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The History of the Presidential Pen

There are actually three main types of pens typically called presidential pens. The first and perhaps the most well-known are bill signing pens. These are the pen or pens used by the President when he signs a bill into law during a signing ceremony. The second type is pens distributed by The White House or government agencies, as souvenirs or gifts. The third type is pens given out during presidential campaigns or during visits to events and locations by the President during his term of office.

What are presidential pens?

There are actually three main types of pens typically called presidential pens. The first and perhaps the most well-known are bill signing pens. These are the pen or pens used by the President when he signs a bill into law during a signing ceremony. The second type is pens distributed by The White House or government agencies, as souvenirs or gifts. The third type is pens given out during presidential campaigns or during visits to events and locations by the President during his term of office.

Where did the tradition of Bill Signing Ceremonies Start?

Today’s bill signing ceremonies date back to when British monarchs gave their approval (called Royal Assent) to acts of parliament.  American signing ceremonies are considered an offshoot of that practice.

Why are so many pens used in each ceremony?

When a bill is passed and presented to the President of the United States for signing, it is traditional for the President to invite leaders of Congress and members of organizations that were instrumental in passing the bill to the ceremony.  This tradition acknowledges the support and hard work of those individuals, many of whom will receive a signing pen as a souvenir of the occasion.

How many pens are used in each ceremony?

That varies bill by bill. To date that record belongs to President Lyndon Johnson, who in 1964 signed the Civil Rights Act using a whopping 75 pens.  Recipients included Martin Luther King, Jr, Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.

What is the most famous presidential pen?

That honor probably belongs to the pen that Gerald Ford used to pardon President Richard Nixon after Nixon resigned during the Watergate era. Last we heard that pen is still on display at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum.

Do Presidents ever given pens as gifts outside of bill signing ceremonies?

Yes, in fact giving away pens is a White House tradition. Visitors to The White House, dignitaries, VIP’s and contributors are often given pens as souvenirs of their visit. It is not unusual for The White House to have numerous different qualities of pens that are given out depending on the status of the recipient. For instance, a dignitary from a foreign country might be given an elaborate and somewhat expensive pen set, while a citizen visiting someone a department within the government might receive an inexpensive version.

Who manufacturers presidential pens?

Over the past decades, numerous pen manufacturers have been used by The White House, most notably A.T. Cross Co, Parker Pen Company and Esterbrook Pens.

Do all presidential pens have the President’s name on them?

Typically, pens have the Presidents facsimile signature printed on the barrel of the pen and may sometimes include “The White House” above or below the signature.  There also occasions when the President’s name does not appear on a pen. For instance, bill signing pens used by John F Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson often omitted the President’s name in favor of simply saying “THE PRESIDENT – THE WHITE HOUSE”.

Lori Ferber Collectibles is a leading dealer in presidential collectibles. Their website includes numerous examples of presidential pens, cufflinks, and other White House souvenir items that can be purchased by the general public. Their website can be found at www.loriferber.com

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  • I want to thank you both for your wonderful business. With my being deeply involved in the Political arena your business feeds to my love for Politics, I enjoy getting a hold of great Political Items that are part of History collecting these treasures are a personal Hobby to me! I have ordered from you both on a number of occasions and I have to say that I am truly amazed and I appreciate everything - the speedy response, to the great customer service, the speedy arrival of items purchased arriving on time to my doorstep when promised, and more. Thank again for all that you both do for this Country through your wonderful business. I endorse Lori Ferber Collectibles!
    Walter S, Michigan February 02, 2017
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    - Shoshana, Golden Valley Minnesota October 11, 2016
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    P.W. February 26, 2015
  • Lori: Thank you ever so much for the Presidential Inaugural Invitation. I was moved because it means so very much to me. I was in Washington D.C. last year during the inauguration, however, I had been hoping to eventually obtain something this special (I even wrote to my Congressman and others). Again, thank you so much and may you have continued success in your business in the coming years.
    W.M. February 20, 2015
  • Thank you very much for your assistance in making sure that the gift is now perfect. I have been spreading the word about the excellent customer service I've received from you
    A. H. February 26, 2015
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