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Montblanc 344 - 2Nd Version

montblanc 344 mb ef

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3 replies to this topic

#1 Rosetta59

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 18:46

This review includes a short history / timeline of the 34x series and the review itself.

1.   The Montblanc humble 34x

The Montblanc 34x series was introduced on the market at the beginning of the fifties; the starting year being 1951 or 1952, even if  some pre-series are presumably from 1950. The first type was produced until 1953; the second, after some restyling, from 1954 up to 1960. The 34x series was intended as a third thier following the flag models 14x and the middle priced 24x / 25x / 26x.    

344 / 342 stand for: 3 (third thier); 4 (piston filling system); and 4 or 2 (the nib size)

Tech Specifications

Technically speaking these fountain pens are of  ordinary level, as expected from an “jeden erschwinglich” economy range (so to speak… the original price in 1952-53 was 20 DM, with a contemporary exchange rate of 11.70 DM for a UK pound, this translates in 34 shillings and two pence, when a Conway Stewart 58 – the top of the CS line during those years – was priced 31 shillings and six pence). Models 34x do not show smart technical innovations, but the quality is nevertheless high. Clip is retained by a domed stud, with white Montblanc signet inlaid to the top. The clip is the ring-type and screw mounted. The cap itself screws on the body of the pen. The model 342 is 125 mm long when closed, its diameter is 13 mm and the weight is 15.8 gr. The model 344 is 134 mm long when closed, its diameter is 13.5 mm and the weight is 17.5 gr. Variations do exist among the series.

Materials

The very initial production run consisted in celluloid models with an amber ink window. Thereafter both 344 and 342 were produced in molded injection plastic with a pale blue ink window. The cap ring (only one) was gold filled as well as the clip. Apart the very first models which had a wartime – like steel nib, the nib was gold 14 carat (across the web, rare late samples sometimes appear with a gold plated steel nib). The feed was made in ebonite.

Filling System

On these fountain pens we found a classic piston filling system, already employed by Montblanc in its whole production at the time. A pre-series seems to exist, with the pre-war piston model, with a shorter knob. The first series has the cork seal piston, while the second has a plastic seal piston.

Versions

The 34x fountain pens were made in two sizes, related to the nib class: the smaller 342 (with a size 2 nib) and the medium 344 (with a size 4 nib). The letter “G” was added to the model number of the former samples (Goldfeder) when a gold nib was employed; no letter when the nib was steel.

The first type (1951-53) has a single gold band near the cap’s lip. On the cap there is the iconic prewar engraving MONT- BLANC with the mountain inbetween. The ink window on the initial celluloid models is amber. The section is curved in the former version. The piston knob has a larger size than the newer version. It is engraved with the model #, the “G”, when appropriate, and the tip size . The feed in ebonite is flat (“sky slope”) with long grooves and the domed stud on the cap is engraved with the outline of the Montblanc star, like the old 33x series.

The second version (1953-54 up to 1960) is made in injection molded plastic. The cap ring is substituted with a gold band which covered the cap’s lip and is engraved with “MONTBLANC” and “ * 344 * or “ * 342 * ”. The iconic prewar engraving on the cap was withdrawn (even if there are very scarce transitional samples with both engravings). The ink window becomes pale blue and the section is straight. On the domed stud a solid white Montblanc star appears as on the 14x series. The piston knob is a short one and the feed is now rounded with full length grooves.

Colours

These pens were initially produced in glossy black. Then plastic models followed where the colour was petrol blue, mahogany red, olive green, and pearl grey, with a clear ink window. Some colour models do not have the ink window. Manifold nib versione exist in black with a blue domed stud.

Nibs

These pens were produced with two nib sizes: #2 and #4, such as the final number of the model (either 342 and 344). There were two types: a gold plated steel nib (342 and 344 of the first series) and a solid 14 ct. gold (342 G / 344 G on the former series and 342 / 344 on the latter). #2 nib is 23 mm long, while #4 nib is 28 mm long. Tip size ranged from EF to BB and even oblique varieties were offered

Timeline

Year

Facts

1951-52

The Company introduces the Montblanc 34x

1952

The Company introduces the cheap model Monterosa

1953-54

34x restyling

1955

34x second restyling

1956

The prewar MONTBLANC cap engraving is definitely eliminated

1958

The Company produces the 34x with a clear window and blue, red, grey or green body

1959

The Company closes its Danish production site

1960

End of Montblanc 34x production

 

I followed, adapted, changed and added to a nice article from    www.fountainpen.it

Please, feel free to amend and add everything may be appropriate.

