Though we love scouring the world for the latest and greatest in stationery supplies, there are gems to be found right in our backyard. With its rich history in manufacturing, the United States is home to some of the best stationery companies. Keep reading to see some of our favorite brands that are carrying on the American tradition of in-house manufacturing.
A company that’s been around since 1918, Autopoint has gone through many changes, but one thing hasn’t changed—their commitment to producing high-quality, American-made mechanical pencils. Now located in Janesville, Wisconsin, Autopoint continues to create iconic pencils that are popular worldwide.
Staff Pick: Twinpoint Mechanical Pencils
The quintessential Autopoint product has to be the Twinpoint Mechanical Pencil. This unique and convenient mechanical pencil is double-sided, with each side featuring a different colored lead. The pencil uses a twisting mechanism to extend the lead, making it easy to control how much lead is used. With multiple color combination offerings, it’s no wonder that it’s well loved by draftsmen and accountants everywhere.
This design studio is responsible for bringing us the perfect vessel for the perfect pen refill. Owners Che-Wei Wang and Taylor Levy’s goal is to create lasting designs that go beyond conventional thinking. The result? Products with clean aesthetics, intuitive interfaces, and robust construction.
Staff Pick: Pen Type-A
We were all thinking it—surely, something as wonderful as the Hi-Tec-C refill deserved to be housed in something more durable than plastic. CW&T brought this idea to life with the Pen Type-A. Made of stainless steel, the pen body is smooth and weighty, more than worthy of carrying the Hi-Tec-C. It comes with a sleeve that doubles as a ruler and pen protector, ensuring that the pen will be enjoyed for generations to come. If you’d like a sleeker case, check out Pen Type-A’s brother, Pen Type-B.
As a young artist, Daniel Smith found that commercial printing inks were not suitable for the slower methods of print artists. He set out to create an ink that would better meet their needs. Over the years, the demand for his ink grew and his business expanded to include other products. Now Daniel Smith is a leading designer and manufacturer of high-quality watercolors and oils, all made with the artist in mind.
Staff Pick: Extra Fine Watercolor Tubes
Made by hand in Seattle, Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors are known for their incredibly rich quinacridone (a group of saturated and colorful pigments) and luminescent colors. Some watercolors are even infused with actual precious gemstones and minerals that yield diverse effects, ranging from subtle granulation to brilliant sparkle. These watercolors have an unparalleled range of colors that are highly pigmented and amazingly smooth, making them an artist favorite. See them in action here.
The best ideas are the spontaneous ones. Chad Doane, the founder of Doane Paper, noticed in a meeting that half the people in the room were using lined paper, while the other half were using gridded paper. What if the two sheet styles were combined into one notebook? Thus Doane Paper was born. Doane Paper now creates notebooks and notepads with their unique Grid + Lines pattern, allowing users to take advantage of grid and ruled styles simultaneously.
Staff Pick: Grid + Lines Idea Journal
As the product of a great idea and made to hold your great ideas, the Idea Journal combines the best of both worlds with Doane Paper’s signature Grid + Lines pattern. Whether it’s doodling, note-taking, or diagram-making, the Idea Journal’s sheet style can handle them all. Its sturdy chipboard cover keeps the contents safe when you’re out and about gathering thoughts and ideas.
Utilitarian, quirky, and maybe even fun, Field Notes makes “an honest memo book, worth fillin’ up with good information.” Inspired by 1920’s agricultural memo books, Aaron Draplin created the very first Field Notes after he couldn’t find a sketchbook that he liked. Now a mainstream brand, Field Notes has released dozens of variations on their pocket notebooks. With their light-hearted sense of humor and a fresh style that’s not overly stylized, Field Notes has amassed quite the fan following—ourselves included.
Staff Pick: Pitch Black Memo Book
The Pitch Black edition sums up why we like Field Notes so much. It’s minimalistic, yet stylish; portable, yet functional. It’s available in several different sheet styles–we prefer the dot grid as it offers a discreet guideline that won’t get in the way of your creativity.
