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An Enthusiast’s Collection – Part 2


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Montblanc – an appreciation through comparison


Episode 1 - Introduction

Welcome and thank you for dropping by. I respectfully submit this, the third pictorial post of my collection, in the hope it might serve as a useful reference or in the very least, that you find it worthy of your valuable time. For practical reasons, this post is submitted in five bite-sized episodes. :)


Whilst vintage Montblanc pens, in particular black piston-fillers for the German market from 1934-1954, constitute the main part of my collection, I also have pens from other important pen manufacturers. I therefore thought it might be interesting to compare Montblanc’s piston-fillers of the time, to those of a comparable pen manufacturer from the same period.


It would probably have been easier to look to Montblanc’s biggest domestic competitor Pelikan for a comparator. Instead, I decided upon a particular pen manufacturer whose pens are considered by some to have been the match of both Montblanc and Pelikan in their time but about whom not a lot is known; I refer of course to Soennecken.


Using pens, catalogues and advertising material from my collection, I would like to share with you my appreciation for Montblanc’s early piston-fillers, by comparing them to the piston-fillers being offered by Soennecken during the period of my interest. In this regard, I hope my pens meet your expectations but apologise in advance should you find my collection to be in any way...... lacking :blush:





Before we begin, I respectfully point out that, as a mere fountain pen enthusiast, I have not attempted any serious technical analysis of any particular pen, for such analysis would be far beyond my capability. My best efforts could never amount to more than an informal pictorial comparison of these two pen manufacturers – a beauty parade – of their (mainly black) piston-fillers for the German market between 1934 and 1954. Indeed, my sole ‘qualification’ for expressing any view, other than owning a few pens, is that I have a genuine appreciation for such pens of the period. Despite my self-appointment, I naturally stand to be corrected by your greater knowledge where deemed necessary ;)



Soennecken, settling in the city of Bonn, started out in 1875 selling nibs and inkwells. Founder Friedrick Soennecken was already known for his interest in calligraphy. However, having invented both the hole-punch and ring-binder, Soennecken soon established a serious reputation as a producer and retailer of high quality office stationery and office furniture. Soennecken seem to have started marketing pens around 1890 and were selling their first safety pens by 1905. Despite not starting out as a pen manufacturer, Soennecken was actually the first major pen manufacturer in Germany. By comparison, Hamburg-based ‘Montblanc’ (as the ‘Simplo Filler Pen Company’ were eventually to be known) started out as a pen manufacturer in 1908. They started producing their own gold nibs in 1914 (previously imported from England and America) and introduced their first lever-fillers in 1921 – some 6 years before Soennecken.





Montblanc & Soennecken piston-fillers

Both companies were late in adopting the piston-filler system (Montblanc in 1934 and Soennecken in 1935) the first reliable version of which was introduced in 1929 by Hannover-based Pelikan. However, Montblanc and Soennecken seemingly had such in-house technical capability that they were able to devise their own version of this most important of filling systems. Montblanc were to patent their version – the ‘telescopic’ piston-filler system - in 1936 whilst Soennecken registered their unique ‘click’ version in 1939, though seemingly did not market it until 1949 (probably because of events between 1939-1945!).


I am not a technical person and so leave any ‘technical’ analysis of these pens to those far brighter than I. However, to satisfy my own curiosity as to the technical pecking order between these two pen manufacturers, I made brief enquires of the three FPNers responsible for the proper working order and condition of all my vintage pens. The consensus of opinion is that the Montblanc’s version of the piston-filling system is regarded as being technically in a league of its own, whilst the Soennecken version is seen to be among the best in terms of quality and reliability. Any further debate on this point is beyond the scope of this particular post and best left to the experts.


