Founded in 1908 in Hamburg as the Simplo Filler Pen Co., Montblanc (Mont Blanc is a common misspelling) began its history as a manufacturer of fountain pens with built-in ink wells. Taking its name from Europe's highest mountain, Montblanc first placed a white tip on the caps of its pens in 1910; this all-white tip would evolve in 1913 into a rounded star to represent an overhead view of the snow-capped peak.
Like most pen companies in the first half of the 20th century, Montblanc started out making eyedropper pens, in which ink was dropped into the pen’s well. Leak-proof safety pens quickly followed, with barrels and caps made of hard rubber and gold nibs (tips) imported from the United States.
By the 1920s, Montblanc was producing its own nibs and putting them into pens with names like Rouge et Noir (its first safety pen in 1909), Simplo, and Diplomat. Particularly prized by collectors is the Montblanc no. 4, a lever-filler with silver filigree in the shape of a spider web; the Montblanc no. 0, a stunning sterling silver and white-incised-enamel safety pen; and the Montblanc no. 2, whose repoussé (hammered from the reverse side) gold-filled barrel and cap is evocative of Art Nouveau.
But the biggest brand of the 1920s for Montblanc—indeed, it remains the company’s most enduring brand to this day—was the Meisterstück, or Masterpiece. In particular, the Meisterstück 149 from 1924 had narrow bands of sterling silver on its wide, gold-filled cap. Its heft in the hand made it a pleasure to hold, if not always to write with—for some, the weight is a problem. Other writers have complained that the pen’s cap never stays on when it’s in use and, worst of all, that the pens have a tendency to leak. Still, for collectors, a vintage, pre-1962 Meisterstück 149 is most desirable. Nibs on pens made from 1926 are engraved with the number 4810, a reference to the height of Mont Blanc (4,810 meters).
The vintage Montblanc safety pens from the 1930s are also collectible, whether they have twist-button fillers or piston fillers. In the 1930s, the sealed ink chambers inside Montblanc pens continued to give users problems, but that has not stopped contemporary collectors from seeking them out. One of the most rare pens from that decade is the 1936 Montblanc no. 128PL, a platinum-lined pen with a twist filler mechanism. Few of these pens made it to the United States, which makes them real finds in the U.S. today.
During the war, Montblanc’s German factory was destroyed, and in the years immediately after the war, Allied forces administered the firm. With the local economy decimated, Montblanc began producing pens for export, including the Montblanc no. 244, a striped piston filler that was not designated a Meisterstück but is collectible nonetheless.
By the 1950s, Montblanc was back, aided in large part by the launch in 1955 of the "60 Line," which was the first major new line of pens for the company since Meisterstück. Another popular and reliable vintage pen from this decade and into the early 1960s was the Montblanc no. 342 (an economy version called the MonteRosa 042 was also produced). Smaller than most Montblancs, it was popular for daily use, and its piston filler worked flawlessly. Perhaps most collectible is the Montblanc no. 444. This rare, piston-filling ballpoint had a brushed stainless steel cap and gold-filled details...
One of the most famous moments for Montblanc pens occurred in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was visiting Germany. At one stop, he and German chancellor Konrad Adenauer were signing a guest book. Kennedy signed his name but Adenauer apparently did not have a pen with him, at which point Kennedy offered the chancellor the use of his—a Montblanc Meisterstück 149.
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Pioneers of the peaksIrish Times, December 8th
When one Lady Bentinck took pen to paper to express concern about a relative's antics, she might as well have saved her ink. Lizzie Hawkins-Whitshed not only ignored her grand-aunt's entreaties in 1879, In his new Collins Press history of Irish...Read more
2013 has been my worst year: Priyanka ChopraTimes of India, December 8th
It's like, buying your first Mont Blanc pen - it's like an achievement thing. You've been doing a lot of big stuff globally recently - perhaps too much of it too quickly for it to be properly registered, absorbed, understood? To me, whatever I am doing...Read more
Our use of computers has all but made the daily use of pen and ink obsolete ...The Independent, December 4th
(It's also a rather expensive collision, although costing from £129, you could still have two smartpens for about the price of one low-end Montblanc.) The Livescribe 3 smartpen was released last week. The previous generation of smartpen was a self...Read more
Fountain Pen Hospital's Holiday Pen ExpoTribeca Citizen, December 4th
With a huge selection of amazing gifts ranging from this limited edition Montblanc “Honoré de Balzac” fountain pen, to this modern and stylish Colibri, you can find the right pen for anyone on your list! Fountain Pen Hospital is an authorized dealer...Read more
Hard Graft Draw Pen Case | First LookstupidDOPE.com, December 3rd
Today though, we have a cure for that, the Hard Graft Draw Pen Case, a durable, tough, sleek, yet stylish way to carry around your Mont Blanc, your Parker or your Porsche Design writing instrument. I mean, face it, writing is still a huge resource and...Read more
Livescribe 3 smartpen replaces archaic art of handwritingNew Haven Register, December 2nd
If you have a desktop and a laptop and a tablet and a phone, or some permutation thereof, there will come a certain point when putting pen to paper turns into a hipster-ish affectation out of a “Portlandia” sketch. It's what keypads are for. This is...Read more
The High-Tech Pen That Could Save HandwritingSlate Magazine, November 27th
(It's also a rather expensive collision, although at $149, you could still have two smartpens for about the price of one low-end Montblanc.) The previous generation of smartpen was a self-contained gizmo that synced files with Evernote; the new version ...Read more
Valerie Solti, fancy pens, and being nice to NazisTelegraph.co.uk (blog), November 20th
I didn't think anyone used fountain pens any more. But presumably the ones that come diamond-encrusted have some kind of currency, because Mont Blanc seem still to be in business and able to throw parties – as they did the other night when their ...Read more