American pens for the New Year

Writing implements have changed greatly over the centuries.  The first “pens” were made from reed straw or bamboo.  The Ancient Egyptians were writing with ink on papyrus as long ago as the 4th century BC.  It is thought that the New Testament of the Bible was written with reed pens.

Reed pens were replaced by Quill pens in about the 7th Century and were the pen of choice for the next thousand years.  Starting with a Goose wing feather, a Quill pen was created by carving the barrel or shaft of the feather.  Only the sharpest knife, a “penknife”, could do a competent job of carving wing feathers. Our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence with Quill pens.  Their signatures on that document surely proves the validity of the quote attributed to Lord Byron:  “One drop of ink makes thousands, perhaps millions think.”

Most of us don’t have a ready supply of reeds or Goose wing feathers handy, so we rely on modern-day ball point pens or their equivalent to write our shopping lists, reminder notes and Holiday cards.  Finding pens made by members of our extended American family can be a bit tricky, but I recently came across two firms still making pens in America.


Garland Writing Instruments, formerly Lew Manufacturing Co., was founded in 1927 by Louis Lanoie. At first the company manufactured pen parts that were used by many of the major pen and pencil manufacturers throughout the United States and Europe. In the 60’s, Lew Manufacturing started making complete pens and pencils and changed its name to Garland Industries. Garland products are out of this world.  No really!  Garland pens were essential tools that have flown on both the Apollo moon missions and many of the Space Shuttle missions.

Garland Writing Instruments still designs and manufactures its pens at its 45,000 square foot historic mill located on the Pawtuxet River in Coventry RI. All of their USA-made products are designed and manufactured in their 45,000 square-ft facility. Garland manufactures six pen collections in the U.S.; Colour, Revere, Monogram, Tuscany, Signature and Founder’s.  All of the pens in these collections allow you to design your own unique look and message through Garland’s customization processes.  Garland pens can be recognized by their unique flared top design; the design is so unique that it is a registered trademark of Garland Writing Instruments!  I have to say my favorite Garland collections are Revere, Monogram, and Signature 


National Pen

Another firm making pens on our shores is National Pen.  In 1966, Tom Liguori and Paul Stabile founded National Pen as a producer of personalized writing instruments.  In 1976, the operation was moved to San Diego, CA.  In 1982, National Pen purchased its largest competitor, U.S. Pencil and Stationery Company, located in Shelbyville, TN. If you are looking for promotional pens made by members of our extended American family, National Pen can deliver.  They make promotional pens that celebrate last year’s Superbowl champs.

And this year’s soon to be Superbowl champs.

Oh sorry, that’s the same team.

National Pen’s best sellers are the Contour pen, the Colorama pen, and the Superball pen.


No matter what National Pen or Garland pen you buy, you will be getting a twofer.  You will get a great pen and your order will ensure that members of our extended American family working at National Pen or Garland will keep taking home a paycheck.

Now get shopping!

About Simply American LLC

I live in Seattle and love telling stories about Americans, the places where they work and the things that they make. I have just published a book, Simply American, encouraging Americans to purchase American made products; the book can be ordered at
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3 Responses to American pens for the New Year

  1. Rich Hovde says:

    Always a good read John and love to know there is still American companies making useful items in America. Your articles clue me in to what to buy as so much isn’t produced in America, but only supports our deficit by peddling inferior merchandise. Right on brother!

  2. Timely article. Just last week, I was looking for pens Made in the USA – and I found Jetstream, Pilot G-2 (not all US made) and Pilot B2P meaning Bottle 2 Pen. Great article. -Jack A

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