Kaweco Helios Transparent


About This Model

Kaweco is one of the oldest names in German fountain pen manufacturing, with roots in the late 1880s. They achieved success with ebonite pens by 1903 and published a full catalog in 1911. With Waterman's, they first brought out safety pens. Growth was spectacular until the economic crash in the mid-1920s, with Soennecken and Montblanc gaining ascendancy and other firms appearing. Kaweco could not keep up and with the Depression entered their first bankruptcy. In the pre-war 1930s, the models we know today, the Colleg, Sport, Special, Elite, and Helios appeared, all as celluloid piston-fillers. They survived the postwar years, but slipped again with the advent of cheap plastics and ballpoint pens, and experiened a second bankrupcty again in 1981. In 1995, the Gutberlet family took over its assets and re-emerged as a stationery and office supply firm. Most recently, since 2010, Kaweco has produced the first series of new models, excellent re-enactments of the earlier Sports and Dias, but with modern styling.

About This Pen

This Kaweco sat in my pen box for some years; I thought it was a typical black celluloid German piston-filler from the preWWII years. But, as happens with vintage pens, the closer I looked, the more complex it became. First, it is a mongrel, with a 1930s Kaweco Dia cap and Helios Transparent barrel and nib. Helios were not typical pens for Kaweco, and are not seen as often as the others. They have their own complex history, including being marketed in Italy in the 1930s under different names, with standard Kaweco innards and dimensions. The export models often had colored or transparent celluloid barrels instead of plain black, and carried Italian Kaweco nibs. That is the case with this pen, with an additional added twist: the barrel is marked “Helios Transparent”, without “Kaweco”, but with “Transparent” (German), not “Trasparente” (Italian). Its nib is marked Kaweco 14c/585, but its long tines clearly identify it as an Italian nib, offering delicate flex from EF/F to B.  Aside from its missing cap ring, the barrel and cap show some wear, but nothing serious. In good light the amber barrel transparency is quite nice. It’s a delightful writer and an unusual addition to a German or Italian collection, but buy it with the knowledge that while it looks German, it writes Italian.

Price: $150 Sold

Order Inquiry