i would like to share the results of my research about one of the oldest Czechoslovak FP company: J.Brod&Co from Pardubice town in eastern Bohemia. Pardubice/Pardubitz is an ancient town on Elbe river with important chemical and machine industry tradition back from second half of 19th century. It was one of the first Bohemian towns with railroad traffic, connected via the famous North Staten Railroad (k.k.Nördliche Staatsbahn) since 1845. The pioneer aviator Jan Kašpar made the very first Bohemian airplane flight come true in Pardubice in 1911. There was also plentiful german and jewish population. Pardubice in prewar times was very prosperous town with diverse rapidly expanding industrial sites and many constructivist and art-déco buildings designed by respected Czechoslovakian architects.
Jindřich Brod was born in czech speaking jewish familly (there were also german speaking jewish families in prewar Czechoslovakia) in 1885 in small village near Čáslav/Tschaslau (40-50km from Pardubice) where his father runned prosperous store with colonial goods.
In 1920 Jindřich Brod had rented his first workshop building U kostelíčka n.108 and established his own company J.Brod&spol, generally using crowned "J" as logotype and producing lathe made tobacciana and other luxurious products from ebonite, galalit, juvelit, horn and exotic woods. Majority of his production was made for exportation. To be successful he had hired his own certificated dealers voyaging around the whole world and offering J.Brod&spol products.
As they had no children, Brod´s wife Berta directly participated on managing of the company. The J.Brod&spol runned perfectly hiring up to 90 persons in 1924.
The postcard was posted in 1924.
Around this time Jindřich Brod decided to build his own factory building, a bigger one with a larger estate land. Having in mind his ultimate project - expanding into the production of fountain pens and mechanical crayons! In february/march 1925 Brod has found the ideal place and bought Hugo Bedlich´s oilseed rape oil factory building with large estate at Na Zavadilce 836 in the very industrial part of the town nearby the main railway station.
A brand new two level 33m long factory building and smaller one level building were built in the end of 1925:
Today, name "Na Zavadilce" street exists no more, it was incorporated into "Pražská" street, number 341
Around year 1927 Jindřich Brod went to Germany and hired there FP/pencil specialist who became J.Brod&Co chief design engineer. From the archives files it is clear Jindřich Brod wanted to be able to produce top quality pens mainly for the exportation as he had efficient international dealer system. He knew he would have powerful comcurents in German and American brands. That´s why he was seeking a specialist in Germany. Later in 1930´s there were two more german specialist hired by Jindřich Brod. Their names are: Rudolf Ognar, Mr. Haase and Mr.Los. Which one was the first is not clear. Around year 1927-8 J.Brod&Co started to produce first fountain pens. They were hard rubber button fillers. Those were amongst first FPs produced in Czehoslovakia and were exportated via the already existing certified wholesale dealers system.
This is one of Jindřich Brod early pens. It is marked as his other early products by letter "J" with crown symbol on the top and marketing name King Pen. Hard rubber, hyper solid, elegant.
One funny detail: there is a mistake in word Czechoslowakia imprinted on the barrel /Czechoslovakia is correct/. It is one of my favorite FPs:
In the early 1930´s J.Brod&Co created a new trademark and started to brand their pens with IBROS/JBROS logotype. In this time Jindřich Brod came to Germany once again to hire his another two designer engineers and subsequently they started to produce piston fillers in Pardubice. Not much later antoher brand IBCO/JBCO was registered. Various typography versions exists.
The J.Brod&Co was producing high quality products designed to compete with best american and german brands of that time. Majority of their production was made to be exported around the world. In 1935 his factory was hiring more than 200 workers with capacity around 6000 FPs produced weekly. Jindřich and Berta Brod were constantly improving the marketing system and in mid 1930´s they were selling in impressive variety of places around the world.
Here is list of J.Brod&spol sample storehouses and contract representations, year 1938:
Unfortunately the brilliant success of J.BROD&Co was doomed in the early months of 1940. At that time Czechoslovakia existed no more and the factory of Jindřich Brod was confiscated by nazis. Jindřich Brod was forced to leave all his property and move in Prague, where he lived in small apartment with his wife and cousin in Kozí street. Later he was moved in Terezín ghetto and in 1943 was murdered in Mauthausen concentration camp. His wife didn´t survive the war neither.
(interesting detail Jindřich in czech language means Henry in english and word "brod" in czech means "ford" (across a river) in english! Henry Ford, if translated.)
In spring 1940 former J.BROD factory was taken by Alfred Gerlach, the owner of Imperial FP company from Liepzig in Germany. He installed himself in Pardubice (in the luxurious apartment stolen from Jindřich Brod) and with help of another german Mr. Bezner runned the factory. They produced their own pens, huge variety of piston fillers and button fillers.
in 1941 they have built another factory site in Pardubice center, but in this new place FPs were never produced, they had to produce army material there as subcontractors. On the contrary the original Brod factory was fully operational and never stopped to produce FPs. In 1944/5 it suffer some minor damages during an US air raid against Fanto mineral oil refinery which is located nearby. Photos are taken right after bombing air raid on Fanto rafinery:
Another twist came right after the war when the Imperial factory was nationalised as it was german property. Mr Bezner who was younger was successful to run away during first days in May 1945. Alfred Gerlach was not that lucky and was arrested and set in prison in Přelouč town nearby Pardubice. He had a judicial trial and probably had spent some time in prison. The factory was immediately given an emergency management and in May 1945 they get their first big contract - they produced fountain pens for the Red Army officers! This command was fulfilled in September 1945. The factory was exclusively working on Red Army command for 3 months. So it was large amount of pens, according to archives files, the factory was able to produce 7500 pens/week in may 1945! The company had changed its status into cooperative ltd. in 1946, the owners were the empoyees. They officially used Imperial trademark and they added the "Penco" trademark, their pens were branded with Penco or Pardubice Coat of Arms logotype already in early 1946. After 1950 it was named Penco only, Imperial name disappeared from official documents. The Penco cooperative ltd. existed until mid 1950´s when it was partly integrated into Centropen (ex P&LCo.) facilities in Pardubice.
Edited by Khufu, 30 December 2012 - 22:07.