Montblanc Night & Day Overlay Safety

Montblanc Night & Day overlay safety belonging to Christian O. 

A Montblanc trying to be a Waterman? Let's break it down... First, this pen abandons the typical safety design of Montblanc and instead adopts the characteristic design of Waterman safety pens. Secondly, it dons the super-popular Night & Day overlay found on Waterman pens distributed in France in the 1920s.

Waterman Night & Day safety filler

Pic Credit: Gary Lehrer

It's not the first time Montblanc made such a design though - it produced similar pens for its sub-brand Diplomat and even for stationers like Tatra. However, distinctively, this time the design is on a "Montblanc" branded pen. It is important to note that while the MB Night & Day might look like a Waterman, the actual internal safety mechanisms are quite different between the two. Waterman safety pens have the common two-lead helix design, while the Montblanc Night & Day has the distinctive single lead helix just like the Diplomat and even its other typical MB safety designs.

Montblanc No. 5 Night & Day safety filler (top) and two no-brand safety fillers with similar mechanisms made by MB

Pic Credit: Collectible Stars I

A Montblanc-made safety filler made for the stationer "Tatra". Notice the safety filler design. 

Pic Credit: Collectible Stars I

It seems as if this pen was trying to be one of the most popular Waterman designs in France. Why? No one knows for sure. But, here's a hypothesis - Montblanc might have manufactured the pen in Germany, sent it over to France to have the overlay put on it (by the same jeweller that did it for Waterman?), and the tried to sell these pens in France to compete with the Waterman Night & Day. Maybe a small batch of these pens was orchestrated by the Montblanc agent in France - J.E.Canetti & Cie. Or maybe by the first MB distributor in France - J.M. Paillard, who also sold safeties of similar style with silver overlay in the mid 1920’s. There are about a dozen or two examples of this model to be found today - 100 years later. This means it was not a prototype or one-off pen made for a special client. Instead, a reasonable amount seems to have been produced to sincerely test a new market with a new design. Again, this is just a hypothesis :)

Montblanc Night & Day overlay safety with replacement No. 2 nib, belonging to Christian O. 

The Night & Day model was made in two sizes - No. 3 and No. 5. These are very rare nib sizes for Montblanc pens, and so it's not uncommon to find the MB Night & Day safety with a replacement No. 2, 4, 6 nib from later periods. Interestingly, these nibs were 14k, and not the typical 18k found on pens sold in France.

No. 3 and No. 5 Montblanc Night & Day pens belonging to Eric. B

I am told by an expert that has seen a few of these pens, that the overlay is found in rolled gold and also solid gold. These pens would have posed quite a mystery to collectors if it wasn't for the heat-stamped "Montblanc" imprint on its barrel bottom. Though a few have been found in Spain without the heat stamp but with the correct nibs! The Montblanc Night & Day safety is a very rare pen today! Collectible Stars rates it a 10 out of 12 in rarity!

No. 3 Montblanc Night & Day pen belonging to Azad B.

Montblanc Night & Day overlay safety belonging to Christian O.

The mystery still remains... why did Montblanc make this pen so distinctive from all its other designs and instead so similar to a popular Waterman design? Why didn't MB follow its previous formula of either putting its white star on the top or then not imprinting "Montblanc" as it did for its other sub-brands? Why depart so much from its standard operating practices? And why were so few made - did it not test well with the market? Why not - it was exactly like a super-popular Waterman. Was it made for France indeed? Or another market - given a few have been found in Spain and the nibs these pens are fond with have always been 14k nibs. Tell me what you think :)

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