixon’s. It is a common ‘push to activate’ type with four smooth rings at the base of the cap but in silver rather then gold metal and imprinted on barrel with the Vice President’s signature. I know of the third ball point type in four varieties. Each has a standard ‘push to activate’ mechanism, a long silver metal cap imprinted with the Vice President’s signature and a short black plastic barrel. Three of the varieties have gold metal trim and four gold rings at the base of the cap, the signatures on two however differ and there is a vice presidential seal in addition to the signature on the third. The fourth variation has silver (rather then gold) metal trim and no rings at the base of the cap and yet a third type of Vice Presidential signature.
Vice President Ford’s Parker ‘45’ bill signer had a silver metal cap and trim and a blue plastic barrel imprinted in silver with the Vice Presidential seal and signature. It was presented in a silver trimmed white cardboard box imprinted in black with a centered Vice Presidential seal and a signature to the lower right. In addition I know of two ‘push to activate’ ball points. One, like one of the President’s and unlike Agnew’s, is all gold metal with four smooth ‘rings’ at the base of the top half, except in addition to his signature the barrel is also imprinted in black with the Vice Presidential seal (there are several other Ford gold metal pen varieties with only a signature but I believe these ‘signature only’ gold metal pens belong to his presidential years). The second VP Ford ball point type that I know of has a blue plastic barrel, a silver metal top half and trim and a distinctive blue plastic ‘push’ sharply angled at the top. The barrel of this pen is imprinted in silver with the Vice Presidential seal and signature. There are two varieties of the placement of the imprinting on this pen.
In addition to the foregoing pens an all silver metal push activated ball point imprinted with only the old 'wings down' Vice Presidential seal is also known. This pen most likely belonged to Vice President Ford but in descending order Vice Presidents Rockefeller, Agnew or Humphrey are also possibilities.
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