The tradition of producing writing instruments began in Dačice in 1940, when one of the founders, engaged in the production of leather goods, established a new workshop in what was then Telečská Street, which, among other things, also produced fountain pens. Take a look at the history of the company, through its development, up to the current state.


At the beginning of 1940, two entrepreneurs from Dačice decided to launch the joint production of fountain pens and on 27 August 1940, trade licence no. 15245/4 – VI/1940 was issued for the "selected profession: Mechanical factor trade: production of fountain pens and technical pencils - pressing and injecting of plastic."

The production of fountain pens was launched in Dačice in January 1941. The first products produced involved a high ratio of manual labour. 20 employees were involved in production. The production experience obtained by the workshop from the manufacture of fountain pens formed the foundations for the establishment of the founders' future joint undertaking. The joint efforts of the two men resulted in a company which produced fountain pens and dealt with injection molding of plastic. The cooperation agreement was to remain valid until 31 December 1944. The joint undertaking's first product was a fountain pen entitled STENO. The pen's name is formed by the two entrepreneurs' surnames.

At the beginning of 1945, the two entrepreneurs split their company, strictly in line with the terms stipulated by the 1941 Agreement. In August 1945, one of the founders established a new company producing writing utensils, now under the brand name OMEGA, already based at the seat of the contemporary joint-stock company.
The then modern Vltavan injection moulding presses were used, on which the 50 employees could produce 300 fountain pens a day. The products displayed a high quality standard and soon became a success with both domestic and foreign customers. Sales mostly came from wholesale customers in Prague. Already 70 years ago, the company took care not only about the production economy but also about environmental friendliness. Plastic was the main raw material in the production of the fountain pen cases. Right from the beginning, the product left large quantities of residual material and pressing rejects. In order to prevent excessive waste, the redundant material was used to produce, or press, combs and pocket whistles, sometimes even with an integrated compass.

In 1948, private companies with over 50 employees were nationalised by a decree of the Minster of Industry. The Dačice plant did not escape the effects of these political turnarounds.

The company was first submitted to national administration by Koh-I-noor, Pencil Plant, L & C. Hardtmuth n. p. České Budějovice, which was terminated as early as on 29 July 1948. The company was nationalised and the Dačice plant became an operational branch of the Centropen state-owned company, headquartered in Pardubice. It is worth mentioning that at the time of nationalisation, the company only had 49 employees. In order to allow the state to take control over the company, its staff count was temporarily and artificially increased to fifty.


The political changes had no effect on production.
The number of employees further grew until it reached the 140 mark in 1950.


The 1950s were a growth period for the company. The Centropen state-owned company included 12 small-sized companies scattered all over Czechoslovakia, Dačice being one of them. The production efficiency generated by the small manufacturing workshops was inadequate, though. As part of further reorganisations, the Dačice plant was integrated into the Koh-I-noor Hardtmuth České Budějovice concern and the original production operations of the Centropen's 12 small-sized companies were gradually transferred to Dačice. Mr. Vojtěch Marek was to be the director of the plant for many years to follow. The company's development also applied to its production site. The original single-storey workshop buildings were expanded, new floors added and the courtyard between them roofed. As a result, a sufficiently large site evolved to accommodate the growing fountain pen production.



In 1962, 2,370,000 fountain pens and 70 other types of product were manufactured in the Dačice plant. The latter, among others, included plastic handles of sugarcane machetes for the Republic of Cuba.
On 1 October 1964, the state-owned company Centropen Pardubice ceased to exist. By then, all production had already been relocated to Dačice. Koh-I-noor Hardtmuth Dačice was established with its seat at 9. května 161, which became one of the nine plants clustered within the productive/economic unit (VHJ) Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth České Budějovice. Within the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth was a monopoly producer of fountain pens, especially those intended for Elementary School Grade I pupils. The novelty of the era was a pen which, instead of a piston, had a removable ink cartridge to suck the ink in.  The children therefore did not get their hands as dirty as was the case before.

centropen dačice

centropen dačice

By the mid-1960s, the plant was already employing over 500 people. Among other products, the plant produced a cheap pen for pupils entitled "Žák" (pupil) and, later on, "Student". Use of fountain pens was then obligatory for all pupils up to Year 3 of their elementary school education, so as to promote proper development of the graphomotorics of the children's hands.
In the second half of the 1960s, a new writing utensil was developed in Japan, which quickly expanded to the rest of the world – a marker also referred to by the acronym "fix".
The Dačice plant started adapting to marker production from 1967. Initially, the tips and tampons had to be imported from Japan and the inks from Germany. Dačice only produced the plastic parts and then manually assembled the final products. 250,000 markers were produced in the first year. At the same time, development work got underway in the plant's laboratory on the company's own production technology for the tampons and ink, and, later on, for the tips and colouring the plastics. The work took over 20 years to complete before the imports could be replaced and the technologies figured out, implemented in practice and adapted to serial production. The last technology to be completed and simplified was that of producing the tampons, with the acquisition of a carding machine in 1988-1989. It needs to be noted that in addition to the aforementioned carder (a tampon producing line), the tip production line was also a result of cooperation between the Dačice designers and major designing operations across Czechslovakia. The machines are still in operation at the factory. The first Czech markers were types 7669, 7870, etc. The children's marker, which remains central to the company's production portfolio to date, has gradually evolved into a range of products – highlighters, felt marking pens, liners, rollers, permanent markers, etc.


