Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bohemia

Pen company Ripet is one of those dark horses in the world of writing tools. Not many people might know about it or about pens from the now extinct country of Czechoslovakia. Actually, about a dozen pen brands existed before the Second World War. The Communist regime of 1948 reduced this number to just three —Centropen, Hardtmuth and Bohemia Works, all under the umbrella of Koh-i-Noor L. & C. Hardtmuth National Company— by the late 1940s by grouping together the facilities and designs of the previous brands. The great paradox was that many of those  —Ripet among them, plus some others like Barclay and Penco— lived a golden time in sales and profits right after the war, between 1945 and 1948. Bohemia, the Westernmost Czechoslovakian region, did not suffer so heavy bombings as was the case in Germany. Consequently, these companies could go back to producing good quality pens much faster then their German competitors.

The creation of the Communist State after the coup d’état of February 1948 brought a centrally planned economy. As a result, the pen company Ripet, founded in 1919 in the city of České Budějovice, became part of the already mentioned public enterprise Centropen (founded in 1941 by Mr. Stejskal and Mr. Novotný and nationalized in this same year of 1948).


A Ripet Popular 90D from the time when Centropen already existed.


The instruction sheet includes the names of several pen brands: Ripet, and Centropen; and Koh-i-Noor/Hardtmuth as the mother company. The coexistence of these three names shows this pen belonged to the 1948-1950 period in which the brand Ripet was kept alive within the Centropen operation.

The name Ripet was preserved for just a couple of years. By 1950 all traces of it had disappeared from Centropen. But between 1948 and 1949 both names coexisted on catalogs and other related documents.

Such was the case of the Ripet Popular 90D. The instruction sheet carries the name of several pen brands: Ripet, and Centropen; and Koh-i-Noor/Hardtmuth as the mother company. The coexistence of these three names shows this pen belonged to the 1948-1950 period in which the brand Ripet was kept alive within the Centropen operation. The pen, on its side, is a very interesting piston filler, as the letter D indicated. It is made of celluloid from the UMA plant (within the Synthesia national company) in Pardubice, also in Bohemia.

This factory, created in 1942, had been spared from the bombings and its state-of-the art machinery could produce high-quality celluloid, among other plastics, for both domestic and foreign markets. Aurora and Montegrappa used this Czechoslovakian celluloid on some of their models. The UMA plant was destroyed by an explosion in 1984. It was reconstructed afterwards, but that event marked the end of the fountain pen industry in Czechoslovakia. On its side, this country disappeared on January 1st, 1993.


The barrel is engraved: "RIPET POPULAR / 90D / CZECHOSLOVAKIA".


The steel nib is also engraved, but it is not legible beyond the obvious "WARRANTED".

These are the dimensions of this Ripet Popular 90D:
Length closed: 119 mm
Length open: 110 mm (this pen does not post)
Diameter: 12.5 mm
Weight (dry): 13.9 g.
Ink deposit: 1.1 ml.

This text was elaborated with information provided by Fountain Pen Network member Khufu. His website centropens.weebly.com is a work in progress on Czechoslovakian fountain pens.

My thanks to Mr. Álvaro Romillo.


Montblanc 221 – Pelikan 4001 Royal blue

Bruno Taut
Madrid, December 18th, 2012
etiquetas: Checoslovaquia, Ripet, Centropen, Koh-i-Noor - Hardtmuth, Aurora, Montegrappa

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