Montblanc 1934

I tend to state my interest in fountain pens (particularly in Montblanc) as starting from 1934. This was the year when Montblanc incorporated its brand name ‘Montblanc’ into its business name to become: Montblanc-Simplo GmbH, and it is also the year that Montblanc launched its first piston-fillers, the model ‘b’ from the III series, and the old-styled MB 17 ½ first seen as a safety-filler, then later as a push-button filler. On the face of it, this seems to have been a rather cautious, almost reluctant, launch of its first piston-fillers by Montblanc. Neither of these pens were of first-tier quality and both pens were only in production for just one year. 1934 was also the year that Montblanc launched its new ‘Pix’ range of pencils in the form of the MB 92 ‘Volkspix, the patent for which had been acquired by MB earlier but which was so successful these early Pix pencils remained in production right up until 1950!




Despite these important events, my MB collection is representative of Montblanc’s more serious attempt at piston-fillers, which started in 1935 with improved piston-fillers and a redesign of Montblanc’s already successful flagship line, the ‘Meisterstuck’ range, which was to sport a new 3-digit numbering system, new cap top design and Montblanc’s brand new telescopic piston-filler system.


Montblanc & Soennecken 1935

In 1935 Montblanc launched the MB 235 and 334 both of which were to remain in production until 1936.




Here we see the MB 235 with its original ‘tall cap’, used on a few ‘new’ models during the mid-1930s. Some early versions of the tall cap would come with a tear-drop style clip but this pen has correct and latest fluted clip (1934-1941) which was to be typical of MB‘s second-tier piston-fillers.



The blind cap, with both model number and nib type imprinted, hides the piston turning knob.



This MB 235 has the correct and original 14 CT size 5 nib.


The first versions of the MB 334 came with the same tall cap as the MB 235. My pen pictured here is a later version with the ‘modern’ cap and the typical third-tier clip (1935-1948).


This MB 334 has the correct and original 14KAR ‘Warranted’ b nib. (Rosler, pages IV and IX).


Soennecken launched its first piston-filler in 1935, in the form of the model 1306, of which I have two versions; standard black and the longer luxury version in pearl and black. The standard black version is probably not that distinguishable from many German pens of the period. The ribbed piston turning knob has the nib type imprinted and, whilst not perhaps as elegant as a MB blind cap, it is probably more practical and not too distracting from the look of the pen. The brass piston mechanism gives the pen good weight.




By 1935, the Montblanc snow cap insignia (registered in 1913, introduced in 1914) was already a marketing success and, with ‘Mont Blanc’ emblazoned on the side of it pen caps; ‘Montblanc’ engraved on their pen nibs, and with the legend ‘4810’ engraved on their Meisterstuck nibs (since 1930), Montblanc had clearly found a winning formula in brand recognition, which they seemed to have applied consistently during this period.


Soennecken seem not to have been so consistent with their branding. Their earlier logo (as used on their much appreciated ‘Rheingold’ push button-filler range) was a letter ‘S’ within a white sun-like circle complete with sun rays (ref - German composer Wagner). However, at the time of the launch of its 1306 piston-filler in 1935, Soennecken dropped the white circle but kept the ‘S’ and sun rays.







The standard 1306 (middle) has less threads on the grip section, which is straight, tapering to a rather dated looking flange. Incidentally, the luxury version 1306 has the same elegant grip section as the two MBs shown.


Whilst this post is only really interested in piston-fillers, it is interesting to note that my 1935 Soennecken catalogue lists Soennecken’s top-of-the-line Prasident (push button-filler with patent pending), complete with new logo, at RM 24 whilst its most expensive Rheingold (push button-filler) model 1917 is listed at RM 17. The same Soennecken catalogue lists the new1306 at RM 7.50.



Edited by pavoni
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Episode 2 -Montblanc 1936

By 1936, Montblanc ceased production of the MB 235 and 334.

In 1936 Montblanc introduced its second-tier piston-fillers: MB 234, 234 ½ and 232 and third-tier models: MB 334 ½ and 333 ½. We also see a piston-filler version of the old MB 422 stylo or ink pencil– coming in the form of the MB 432, which came in two versions, a large dot and small dot – the size of the dot indicating the size of the writing tube. Pix luxury models L71, L72 are also introduced together with pix model 72, and the 82 which came with a thicker lead than that carried by the MB 72 and 92 pencils.



