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140 Years of Kaweco

While the name ‘Kaweco’ didn’t exist until later, the story of Kaweco goes back to 1883, with the founding of the Heidelberger Federhalterfabrik, or Heidelberg fountain pen factory. A few years later, in 1889, the company was taken over by Heinrich Koch and Rudolph Weber, who used a modified version of their own initials to create the Kaweco name. The Perkeo name was also used at this time.

Jumping forward to 1911, they designed a handy pocketable fountain pen, which was the birth of the Kaweco Sport, one of their most popular pens to this day.

In 1930, the name, machinery, stock and patents were all bought by a smaller pen maker, which gave us another part of the Kaweco story - the current circular logo with KA/WE/CO divided into thirds. This company was still going strong until the 1970s, but the brand faded after that.

Fortunately, along came Michael Gutberlet. He ran a successful business mainly producing cosmetics for big brands, but he had a passion for pens, and especially loved Kaweco’s designs. When the brand name became available, he snapped it up, and worked with Diplomat to produce a range of new pens under the Kaweco name, using his pen expertise and manufacturing experience to make quality products that people loved, echoing the classic Sport design.

These were very popular, leading the new Kaweco to success in its own right, with the range expanding ever since.

As an aside, it may sound odd to most people that a cosmetics company would also make pens, but it’s surprisingly common - quite a few big names in the pen and pencil world also make cosmetics, often for other brands or under a different name. Many cosmetics are made in the form of pencils, and there’s some crossover of techniques between making cosmetics and making inks, pencil lead and pigments. They often start as high quality pigments, usually in powder form.

One of Michael’s favourite things to do is scouring his own collection of vintage Kaweco pens, and old catalogues, looking for inspiration. This process has given us some of the most popular modern pens, including the handy pocketable Sport range. The same sources led to the tiny Liliput, and the comfortable and fashionable Perkeo. For the latter, their ties to the cosmetics industry has helped too, letting them make pens in up-and-coming colour combinations, bringing a touch of modern fashion to a classically-styled pen.

But even after all these years, that 1911 design, the Sport, remains one of the most popular pens around, especially as a pocketable fountain pen - some things never change.

140th Anniversary of Kaweco

If you’ve managed to reach the age of 140, you have something to celebrate, so Kaweco aren’t letting the anniversary pass by. And of course, they’re celebrating the best way they know how - with a special edition pen that brings back their own history.

Kaweco's 140th anniversary 'Ebonit' Sport pen

It’s made from Ebonite - a form of hardened rubber that was commonly used for pens back in the early days of the Kaweco brand, but is now usually considered too difficult to work with, not fitting in with modern manufacturing techniques. But it’s a special material, named for its similarity to ebony, often showing a lovely marbling or striped patterning, reminiscent of exotic wood. The hardening process leaves a characteristic sulphurous smell, and the material ages nicely, picking up a patina that can be polished away if desired. Care instructions are included.

It's supplied in card gift packaging, with a set of all ten colours of Kaweco ink cartridges, and a pocket clip. At the time of writing, it's available to pre-order, due out in October - the Kaweco Ebonit Sport Fountain Pen Set 140th Anniversary Edition.

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