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.
Interviews & Articles
In 1908, three guys in Hamburg, Germany, founded what would become Montblanc. In the beginning it was known as the Simplo Filler P… [more]
When I got my first job out of college, I did what a lot of people do: I ran out and bought myself a Montblanc pen and fountain pe… [more]
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One minute with Shree Printwell Offset's Dwipal PatelPrintWeek India, May 22nd
Paan? Also which is your cell phone? Pen? Car? Swati Snacks, Maghai Meetha, iPhone 5, MontBlanc, Audi Q7. For a working lunch if you meet Johanes Gutenberg (the father of modern printing), what would you talk to him about? Invention of new affordable...Read more
Daly's Pen Shop to close at Grand AvenueMilwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 21st
The shop, which sells fine writing instruments — the Montblanc line starts at $400, Pelikans at $300 — and describes itself as the country's oldest pen store, is not going out of business. Owner Brad Bodart opened a second location, at 7632 W...Read more
Gandhi's Blood up for AuctionWall Street Journal (India) (blog), May 19th
German-based luxury pen company Mont Blanc issued a limited edition Mahatma Gandhi pen in 2010 costing 1.4 million rupees. But it was forced to withdraw the pen after a consumer rights activist took claimed the company had violated the terms of the...Read more
Richemont's Rupert takes a sabbaticalIndependent Online, May 16th
Last week the luxury-goods maker named Jerome Lambert to become chief executive of pen maker Montblanc, while Daniel Riedo, the industrial director of the Jaeger-LeCoultre brand, will take Lambert's position as head of the watch maker. The company...Read more
Verdict on sex-for-grades trial to be delivered on May 28Channel News Asia, May 14th
Mr Jumabhoy said this could be inferred from Ms Ko's note to Tey, which indicated the Mont Blanc pen was to replace his lost pen and the only reason she bought him one was because Tey had told her about it. The prosecution also touched on the cheque...Read more
Telly Me the FutureIndian Express, May 11th
He favours Cartier spectacles, a Rolex watch, a Mont Blanc pen and comes armed with two BlackBerry Z10 phones, an iPhone 5 and several iPads, MacBooks and HP laptops. What they have in common, apart from their extravagant accessories, is that they...Read more
This Mother's Day, Treat Mom to Gideon's Fine JewelryPR Newswire (press release), May 10th
The joy of bringing a child into the world often fills a woman with an interest in documenting her thoughts and emotions. If you're a new father looking to recognize the mother of your own child, the internationally recognized quality of Montblanc pens...Read more
Richemont Names New Heads to Montblanc, Jaeger-LeCoultre BrandsJewelers Circular Keystone Online, May 9th
Luxury giant Richemont has named two new chief executive officers to its Montblanc and Jaeger-LeCoultre brands. Jérôme Lambert, current CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, was appointed CEO of Montblanc, the company's pen and watch business, while Daniel...Read more