A letter from the Retro51 Team

Almost thirty years ago after walking into a store with a tray of pens and coming out with an order, Retro 1951 was born. We were officially in the pen business despite not knowing what we were getting into. Over the years Retro has said the pen is an accoutrement of life which we stand behind, but at that time it was the vehicle that would launch new careers filled with many adventures around the world and lifelong friendships.

With the new year and new decade it’s also time for something new for a handful of the Retro51 team …. retirement. Retro51 as you know it, will be making some changes and going on a sabbatical. What does this mean? We are still trying to figure it out, but there is a potential for new ownership or Retro could come back with a new business plan that we feel will thrive in the ever changing retail market. It is also possible that the Retro51 brand will be retired.

The plan for this year is to stay in business for the next six to nine months as we wind down. We will keep inventory of a select product group through March, plus we have plans for five to six new Popper designs yet to come. At the same time Retro will be working with dealers to produce their own exclusive designs, so 2020 will be filled with several unique and fun Retro designs.

We build our products to be daily writers but we understand that some issues may develop and your pens may need servicing. We are making arrangements for someone to be available to service your Retro51 products so they can continue to last for many years to come. The Retro51 website will also be maintained so you can reference it for this info, plus access the history of products shown there.

We could not be writing this letter without the many faithful fans and dedicated dealers. Countless times we heard how you bought or received a pen for a birthday, promotion or graduation. This small gift was the key to our success. Sharing your passion with someone else to mark a special occasion is why after thirty years we keep going and also led to taking chances on some crazy ideas (see Rudy Tissue Box holder and some of the Tornado Poppers). We are surrounded by such a great and passionate community and we owe our success to you.

Although retirement is around the corner, this is not a goodbye letter. Please consider this a mission accomplished letter. It’s a thank you letter. We are riding off into the sunset and singing “happy trails to you, until we meet again.”

– George and the Retro51 Team

P.S. Life is too short…


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92 responses to “A letter from the Retro51 Team

  1. patty leidy

    i am crushed. i understand, but i am crushed, I love Retro 51…..

  2. propresblog

    Hi-Hope you do abandon the brand!  I love the pen I received at Christmas a couple of years ago and use it all the time! Regards,JoanneLekas & Levine PR

  3. Maja

    Oh my gosh, I’m so sad to hear this 😦 I’ve been a Retro 51 fan for years and I always looked forward to seeing what new designs were coming out; I can’t imagine a year when that won’t be the case. Warmest wishes and thanks to the Retro 51 team for creating well-made, reliable writing instruments in such bold and fun designs! 🙂

  4. D.A.

    I would be interested in keeping the brand alive. Who should I contact?

  5. David

    Can I PLEASE get a yellow/smiley face pen before you go? :). Love your work! Good luck in future endeavors.

  6. I believe my Retro inventory is up to 9 pens. To this day I keep my eye out for the mention of Retro 51 in anyone’s site. That’s my thanks for years of grins over such a simple thing as a pen. Please ride off slowly.

  7. Rob

    Am holding out hope for an eventual smooth transition to new ownership and a continuation of your iconic brand. Also looking forward to collecting the remaining pens you will produce this year. All the best to George in his retirement and to the staff in their new endeavors… I’ve really enjoyed interacting with you over the years. And I love my Retro 51 pens and will treasure them always.

  8. Heather

    I am so sad to hear this. The Tornado is one of my all time favorite pens. 😢

  9. MintGreen

    You left a glimmer that Retro 51 could go on. I hope that is the case. I was so happy when you came out with a 1.1mm stub nib last year.

    Your Space themed pens were tops. Dinosauria got me to realize I had to buy some roller balls if I wanted the really cool designs that were not made as fountain pens.

    Thank you for all the great designs, for raising funds for endangered animals and bees, for the history pens. Thank you for all of what Retro 51 has been to you and us.

    Lastly, I did purchase some of your retailer exclusives like the Zodiac fountain pen at Rustico and the Solar System mechanical pencil from Clicky Post.

