THE SHORT LIFE OF THE COLORADO Back

Patented in 1946, only 10,000 specimens of the pen created by Orlando Quadretti were produced, sold on the Venezuelan market but not in Italy.

We owe the discovery of the true story of the famous two-nibbed Colorado pen to Stefano Germano’s book: Storia Universale della Stilografica (1991, Calderini). In the entry he dedicates to this pen, Germano refers to Orlando Quadretti as the inventor and maker of the Colorado, definitively correcting Enrico Castruccio’s error in the book La Penna (Idealibri, 1985), where he mistakenly attributed its origins to Armando Simoni’s Omas.
Just a few years later an extremely interesting detail was added to our knowledge of the Colorado, when a Bologna collector came across the prototype (handmade in 1936 by Orlando Quadretti) of the first Colorado in the Quadretti store in Via Clavature.

Thanks to the testimony of Orlando Quadretti’s son Gianni, it was possible to reconstruct the history of one of the most strikingly unusual pens ever produced in Italy. Gianni describes his father as a man of many talents, with enormous commercial intuition, who expanded and differentiated his areas of business with intelligence and foresight. Born in 1911, Orlando was very young when he began working as a printer’s delivery boy. At the age of just 22 he opened his own stationery store in Via San Felice, Bologna.
The stage was set for the success of the fountain pen, which was perfectly at home in all offices, breast pockets of professionals, and ladies’ handbags, and was not only the ideal gift for any occasion but also an effective promotional vehicle and daily writing instrument. In this climate, Quadretti developed the idea of a pen that could be different from any other and offer more evolved features: a fountain pen to fill with two inks (one red, one blue) for double-entry bookkeeping, without the need to change pens at each entry. It was child’s play, In 1939 Quadretti made a prototype of this innovative pen by hand and solved the diameter problem by hinging together two half pens, cut lengthwise, with a central pivot that served as the axis and allowed them to rotate on themselves by 360°.
The prototype was made in metal, with a lever filler system, and had hooded, tapering nibs. Unfortunately, the war years prevented Quadretti putting his idea into practice immediately, so the Colorado was not patented until 1946, after the war. During the bombing of Bologna on 25 September 1943, the Quadretti store was razed to the ground and some of the family were killed. The Quadrettis took refuge in San Giovanni in Persiceto, near Bologna, and did not return to the city until the war was over. Immediately after the war, Orlando purchased the store in Via Clavature and patented the Colorado, which entered production in 1946.
Production was set up at San Giovanni in Persiceto, in a tiny factory Certainly, there has never been any kind of relationship between the Colorado and Armando Simoni’s Omas company. Orlando Quadretti definitely had business dealings with Omas, being a retailer of writing instruments, but dealt personally with all production processes related to his own creation. The nibs were commissioned from the Cecchini e Verlicchi company of Bologna.
In Gianni Quadretti’s memoir, he mentions that the Colorado was produced for the Venezuelan, not the Italian market. The first and only order for the model came from Caracas and the 10,000 pieces made were exported immediately. The only Colorado pens sold in Italy were those out of the Quadretti store in Via Clavature. It would appear that leaflets in Swedish also came to light, suggesting that some export was intended for Europe.
The last aspect to consider about Quadretti production regards the development of other models of fountain pen in the San Giovanni in Persiceto factory. Personally, I have never seen a model with the Quadretti logo but I have seen 14K gold nibs, often mounted on beautiful Bologna pens, with Quadretti engraved in block capitals. Until Quadretti fountain pens come to light, it will be legitimate to assume that these nibs, which are actually of very fine quality, were commissioned by Quadretti from Cecchini e Verlicchi for use as replacements in store repairs.
The Colorado was not in production for very long. The arrival of the ballpoint pen marked the beginning of the end for the fountain pen, and even more so for that two-nib writing instrument with its rather clumsy, ungainly look. Consequently, today’s collectors will have to make do with that single run of 10,000 pieces, the few pens retailed in Bologna and, perhaps, a few series produced for export in Europe. The Colorado was a single, standardized model, with steel-hooded nibs and vacuum fillers. The colors we have always known about (black, marbled grey and variants ringed in burgundy, brown and grey) have recently been extended to include a new shade, a marbled blue, of which only one example is known.