In Italy, during the 30s and 40s, there were several
companies producing lovely and high quality fountain pens.
Unfortunately, some of these pen manufacturers never received
a great following from vintage pen collectors. Although
these lesser known Italian companies were producing very
solid pens, nowadays, only few collectors own these, and
few of them are aware of the existence of these Italian
So now we present the history of Radius
pen company and also show some interesting pens produced
from the late 30s to early 50s.
We read that Radius was a company formed by
Cisea Co. On the basis of our research, both Cisea and Radius
were based in Turin, Italy. From the 30's to late 50s, during
the celluloid era, these two companies produced a wide series
of interesting and well made fountain pens, although we
know that pens engraved "Cisea" were of lower quality than
"Radius" pens. It is reported that
the most famous model produced by Radius
co. was the "superior" (figures 1,2,3,4).
We don't agree fully with this assertion. In fact, Radius
also produced other different models of great interest,
such as the "extra".
The Radius ink filling techniques
On the basis of our research, the Radius superior was produced from the late 30s
to 50s. Initially, the ink filling techinique used was the
"button-filler", after which the "piston-filler" was adopted
(figure 5 below).
Nevertheless, although the company started to use the "piston-filler",
the production of "button-filler" pens still continued for
several years. The piston filler models were adopting both
a translucent section to monitor the ink level and a large
transparency of the barrel.
At present, it was known the fact that Radius used only "button" and "piston"
filler techniques. Interestingly, I and Edoardo recently found
a lovely Radius "extra" showing a different and fairly original
ink filling technique (figures 6 and 7 below).
Probably, building this particular pen, Radius Co. attempted
to produce a "button-filler" pen which showed a transparency
in order to monitor the ink level. How could a button-filler
pen have a translucent section to monitor the ink level?
We know well that Waterman produced a similar "lever filler"
pen: named the "Ink-Vue". Nevertheless, into "Ink-vue", ink
wets the celluloid's barrel. So, after that many years have
passed, the ink may alter the colour of the celluloid . In
our opinion, Radius solved this problem using a second reservoir
contained within the pen's barrel. Obviously, the reservoir
and the large barrel's section were made of transparent celluloid.
Still another interesting characteristic of this Radius was
the presence of a "tube-feed" ( as may be observed in the
Waterman's ink-vue or in Parker vacumatic) by which the ink
was filled into reservoir. Thus, this Radius seems to have
a "button-vacumatic" ink filling technique, and the only difference
was the absence of diaphragm, there is only a simple sac.
To fill the ink it was necessary depress the "button" for
few times. In our opinion, there were some substantials differenced
between the Radius ink filling technique and the mechanism
used by Parker vacumatic. Firstly, the Radius' system don't
use diaphragms, but uses a common sac. Secondly, the Radius'
filler unit seems to be much simpler and consisted of fewer
parts than the Parker vac. filler unit. Third, in Radius,
the ink will not alter the colours of celluloid barrel and
affect its transparency.
Generally, Radius co. produced pens made of different and lovely colours. As
a general rule, these pens showed "Radius superior" or "Radius
extra" engraved on the barrel. In addition, the superior
model was engraved with the register number: "REG. N° 3246".
Generally, the clips were all gold-plated. Sometime, we
may observe "R" or "Radius" to be engraved on the clip.
The nibs were made all of solid 14Kt gold. Nibs were also of differing size
and dimension. Radius' nibs were numbered in order to indicate
its dimension. Of great interest was the fact that we found
Radius' nibs numbered from 2 to 10 (fig 8 below ).
Interestingly, we compared the Radius' nib No. 10 with the
large nib which was adopted by Waterman "Patrician" (figure
9 below right). Generally, Radius superior nibs were engraved
"Radius superior 585", although We also found some Radius
superior's nibs without the number. As a general rule, Radius'
nibs were fairly flexible and
were also both smooth and excellent writers.
It is known that, at present, no detailed information, concerning Radius Co.,
has appeared in the most important vintage fountain pen books.
Here, on Pentrace.com, we have published the first accurate
and complete article concerning this less known Italian pen
company. It is known that Radius is considered among the "minor"
Italian pen companies. In this regard, Edoardo and I have
some interesting questions:
Firstly, why did a pen company which produced fountain pens adopt three different
ink filling techniques?
Secondly, why did a pen company use solid gold nibs with
at least five different dimensions?
Finally, why did they use so large a nib, such as the
Radius No. 10?
Is the Radius Co. still to be considered among
the "minor" italian pen companies?