Note how dated the 234 seems with its tall cap!


Whilst I don’t yet possess a Montblanc catalogue from 1935, I have one from 1936. This catalogue lists the new MB 234 piston-filler at RM 13.50 which is curiously some RM 6 more expensive than Soennecken’s 1306, despite it being a second-tier pen of the same new technology! As a point of reference, Montblanc’s top-of-the-line Meisterstuck 128 G (push button-filler) is priced at RM 35.

Montblanc 1937

By 1937, Montblanc had ceased production of the MB 234

In 1937 we see Montblanc launch the first of their newly revamped Meisterstuck series; with two mid-sized models, the MB 136 and 134, naturally sporting the new telescopic piston-filler system. From this date onwards, other than the pre-existing push 12# series, all Meisterstuck pens were to be piston-fillers.



Aren’t those long ink windows just fabulous!


My Montblanc 1937 catalogue (I don’t have a Soennecken catalogue for the same year) lists the legendary MB L129 (button-filler) at a lofty price of RM 50, whilst the MB 126 is listed at a price of RM 30. Note that Montblanc lists its brand new, first-tier, piston-filler MB 136 at RM 30, the same price point as the equivalent push button-filler (MB 126) it was set to replace.



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Episode 3 -Montblanc & Soennecken 1938


In 1938 Montblanc launched its smallest models of its Meisterstuck series, the model MB 132.



MB 132, K72G, MB K132


Soennecken launched its own new range around this time, the 510s, 510 and 507 complete with a new logo on the cap top of an eagle grasping a pen nib (remember the founder’s love of calligraphy). These pens are quite squat in appearance, possibly made so by the flat cap top and this gold cap rings, which stand proud of the cap on all but the little 504. Grip section is the same as MB’s.




Montblanc & Soennecken 1939


In 1939 Montblanc launched the largest models of its Meisterstuck series, the mighty MB L139 and the 138. We also see the largest and smallest models introduced for the second-tier line in the form of MB 236 and K232, whilst the third-tier got its smallest model, the 332.




By 1939, Montblanc had released its entire and revamped Meisterstuck line, complete with its own patented piston-filling system.


MB L139, 138, 136, 134, 132


For me, there are without doubt the most elegant of pens, with a cap of perfect proportion from the top of which, drips a golden Meisterstuck clip (from 1935), almost stalactite-like, towards a band of gold. One’s eye is then drawn to the ink window. No ordinary, crude, plain ink window for these Meisterstuck pens rather, we are presented with slender, black-painted, vertical stripes, which serve to elongate further the purposefully long window through which, one can but imagine the ink capacity




My 1939 Montblanc catalogue shows the following pricing for its piston-fillers:


MB 139 at RM 45,

MB 138 at RM 31.50,

MB 136 at RM 27,

MB 134 at RM 22.50,

MB 132 at RM 18.

MB K132 at RM 18

MB 236 at RM 16.20,

MB 234 ½ at RM 13.50,

MB 232 at RM 11.25,

MB K232 at RM 11.25

MB 334 ½ at RM 9,

MB 333 ½ at RM 7.50,

MB 332 at RM 5.85

MB-Pix72 at RM 4.75,

MB-Pix82 at RM 4.75,

MB-Pix92 at RM 3

MB 432 at RM 6.75,

A set comprising MB 234 ½ and Pix 72 at RM 22, whilst

a set comprising MB K232 and K72 at RM 19.90


By comparison I have a 1939 Soennecken catalogue with the following pricing for its piston-fillers:


Soennecken 510 at RM 9.00

Soennecken 507 at RM 6.75

Soennecken 506 at RM 5.85

Soennecken 125 pencil at RM 2.25

A set comprising Soennecken’s 507 and 125 at RM 12.


