We’ve been writing history since 1945
Ask a friend to imagine a ballpoint pen. Chances are that what they’ll see before them is a Ballograf pen. Pens that almost every Swede has used at some point come from our factory, pens that have become an indispensable part of people’s everyday lives. But let’s start from the beginning.
Blessing in disguise
Our story starts with our founder, the office supplies salesman Erik Spitzer, fleeing an Austria that had been invaded by Nazi Germany. He arrived in Sweden in 1939 via Estonia and Finland. He actually considered heading on to the USA but stayed put because of the war – and a good thing too! Because in 1945 he founded the company that is now known as Ballograf.
At that time the ballpoint pen was the height of fashion, despite some distrust of its novelty. The market was clamouring for ballpoint pens. They even became subject to smuggling. For example, in Gothenburg a crewman aboard the vessel Gripsholm was found to be wearing a specially made vest containing 180 ballpoint pens.
Ballograf’s first pens were manufactured in a small garage, but in 1948 the company moved to newly built premises in Mölndal. That is also when the first pen was launched, which became a sales success. The model was called “Copy” and was marketed as “bank and postal safe” and as a “waistcoat pocket ornament”. It became the most sold ballpoint pen in the Nordic region. The name Ballograf was still unknown, but that was about to change…
Handiwork and quality control ladies
The name Ballograf is a portmanteau of the Greek “ballo”, meaning ball, and the word “graf”, which means to write. And writing is truly what is does… In 1950, the factory was making 12,000 pens a day. Assembly was by hand, and each pen was tested by the company’s quality control ladies before it was delivered. Ballograf was a female-dominated workplace even then.
New ink makes an entrance
However, it was only when a working ink was produced that ballpoint pens became a real success. In 1952, the so-called document-proof ink paste arrived on the scene. Ballograf was the first pen manufacturer in Europe to use this ink. And four years later, another new ink was used that became an important element in Ballograf’s success, the ink that to this day still bears the Svenskt Arkiv standard. Ballograf was now able to advertise the pens as approved for use in banks, post offices, schools and offices. Now plans for world domination could begin in earnest.
The new epoch of the ballpoint pen
1961 saw the launch of the pen with a capital P – Epoca. Our beloved classic is still our biggest seller today. But back then it was something completely new, and not only thanks to its appearance, which was unlike any other pen in the early 60s. Epoca was designed with a focus primarily on ergonomics. The request for an ergonomically correct pen actually came from the post office, whose staff wrote a lot every day and complained of tired and painful hands. Success wasn’t long in coming.
A design classic is born
1961 also saw the launch of Desk Set with its characteristic ball chain and stand. It was developed so that banks and post offices wouldn’t lose so many pens and quickly became popular. A rose by any other name, Desk Set has over the years been called the bank pen, the reception pen, the desk pen or just “the Ballograf”. Desk Set is now trendier than ever. You’ll find its beauty in design stores all over the world.
We’re writing the next chapter
In 1969, Ballograf outgrew its factory and moved to new premises in Västra Frölunda, where it was produced for fifty years, until its next move – to the factory in Filipstad where our pens are still manufactured today. In recent years, the issue of sustainability has gained increasing importance. And while we literally make sustainable pens thanks to our replaceable cartridges and click mechanisms with lifetime guarantees, it is our pleasure to also present Ballograf Eco Friendly. In our extra environmentally friendly collection, you will find markers of various kinds as well as a special edition of Epoca made from recycled plastic.
Still made in Sweden
Between 1959 and 2004, Ballograf was owned by the French Bic group. Today we are back in Swedish hands: the only pen manufacturer in the Nordic region. We manufacture more than four million pens a year and export to 49 countries. Over the years, numerous pens have come and gone, but some irreplaceable classics remain – such as Epoca, Desk Set and the 90s favourite Rondo. We create pens that follow you through life. Quality made in Sweden.