Ballograf got started by a duo of Austrian inventors who set up shop in Sweden. Why Sweden? The year was 1945 and with both Germany and Austria still in a terrible state from the war, Sweden was a good place to do business with an intact infrastructure. Ballografverken one of the first to produce a push button ballpoint pen (no need for a cap). They were the first to produce an archival ink in a ballpoint cartridge. Ballograf was a huge success in the Nordic countries and eventually spread to other European nations. They have also produced fountain pens and mechanical pencils.
The famous BIC corporation recognized Ballograf's fine quality pen products and bought the company in 1959. See that logo on the clip? It looks like a generic symbol of a person, similar to what BiC has used. The same logo appears on their other writing instruments, like the Epoca. Later in the 2000's, BIC divested itself of the Ballograf subsidiary and put it back into the hands of Swedes. Today, Ballograf produces more than 4 million writing instruments per year, with a workforce of only 30 employees!
I came across my first Ballograf pen while attending a software conference in Zurich Switzerland. At such conferences there are usually all kinds of free things given away by vendors as part of marketing efforts and company branded pens is one of the more common items to be found. I ended up with a white Ballograf ballpoint pen, lightly branded for some company and "EPOCA" engraved on the metal band. Immediately I recognized it was not just another cheap capless ballpoint pen, despite being made of plastic. It came with a quality polished stainless steel clip, button cap, and nose cone. I've had it for over 10 years and the Ballograf branded "Made in Sweden" ink cartridge still works! It looks to be Parker style in terms of shape, but the back end isn't the same and it won't fit in the pen (it may just require shaving down the back plug a bit).
When I searched around to learn more about Ballograf, I saw they have an interesting line of pen and pencil designs, but not really marketed to the USA. However, you can find them on eBay and occasionally on Amazon. But it seems to enjoy the full breadth of their offerings, you have to look to Europe.
I recently got an Opus II set with pen and pencil. This was sent to me by Ballograf in thanks to my enthusiasm for one of their now discontinued mechanical pencils. I have to say that I'm very impressed with the quality.
Here's the older Ballograf Era mechanical pencil:
This is the newer Opus II:
So if you ever spot a Ballograf branded pen or pencil, take a moment to check it out.