Ink brand "Baroque" is finally Dresden again

For over 30 years, the naming rights for the traditional ink manufacturer "Barock" from Dresden lay in western Germany. Now the well-known brand is back in its hometown - in kegs and as a fun sport.

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Man sieht einen Mann vor Tintenfässern.
It's back: employee Uwe Giese fills vials with "Barock" ink produced by Octopus Fluids in Dresden. © Sven Ellger

From Juliane Just

Dresden. There are probably many Dresdeners and Saxons who once wrote with it. In the early years, when the letters were still rather scrawly to draw and everything was constantly running on the paper. Or perhaps later, when printers flooded the offices and spat out the digital world in black and white. They all wrote or printed with "Baroque" - consciously or unconsciously.

The Dresden original is now returning to its hometown after more than 30 years, bringing with it a coincidence that only life can write. Two companies at once were interested in the naming rights of "Barock", for two very different reasons.

But let's start at the beginning: The roots of ink production in Dresden go back to 1826. There, chemist Christian August Leonhardi started production on Grundstrasse. The breakthrough was a patent for "document-proof" ink - that is, an ink that does not wash out. This product became world famous when a postal ship sank in the Baltic Sea and, unlike all the others, documents could still be deciphered with "Barock" ink.

Traditional ink manufacturer "Barock" from Dresden files for insolvency in 2011

With the wave of privatization after 1989, the traditional ink manufacturer went to investors from the free economy. Under the name "Barock Bürobedarf" (Baroque Office Supplies), writing ink and cartridges for printers, ink, stamp pads and photo paper were produced in the north of Dresden, just outside Radebeul. However, the traditional company, which in GDR times every student knew because of its ink cartridges, eventually became an inconspicuous supplier of office supplies.

Where once more than 400 employees produced ink for the entire country, only 16 people were still working in 2011. In 2011, the last owner had to file for insolvency for the company. The development and production of inkjet inks, stamping inks and fountain pen inks has since been continued by Octopus Fluids GmbH & Co. KG. Today, more than 400 ink formulations for industry, trade and creative professionals are shipped there all over the world.

And it is precisely this company that is after the naming rights to the "Barock" brand. For more than 30 years, the naming rights were held in western Germany. There was a naming right until 2021, but that expired. "We thought to ourselves: it would actually be nice to bring the ink back to Dresden," says Gunther Lange, managing director of "Octopus." No sooner said than done.

New series called "Baroque": Six colors made in Dresden

In the production halls Hamburger Straße in Dresden has since been home not only to the company's production facilitybut also its own laboratory. A chemist from the former "Barock" company is stirring up new ink formulations there. The original formulas no longer exist, but a new line will make the hearts of writing enthusiasts beat faster.

Six colors with fountain pen ink have been produced by the Dresden company under the name "Barock" for about a month. They imitate colors of the Art Nouveau era around 1910: Bordeaux, Navy, Jade, Caviar, Anthracite and Umbra are their names. Further series from the 1900s and 1920s are already in development.

Torsten Meisel (l.) and Benjamin Venter (r.) from Barock-Eventpark and Gunther Lange, managing director of Octopus Fluids GmbH & Co. KG, have secured the naming rights to the "Barock" brand.© Sven Ellger

"Baroque" headquarters in Dresden still bears original lettering

But then two other Dresdeners come into play who also have considerable interest in the name "Barock". They, too, want the naming rights, because their company even carries the name: The Barock-Eventpark, a kind of mini amusement park in the north of Dresden, combines several play and recreational facilities.

The lettering "Barock" is emblazoned above the company headquarters of the event park, gave it its name. The traditional ink manufacturer had its headquarters at Emilienstrasse 20. Where the ink was once made is now a garage for 16 mini cars. "The ink still pushes through the walls today, you can't get rid of that," says Torsten Meisel, one of the company's owners. Together with Benjamin Venter, he runs the company, which began as a snap idea and now employs 15 people.

Right to a name extended: "Baroque" from Dresden is more than ink

At the company headquarters, a showcase displays historical exhibits from the former ink factory. Because Venter and Meisel are interested in the history of the site, they launched an appeal. Many Dresden residents, including former "Barock" employees, brought old fountain pens, certificates or ink pads.

And that's why they also wanted to secure the name "Baroque. The former lettering above the building should, if the two jokers have their way, shine again at some point. They could imagine crowd-funding. If every Dresden resident contributes something, the 20,000 euros will be quickly collected.

So now there are two holders of naming rights for the name "Barock" - once as ink in a barrel and once in the event sector. This also allowed the two companies to get to know each other and make plans together. "We have ideas. Let's see what can be implemented," says Torsten Meisel, but winkingly doesn't want to reveal anything more yet. And, on this, everyone is probably in agreement: The main thing is that the brand is finally back in Dresden.

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