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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FN Friday Quiz winnerFinancial News (subscription), July 3rd
Congratulations to Jonathan Ainsworth at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe, who is the winner of this week's FN Friday Quiz and now the proud owner of a Montblanc Starwalker pen. Subscribers: Remember me on this computer?...Read more
RJC announces re-certification of MontblancWatchPro.com, July 3rd
“This important accomplishment confirms our company's commitment to ethical principles and a sustainable development, which is an essential aspect of Montblanc's corporate identity. We are looking forward to continue promoting a transparent, ethical, ...Read more
Art Everywhere Founder Richard Reed Awarded the 24th Montblanc de la ...SYS-CON Media (press release), June 26th
In addition to this, he was presented with a Limited Edition Patron of the Arts Montblanc fountain pen specially designed and created for the 11 winners of the twenty-fourth edition of the award. This year, the Montblanc Patron of Art Luciano Pavarotti...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
Montblanc: the summer's best luggage solution?Telegraph.co.uk, June 19th
Montblanc described Nightflight as “high performance travel collection for urban explorers” and that means cool materials, as well as features that every business traveller dreams about when fumbling for an e-ticket, passport or pen. With all credit to...Read more
Pen-chantIndiantelevision.com, June 5th
Ogilvy and Mather executive creative director Sumanto Chattapadhyay shares how he cherished the Montblanc his parents gifted him. “When I was in school, my parents gifted me a Montblanc pen. In those days, it was a big deal to be able to afford a...Read more
Montblanc to craft ¥520000 pen made from 'miracle pine' in IwateThe Japan Times, February 26th
Luxury brand Montblanc will sell fountain pens made from the “miracle pine” tree that was still standing on the Iwate coast after the 2011 tsunami, for a hefty ¥520,000. A company official said 20 percent of the takings will be donated to local people...Read more
Former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell can't remember being given Mont Blanc penSydney Morning Herald, February 16th
Former NSW premer Barry O'Farrell was bought a $1195 Mont Blanc luxury pen by a company in the bidding for major construction contracts in Sydney – according to its records – but the outgoing politician says he has no memory of receiving the gift and...Read more