Learning about the vintage models of any major pen company is a pretty serious task. Since MB has been producing pens for 90 years, there are quite a few to discuss. If you are fascinated with the minutae in the long run, then you should consider Lambrou's "Fountain Pens of the Worlds." The section on Montblanc, while not flawless, is probably the single best overview of the company's models. Short of paying the $150 for this book, though, one of your best sources of knowledge comes from eBay. Search for eBay auctions from sellers such as a "st0352," "penpoint.de," and "gidania." These are all sellers who are extremely well-versed on Montblancs, so their descriptions are almost always historically accurate. You can learn much just reading the auction descriptions.
Here is a quick overview of MB model history, though:
In each product line, the company has offered a range of sizes (anywhere from size 00 to 12, but most commonly in the 2, 4, and 6 sizes. Traditionally the 4 size was considered the standard, with 2 being a ladies' size and 6 being slightly oversized. In their top line (Meisterstück) they have also offered a 9 size since the mid-1930s.
The size of the pen has almost always been reflected in the model number. The earliest Montblanc models were generally named 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 12. In the 1924, they came out with the Meisterstück ("Masterpiece") line.
MB did this to be able to offer different pricing levels to their pen lines. A Meisterstück pen came with a lifetime guarantee, whereas the less-expensive models did not. The Meisterstück models were initially named after the price (initially 20, 25, 35, and 45, but later was 20, 25, 30, and 40). These pens are usually distinctive by their hard rubber material, and round cap dome (like the Agatha Christie LE, if you are familiar with it) and flat opposite end of the pen. These were all some form of button-filler, but MB did produce safety models as well as dallying in lever-fillers and "compressor" models (similar to Sheaffer Touchdown fillers).
In the mid 1930s, MB changed their naming scheme and the pens' basic design. They moved to a three-digit system that denoted the price class (1st digit), filling system (2nd digit) and size (3rd digit). The Meisterstücks changed their model names to 12x for the push-knob fillers and 10x for safety pens (yes, they were still making safeties this late). They were made in size 2 up to size 9.
The design change was a more squared-off look. The Meisterstücks had a derby that rose up a fair bit from the clip ring and was squared off flat (rather than the earlier curved dome). The less-expensive lines had a derby that did not rise up as high, and while squared off, did not square as sharply as the Meisterstücks.
A couple of years later, MB moved to piston-filling systems, so the model lines became the 13x, 23x, and 33x. These were basically identical to the button-filling models. The also produced a model 432 at this time. This was a stylo, visually identical to the 23x series.
After World War II, MB decided to streamline their pens, and created today's cigar-shaped design. These were the 14x, 24x, and 34x. The 14x are nearly identical to today's Meisterstück models. The 24x had a round dome, but it was smaller than the clip ring, created a stepped effect (my favorite MB design). The 34x had a round dome flush with the clip ring, but did not rise up as high as the 14x. In 1952, MB made higher-end Meisterstück models by using metal caps on resin bodies (the 64x) or gold-filled caps on gold-filled bodies (the 74x). The caps are shaped differently than the 14x line, more like a Parker 51 cap with a tassie rather than a derby. The 64x was available with variations of a gold-filled or brushed stainless steel cap on either a black resin or green-striped body, while the 74x was also available in sterling silver or solid gold.
In 1954, MB redesigned the 2xx to have a more futuristic appearance and named the line 25x. These have low-sitting domed crowns, but the clip was very sleek and minimalistic. They also put a streamlined wing-nib on the pens. The 64x and 74x models were also given the wing nib, but none the 14x and 34x remained unchanged from earlier design. As a caveat, they also created a 26x line, which used the 25x shape, but had a traditional shouldered nib.
Somewhere during ths time, they also produced some odd little models designated 44x. These were shaped very closely to the 14x line, but had a brushed stainless steel cap on a resin body (but the cap had a black resin derby). They were a lower price line than the 14x models, and came in only 2 or 4 size. You can also sometimes find a 444 model that was a stylo.
In the late 1950s, MB completely redesigned the lines and moved to the then-current trend for slender pens. The result is the 1x, 2x and 3x lines. These were much thinner than most previous models, and made of plastic. They also had a semi-hooded wing nib, and all were piston-fillers. Almost identical in appearance, the key to each is the cap band. The 3x has a single thin band on the cap lip, the 2x has a same but adds a thin cap ring above it, and the 1x has a thick single band at the lip that rises on one side to make it reminiscent of a mountain outline (hard to describe, but you recognize it when you see it). Luxurious options were offered in the 7x (plastic barrel with gold-filled cap), the 8x (gold-filled cap and barrel), and 9x (solid gold cap and body). They were made in only two sizes (x2 and x4). The only traditionally shaped pen during this time was the 149.
Since this is where I stop as a collector, I will leave it to others to carry on. The information above is too brief to be definitive, and left out little oddities (such as the III-series, the 221, the red dots on some stylos, etc.). I also didn't touch on colors or Danish models, since I have to stop typing somewhere.
Finally, here is a quick overview of filling system
designations and sizes (from 1935 to 1960, excluding Danish models):
Filling system notes
* Standard button filler (with removable blind cap) on 32x pens, but "Push Knob" filler on 12x and 22x pens. The push knob filler was a button filler utilizing a blind cap that did not detach from the pen. You unscrewed the blind cap slightly, and then it became the filling button. Neat system, since you were never at risk of losing the blind cap.
** Produced 1937 to 1952. Post-war models were the L139, 23x and 33x.
*** Produced 1948 to current. Initially only the 142, 144 and 146 were offered. The 149 was added in 1952. In 1960, all but the 149 were discontinued until the 146 was re-issued in the 1970s and the 144 added in the 1980s. Note that today's 144 is a cartridge filler, whereas the vintage model is a piston filler.
**** Replaced the second price level 24x only in 1954. Production stopped in 1957.
***** Identical to the 252 and 254, but with traditionally shaped nibs instead of wing nibs.
Sizes (in historical sequence)
|Pen / Nib Size|
That is about it for the moment. If you want to hear about Danish or colored models, please contact me and I will write something up. Also, some of this info contradicts Lambrou and Roesler. This is all based on my own research, and I have found what I believe to be a few minor errors in their work. I do not claim it to be completely authoritative, though, so if you see a discrepancy, do please let me know.
Copyright © 2004 James William Griffiths. All Rights Reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed without prior consent of the author.