 

 

2.   Description and Review of my sample: a late 344.

As you can see from the following pictures, this is an MB 344 II type (1955-1960). The Nib is EF in yellow gold 14 k size 4. Ebonite is the material of the feed which is rounded, with full length grooves. The capped length is 13.4 cm (5 ¼ inches). The cap is 6.2 cm long and the body 12.0 cm. The cap diameter is 13.5 mm and the weight is 17.6 gr. (average of three measurements on lab equipment). The simple clip and the band on the cap’s lip are gold plated (from micro scratches I can see only with incident light by a 7x loupe, my opinion is that gold plating is quite thick). The domed stud shows a quite little solid white star recalling the proportions of the white star on the 149’s cap. On the cap band the words “MONTBLANC” and “* 344 *”are engraved.

 

The nib has an EF tip. The following words are engraved on the nib: “MONT” and “BLANC” in two rows, 14C in a third row, “MONTBLANC” in a fourth row, “585” in a fifth and (I suppose) “344” in the last row, hidden under the straight section.

The ink window is pale blue and shows the plastic seal of the piston (when turned downward). The body does not show engravings while the turning knob is engraved with the simple tip size “EF”.

The pen is quite light, has good proportions in my hands (I have hands of average size) and managed smooth and light even in long writing session.

 

The cap screws firmly to the body. Under the cap … a marvelous size #4 gold nib, the big gun of this fountain pen (not size related, because it is 28 mm long…). The writing experience is absolutely smooth on every type of paper where I wrote: from common xerox paper, to my favourite Fabria paper (100 gr. / m2 with felt marked finish). For me a wonderful surprise: this is the first time I appreciate this smoothness of an EF nib, since generally i find them a bit scratchy.

 

Up to now I employed only one ink, the Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire. When I charged for the first time I doubted the piston worked, because of the very, very light resistance I felt. Piston worked well and charged a good amount of ink, able to perform longer than my other piston-fillers.

 

I bought the pen from the site of Tom Westerich, which all you know. Tom is a very friendly person, with a huge knowledge in the writing instrument field, experience and craftsmanship in pen restoration. He described this pen as near mint, but he was wrong: the pen is better, because I can see only storage wrinkles and only with my 7x loupe or at high enlargement in my pictures. The feed was immaculate and so the nib and the ink window. No posting rings were present, no scratches, no hairlines (so common in pens from the fifties…), no dents, nothing !  Actually a little dot of old ink was identified by my loupe on the bottom of the knob. A simple wet microfibre cloth was not able to solve the problem, but a single pass by hand (only by a finger) with my trusty pen polish from Tryphon site solved brightly the question and now the knob is sparkling new…

The pen was not cheap at 295 euros (then I had some discount…), but I can see that average prices in completed listings on eBay are in the range 72 – 311 US $ in these last two months (I cannot comment on the quality of the pens, but these do not seem to me of a great level). Moreover, today (Dec the 8th) I see sellers on eBay which set high prices for average condition MB 344s such as from 225 to 369 US $. So I am grateful to Tom…

 

Up to now I can’t see any space to sell my pen in the future (what a nightmare this idea !)

 

This pen sits in my “The magnificent three” group with my Conway Stewart 58 and my Soennecken 100 (all from the end of fifties… was that a real gold age for FPs ?)

 

Greetings from Italy !

Attached Images

  • MB344IMG_3489_.JPG
  • MB344IMG_3497_.JPG
  • MB344IMG_3501_.JPG
  • MB344IMG_3503_.JPG
  • MB344IMG_3507_.JPG
  • MB344IMG_3509_.JPG

Greetings from Italy to you all !! ;)

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#2 farmdogfan

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 19:11

Nice review and a nice pen, thanks.



#3 Diderot

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 19:29

Nice review and a nice pen, thanks.

 

+1



#4 Rosetta59

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 21:49

Glad you liked it, guys !

 

Greetings from Italy !
:D 


Greetings from Italy to you all !! ;)





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