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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Paean to penmanshipTHE BUSINESS TIMES (subscription), August 21st
IN A nod to the brand's origins, Montblanc has launched a watch collection paying homage to the Montblanc Meisterstuck - the first time Montblanc has linked its watch directly to its pen collection. The Montblanc Meisterstuck is the iconic writing...Read more
Five Tips To Drive E-Commerce in ChinaAdAge.com, August 19th
One of Ad Age's Women to Watch China 2014, Ms. Au-Yeung is responsible for growing online sales for Swiss-based Richemont's luxury brands including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Montblanc. Richemont also owns luxury fashion...Read more
Inside the Mind of the EntrepreneurInc.com, August 18th
When that potential partner was slow to sign a contract, Zietz filled out the forms for him and FedExed them with a new Montblanc pen, kicking off a lucrative relationship. "Total cost to acquire," says Zietz, "about $200." Gallup describes...Read more
The modern gentleman, Mark ChaoThe Malay Mail Online, August 16th
Of course, we had to ask Chao, who was in Singapore for the 90th anniversary of Meisterstuck for Montblanc, what embodied the “Montblanc gentleman”. “I guess that would be me!” Chao laughed. “There's a certain elegance to the pen and the pen's owner...Read more
New Tactics in the Fight Against Stolen LuggageWall Street Journal, August 13th
The latest tools: high-definition security cameras and national meetings to compare notes on thieves. Then there are the carefully placed Montblanc pens. TSA has been sending "bait bags" through for screening with valuables such as iPads, watches and ...Read more
Montblanc: Excellence that enduresThe Star Online, August 5th
There is a new collection of writing instruments for the anniversary, which ranges from the 149 Fountain Pen, to Classique and LeGrand, as well as Rollerball and Ballpoint. A special line of leather goods and men's jewellery mark the occasion too. They...Read more
Montblanc Celebrates the Spirit of Meisterstück Exhibition in SingaporeSENATUS, August 1st
In celebration of 90 years of its iconic Meisterstück fountain pen, a symbol of unmatched craftsmanship, Montblanc presents an elaborate and interactive exhibition to showcase the brand's expertise and exquisite artistry at the Civic Plaza of Ngee Ann...Read more
Montblanc fountain pen celebrates 90 yearsThe Australian, July 31st
NINETY years ago, Montblanc developed the Meisterstück pen at a factory in Hamburg, Germany. In 1924, the new non-leaking fountain pen (whose name means “Masterpiece” in English) was a game-changer in the market. “It actually revolutionised a lot of ...Read more