Fisher Space Pen
Although it makes for a good story, it’s a myth that the Russians used pencils in space, while NASA spent millions of dollars developing a space pen. The truth is, Paul Fisher had dreamed of creating “the perfect pen,” a pressurized ink pen that could write in all kinds of extreme conditions, long before he approached NASA with the original Fisher Space Pen. NASA performed their own rigorous tests on the pen for two years. After passing with flying colors, the Fisher Space Pen accompanied Apollo 7 astronauts into space.
Staff Pick: Bullet Ballpoint Pens
A piece of American space history lives on in the Fisher Space Pen Bullet Ballpoint Pens. This legendary pen does it all—not only does it write in zero gravity situations, it writes underwater, over grease, and when faced with extreme temperatures. It comes in a variety of finishes, including metal, matted metal, and wood, and even sports a wide range of pressurized ink refill colors.
It’s a tale of two Higgins—there is much speculation behind the invention of the renowned Higgins inks as no one knows for sure if it was a certain Charles M. Higgins or Rufus L. Higgins who formulated the inks in the late 1800s. Regardless of its origins, the inks themselves were huge hits and are now cult favorites amongst artists and calligraphers alike.
Staff Pick: Calligraphy Ink
This affordable black calligraphy ink is great for calligraphy beginners. Its low viscosity means that it pairs well with a variety of tools, including dip pens, brush pens, and other drawing pens. The ink is extremely waterproof and has a matte finish that gives your calligraphy an understated elegance.
For over 30 years, Jacquard has been making artist and craft inks. The Katz family started this business from their garage, creating inks for other companies. They transformed in the late 1980’s when they began manufacturing their own art supplies under the Jacquard name, and the rest is history. Jacquard is still family-owned and operated, and all products are made right here in Northern California.
Staff Pick: Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments
Jacquard’s Pearl Ex pigments are truly versatile. You can mix them into watercolors, inks, glue, resin, or even modeling clay to create unique art and crafts! They’re available in an array of stunning colors. Our favorite way to use them is to mix them with gum arabic to use as a sparkly calligraphy ink. See how we do it here in this video.
With experience in machining, automotive restoration, industrial design, and more, Karas Kustoms has extended their expertise to create quality writing tools. From product development to manufacturing, everything is done in-house and held to rigorous standards, taking “hand-made” to a whole new level. Note: Kara doesn’t exist. The shop is named after the owner Bill Karas.
Staff Pick: Retrakt Pen
The Retrakt pen was designed to be “the last pen you’ll ever need.” A retractable pen body that features an all-metal clicker mechanism, it comes without a refill for you to install your favorite Pilot G2 or Parker ballpoint compatible refill. Made from solid copper, brass, or silver aluminum, the Retrakt is luxuriously weighty and built to last.
California-based designer KC was ready to give up in frustration as she wrote hundreds of addresses for her wedding invitations, unable to keep each line straight. Instead, she dreamed up the idea of a reusable address template and the Lettermate was born. Since then, countless calligraphers and letter-writers have used the Lettermate to create delightful and beautifully composed envelopes.
Staff Pick: Envelope Addressing Guide
The Lettermate Addressing Guide is every letter-writer’s dream come true. This handy template helps you write perfectly straight addresses on envelopes and packages. It features four equally sized and spaced lines for writing addresses, as well as ruler and grid lines to help keep each letter nice and even. Your envelopes will look so polished that your penpal will wonder if you got them professionally done–it’ll be our little secret!
The pen community’s very own Brad Dowdy from The Pen Addict teamed up with designer and seamster Jeff Bruckwicki to create Nock Co. Nock Co. designs and creates cases made right here in the USA that demonstrate a strong passion for both pens and practical gear. Their cases feature functional and thoughtful details like durable fabrics, protective flaps, and individual pen sleeves.
