It is an accepted fact that the "fountain pen" originated
in the U.S.A. Since the early years of the last century,
there were many different American pen companies producing
very lovely and solid pens. Both the American design and
the American ink filling techniques were always innovative.
These had a leading role for companies of different countries,
particularly in Europe.
In Italy, during the late 30s, at the onset of the Second
World War, the American patents were not always respected,
either by the Italian Government or by Italian companies.
It's for this reason that, during this period, some minor
Italian pen companies 'borrowed' the American technical innovation
in order to produce very lovely and well made pens.
I would like to take the opportunity to show you here some
pictures and give some information concerning these minor
THE PEN.CO MANUFACTURERS
On the basis of my knowledge, Pen. Co was based in Vicenza
and was founded by Rossi brothers. Although it was an Italian
company, the founders chose an "American" name to be engraved
on their pens. It was probably in order to give major importance
to their products. One of the most famous Pen.co's pen was
a model which was named "53" (below).
Pen Co "53"
Particularly, the Pen.Co's pen shown above is 5,1 inches
long. It appears to be clear that the Pen.co borrowed both
the Sheaffer's touch-down ink filling system and the Sheaffer's
triumph nib (right).
It was for this reason that Sheaffer asked the Italian tribunal
to sue the Pen.Co. The tribunal found in favour of Sheaffer
and Pen.Co ceased the production of this model. The penalty
was very high and it for both this financial reason and
the arrival of the "ball-point" pen that the Pen.co ceased
to exist. When I am writing with my Pen.Co 53, I feel I
am using a lighter version of Sheaffer's touch-down pen.
This is an useful characteristic expecially when I must
work all-day with my pen. Another difference with respect
to Sheaffer models is that the nib of my Pen Co appears
to be fairly flexible.
THE SARATOGA PEN COMPANY
As far as I know, the Saratoga pen company was based in
Milan and was founded by Mr. Mario Webber. It is noted that
Mr. Webber imported Parker pens to Italy for many years.I
read that Webber produced vacumatic ink filling pens which
had two-tone arrow nibs. The illustration on the left shows
the Saratoga's "arrow" nib. It is clear that Saratoga co.
'borrowed' the Parker's "arrow" nib. Nevertheless, it is
not a "two-tone" nib.
This famous Italian pen company was founded in 1916 and
it was based in Florence. During the 30s, Tibaldi produced
very well made pens. One of the most important models produced
by Tibaldi was the "transparent" model (below).
This pen was made of wonderful transparent celluloid. The
barrel can show a helical transparency. In particular, the
Tibaldi's pen shown above is about 5.1 inches long. At the
onset of World War II, Tibaldi borrowed the Parker Vacumatic
ink filling system, with some modification. In order to
fill it with ink it was first of all necessary to unscrew
the plunger at the end of the barrel and then depress the
plunger several times (below).
The diaphragm size is the same of Parker 51 vacumatic.
In order to remove the filler unit it's necessary to unscrew
the small celluloid's cap posted at the end of the plunger.
After removing this small cap, it's possible to observe
a small screw. This screw represents the key to remove the
Tibaldi's filler unit.
VINTAGE ITALIAN PENS AND THE
In 1941 Parker introduced the "51". It is generally accepted
that Parker "51" is one of the best pens ever produced.
In particular, the hooded nib allows the pen to use faster
dryng ink. In Italy, during the 40's, there existed some
pen companies which borrowed the "hooded nib". The illustration
below shows two lovely celluloid pens.
striated Montegrappa (top) and Astura lever-filler.
The first is a blue striated, button-filler, Montegrappa.
The second is a lever-filler Astura which was a company
based in Turin. The hooded nib was also borrowed by other
important pen companies, such as Tabo which was based in
I hope you have found the information about these minor
Italian companies useful and the pictures interesting .
Although many of these Italian pens were inspired by American
pen design, in my opinion some of them seem to be very well
made pens in their own right.