Given the two catalogues, one could conclude which filling system the two companies viewed to be the more important. Montblanc’s 1939 catalogue depicts push-button fillers alongside its piston-fillers though it is clear that the piston-fillers are given top billing, the most expensive pen listed being the MB L139 at RM 45.


The Soennecken catalogue of the same year gives its push-button fillers top billing, with the Soennecken Prasident 1 (the luxury version of the Rheingold line), its most expensive pen at RM 31.50, some RM 13.50 less than Montblanc’s flagship pen (MB L139) and, the same price as Montblanc’s second biggest piston-filler the MB 138


Soennecken’s Rheingold line, by now in the form of its two-pen 600 series, is priced at RM 14.40 and RM 11.70 pitching both pens in price competition with MB’s second-tier and more modern piston-filler pens. Such is Montblanc’s emphasis on the new technology (piston-fillers) that, in its 1939 catalogue, it only depicts one Meisterstuck button-filler, a 124PL at RM 20.25 (cheaper than the MB 134 despite being in PL form!)


Remember that both Montblanc and Soennecken were already late in adopting the piston-filler system. Nonetheless, Soennecken’s newest and biggest piston-filler at the time - the 510 – is listed at a price point of RM 9.00, which is the same price as Montblanc’s third-tier MB 334 ½, which was by then four years old! Could such marketing decisions been seen as the early indicators to the future outcome for both pen manufacturers?


Soennecken 1940


By 1940, Montblanc had ceased production of the MB 138, 132, 236, 232 and 432.

In 1940, Soennecken release the 506, 504 and economy S4 to compliment its 500 series.




Whilst these pens were typical produced in black (still the predominant German taste during this period), Soennecken also produced pens from the 500 series in woven blue, red and green. I have a 504 in blue and 125 pencil in red.





MB L139, 510s, MB138, 510, MB136, 507, MB134, 506, MB132, 504


Edited by pavoni
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Episode 4 -Montblanc & Soennecken 1943 – 1947

By 1943, Montblanc had ceased production of the long ink window versions of the Meisterstuck pens and introduced the short ink window. :crybaby:



MB L139 long, L139 short, 136 long, 136 short, 134 long, 134 short


Montblanc and Soennecken clearly found ways to continue their business amid the nightmare that was World War II. Like all German production facilities, the Montblanc and Soennecken factories were hit hard by intensive allied bombing of major cities and ports.


I have included the following pens, showing how Montblanc managed to continue producing pens without key materials, particularly gold. Pens were fitted with steel/alloy nibs and caps with 3 imprinted rings rather than the usual gold cap ring(s).


Wartime MB 136, 134, 236, 234.5, 232, 334.5, 333.5, 332, 432

You will note the tear drop clip on the MB 232 (with long cap). These clips were supposedly only in production between 1930-1934. However, the Collector has to recognise that old stock was necessarily used during shortages caused by the war and as such, pens often came with whatever fixtures were available at the time.

Montblanc & Soennecken 1947

Both companies managed to emerge from war-torn Germany. One can only imagine how hard it must have been for those pre-war German companies to re-launch themselves, not only to an economically crippled domestic market, but also to the wider European market, the countries of which had only just been freed from German occupation and as such, could hardly have been expected to be big importers of German products. However, Montblanc and Soennecken obviously did re-launch themselves, capitalising on their respective hard-earned reputations for producing ‘quality’ products, and they sought to satisfy consumer wishes for products which were more reflective of the new age, offering new designs for their pens.During 1947, we can see Soennecken follow up with another new-look line of piston-fillers: the 120,116 and 112A, 112, 112K and 110. These new pens are certainly thicker and carry greater authority than the 500 series.




MB L139, 120, MB136, 116

fpn_1369005168__dscf9260_zps5ec14035.jpgAbove is a direct comparison of the two biggest pens available from the two companies. Whilst not as decorative as the MB nibs, the Soennecken nibs (as always) are very impressive to write with. The 120’s nib is a monster!


