"Tatra" No. 3 Safety

This pen is from the personal collection of Marcwithac - a generous contributor on FPN and vintage pen collector with exceptional taste!

During its early years, Montblanc - then, Simplo Filler Pen Co. - was not an established brand in the market. Also, it seems that in the early 1900s, retailers held more brand power than manufacturers. This meant that stationers sometimes demanded pen manufacturers to place the retailer's brand name on pens instead of their own. Montblanc probably found itself processing large quantities of such orders, and hence set up a separate company - Excelsior Füllhalterwerke - to take on such production separately from its own branded products. Stationer brands included Tatra, Quail, Der Kimmelstiel, Gidania, Kadewe, Stöffhaas, and many more. Some of these pens looked identical to MBs that were in production at the time. But, some looked different, like the Waterman-safety inspired designs. The information on which models of these stationer brands were made by MB and which were not made by MB is not clear. Also, it is important to not confuse stationer brands with sub-brands like Reflex, Monte Rosa, and Astoria (later years) that were actually made and marketed by Montblanc under their brand name. 

Safety fillers are a wonderfully intelligent filling system if you ask me! The nib unit rests inside the barrel when the pen is capped. After uncapping, a turning knob at the bottom of the barrel forces the inner shaft holding the feed and nib to extend and expose the nib from the section of the barrel. As it extends, the nib unit locks its collar against the section so that no ink can flow out of the barrel. This made it "safe" from ink leaks. And, because of the fact that the nib unit is always submerged in ink, this pen was advertised as never suffering from hard starts!

The video here shows the workings of a Montblanc safety mechanism from a tier-3 pen made in the 1930s. The barrel was custom made for me by Francis Goossens, and it allows us to see exactly how the helix rod and nib unit engage with each other and create a seal with the section when extended, also allowing us to visualize how the nib unit sits in ink and is thereby primed at all times and ready for writing. 

There isn't much information available about the Tatra brand. But, it seems that the company belonged to a Hungarian retailer because pen boxes in Hungarian language mention the proprietor - József Rigler - and the registered office in Budapest. The Tatra is the highest mountain range in Slovakia, close to Hungary. It is safe to assume that the brand name was inspired by the mountains, especially considering the fact that some old advertisements show mountains in the background.

For bibliography, see Resources page -->link

Collectible Stars I shows examples of Tatra pens in red ripple and black hard rubber chasing like the Waterman safety pens. However, there are also pictures in advertisements showing Tatra pens that look like the old Montblanc safeties with the full white cap top (but instead these have green cap tops). 

Notice the distinct MB star imprint of this No. 3 nib. It should rest any doubts about whether or not this brand had any affiliation with MB!

 

Tatra pens were made between 1913-22, and these are rare collectables today - not at all easy to find!

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