  10. MintGreen

    You left a glimmer that Retro 51 could go on. I hope that is the case. I was so happy when you came out with a 1.1mm stub nib last year.

    Your Space themed pens were tops. Dinosauria got me to realize I had to buy some roller balls if I wanted the really cool designs that were not made as fountain pens.

    Thank you for all the great designs, for raising funds for endangered animals and bees, for the history pens. Thank you for all of what Retro 51 has been to you and us.

    Lastly, I did purchase some of your retailer exclusives like the Zodiac fountain pen at Rustico and the Solar System mechanical pencil from

  11. Julia Louise

    Loved your pens but I understand best wishes and may God Bless whatever path you take.

  12. Maja

    P.S. Almost forgot to say ‘thanks’ for the contest prizes I’ve won over the years—the cool Retro 51 P-51 Mustang t-shirt that I won in 2012, the Orange Classic Lacquer ‘Tornado’ rollerball I won in 2015 and the Black Cherry Lacquer ‘Tornado’ fountain pen I won in 2016; I will treasure them all 🙂 Lastly, as MintGreen reminded me, a big ‘thank you’ to your company for raising funds for dog & cat rescue, endangered animals & bees as well as trees. I really hope the brand continues under new ownership–keeping fingers crossed! In the meantime, best wishes to everyone on their retirement and best of luck to others on their future endeavours! Long live Retro 51 😀

  13. CP

    My Scripmaster desk set remains a solid often used favorite! Smooth as silk nib, competent go-to rollerball, warm incredible depth in (I believe) flawless beautiful celluloid? ( early model ). Single minor quibble ever was no cap to be portable. Thanks for your competent & fun selections. Good service! Best wishes on your next plans & journeys!

  14. Joshua Hubble

    After being introduced to Retro 51 just two years ago, I have had the most fun collecting so many amazing designs. I would wait anxiously for the next popper or exclusive then rush out to buy it. It has brought me so much joy not only to collect but introduce others to this creative world of Not Ugly Pens. You will sorely be missed an thank you for the love you obviously put into the brand.

  15. Hello. Art Supply Warehouse in Westminster Ca has a good selection of Retro pens. I am the buyer for the Fine Pen Dept and am also sad.
    Please call me if you would like to check stock.
    Thanks. Owen

  16. Sue Cugini

    I LOVE RETRO 51! The thought of Retro no longer producing great pens saddens me. I hope you will find some way to keep this iconic pen around for a LONG time.

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  18. Ros white

    I love your pens! I had several before I realized they were brand specific! I first gave my husband one, the sudoku pencil and have purchase many more as gifts and for my own collection! I’m retired, so I will say sail off into the sunset and enjoy the future, whatever it may bring!

  19. Kym

    Thanks for all of the great pens throughout the years! I’ve purchased so many because they’re beautiful, have personality, are affordable and they last! I’ve given them as gifts and people love how they feel and write. You all will be missed if you go, but I certainly hope the pen refills will remain. I wish you the absolute best!

    • Thank you Kym for your kind words! For sure the refills will still be available but they won’t have the Retro logo on them. Any Schmidt Short Capless rollerball (P8127 or P8126) or any “Parker Style” ballpoint or gel refill will work.

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  25. Paula

    Before you go, please check the shelves for a LEAP pen and the 2007-08 Cherry Blossom pen. Let me know 😉

    By the way, as a ‘73 Berkner grad, I am greatly saddened that you are leaving us. Nevertheless, I wish you all the best. Now, if I could find these pens, life would be grand! See, how wonderful you’ve made our lives! Please reconsider or let me know how to help.

    Many thanks for years of learning and fun,

    • Thank you Paula! Please email our customer service for help finding a Leap. They are still available but you have to make a phone call to get one. The 2007-8 Cherry Blossom will be a little harder to find 🙂

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  28. Terrible news, but understandable of course! Please keep us posted on any updates. Best of luck in what lies ahead!

