I don’t often buy French pens* but I couldn’t resist this boxed Bayard 2000. It’s a beautiful pen and it’s in wonderful condition for its sixty years. With its torpedo shape, narrow/medium/narrow cap rings and inserted clip, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the Swans of the same date. I don’t think there was any particular reason for that. So far as I’m aware there was no relationship between the companies – that’s just where design was at the time, and in fact Bayard had been making this shape of pen for some time by 1950.
Though its origins lie deeper, Bayard actually began production in 1922. Their logo was a knight with a fountain pen for a lance and a nib for a shield. Their motto was sans reproche which I’ll translate as “beyond reproach” or “irreproachable” until someone with better idiomatic French than me (most people) comes along and puts me right. They made consistently high-quality pens until the mid-fifties, when competition from the increasingly successful ballpoint pen began to seriously erode sales and, like so many other manufacturers they tried various cost-saving exercises that affected the quality of their pens. The company closed in 1965.
Among the last few high-quality pens Bayard made, then, the 2000 is an excellent pen by any standard. The gold plating remains very good on this example and a rub with a soft cloth soon restored the plastic’s original shine. It’s nicely balanced and sits well in the hand. Like many 18ct nibs this one has noticeable “give”. It’s not particularly flexible – though there is a little understated line variation – but it’s soft, making writing with it a very pleasant experience.
*This is not to cast aspersions on French pens. There are many superb French pens and I wish I could pursue them all, but the truth is that you can spread yourself too thin. There are so many British pens I have yet to write about, and many I’ll want to say more about. Also, unlike American and Canadian pens which have always been common here, European pens’ penetration of the British market was very slight.