No. 2 Eyedropper
Eyedroppers were amongst the first filling systems made by Montblanc, starting from 1911 onwards till about the mid-1920s in various shapes, sizes, and colours. The No. 2 pen that we have here was made in the early 1920s. It has the classic safety hard rubber styling, the large casein cap top white star, and nib imprints, all found on pens from the 1920s.
I don't think these pens were expensive back in the day. But, they have gained considerable value over the past 90+ years. I don't really see eyedroppers for sale, and so I consider them a pretty rare find.
The eyedropper is a simple but very durable filling mechanism. There are no moving parts and so nothing to break or restore or replace over time. One simply unscrews the section and drops ink into the barrel. Then, a little silicone grease on the section threads before reassembly, and done! Eyedroppers often suffered from burping and leaking, and so they were eventually abandoned for higher-tech and improved options like levers and pistons.
It seems Montblanc made attempts to improve the common issues of eyedroppers. We know this because iterations of the filling system were made over the years. For example, the earliest eyedropper had a very interesting barrel within a barrel to prevent outside temperatures and pressure from causing burping - read more about this system in our review of a beautiful No. 1 from c. 1911 here -> link. And then the No. 2 eyedropper under review in the article here was manufactured later and seems to have an upgraded version of the filling system. It has just one barrel, but notice the small mushroom-looking plug that goes into the bottom of the feed from inside the barrel cylinder. If I push this deeper into the feed then the amount of ink that can make its way from the barrel to the feed is reduced, and vice versa. It's a pretty clever way to regulate ink flow and control ink burping due to pressure changes or temperature changes.
Eyedroppers might represent the simplest of pen designs ever made, building on L.E. Waterman's patent in 1884 (link to patent). Eyedroppers and safety fillers are similar in the way that ink is dropped into their barrels directly, but safety pens were an advancement on the plain eyedropper because they allowed for the nib to extend and retract to create a more reliable seal and prevent ink leaks when capped.
Pic Credit: The Montblanc diary & Collector's Guide, by Jens Rösler
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