In 1947, a new writing instrument – the Biro – was introduced to the British public. Up to that point people wrote with either fountain pens or cartridge pens. These held a reservoir of liquid ink that was liable to either dry up or suddenly deposit an unwanted pool of ink on your beautifully scribed letter.
The Biro was so innovative in its design that advertisers had to explain in considerable detail how it worked and point out its many features and positive attributes:
There were further developments. Traditional reservoir pens had caps that either screwed or clipped onto the shaft. The Biro introduced the retractable pen, so novel, that its operation had to be spelled out in advertisements:
‘The nib is hidden away in the barrel and emerges from the case in response to gentle pressure on the stud until it clicks. A further pressure allows the point to retract smoothly into the case.’
Biro service dealers emerged – 10,000 of them by 1949 – providing refills and, well, not much else.
What is astonishing for the modern reader is the price of this new writing instrument: 55 shillings, equivalent to a touch under £100 today. This quickly reduced as the new pen took hold and within two years was selling for half that price.
They even had a strap line – a pen for your thoughts.This entry was posted in Blog and tagged biro, documentary records, history lesson, house detective, house history, old documents, old newspapers