13x Series Made for Italy
Our beloved 13x series was made in a very special variant only for export to Italy! Three characteristics distinguish it from the typical 13x models made for Germany or even exported to other countries like Denmark:
1. The super thin/flat cap top WITHOUT the montblanc star, and a longer cap tube
2. The cap imprint of "Mont- ^^Blanc" with the mountains and "Fabbricata in Germania" (Made in Germany).
3. The option of plantinum lined (PL) colour, which was not available in the typical 13x series
No. 138 belonging to Jason Ng
I haven't been able to find the "Fabbricata in Germania" 13x models in any book or catalogues. And I had many questions. So, I turned to the experts who always so generously share their knowledge. The ideas that follow are limited by my understanding of information kindly provided by them. Let's begin with dating the pen - when was it made? Well, we know the typical 13x series were made between 1937-52. But, all the "Fabbricata in Germania" pens I have seen have long ink windows, and we know that the long windows were only found on the earlier pens and phased out in around c. 1942. Additionally, the Italian market 13x pens have hard rubber cap tops and turning knobs which again tell us they were from the earlier years beause later models were all celluloid. Also, the examples that I have seen all have flat feeds, not ski slope feeds, indicating they were early designs. These features together suggest that the "Fabbricata in Germania" 13x models were made sometime between 1937-42. But, can we narrow the dates down further? Maybe...
No. 136 (with a replacement ball clip) belonging to Ottomarkiv
No. 138 (top) and No. 136 (bottom) belonging to Ottomarkiv
We might have a clue in the distinctively thin captop on these pens. Why was it so thin? This series might have been made during wartime when it was common to find pen designs acknowledging the need to be tucked away neatly in an officers pocket. But then why aren't the nibs made of steel, as was done on many MB models during WWII because of the German government order of "Materialbewirtschaftung" which forced pen companies to cease using gold? Well, an official document pubished on 5th February 1938 clarified that the government order did not apply to exports. So, if these pens were in fact made during World War II (which started at the end of 1939), then we can hypothesize that these pens were produced from c.1940 onward. This conclusion, along with the early features of the pens lead me to believe that the "Fabbricata in Germania" 13x were probaby made betwen 1940-42.
A typical No. 138 v/s a "Fabircata in Italia" 138, belonging to a private collector. Notice the differences.
The regular or typical 13x cap top doesn‘t fit onto these thin cap top "Fabbricata in Germania" pens, because the cap tube is solid up there with a little threaded hole for the short cap top. The thin cap top was distinctive to the model, when compared to the typical 13x series. Also, the cap tube was longer than the typical model. For example, the cap (without clip and top) of the Italian market 138 PL is 10 mm longer than the standard version, but with the 3 mm top the total length of the cap with clip and top end up at 64 mm - exactly the same as the total of the standard cap. The cap was constructed specifically for the short top and it would look very strange to fit a standard top on the pen.
Thin cap top "Fabbricata in Germania" 13x PL; pics courtesy Osman Sümer
However, these pens are not to be confused with an alternate variation of the "Fabbricate in Germania" 13x that have the typical design cap and taller cap top. These typical models might have been introduced earlier, before the war time if we go by the hypothesis that the thin cap top design was related to war time uniform needs. So they might have been made between 1937-1940. Take for example the lovely, rare, L 139 "Fabbricata in Germania" below. Curiously, it has a steel "250" nib. Why? The best hypothesis I can come up with is that maybe MB had extra stock of the 139 nibs made for German distribution and decided to use it for some export models too? Alternatively, the nib might have been replaced at some point in its life. Who knows? The current owner told me he found the pen this way. Two others examples of the typical cap top "Fabbriata in Germania" pens - the 136 and 138 pictured below - have the expected gold nibs.
Typical cap 'Fabbricata in Germania" L 139 model belonging to Fabio Balestri.
Turning our attention back to the special thin top 13x variant, why was a PL colour version made? Well, we know that the Germans preferred the plain black pens, but that wasn't necessarily what other countries liked. Danish MBs were characteristically colourful. Similarly, we know that Italian pen manufacturers at the time, like Omas, were quite successful with their PL coloured materials. So, it could have been that the distributor in Italy - noting the unique local market trends - asked MB to make PL versions of the 13x. MB has been known to honour similar requests for bespoke designs, for example making the Carrera model in piston filler variant only for South America because the local distributor was very unhappy with the cartridge filler design.
Typical cap 'Fabbricata in Germania" 138 and 136 (with replacement clip) with gold nibs belonging to Letizia Jacopini (link to TenPen.it website)
Example of a popular Omas using platinum lined PL material
The 13x pens are from the Meisterstück series but the Italian version has only the "Mont- ^^Blanc" imprint of second and third tier MB pens. If typical procedure were followed then the 13x should have had the imprint "Capolavoro" (Masterpiece, in Italian) to denote that it was a Meisterstück series for the Italian market. But this was not the case. Why? Maybe MB wanted to convey that these pens did not come with the lifetime guarantee that the Meisterstück series came with. But Why? Maybe these pens were not standard production - after all we can't find them in any catalogues. Or, maybe these pens were assembled in Italy? This hypothesis would allow the implication that MB might not have wanted to extend such a guarantee to the Italian market where they would not have the same control over production like in Germany - similar to the Danish 25 faceted pens that had the 4810 imprint nibs and were considered Meisterstück but not imprinted so and instead marked only as "Mont- ^^Blanc" on the cap.
No. 134 belonging to Roberto Vetrugno
It should be noted that there were "Fabbricata in Italia" imprinted MB pens, but these were mostly button fillers. The 13x did not have the "Fabbricata in Italia" imprint.
No. 4 pushbutton Made in Italy. Pic courtesy: Penboard.de
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