One of the great things about Facebook and Twitter has been getting to know and interacting with you, our fans. Over the years we have gotten to know some of you through your posts and interactions on our social sites and we started to notice some of their large Retro 51 collections! We were stunned (and honored) at the size of their collections and how much they love Retro products. Below is a Q&A with Mike Gfeller, a local Dallas resident we met online and later at the Dallas Pen Show where we discussed his collection.
Name: Mike Gfeller
How many Retro pens and product do you own?
Too many to count! My best guess is around 500, with about 325 being Tornados (some are duplicates & spares). I have a lot of the products as well, from games to desk accessories to reading glasses to display stands. I don’t write with my collection any longer. I did at first, but when I got serious about collecting I bought spares and now only write with the spares.
How long have you been collecting Retro 51’s?
About 7 years collecting and using them since 2001.
Which Retro was your first one? Was it a gift or purchase for yourself?
My first one was a gift from a co-worker, a red lacquer Tornado given to me in 2001. I remember really liking the weight and balance of the pen in my hand. I was actually getting a nib replaced on my Waterman at Paradise Pen in the Dallas Galleria when I saw a Retro display and I remembered the red Tornado I lost. I bought a Big Shot Blue Curacao and I was hooked! That was the beginning of my collection.
What characteristic about our products are you drawn to?
They are elegant in their simplicity. The Tornadoes just feel good in my hand, especially the heavier ones. I like the Retro look and feel and the creativity shown by Retro in designing their products, and that is across the board. They are also very well made and last forever if you treat them well. I have become particularly fond of the acrylics over the years. The Sundance, Spumoni, Smoke, Camel Maize, Amber Blaze, Prairie Blue, Purple Storm, Boeing, et al, are all beautiful pens. The new Calico and Marlin are a wonderful continuation of that fine tradition of acrylics.
My favorite non-Tornado would probably have to be the Honey Almond Double Eight Fineliner. It is a beautiful pen. Simply stunning. It is hard picking a single Tornado so I’ll pick 5: Copper Rallye, Camel Maize, Boeing, Round & Round, and Cioppino. I write most often with the Copper Rallye and continuously get positive feedback about it.
What made you start collecting Retro products?
I mentioned earlier that the pens felt good in my hand, but the brand itself really connected with me for some reason I can’t explain. I like the retro packaging and the retro look and feel.
Which Popper theme do you think we need to come out with next?
I have a lot of ideas about that. Maybe an acid-etched steam engine celebrating trains? There was a big “clear” phase about 20 years ago (remember Pepsi Clear?), so perhaps a clear acrylic tornado would be cool so you can see the insides. I’m also thinking brushed aluminum in several colors. My grandparents had these old aluminum tumblers in multiple colors and I remember when we drank iced tea out of them they would sweat something fierce! I think some type of linoleum pattern or even a pen covered in linoleum (similar to the leathers) might be cool. My wife thinks a series of poppers dedicated to certain decades, starting of course with the 50’s, would be pretty cool. So the 50’s pen would have various objects/symbols related to the 50’s. Then 60’s, 70’s, etc.
What is your next Retro 51 purchase?
Probably the next Fahrney’s Cherry Blossom Tornado.
A BIG THANKS from the Retro 51 team to Mike for taking part in this Q&A and being such an awesome fan!