It is at this time that Montblanc, using pre-war stock, started to sell pens again to its domestic market. It was also at this time that Montblanc set about a total overhaul of its Meisterstuck line and as such, we see a transitional period, with ‘transitional’ pens - the MB 136 and 134.




Here we see a MB 136 with a prismatic clip (unique to the 136 and 134) with a middle cap band imprinted with ‘Meisterstuck’ (see the later 14# series). Alongside, we have a MB 134 with fluted clip (1934 – 1941) with a solid cap band without the ‘Meisterstuck’ imprint, framed by two smaller golden bands. The war caused shortages of various materials and as such, one can often see a mix of clips and caps on such pens. By 1943, Montblanc no longer produced pens with a long ink window and as such, of the two pens pictured, the MB 136 is the more original, what with the 134’s cap either a replacement or using up of old stock.




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Episode 5 -Montblanc & Soennecken 1949 and into the 1950s

By 1949 Montblanc had ceased production of the MB 136, 134, 334 ½, 333 ½, and 332.


A curiosity, rather than discontinued, the 234 ½ was upgraded to the Meisterstuck format around this time and referred to as the ‘MB 234 ½ Luxury’.



This particular version of the 234 ½ was only in production until 1952 though the longevity of the 234 ½ has served to make it a favourite among Montblanc collectors, with the ‘luxury’ version being particularly desirable.


In 1949 Soennecken at long last managed to introduce their new ‘click’ piston-filler system through another new pen series, this time the 400 series, comprising 420, 416, 414, 412 and 410. Essentially, the ‘click’ in the Soennecken piston-filler system is designed to stop the User activating the piston whilst fiddling. The piston turning knob has first to be pulled out to disengage the ‘lock’ before being able to turn the piston (an unnecessary luxury or just clever!). Whilst maintaining the same sizes, the pens come with a more modern clip and a flatter cap top. The S4 in particular really giving a pointer to the 1950s styling.


Sorry but missing the 410, if it exists”)


MB L139 and Soennecken 420


Again, we see a handsomely sized competitor alongside the Kaiser pen. Similar in look, if not of the same girth and overall magnificence.

The 400 series pens were followed by a streamlined 100 series, very much a modern styling.



Between 1949 and 1952 Montblanc launched its new look Meisterstuck line as a direct replacement for the venerable 13#, series.


Here we see the timeless design of the new Meisterstuck pens; the MB 149, 146, 144 and 142. The size and shape of this new series really dating, the now redundant, 13# series.




The new family of Montblanc piston-fillers. The MB 344 AND 342 (last two on the end) were soon remodelled to have a new cap and grip section.




Having long since stopped production of safeties and button-fillers, Montblanc no longer needed to identify a pen’s filler system through the middle digit of its 3-digit numbering system. Therefore, whilst the middle digit ‘4’ replaced the old middle digit ‘3’, it seems this was only to denote a new series line.


Soennecken’s product response was in the form of yet another new series, a completely redesigned flagship line, which included the 111 Extra, Superior, Lady, and 11 pencil. This series format (large, middle and small) was replicated for the second-tier and third and fourth-tiers (not yet seen a 333 or 444 Lady version!)




This brand new Soennecken series is in a classical 1950s style and came in fabulous colours. The 111 series reeks of quality, with a golden cap top, solid, huge, sculptured clip with elegantly proportioned cap rings. The grip section is a little too short for my personal preference but on the black version, this series does have the most delightful net-effect ink window. The cap top on the 222 series is not as opulent and the clip is too flat and brash for my liking. However, on the black version the ink window is the same and, as with the 111 series, the colours available are simply fabulous. I find the 333 series uninspiring and the 444 feels cheap, its clip taken directly from the old 400 series.

Understandably this was to be Soennecken’s most famous series of piston-fillers. As attractive as the 111 series was however, (high quality brass-made piston-filler system and priced cheaper than the Montblanc #4# series) Soennecken were never to realise the same success afforded Montblanc. Indeed, I submit that it is only the modern Collector of such fountain pens that has managed to preserve Soennecken’s deserved reputation as one of the top fountain pen manufacturers.

