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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Samsung UK Offers Free Montblanc Pen With Galaxy Note 4 PurchaseGeeky Gadgets, January 30th
If you happen to be in the UK, and thinking about purchasing the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, the Korean company has a great deal for you. The Korean company is offering an exclusive complementary Montblanc pen on purchase on the Samsung Galaxy Note ...Read more
Have I Mentioned Lately How Much I Hate Robots?Patheos (blog), January 26th
Second, the video shows a pen being dipped in ink, which is clearly not what the machine does. It's using a Montblanc (at least for the video), which has a reservoir. But OMG it dips its pen just like old-timey writers had to! Let me tell you something...Read more
SIHH: Montblanc's shining momentTelegraph.co.uk, January 26th
It derives, I suppose, from a necessary response to the perceived decimation of its pen and pencil business by the onslaught of electronic communication (which thankfully didn't occurr but instead placed an added premium on carrying and using one of...Read more
Model-actor-singer Lawrence Wong on being versatile for his careerThe Star Online, January 24th
To showcase these new items, which include the Montblanc TimeWalker Extreme Chronograph DLC, StarWalker Extreme Steel ScreenWriter and the Extreme leather collection, Wong met with reporters and photographers at the brand's Pavilion KL store...Read more
JFK Inspires Montblanc's New Great Characters CollectionWomen's Wear Daily, January 5th
JFK'S NEW PEN: John F. Kennedy is the inspiration for Montblanc's newest edition of its Great Characters Collection. The initiative started in 2009 and has used Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi in prior years. There will be three ...Read more
Montblanc cranks up the smart watch heatDiginomica, January 1st
I'm a Montblanc fan, owning a watch and rollerball pen from this house and have a Note 4. Unsurprisingly, I'm all-in here and look forward to seeing if the stand alone e-Strap will fit my timepiece. At an expected retail of $250, it's a high price to...Read more
It Came from Camelot: The Montblanc JFK PenForbes, December 1st
In 1963, President Kennedy famously came to the aid of German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer at the signing of the Golden Book in Cologne—when Adenauer didn't have a pen, Kennedy offered his personal Montblanc Meisterstück 149. Half a century later, ...Read more
Montblanc And Samsung Introduce 'Smart' Pens And Accessories For Galaxy ...Forbes, September 11th
Montblanc has been undergoing some changes of late, which have now become visible in the product lines. Most of these changes can be chalked up to the arrival of new CEO Jérôme Lambert just about a year ago. I am well acquainted with Lambert as he ...Read more