Slavoljub Eduard Penkala

(20 April 1871 – 5 February 1922) was a Croatian engineer and inventor of Dutch-Polish-Jewish descent.

“Penkala-Moster” pen and pencil company in Zagreb

Eduard Penkala was born in Liptovský Mikuláš (in what is now Slovakia), to Franciszek Pękała, who was of Polish heritage, and Maria Pękała (née Hannel), who was of Dutch heritage. He attended the University of Vienna and Technische Universität Dresden, graduating from the latter in 1898 and going on to earn a doctorate in organic chemistry. He then moved with his wife and family to Zagreb (which was then in the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, also part of Austria-Hungary) and to mark his loyalty to his new homeland he took on the Croatian name Slavoljub (the equivalent of slavophile), becoming a naturalized Croat.

He became renowned for further development of the mechanical pencil (1906) – then called an “automatic pencil” – and the first solid-ink fountain pen (1907). Collaborating with an entrepreneur by the name of Edmund Moster, he started the Penkala-Moster Company and built a pen-and-pencil factory that was one of the biggest in the world at the time. This company, now called TOZ Penkala, still exists today.

He also constructed the first Croatian aircraft to fly in the country, the 1910 Penkala Monoplane, flown by Dragutin Novak, who was also the first Croatian pilot. He constructed and invented many other products and devices, and held a total of 80 patents.

Among his patented inventions were:

  • a hot water bottle – his first patented invention, the “Termofor”
  • a type of bluing detergent
  • a rail-car brake
  • an anode battery

He also founded another company called the Elevator Chemical Manufacturing Company, which produced various chemicals such as detergents, sealing wax, and “Radium Vinovica”, a patent-medicine – like product that was billed as curing rheumatism.

Penkala died in Zagreb at the age of 50, after catching pneumonia on a business trip. He was buried at the Mirogoj Cemetery.