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Tornado classic lacquers arranged to create a circle

About Retro 1951

vintage illustration graphic of woman and yellow train

Our Story

Retro 1951 was founded in 1990 with a focus on unique gifts and an emphasis on fine writing instruments and the accoutrements of life. The pen is not only a pen but instead a vehicle to create a world of possibilities and a way of revealing who you are. The pen is a perfect gift that will last for years and serve as a token of achievement or fond memories.

Retro 51 merges the fashionable colors and designs of today with the vintage, quality ideals of yesteryear. Although Retro specializes in vibrant, unusual and fun pens, we also offer “other cool stuff” with uncommon stylings. All of these items are branded and packaged with electrifying graphics, colors and a feel of classic Americana.

Every Retro piece is designed with an eye towards that nostalgic American Dream, and it could be best said that We make ‘em like they used to!

In 2021, the Founder of Retro 1951 retired and a new team took stewardship of the brand and its mission...

Our Mission

Retro 1951 is on a quest to bring enjoyment, energy, vibrancy, excitement and value to the world of writing instruments and accessories. Known for bright, cool colors and unique themes, Retro stands by our motto, Life is too short to carry an ugly pen!® Everything about Retro reinforces this statement.

Retro51 rounded icon and slogan reading 'Life is too short to carry an Ugly Pen!'

The Tornado™

The Tornado™

In 1997, Retro 1951 introduced a pen named the Tornado™ in three lacquer colors: red, blue and green. Little did we know the impact this retractable rollerball would have in the world of gifts and writing accessories.

Since that date, we have added numerous styles and designs to the Tornado collection. They come in a multitude of colors, materials, sizes and modes of writing: rollerball, fountain, ballpoint, and mechanical pencil. The knurled top has become a trademark look for Retro and synonymous with the tagline, THIS PEN WILL BLOW YOU AWAY!

New Retro51 branded graphic tubes and 3 classic laqcuer pens in a retro-style setting

Classic Tornado

The classic knurl twist-top Tornado rollerball pen has a stainless steel barrel with vibrant lacquer finish that is finished with polished chrome accents. Each Tornado is packaged in Retro branded graphic tube that can be used as a pen stand or carrying case when its not in use. The tube packaging has been used for over twenty years and known through-out the pen world as Retro’s brand packaging.

Check out Tornado Classic Lacquers

Vintage Metalsmith

These vintage styled Tornado designs use antiqued finishes to give it an aged appearance or use old historical themes for their designs. Such as U.S. flags (Bennington), WWII warbirds (P-51 Mustang + more) and Historical figures (Frederick Douglass, Nikola Tesla + more) Each Tornado is loaded with a rollerball refill and packaged in a Retro brand tube or matching custom tube. Also in the collection: Raw Brass, Raw Copper, and Brutus (barber pole).

Check out All Vintage Metalsmiths
variety of Tornado Rescue series pens from past and present

Rescue Collection

With the Rescue series , proceeds of each sale is donated to a non-profit to help the causes shown. Dog Rescue and Cat Rescue are shown with printed graphics over stainless barrel. Buzz has an etched honeycomb pattern thats been printed over with bees. Each Tornado packaged in a matching tube.

Check out the Rescue Collection

Global Reach

Since 1990, Retro51 has partnered with over 100 retailers. And we continue to grow the number knowing that these connections have been important to expanding our love of writing to the entire world.

Check out Our Dealers