Staff Pick: Brasstown Pen Case
At first glance, the Brasstown looks like your typical one pocket pen pouch. However, this changes once you unzip it. The pen case has a roll-out tongue with six slots for storing your favorite go-to pens. It’s definitely an interesting twist on the traditional pen roll. You can keep everything else in the main compartment, which has plenty of space for storing additional pens and other extras.
This quirky brand of inks was developed by Nathan Tardif and named after the sport of catching catfish with your bare hands. He was inspired by the egalitarianism of noodling–no amount of money or connections can give you an advantage over anyone else. This philosophy extends into every aspect of Tardif’s operation. All of his inks are made by hand right here in the United States using locally sourced components, and the inks are priced as low as possible to make them accessible to all.
Staff Pick: Standard Inks
We recommend starting out with Noodler’s line of standard inks. Available in a variety of amazing and vibrant colors, these inks are great for use with any fountain pen. Although they lack some of the specialty features of Tardif’s other ink lines, they work well on most absorbent papers that are not normally fountain pen friendly. To learn more about Noodler’s other inks, see our comprehensive guide here.
We take it for granted, but the standard weekly planner format didn’t always exist. Frustrated by the daily appointment books of the time, a young doctor in Marseille, France, Dr. Beltrami, designed a grid that organized a week in two pages. This allowed him to schedule each day while seeing all the important events of his week at a glance. Encouraged by family and friends, he created the company Quo Vadis in 1954 to share his creation with everyone. These days, Quo Vadis makes a variety of notebooks and planners in Hamburg, NY.
Staff Pick: ME Journal
Quo Vadis has kept up with the times with the ME Journal. Each page features a QR code that adds another dimension to the journal by linking videos, photos, audio recordings, and more through a smartphone. It’s definitely a new and innovative way to journal! With its high quality Clairefontaine paper, your written words can be enjoyed for years to come.
In 1899, C. Howard Hunt formed a company to manufacture dip pens in Camden, New Jersey. One of the dip pens was named “Speedball,” and it featured a square-tipped nib that could make both broad and thin lines. Today, to pay homage to this iconic pen, this company is known as Speedball. Speedball still produces the same classic pens that have delighted users for a century, while adding various calligraphy markers, inks, and other products to their line-up.
Staff Pick: Calligraphy Pen Set
Perfect for beginners and experts alike, this set is a great introduction to the world of Speedball. It has everything you need to get started on a calligraphy or art masterpiece. With a variety of nibs included in the set, experiment with different styles of calligraphy, including Roman and Italic lettering. Some of the nibs are also suitable for line drawings and ornamental and fine line work.
Story Supply Co. is a craft stationery and design firm devoted to creating tools that help people tell their story. With analog products that range from notebooks to pens, they want to inspire artists, storytellers, and makers to capture their ideas, design beautiful things, or simply write. They are committed to supporting sustainable manufacturing right here in the U.S.A.
Staff Pick: Pocket Staple Notebook
Small enough to fit in your pocket and strong enough to hold big ideas, these pocket notebooks feature 70 lb paper that works with your favorite pencil or fountain pen. The notebooks come in three sheet styles: graph, lined, and blank. Luxurious leather covers are also available to hold the notebooks. We appreciate that purchasing a set of notebooks helps to support a good cause: for each set sold, Story Supply Co. will donate a Story Supply kit to help kids in underserved communities learn to write and express themselves.
We all have our own systems when it comes to notebooks. With that in mind, a team of online publishers, who also happened to be daily notebook users, came up with a standardized system for lists, reminders, and other notes and packed it inside a stylish little notebook that they named Word. Word Notebooks is their answer to the perfect pocket notebook.
Staff Pick: The Adventure Log
The Adventure Log is the ideal companion to bring with you when wanderlust hits. Its unique page layout is designed to record all the amazing trips and expeditions. Its small size makes it easy to slip into your carry on or bag, and its simple, minimalist design is attractive and discreet. Keep all your finished notebooks together, and you’re left with a lifetime of memories.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this little excursion into the land of stars and stripes. Let us know if you’ve tried any of these products and what you think of them in the comments below.