An Interview with Jesús Martínez Guillén
Jesús Martínez Guillén has written the most important book on the very unique and distinct Montblanc pens that were made in Spain for a short period of time from the mid-1940s to late-1960s. I highly recommend adding this well-researched book to your library!
There are many design distinctions between Spanish MBs and German-produced MBs. What are some of the most important differences, in your opinion?
I would mention three main differences:
First of all, the Spanish production did not make any innovation regarding the filling systems. But it frequently happened that some models used older filling systems. For example, the 2x models were button fillers - a technology that was discontinued in Germany in the early 1930s. On the other hand, some older models that were still in production used modern technical improvements. For example, the 34x models with the acute dome used the highly dependable filling mechanism of the later German 342 injected plastic models consisting of the star-shaped piston instead of the single thread pre-war piston.
Secondly, the celluloid material was definitely different from their German peers. From a purely aesthetic point of view, the Spanish celluloids are more daring than the German celluloids. I am thinking of the chevroned 24x or 34x. From a bare quality perspective, the Spanish celluloids do not endure time as good as the German celluloids. They are now sadly undergoing the monomerization process much earlier than the German plastics. Based on the contemporary pens of other brands made in those years I tend to believe that the Spanish celluloids were imported from Italy but I am afraid I did not find any documented evidence.
Last but not least, the shape of some models also differ. Such is the already mentioned case of the acute dome 34x models and, above all, the 26, 46 and 346 models, which were simply not produced in Germany in a 6 size at all.
From L to R: red 246, green 326, streamlined grey chevron 344, black 344, brown 24, green 44, and grey 44
If you were only allowed to keep three pens from your entire Montblanc collection, which would they be (Spanish, German, or otherwise)?
We pen spotters are not necessarily rational. The focus of one collector frequently differs from his peers. I am afraid that the pens I would personally keep would not be interesting for most fellow collectors. My favourite pens simply have a past. They were either used by someone or have a tight relation to a certain event in the past. All other pens in my collection do not have a story to tell, so they are only objects. More or less valuable for the collectors' consensus, but they can be easily valued in terms of cash.
From L to R: No. 346 in chevron red, blue, and green
From all the beautiful Spanish models, which three pens are your favourite ?
I really do believe that I have at least one piece of every pen produced in Spain using the Montblanc brand. The most beautiful are, in my understanding, the chevroned 346, but the rarest is indeed the streamlined 246 model with a transparent body.
Streamlined No. 246 green chevron
During the time that MBs were manufactured in Spain post WW-II, there must have been other prominent pen brands in the market as competition. What made MB special or gave it an edge in the market - if anything at all?
Probably dependability and ink capacity. Such was in those years the ruling criteria for decision making when buying a fountain pen.
Streamlined 334 1/2 in reticulated celluloid pattern
Flat top No. 246 green chevron
What tips would you give collectors trying to add some Spanish MBs to their collection?
Do not get obsessed with acquiring all of them right away. Such thing usually means paying a premium and besides, completing the whole collection normally delivers frustration instead of satisfaction because the enthusiasm suddendly faints. Stay away from stress. The pleasure is the way itself, not the achievement of the target.
Credit: Jordi Lopez
No. 42 brown striped & No. 44 grey striped
No. 344 grey chevron