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Montblanc Collection

Although I collect and restore many different brands of fountain pens and pencils, my primary collecting focus has always been on vintage Montblancs. Here I will post photos, information, and reviews of some of the pens in my collection. I have thought long and hard about how to organize these on my website. Trying to do them chronologically, by filling system, by tier (Meisterstuck vs second tier), they all have their advantages and disadvantages. What I ended up with was kind of a hybrid between filling systems, age, and location of manufacture! On the sidebar to the left, I have tried to make it as easy as possible to find not only reviews, but information about the pens that Montblanc produced!
Montblanc History:

This is a very short and sweet history of the Simplo Filler Pen Company. If you are interested in the full details, I highly recommend you pick up The Montblanc Diary & Collector's Guide and Collectible Stars by Jens Rosler. He is directly related to the creators of the company, and these books probably have the best info in print to be found anywhere. I say in print, because i have learned a lot from talking with experts such as Axel Huebner, Dr. Osman Sumer, Claus Holten, Tom Westerich, and others. This information is better than any other info because it is not found elsewhere and must be passed from person to person. I hope you enjoy my modest history of the firm Montblanc.

      In 1908, the firm was created by three men named C.J. Voss, Alfred Nehemias,and August Eberstein. They started the firm, but quickly found they lacked the capital to produce pens on a long term basis. They sought and won the financial backing of Max Koch, although this relationship would be short lived. In 1909, they started producing the Rouge et Noir, which was their first pen. When the relationship with Max Koch went south, a gentleman by the name of Christian Lausen entered the picture. Shortly after, Mr. Nehemias passed away. In 1910, Wilhelm Dziambor joined and filled the shoes of Mr. Nehemias. The climate was very rocky in the early years, and Simplo found it necessary to rid itself of Mr. Eberstein after they found him stealing from the company. Leaving them with no production specialist, they hired Mr. Ilgner to head up productions. He would later leave the firm to start Astoria Fullfederwerk, which was successful until Montblanc purchased the company from him in 1932 during the Depression. Due to the many leaders coming and going in the first years, the three men credited with taking Simplo to the number one spot were C.J. Voss, Wilhelm Dziambor, and Christian Lausen.

      In 1910 Simplo produced the first Montblanc, although it did not have a star on top, but rather a solid white top. The story goes that during a card game between Mr. Voss and Carl Schalk who said, "Just call it Montblanc, after all it is the greatest of the mountains, and your pens are the greatest of pens". The star was introduced in 1914. During Simplo's upstart, they produced many sub brands due to the fact that most retailers wanted their own label. These pens are quite rare and valuable now! This suited Simplo fine because it kept their name brand #1 in the eyes of their customers. When World War I broke out in 1914, the company changed it's name to Simplo Fullfeder GmBH, and work went uninterrupted for over a year. Soon after, resources became very hard to find, and the company started producing Army requisitions. After the war, a marketing department was established. Grete Gross headed the department, and she was largely responsible for Montblanc's stratospheric launch to world fame through her ingenious advertising. In 1919, Ernst Rosler joined the company and took over in the nib manufacturing facility. Also in 1919, the first Montblanc boutiques opened and were called Stoffhaas. Mr. Ilgner, who had been with the company for some time, now decided to leave and start his own company. In 1924, they introduced the Meisterstuck or Masterpiece which at that time carried with it a lifetime guarantee. That was about the time when Germany underwent a serious period of Stagflation. Montblanc took advantage of the low costs by saturating the country with advertising from billboards, to magazines, to signs, they put it up everywhere. They even made Montblanc advertising planes and automobiles! Things were very turbulent for years during the Great Depression, but Montblanc pulled through. One idea that proved popular was the creation of the III series. These were low end, cheaper pens. The draw of these was that Montblanc advised if one bought a III series, and returned within a year, they would be credited the full purchase price towards a Meisterstuck. This was paramount because the Germans had just gone through a period where the value of their money would lose 50% of it's value DAILY. Hence, a good that held it's value was very popular. Even with this offer, very few returned to do the trade! In 1934, Montblanc began producing the Pix pencil. It employed a push button "click" mechanism. Up until that time most pencils used a turning knob and didn't function as easily. They produced these for many years and they come in many variations. It was about this time (1930) that Montblanc created it's first Stylo. These closely resemble a rollerball of today, yet they drank ink out of an inkwell, just like their fountain pen counterparts. This was most likely due to the popularity of the Rotring "Tintenkuli". Montblanc also adapted the piston filler in about 1930. The firm had not wanted to switch over, as they saw the push button fillers as the future of pens. However, they broke down and switched due to market demands. This would prove to be a wise decision, and Montblanc continues to produce piston fillers even today!