MB’s timeless design versus Soennecken’s classical 50s styling.


MB149, 111extra, MB146, 111 superior, MB142, 111 lady, MB246, 222 extra, MB244, 222 superior


MB 149 and Soennecken 111 Extra



It is immediately after this point in the history of these two magnificent pen manufacturers that my interest in both companies ends. Despite a few very close calls, Montblanc was ultimately to survive those events which were to so dramatically change the world of fountain pens and today, they are a World brand. As for Soennecken, despite being Germany’s first major pen manufacturer and despite its reputation for producing high quality products throughout its product range, Soennecken’s ability to manufacture and sell fountain pens has not survived and, after a slow decline, Soennecken ultimately shut down its pen manufacturing forever in 1967.


I hope you managed to get as much from this post as I did putting it together. Thank you for taking the time.



As always, huge thanks to Max Schrage, Francis Goossens and Eric Wilson for their time and effort spent on making my vintage collections presentable. I also thank Christof for his initial guidance on Soennecken pens, and for his wonderful and consistently inspirational posts. Naturally, I thank you wonderful FPNers for indulging me.


Pavoni :thumbup:

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Goodness! Absolutely wonderful and highly informative.


Many thanks, Pavoni, this is a brilliant post.

Despite your modesty, your explanation of the history of these companies is clear and concise.

Fascinating to see the two of them battling through the hard times and pulling through with new innovations and designs.


And your collection must be one of the most significant and complete collections I have ever had the pleasure of seeing (virtually seeing). It's stunning!


Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to share this with us, I will most certainly read it again. And again.





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i've been searching for a broad introduction to Soennecken. Looks like I found it. Thank you so very much for these posts:)

"Writing is 1/3 nib width & flex, 1/3 paper and 1/3 ink. In that order."Bo Bo Olson

"No one needs to rotate a pen while using an oblique, in fact, that's against the whole concept of an oblique, which is to give you shading without any special effort."Professor Propas, 24 December 2010


"IMHO, the only advantage of the 149 is increased girth if needed, increased gold if wanted and increased prestige if perceived. I have three, but hardly ever use them. After all, they hold the same amount of ink as a 146."FredRydr, 12 March 2015


"Surely half the pleasure of life is sardonic comment on the passing show."Sir Peter Strawson

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Amazing post. This was very informative. Thanks for the effort you took in composing this post. Your collection is incredible.

" Gladly would he learn and gladly teach" G. Chaucer

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Pavoni, I want to be just like you when I grow up. I am awed and humbled by your collection and presentation. We need to pinned this post so I can, we all can, use your post as a reference and a study guide. A must read for "all Montblanc aficionados".

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What a fantastic documentary and pictorial guide to some iconic pens from history.


Thank you for sharing your collection

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You have an absolutely impressive collection Pavoni, and your narrative is equally impressive. Enjoyed reading and learned a lot. Thanks much!

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Very impressive and great to use as a reference guide in the future



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Well, it wasn't until very late last night that I eventually finished my post. Stupidly, I started late and idiotically, imagined that I could post the whole lot as one article (too many photos :doh:) Anyway, by the time I had finished dissecting and posting as 5 episodes, I was pretty cream-crackered, what with a huge day at work ahead of me.


Now that I am able to log on to get my daily fix, I am able to see the whole article for myself - apologies for the formatting and...... who sneaked in those typos? :blush:


Thank you all for your kind and supportive comments. :thumbup:



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Congratulations Pavoni !!

I enjoyed the idea of Episodes. Love the pens, love the presentation and the choices...

Thanks for sharing

Regards Ariel

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Thank you, Pavoni, for a beautiful presentation.

Produced when the fountain pen was one of the leading communication devices, vintage pens are true Masterpieces of function and design.

Excellent historical portrait.



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