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Marcel Bich

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Marcel Bich
Baron Bich
Born(1914-07-29)29 July 1914
Died30 May 1994(1994-05-30) (aged 79)
Paris, France
  • Italy
  • France
EducationUniversity of Paris
Engineering career
InstitutionsSociété Bic

Marcel Louis Michel Antoine Bich, Baron Bich (French: [bik]; 29 July 1914 – 30 May 1994) was an Italian-born French manufacturer and co-founder of Bic, the world's leading producer of ballpoint pens, lighters and razors.

Early years[edit]

Bich was born in Turin, Italy on 29 July 1914 to Aimé-Mario Bich (1882–1955) and Marie Muffat de Saint-Amour de Chanaz (1886–1967). His family moved to Spain and then to France where Bich was naturalised as a French citizen in 1932[1] and later studied law at the University of Paris. He served in the French Air Force at the outset of World War II.[2]

The Bich family originated at Châtillon, and earlier in the Valtournenche valley, in the Aosta Valley. King Charles Albert of Sardinia granted Emmanuel Bich, mayor of Aosta, the title of baron in 1841. Emmanuel's grandson Aimé-Mario Bich, the father of Marcel Bich, was an engineer who moved to France after failing to gain commercial success in Italy.

Business success[edit]

In 1944, Marcel Bich and his partner, Édouard Buffard, bought an empty factory in the Paris suburb of Clichy, where they began the production of inexpensive pen holders and pencil cases.[3][2]

Bich was originally a skeptic of ballpoint pens, which at the time were unreliable and leaked. In 1946, however, by observing the channel made by the wheel of his wheelbarrow in the ground, he understood the unique selling point of the ballpoint pen. Just as the wheel made transporting items easier, the ball could allow the hand to be free from the constraints of the pen nib and make writing more fluid.[4]

Marcel Bich bought the patent for the ballpoint pen[5] for US$2 million from Hungarian László Bíró who had been producing such pens since 1943 in Argentina. Using Swiss watchmaking tools, he devised a manufacturing process that produced stainless-steel balls for the tip of the pen,[4] and the Bic Cristal ballpoint pen became his first product in 1950.[6][7] The Bic Cristal ballpoint pen went on to become a worldwide best-seller.[6] He then invented the famous four-color pen in 1969.[8] These designs remains mostly unchanged today.[7] Bich formed Société Bic in 1953.[2]

Bich partnered with poster designer Raymond Savignac to create the company's advertisements, who created the Bic Boy that later became part of the company's official logo. Bic won the first French Oscar for advertising, sponsored the Tour de France, and became an essential item and a household name.[4][9]

Between 1950 and the 1970s, Bic expanded globally, into Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and Spain, followed by South America and North America.[4]

In 1973, Bic introduced a disposable pocket lighter that could provide 3,000 lights before wearing out.[10] In 1975, the brand released the one-piece polystyrene razor, the first single-piece disposable razor with an integrated blade and a lightweight plastic handle.[11]

The company formed by Bich still exists as the Société Bic Group and is listed on the Paris Stock Exchange and majority-owned by his family.[12]

Bich stepped down as Chairman of Societe Bic in 1993.[2] He was succeeded by his son, Bruno, who served as chairman for 25 years, 15 of which also as CEO. Marcel's grandson Gonzalve Bich has been CEO since 2018.[13]

Yacht racing and sailing[edit]

Bich was a keen sailor. He funded four campaigns to compete in the trials to select a challenger for the America's Cup in 1970, 1974, 1977 and 1980, and was inducted, posthumously, into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 1998.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Bich was one of three children; he had a sister Marie Thérèse Louise Antoinette Léandra Bich (1913–1970) and brother Albert Bich (1916–1989).[14]

He was married to Louise Chamussy in 1937. After her death in 1950 he married Jacqueline de Dufourq (1911–2007, divorced) and, in 1956, Laurence Courier de Mère (1932–).[15] He had 11 children.


He died on 30 May 1994 in Paris, aged 79.[16][17] His first wife, Louise Chamussy, died in 1950. He was survived by his wife, Laurence Courier de Mère, 11 children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.[2]


  1. ^ "2014: 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Marcel Bich, founder and president of BIC Company". BICWorld.
  2. ^ a b c d e Saxon, Wolfgang (1 June 1994). "Marcel Bich, 79, Dies; Cheap Pens Yielded Riches". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  3. ^ "Blog Post - The History of BIC the story of a man who revolutionised writing: Marcel Bich -". speedymarquee.com. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Stadler, Sophie (9 April 2021). "Stylo Bic, ce jetable qui semble éternel". Le Parisien (in French). Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  5. ^ Saxton, Wolfgang (1 June 1994). "Marcel Bich, 79, Dies; Cheap Pens Yield Riches". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Bic, à court d'encre, prépare son avenir". Investir (in French). 21 October 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Il était une fois : le stylo Bic Cristal". LEPARTICULIER (in French). 10 November 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  8. ^ "The History of the BIC 4-Color Pen: A 50-Year Journey of Innovation and Enduring Appeal". 26 October 2023.
  9. ^ "The exciting life of the little guy next to the Bic logo". Trivia Happy. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  10. ^ "History of BIC Corporation – FundingUniverse". fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  11. ^ "The Bic razor, still the sharpest of the bunch - Plastics le Mag". Nom du site (in French). Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  12. ^ "Rockville Register - Finance & Business News". rockvilleregister.com.
  13. ^ "Former Bic CEO Bruno Bich dead at 74". News in 24 english. 1 June 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  14. ^ "Family tree of Aimé-Mario BICH". Geneanet.
  15. ^ "Family tree of Marcel BICH". Geneanet.
  16. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (1 June 1994). "Marcel Bich, 79, Dies; Cheap Pens Yielded Riches". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  17. ^ "Obituary: Baron Marcel Bich" (2 June 1994) The Independent

External links[edit]