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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The best holiday gifts CEO Roundtable ever receivedMiami Herald, November 22nd
My boss gave me a blue Mont Blanc Pen 20 years ago and I still carry it in my pocket today. It's a reminder of one of my early career mentors and the importance of mentoring. I've lost the pen twice, including once when it was left behind in a rented...Read more
A Fine Modern Pen You Open With A Dial, Not A ClickCo.Design, November 18th
It's a cute idea for the pen, but for the mechanical pencil, the rotating knob is a smart design choice, presumably giving more exact lead control than you'd get in a spring-loaded clicker. Available in anodized white, black, and silver, Neri is...Read more
Bond Black pens bespoke notes in seconds using mobile appLuxury Daily, November 16th
The app allows users to try out different Montblanc pens and ink colors, as well as learn about the products that the brand offers. Highlighted writing instruments such as the Montblanc Screenwriter will bring the brand into the digital world and will...Read more
Montblanc explores timeBusinessWorld Online Edition, November 1st
Meanwhile, the brand has also been known to bank on the prominence of individuals for its marketing, as seen in its Writers Edition pens, where pens are made according to design cues inspired by a writer's work (such as an art deco-themed pen to evoke...Read more
The Montblanc M With Marc Newson Heralds a New Generation Of PensQuill & Pad, September 1st
At first glance, there's no doubt that this is a Montblanc pen, thanks in part to its glossy black body and crowning snowcap, but the similarity ends where the transcendence begins, thanks to Newson's signature biomorphic style. “Like Montblanc, I seek...Read more
Pen pal: a collaboration between Marc Newson and Montblanc has all the write moveswallpaper.com, August 17th
For the first time in over a century, Montblanc has handed over the design of one of its product to an external collaborator. Designed by Marc Newson, the latest Montblanc M pen is both a celebration of the German company's heritage. 'Our passion for...Read more
Marc Newson teams up with Montblanc to launch pen rangeDezeen, August 13th
Industrial designer Marc Newson has created a set of pens for German brand Montblanc, which feature a magnetic closure system and nibs plated with rare metals. Unveiled today, the Montblanc M pen has a polished black resin case shaped using a ...Read more
Meet the $935 Pen That Turns a Scribble Into a Status SymbolAdweek, June 23rd
Hamburg, Germany-based Montblanc has been making its top-of-the-line Meisterstück (in German, "masterpiece") since 1924. On Wall Street, it's known as the "Power Pen" because it's in every fat cat's vest pocket. And while the pen's price has changed a ...Read more