For a start, who was this French Knight, Bayard?The representation of the brand name, he commonly appears in advertisements, armour-clad, carrying his shield in his left hand and a pen by way of a sword in his right hand.
Bayard was in fact a French nobleman, subject of King François 1st (1515-1547), and whose motto was “Fearless and Beyond Reproach”
The history of this company starts in 1911-1912 with Etienne Forbin, then a dealer in office equipment, who patented the following trademarks:
Stella,Papillon, Gaulois, Lutèce, Jean-Bart, Chimique stylographique, Bayard, Le Charmant, Le Bazoche, EF,Fortune, Téléphon, Excelsior, The Curso, Trotte Menu, La Marguerite, Correspondant, Le St-Louis, Charlemagne, Franc-Bourgeois, Le Forbin, Le Sévigné, Le Marsillon, Le Facteur, Eschollier, Le Bambin, Impératrix, The Paris, Lutetia, Commercial, Bourse, Express, Alpin, The Sun, Exact, Pupit, Select, Formosa, Colbert, Le Steno, Le Mien, Téléphone, The Pigny, Scholar, Magic, Pratic!!!!!!
On March 31, 1922 the company Panici Frères & Co was set up and their offices were situated at 12, rue des Petites Ecuries in Paris (the manufactured nibs were bearing the founders initials: PF + two crossed nibs within an oval).Right from the beginning, Etienne Forbin did not intend to work by himself and when founding his company, he decided to incorporate his two nephews, Pierre and Etienne Panici.
When settling his limited partnership company, he set up the following financial arrangement:
Etienne Forbin’s contribution = FFr 300.000, including a commercial contract with Georges Mord (an ebonite supplier located in Arbois, Jura area) valued at FFr 100.000 (without chattels)Panici brothers’ contribution = FFr 80.000 (2 x 40.000)Total = FFr 380.000
The ebonite was sent from Jura in the form of cylindric bars.
In 1932, at Etienne Forbin’s death, the SNC Panici Frères was created, and its head office moved to 31, rue des Cordelières, Paris. This place was not only used as offices, but also for pen manufacture.Pierre Panici was in charge of the production site. He died in 1940 and was replaced by a Technical Director.
Etienne Panici was mainly in charge of the commercial and financial departments. The manufacture was a large three-storey building made up of 4 distinct parts:
A – Cutting off:The ebonite bars were machined on turret lathes in order to achieve a pen’s form.
B – Pipes workshop:Where the pens’ feeding pipes were manufactured.
C – Nibs workshop:A supernatural atmosphere prevailed in this place: the room was fully enclosed and pressurized and all staff had to wear white clothes!
The gold was supplied in the form of tapes and was then stamped, bent and polished up. At the end of the chain, the iridium ball points were sealed.All milligrams of gold that fell off during the nib’s incision were scrupulously retrieved.The Panici brothers were closely monitoring the gold rates to buy and stock at the most favourable times. To obtain the best quality, Pierre only wanted to use golden nibs, while Etienne was in favour of steel nibs, to be able to offer a less expensive selling price and thus to allow the penetration of low cost retail chains.
D– Assemblage and testing workshop:This work was mainly entrusted to women (much more meticulous than men). Every single pen was individually and manually tested! As in today’s quality departments, the discarded parts were analysed and Pierre was paying a lot of attention to his staff’s feedback (for instance, what could be done to “smooth” the nibs so that they would not scratch the paper).
In 1934, the Bayard trademark replaces the name Panici Frères & Co.
In 1939, the factory is requisitioned by the French troops but it continues producing pens as well as manufacturing various parts for military purpose.
The saga of the knight and pens company ended up in the 1970’s (05/11/1973) with the expansion of ballpoint pens.
Excelsior trademark was representing some of the company’s best products
Products 20′s Panici’s pen models made of black ebonite, with dropper filling, with or without a body engraving.
1927 Introduction of a new model equipped with a lever filling and a golden nib.Excelsior 405 = model equipped with a retractable nibOblong shapes.
30′s Creation of a new pen’s line with marbled golden/green colours.Round shapes and 3 main ranges:1-Special 8: bottom-of-the-range, alloy nib2-Luxe, Super Luxe: golden nib3-Super Luxe Large CapacityTie-shape clips for the models Special 8 and LuxeShovel-shape clips for the models Super Luxe and Large Capacity
To complete its range and offer complete writing kits, Bayard was also making some propelling pencils, whose device was bought separately.1934 Bayard name is engraved on the pens body.
1935The 2 golden strips on the caps of the Super Luxe models were changed for a unique strip, of a wider size. All models had the same tie-shape clip.
1937Launch of the latest model in Luxe range = the Special LuxeSome fantastic marbled colours. The top of the range!
1939Launch of a new model, with a visible ink level.
40′sThe cap’s clips are fitted with 2 chevrons and 3 strips.
1940 Launch of the Superstyl model.Since the use of gold was forbidden during the war years, the company used alloy nibs.However, Bayard always kept its very high level of quality and innovation (use of interchangeable nibs).
50′sThe first metal caps appear.Launch of the Excelsior 574 model with piston.Launch of the Fit model with accordion-shape ink tank.Launch of the Souverain de Luxe model.
60′s Launch of the Karting model with ink cartridges.