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J.brod&co. - Bohemian Company Of Tormented Story


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28 replies to this topic

#1 Khufu

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 23:27

Hello,

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.
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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.
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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
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front view:
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ground level:
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1st floor:
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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:
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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.
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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:
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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.

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(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.
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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:
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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.
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Edited by Khufu, 30 December 2012 - 22:07.


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#2 myn

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 14:17

Wow! What a great look into the King Pen history, it's beginnings and various changes over the years. Thank you so much for sharing this. I found it absolutely fascinating.
"Minds are like parachutes. They only function when open." James Dewar
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#3 Khufu

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 15:13

Wow! What a great look into the King Pen history, it's beginnings and various changes over the years. Thank you so much for sharing this. I found it absolutely fascinating.


Thank you! I am happy you like it!

#4 Scrawler

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 16:24

These histories are a fascinating perspective and informs me of brands I have never heard of.

#5 Khufu

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 16:42

Here are the black and transparent Imperial Privat from 1943, Privat was their higher range of pens, one costed around 150Crowns during the WW2.
The Yellow one is Imperial 51 from around 1941, which cost around 60 Crowns. It is hyper rarissime because majority of them are black.
The last one is a beautiful Penco 40 from circa 1946, with two kinds of color metals (brass and some nikl alloy) use on trims, nice celluloid and hard rubber. Once Penco brand was established, the company continued to produce pen rather in J.Brod style and in a higher quality then war-years Imperials. It is not surprising because 80% of the employees were the same as in 1940 when factory was confiscated.
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Edited by Khufu, 30 December 2012 - 16:53.


#6 pen2paper

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 16:50

fascinating history, thank you for sharing..
have you seen any of the pre-war pens?

emoticon-animal-007.gif~Hi! fountain pen enthusiast here~


#7 Khufu

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 17:03

fascinating history, thank you for sharing..
have you seen any of the pre-war pens?


Hi,

Yes i have some prewar JBrod pens and pencils, but first i have to restore them. I will add some pics later.

#8 markiv

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 17:09

Thank you for introducing another obscure brand and for a rewarding history lesson.
The King pen is superb in all its simplicity.

One request/favor - Will it be possible to include pictures/co-ordinates of these wonderful sites, from Google Maps (or Bing or any other)? I tend to think of it as instant time travel. I tried to do the same for your Polák & Lukesle thread but am unsure of the results I got.
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#9 Khufu

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 17:35

Thank you for introducing another obscure brand and for a rewarding history lesson.
The King pen is superb in all its simplicity.

One request/favor - Will it be possible to include pictures/co-ordinates of these wonderful sites, from Google Maps (or Bing or any other)? I tend to think of it as instant time travel. I tried to do the same for your Polák & Lukesle thread but am unsure of the results I got.



Hi, do you mean locations on maps? I will provide that after dinner.

#10 markiv

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 17:40

Thank you for introducing another obscure brand and for a rewarding history lesson.
The King pen is superb in all its simplicity.

One request/favor - Will it be possible to include pictures/co-ordinates of these wonderful sites, from Google Maps (or Bing or any other)? I tend to think of it as instant time travel. I tried to do the same for your Polák & Lukesle thread but am unsure of the results I got.



Hi, do you mean locations on maps? I will provide that after dinner.


Yep - thank you.
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#11 Khufu

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 18:54

Thank you for introducing another obscure brand and for a rewarding history lesson.
The King pen is superb in all its simplicity.

One request/favor - Will it be possible to include pictures/co-ordinates of these wonderful sites, from Google Maps (or Bing or any other)? I tend to think of it as instant time travel. I tried to do the same for your Polák & Lukesle thread but am unsure of the results I got.



Hi, do you mean locations on maps? I will provide that after dinner.


Yep - thank you.


Here is link to .kmz files for Google Earth:
https://www.dropbox....fnrv/Paf9wkFrRQ

Edited by Khufu, 30 December 2012 - 19:39.


#12 pavoni

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 19:41

What a fabulous contribution you make to this forum Khufu. Thank you very much. :clap1:

Pavoni.

#13 Khufu

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 20:04

What a fabulous contribution you make to this forum Khufu. Thank you very much. :clap1:

Pavoni.

Thanks:)
This forum is an amazing place and it is my pleasure to contribute!

Edited by Khufu, 30 December 2012 - 20:05.


#14 akiva

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 10:45

I too, have found this report most fascinating!!
Keep up the good work!

#15 Scrawler

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 17:50

I too, have found this report most fascinating!!
Keep up the good work!

I agree. Almost daily I open this site and learn something interesting. It is interesting that fountain pens reached their zenith in Europe during the same period as the worst political and social upheaval of all time.

#16 Terry

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 20:47

Very interesting article, thanks!

I have an unmarked pen, that I believe to be Czech, with a nib marked "The King 14K".

Could it be a nib produced by Jindřich Brod?

Until now I always thought that nib was Italian, as the Società Anonima Pennini King also produced pens named "The King" there.



#17 Khufu

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 13:14

Hi.

All Brod pens i have seen were marked with "King Pen", "Cambridge Pen", "Jbros" or "Jbco". He used very probably even more brand names. I suspect two more brands to be Brod´s ones. I hope i will find some more archive files about it.

As for Brod nibs - i have seen one gold nib marked "Jbros".

From archives files it seems in first years of FP production Brod was using imported nibs. Brod own nibs were made after year 1933/4.

 

Can you post some photos of your pen?


Edited by Khufu, 21 June 2013 - 18:22.


#18 MisterBoll

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 15:19

Thanks! Great info and very nice looking pens.



#19 ethernautrix

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 00:40

I was given a Czech pen - Centropen 10012 - that is a pretty pearlescent green color with clear jewels (or end caps). I'll try to take a photo this weekend and upload it.

 

Thanks for the topic. It's very interesting.


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#20 dasmarians

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 03:09

My Imperials............. stylos nos.

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