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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News snippets 25 July 2014Office Products International (press release) (subscription), July 25th
Montblanc is celebrating 90 years of the Meisterstück fountain pen, which ranks among the world's most famous luxury icons. Full story: Montblanc. 3M's Command Brand is sponsoring grants for the 2014 Kids in Need Teacher Grants programme to fund ...Read more
Montblanc celebrates 90 years of its iconic MeisterstückBulgarian fashion directory, July 17th
Timeless, the fountain pen has long become a symbol of the brand values: finest craftsmanship, traditional manufacturing techniques, precious materials, refined aesthetics and best functionality. The Meisterstück ranks among the world's most famous...Read more
Question of the dayThe Capitol Fax Blog (blog), July 15th
“Hey, look, it's a Montblanc Pen! I knew he was phony!” - Streator Curmudgeon - Tuesday, Jul 15, 14 @ 8:01 pm: “Okay, okay. I promise to quit calling you Baron von Carhartt. Just quit squeezing my hand, man!” - Streator Curmudgeon - Tuesday, Jul 15, ...Read more
A-listers Talk About Their Favorite PensArchitectural Digest (blog), July 14th
To investigate which pens celebs brandish today, the Inquisitive Guest asked them to name their favorites at a Montblanc event, a gala at the Museum of the Moving Image, a fundraiser for Parsons the New School for Design, a gala for Jazz at Lincoln...Read more
Exam is passable, says Education MinisterBarbados Advocate, July 8th
During the event held at the Palm Terrace Courtyard, Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, Diamonds International presented each student with a special gift – A Montblanc Pen. The international brand, Montblanc, synonymous for exquisite writing instruments for...Read more
The FN World Cup League – The final resultstheTally, July 1st
But while Jenkins was impressive, it was battle the second place – the dual for a Montblanc pen worth over £200 – that proved the most enticing. Tim Beckwith of the London Stock Exchange, had led in the early stages before being overtaken by Jenkins...Read more
Luxury pen maker ST Dupont pessimistic about short-termReuters, June 30th
ST Dupont, a rival of Richemont's Dunhill and Montblanc, and one of France's last independent luxury pen and lighter makers, said business in the current quarter to June 30 had been lacklustre, as in the 12 months through March. "It is too early to say...Read more
The preferred pen of Obama, Pope Benedict and the Dalai Lama turns 90Inquirer.net, June 26th
But perhaps the luxury company does not even have to pay celebrities to sell its products, as world leaders from popes to CEOs have been photographed signing crucial documents using a Montblanc pen. (Think Barack Obama, Warren Buffett, the Dalai ...Read more