In 1920, Ford Cromer founded Artcraft Fountain Pens in Birmingham, Alabama. To begin with, he had pens made under contract by Edison Pens of Petersburg, Virginia, but as his business grew, he installed production equipment in downtown Birmingham. The company produced an upscale line of pens, always with 14 carat gold nibs, and readily adopted current design trends.
In the mid 1920s, their pens were colorful celluloid flat-top designs in several sizes, while in 1929 they quickly recognized the success of Sheaffer's streamlined Balance pens. They immediately changed to a similar tapered style that proved very popular.
Unfortunately, Artcraft suffered and eventually failed under the weight of the Great Depression, finally disappearing from Birmingham late in 1933.
Cromer was quick to see that, despite the Depression, there still were business opportunities, and moved his company to Buenos Aires, Argentina. There, he resumed production for the local market and continued making fountain pens until about 1960.
John Hubbard, who began collecting and restoring fountain pens around 2010, learned about the history of Artcraft and soon added a number of examples to his collection. He learned that Artcraft was the only manufacturer of fountain pens ever located in Alabama. When he decided to design and make his own pens, the idea of restoring the Artcraft name just came naturally.
His first pen, The Moonwalk Pen, was designed as a commemoration of the Apollo lunar landings of 50 years ago. John had worked on the design of the Saturn V moon rocket that launched the astronauts on their journey, and it just seemed natural to combine his love of fountain pens and the space program. The success of that pen has led to other designs, all under the reborn Artcraft banner.
People who saw the Moonwalk Pen said, "Why don't you do a Mars pen?" So, John has sketched and revised designs related to the Red Planet. Images from various rovers have given hints, and the Mars Rover Pen is the result. It builds on lessons learned in creating the Moonwalk Pen, and adds some carefully selected new elements.
Next came the Piano Pen, a decidedly different aesthetic than the first two. This pen is intended to evoke the feel of a grand piano, with a glossy black finish and jazzy hands dancing across a keyboard. The design incorporates tactile elements, as your fingers slide along the barrel toward the gripping section, they encounter the feel of the keyboard. Your ideas will flow from the nib like music.
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