An incredible spectacle that could still be found in Italy throughout the 1950s was a bicycle designed to repair fountain pens. The one pictured above now sits in the Museum of Sign and Writing in Torino, Italy, and originally spent its time right where the Caldone River started in Lecco, Italy.
It would park just next to the ice cream cart of Mr. Sommaruga and was owned by a Mr. Satori (to the best of our recollection). Mr. Satori was a fountain pen repair mechanic, an important figure at the time to professionals such as lawyers, doctors, accountants, and students because beautiful handwriting was very important to their careers. In this spot, he recharged and repaired fountain pens and similar small items with “mini tools” such as a small vice, tweezers, files, and a small hammer.
The Fountain Pen Repair Bicycle was a full custom work station. On the front was a cabinet built directly over the front rack with flat riveted iron. It held ink containers for popular colors such as blue, red and black, compartments for various nibs, and slots for small pumps and many other spare parts. It even traveled with a stool that would sit over this front cabinet and make work much more comfortable. The “work bench” was a wooden drop leaf with a drawer and lock, hinged to the rear rack of the bike and hanging to the side when folded down. It even had a light on the metal cross-bar and an attachment for Mr. Satori’s umbrella, though we think it sheltered him more from the sun than any rain.
Mr. Satori, with his bicycle, was a skilled craftsman whose work was in demand for his entire life. Though the bicycle was iconic of him, in his later years he would set up shop with but a simple stool and folding table. Nevertheless, a Fountain Pen Repair Bicycle exists thanks to his ingenuity.