      One of the lesser known facts about Montblanc is that for a great deal of time, they had manufacturing plants set up outside of Germany. Some of the most beautiful examples came out of Denmark from 1947-1957. They were stamped with the Montblanc name, and used some very extraordinary celluloids in orange and green, grey, blue, and brown marble. These are very rare and beautiful, hence they are very costly. There was also a Spanish plant that produced colorful Montblancs. They are much more rare, yet less expensive than Danish pens, mostly because they are not the highest quality pens. They are important, and nice, but nowhere near the quality of their German counterparts.

      During World War II, the company again was used to make supplies for the military, and pen production was only allowed for export. In 1944, Montblanc's building was hit during a bomb raid. It is sad to consider what was lost. The employees focus at the the time was to protect the machinery at all costs, so they tried to recover it first. This was to ensure that production could continue. Little thought was given, until afterwards, for the older advertising, and pristine examples of the "pens of the past" kept at the building, which were subsequently lost in the fire. Montblanc was able to get money from the government for war damages and was able to rebuild in 1946. After the war, people often traded their pens for food to survive, and employees who got pens as partial pay fed their families this way. One of the reason that Pre-World War II pens are so difficult to find in complete condition, is because their nibs were often torn out to pay for food and the things a person would need to survive. Gold at the time was very valuable! The resulting pen would be discarded as worthless.

      Montblanc designed a telescopic piston for it's Meisterstuck line, which in essence was a piston that retracted into itself two times. It allowed the pen to hold much more ink than a standard piston filler. It was used from 1946 until 1959. The reason this was discontinued, was the fact that the larger pens held so much ink that the nibs capillary action wasn't great enough to keep the ink from leaking out. In 1949, Montblanc changed the shape of it's Meisterstuck line from the squared off shape, to the torpedo shape still in use today. In 1952, Montblanc introduced the Monte Rosa, which was a pen aimed at students. It was a piston filler and was essentially a 34X series pen with a different stamp and cap band. Montblanc introduced the Flugelfeder or "wing nib" and used it in their 25X, 64X, and 74X series pens. Even today, this is regarded as one of the best designed nibs ever made. Montblanc was hesitant to enter the Ballpoint market, so it hired an outside firm Ballograf to produce it's pens. They did not start to produce their own ballpoints until 1957.

      In the 1960's, Montblancs pens underwent a complete redesign. The 149 was kept, but all smaller pens were discontinued in favor of the 1x/2x/3x system. The first number stood for the tier (Meisterstuck/2nd Tier/3rd Tier), and the second number stood for the size. They introduced the Kardinalshut or Cardinal's Hat on the Meisterstuck pens. it looked like two triangles back to back. They kept the wing nib, but put a hood over it similar in design but not style to the Parker 51.

      The 1970's brought some aggressive styles to the Montblanc pen range. They introduced the Carrera which had a clip with six holes in it, which can ONLY be associated with the Porsche. A "ladies" version of the Carrera was produced called the "Caressa". It had a houndstooth clip and colors such as lilac. Another "ladies" pen was the Collection Madame, which was made in order to compete in the purse pen market against Dunhill and Cartier. It never took off, and these pens are very rare today! They also introduced the Noblesse, which was much thinner than anything produced before.

      That brings us to what I consider the "Modern" pens, since they have not changed much since the 1980's. The 1980's saw a return to the 14x lineup which remains unchanged through today! Information about these can be found at your nearest Montblanc boutique!