Did you know that the first mechanical pen went from Zagreb to the world?

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Did you know that the first mechanical pen, the forerunner of modern writing instruments, whose inventor Eduard Slavoljub Penkala was born exactly 150 years ago, was launched into the world from Zagreb?

You may not have known that when you sign important documents or write sentences by hand, the pen or ballpoint pen you use connects you to Zagreb.

They were invented by Eduard Slavoljub Penkala, a chemist and inventor of Polish origin who was born in 1871 in present-day Slovakia. He graduated in chemistry from the Royal Technical College in Dresden in 1898. He moved to Zagreb in 1900 and chose this city as the place of his life and service (he was appointed royal technical supervisor) and died there in 1922.

Unusually creative spirit, Slavoljub Penkala is responsible for about eighty inventions applicable in everyday life in the field of mechanics, chemistry, physics, aviation, etc.

Some of the revolutionary inventions of ing. Slavoljub Penkala are: 
• mechanical pen 
• solid fountain pen 
• fountain pen and pen holder, so-called ´knipsa´ 
• hot water bottle and thermos bottle 
• rotary toothbrush 
• ebonite (mass from which gramophone records were made) 
• laundry detergent 
• insect repellent 
• fluid flow measurement systems 
• preparation of xylolite against parasites in railway sleepers 
• wagon brakes 
• rail composition 
• manometer 
• dynamometer 
• special microphones 
• eavesdropping devices

Nevertheless, Penkala is best known for the invention of the mechanical pen, so it can be rightly said that Zagreb is the homeland of the modern way of writing.

In 1906, Penkala patented a mechanical pencil called "penkala", as the people of Zagreb still colloquially call it, and that year he opened the first workshop in today's Praška Street in Zagreb. From there, the mechanical pen and fountain pen, which was patented in 1907, went out into the world, and were soon sold in as many as 70 countries.

The reputation that the then Zagreb enjoyed in the increasingly developed literacy industry in the world is evidenced by the fact that after II. During World War II, as many as 27 craftsmen serviced stationery in Zagreb, and in our city, in Klaićeva Street, there was also a stationery factory. Pelikan. Undoubtedly, Zagreb at that time was the European center for the production of stationery.

Therefore, it is not surprising that many visitors to Zagreb, the homeland of modern stationery, will take as a special souvenir a mechanical pen or fountain pen, replicas of the invention of Eduard Slavoljub Penkala, who forever changed the way we write and sign.

And finally, a few more interesting things that should definitely be pointed out. As Penkala was an avid hunter, he would often be caught in the woods at night. His friends, who had invited him to hunt, were strangely surprised when Penkala, in the deep forest, at dusk, suddenly illuminated everyone's path with a flashlight. Immediately, his friends gathered around him, the then mayor of Zagreb Heinzel, architect Erlich, sculptor Frangeš, prof. Kršnjavi and others. They shone in all directions and were delighted with the "modern lamp."

They wanted that flashlight to be produced for sale, but no one had the capital to open a battery factory. Thus, the flashlight was left without a financier, and Penkala made only a few prototypes for his friends. 

The story of the first mechanical pen and innovator Penkali is a story that all tourists in Croatia, and especially in Zagreb, must hear, and we as hosts must be proud of it and tell it.

Photo: TZGZ / Source: TZGZ, TOZ Penkala

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