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  32. Stephen

    Oh wow – so sorry to hear this! But, on the other hand, I wish you guys the best in your future endeavors. I am a big fan of the Retro 51 pens and own a number of them. They always bring a smile to my face when I use them, as well as a comment from those who might see them. (For example, your Hand Display that I have on my desk always elicits comments!) Hopefully the company will remain in some form so that your terrific products will be available. Thanks again – you will be missed!

  33. Regina

    Oh, no! Retro 51 has been my LovePen for more years than I can count. I use my Cherry Blossom pens when I travel to D.C. and my other wonderful pens for daily notes. I will continue to buy Retro 51 for as long as possible. You make the daily journal notes so refreshingly stylish!
    Regina in San Diego,CA

  34. quiltknit

    Well done! Wish I could have had all Military Pens! I love fountain pens. I have a couple .
    Sorry, I could not buy more. Have a desk that write at everyday!
    I was just never at a profitable job.
    Hope Retro 51, Gave most of everything you wanted. I was born, March 3, 1951.
    So, Retro 51 has been special to me.
    No, I never went exploring to find why it was branded Retro 51.
    Will look and see what I can purchase, before its over.
    If there are strange words in here- my dog barked. My phone spells for Barking!
    What a world. No one “ remembers Record Players.”!
    Congratulations 🎉🎊🎈🍾 Well Done!

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  36. Diana

    Too sad. I received my first retro pen when i signed the contract for my business. That was 15 years ago and I still have that pen in its medal tube. I have in excess of 80 retro pens and now whenever I have a new young mentee I sign their contracts with a retro pen and give them their first special retro pen. This last year i picked up several Rosie pens for future females that get their contracts and my team looks forward to getting their birthday pen when they celebrate their first year with me. Thanks for all the special moments Retro!

    • Thank you Diana for being a fan, sharing your passion with your young mentees and gifting Retros which is the best way for a small company like us to succeed. The pen as a gift and token of life’s achievement is the reason behind why Retro51 started as a company and it’s great to hear you hold your first Retro as a token of your success! Thank you again.

  37. Marianne Drevna

    I almost exclusively use fountain pens these days but always carry a Retro 51 roller ball for those times when a fountain pen is not the best choice. I have also given them as gifts for very special people and occasions. If you sell, please do so to someone who loves them as much as we all do. Hopefully we’ll still be able to purchase refills as well? Best of luck to you all and rock on.

    • Thank you Marianne! IN regards to refills, although we won’t be selling refills anymore there will be refills still available by the same manufacturing company we use to produce our refills. We will detail which refills to use on our website so your Retros can keep writing for years to come.

  38. John A

    Will you release a 30th anniversary pen before you go?

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  41. Lynne Messler

    I want to order refills for my tornado pen and cannot get my email to accept your email address on pen box

  42. dipulphus

    I have a Retro 51 Boogie Woogie Blue Snap 407. Please tell me who to contact for a refill. Thank you, Diane

  43. Tana Villanueva

    I recently discovered Retro 51 Pens and absolutely love them. I have picked up about 8 pens in the last month. This is sad news, I hope someone will take over the Company and continue making these very beautiful artistic masterpieces. My heart is heavy, blessings on your new journey, and I totally understand as I am close to retirement. All the good things in life are changing…

  44. MintGreen

    This news spurred me to get the Crossword mechanical pencil, and the Smithsonian Discovery rollerball. I also got a retailer exclusive rollerball called The Wanderer with cool map relief lines. It was hard to choose between antique copper and antique silver. I did think about getting both, but chose the copper.

    I love what your designers do with the very top of the pen. The compass rose atop The Wanderer, the amber with insect on top of Dinosauria, the tops of the Space Race Pens.

    I would have more Retro 51 pens, but for along time, I would only buy fountain pens. I bought a Retro 51 spare 1.1 stub nib, and it fits on all my Retro 51 pens except the Rustico exclusive Zodiac fountain pen. It has a tiny gap.

