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The Radius Pen Company
Another little known Italian Pen Company
by Dario Giorgi and Edoardo Marino

The Radius Pen CompanyFigure 1

 

 

 

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 companies.

Figure 2

So now we present the history of Radius pen company and also show some interesting pens produced from the late 30s to early 50s.

Figure 3

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 thatFigure 4

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).Figure 5 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).Figure 6 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?Figure 7 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.

Radius' nibs

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 ).Figure 8 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 anFigure 9d were also both smooth and excellent writers.

Conclusion

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?

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