Another expansion of the production programme occurred in the early 1970s when press injection moulds featuring hot channel technology started to be produced at the Dačice plant. This involved a novel process, then not very widespread in Czechoslovakia, which allowed waste-free injection and increased mould productivity. Since then, the production of injection moulds has been one of the company's key sectors. A new technical section building was erected to meet the needs of the mould production department.

nová budova technického úseku

The 1970s were marked by technical advancements. The new products included highlighters (art. 1702), rollers (art. 1929), the first permanent markers (art. 1886), technical drawing pens (art. 10066 and 10067), electric hair curlers, etc. The production of fibre tip markers (children's markers), which were produced against a Czechoslovak patent, in time greatly exceeded the production of fountain pens to become the dominant production programme of the Dačice plant. Almost 550 employees produced 15,000 – 20,000 fountain pens and 300,000 markers a day.

výroba dětských fixů

The Dačice plant became an exclusive supplier of selected writing utensils for all of Eastern Europe.
In 1977, the new technical department building with workshops and development worksites was put into use.

nová budova technického úseku

nová budova technického úseku

nová budova technického úseku

At the end of the 1970s, the existing production area ceased to suffice. The Dyje river bed first had to be aligned to allow further construction work. As a result, 2 hectares of land were created on which the construction activity could be undertaken.

narovnání koryta řeky dyje


A new pressing shop was commissioned in 1980

nová hala lisovny

A new paint shop was commissioned in 1982.

nová hala barevny

nová hala barevny

nová hala barevny

In 1985, a new three-storey building was put into use, which accommodated tip and tampon production and a material warehouse.

nová hala výroby hrotů a sklad materiálu

nová hala výroby hrotů a sklad materiálu

nová hala výroby hrotů a sklad materiálu

nová hala výroby hrotů a sklad materiálu

nová hala výroby hrotů a sklad materiálu

It was during this period that the first liner (art. 1901) and a new, more advanced children's marker (art. 2790) were created.
On 1 January 1985, the long-standing director, Mr. Vojtěch Marek, retired.
On 1 January 1989, the Dačice plant abandoned the Koh-I-noor Hardtmuth České Budějovice concern and returned to its original name, Centropen (the company's name from the 1950s) as a state-owned enterprise.


During the tumultuous year of 1990, Centropen was transformed from a state-owned enterprise into a joint-stock company, fully owned by the state. It was still during that year that the massive plant cafeteria building was completed, which Centropen was supposed to share with other Dačice-based firms.

In 1992, the company was privatised in line with the applicable legal regulations and based on a project launched and approved by the Czech Government, to become a purely Czech private company. Centropen became a non-tradable joint-stock company. It has retained this legal form to date.

Two new warehouses intended mainly for finished products were erected in 1996 and 1999 to accommodate the ever growing production.
Production of cheap new children's markers (art. 7790) was launched and another novelty appeared on the market, the Tornado pen.

In 1997, Centropen began producing a newly patented product– blowing pens. Centropen became its global monopoly producer.

In 1998, the number of employees grew to a record-breaking 628. Since then the staff count has been steadily decreasing thanks to the streamlining of all corporate processes. At the same time, the number of products is growing.

Post 2000

During the first years of the new millennium, Centropen focused on innovation based on paediatric recommendations. The mutual cooperation resulted in the idea for an ergonomic grip, i.e. a triangular shape of the gripping part for all children's and, later on, office writing and drawing utensils. The new concept was most visibly present in the design of a new line of office rollers and 26xx liners bearing the ERGO trade name as well as in the design of children's markers sold under the TRI trade name.

Since 2004, in addition to products where the ink is sucked into a tampon (see the section on the 1960s), Centropen has also been offering their customers products that have a so-called loose volume, where the ink is loosely deposited in a transparent case. The customers thus retain continuous control over the remaining quantity of ink.

The new type of writing system that Centropen had the chance to produce after 2005 is gel rollers (new types before that being the ink in the tampon, see the section on the 1960s, and the loose volume, see the section on 2004). Art. 2265 GEL was introduced as historically the first model.

In 2007, historically the greatest number of writing utensils produced per year was achieved, namely 258 million units.

Due to the recurrent issue of insufficient warehousing premises, a new central warehouse with a capacity of 1600 pallet spots was completed in 2008.

The site development continued with a modern production shop completed in 2010. Massive use of EU Grant Schemes was made in both procuring the construction itself and the new technologies. It was also thanks to them that the company succeeded in reducing production costs in a material way.

A long awaited novelty was marketed in 2012 TORNADO COOL. From the technical viewpoint, it was a breakthrough since it was the first time ever that a softened gummed grip with easier gripping properties was used while the popular ERGO shape was retained.

po roce 2000

po roce 2000

po roce 2000

po roce 2000

po roce 2000


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