    I still hold out hope for a new owner who cares as much about the Retro 1951 brand as you have.

  45. Kate Miller

    Dear Retro 51~
    It was mentioned that someone may buy your business and continue your legacy. Is it one owner or can there be partners?

    Sincerely, Kate Miller

  46. MintGreen

    I wish I would have discovered your blog years ago instead of in 2020.

    Even though I have quite a few of your pens and mechanical pencils, I feel compelled to buy the Cioppino fountain pen.

    I read an interview about how Retro 51 was started. I am also a fan of Fossil. I have a lot of Fossil items as well. Makes me think I should match up Fossil jewelry with Retro 51 pens, take photos and post on Flickr.

  47. Gloria Fruit

    Dear Retro 51 — longtime fan and collector here. I am echoing the sentiments of those who have written here and countless other fans who lament your decision to ride into the sunset. Some time ago I wrote you all with a suggestion for a pen engraved with your wonderful motto, “Life is too short to carry an ugly pen.” I received a friendly reply that this suggestion would be passed on your development team. I don’t know if you have any plans to create such a pen, but just a thought that maybe now would be a good time. ? In any case, thank you so much for the wonderful pens over the years — I will cherish especially one of my favorites, the metal typewriter keys barrel pen. Hoping somehow Retro 51 will continue.
    Wishing you all the best.
    Gloria Fruit

    • Thank you for you kind words Gloria. This design was brought forward to the team but I’ll bring it back to their attention. Thank you again.

      • Gloria Fruit

        You are more than welcome. Thanks for considering my idea for your great motto on a pen. Remember, too, that Roy Rogers came back every week after singing, Happy Trails To You.”
        Gloria Fruit

  48. Stephen

    I have to echo the suggestion made by Gloria Fruit about a pen engraved with “Life is too short to carry an ugly pen”. I think it is a terrific idea and a terrific way to “go out on top!” It would certainly be something that your loyal followers would cherish as a remembrance of the happiness your company has brought to so many through the years. Thanks fo seriously considering this suggestion. All the best to you and your team as you wind things down. You will be missed!

  49. Maja

    Any chance of making a cowboy-themed ‘Tornado’ rollerball?
    (I checked all the old Retro 51 catalogs and couldn’t find a ‘Tornado’ with that kind of theme) I think it’d be cool, esp. since Retro 51’s headquarters are located in Texas 🙂

  50. Maja

    …or a Native American design/motif ‘Tornado’ rollerball? 🙂

  51. Tom Jokubaitis

    Great pens! I have gifted many of the holiday themed pens for many years and recently became a more serious collector. Wish now that I had kept some of those gifts for my collection.
    All best wishes for your retirement and sincere hopes that you will find someone to carry forth the Retro 51 brand and standards of excellence.
    Tom J.

  52. Gary

    So sad to hear about this. I look forward to the new releases. I was lucky to discover Retro 51 along time ago when your pens were easy to get a hold of. Now you have to be right on top of the dealers to see if a collectible comes available. This is a great product at a great price. I use one every day.

  53. These are very challenging times for small independent manufacturers and retailers, and not just in the pen/pencil market. Let’s hope we’ll continue to see new Retro 51 pens in the future. All the best and good luck.

  54. My first Retro 51 was a Hawaiian style design; a repetitive image of a woman doing the hula. The pen has a yellow-gold tone body with the above imprint. I found it at some random store I walked into in Las Vegas, NV years ago while celebrating my birthday alone. Since then, I have numerous Retro 51 pens in my collection that have been used during many drafts of manuscripts and articles over the years. Your leaving is breaking my heart. Good luck and best to you all in the New Year.

  55. Doug Faust

    I passed out Retro 51 pens to my sales team… as part of our quarterly kick off… everyone loved them… I see that your message from a few days ago still leave hope on the brand continuing… may I say… “Hope springs eternal”…

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