Bayard 450

About This Pen

Bayard was one of the major European fountain pen manufacturers, whose career spanned the good years, from the end of WW I until the 1960s.  They were one of the first major French manufacturers, using parts made in France when others contracted with British firms.  It’s fair to say that their quality was always good but not outstanding, and they were not innovative (I’m hard pressed to think of an innovative French pen…).  Growing from European distribution rights of American pens,  Bayard was registed in 1912 and began fountain pen manufacturing in 1922, using the name of a medieval knight as their corporate name.

Early models followed the standards of the day:  chased ebonite, in eyedropper and safety forms, some fine metal overlays. The 1930s brought continued growth and a variety of models, including the Special 8, their first lever filler, and the Superluxe, what wasn’t really, but was very attractive celluloid with a gold nib. The later 1930s brought a change in trim, with the original knight’s shield replaced by a necktie, which became characteristic of Bayard’s pens from then until the end.

The 1940s saw Bayard diversifying into office equipment and clocks, as well as broadening their pen lineups into school and workingman’s pens, particularly the 450 and 560, and the Superstyl.  All of these are easily reconizable by their conical ends.  Bayard declined in the 1950s, with most French pen manufacturing, and survived for some years with their other products, but the fountain pen business was gone.

My pen, featured here, is probably the Special Luxe, one of Bayard’s nicer pre-WWII celluloid models. Tubular shape, “necktie” clip, two gold cap rings, marbled celluloid. Lever filler. It’s a favorite pen for its elegance, even with significant unrepaired cap crack and rippling that limit it to desk use. From France, 1937. I like to think that the damage happened during a hot prewar Paris weekend, on the dashboard of a Citroën Traction Avant.

This pen is in the Europe, Britain, Asia collection.