Montblanc No. 1 Eyedropper
This pen is from the personal collection of Kawuska - an FPN member that has inspired many of us with his pen collection, photography, and craftsmanship in penmaking!
The brand name "Montblanc" was registered by the Simplo Filler Pen Co. in 1910, making this No. 1 eyedropper one of the first pens produced under it between 1911-14. Collectible Stats I rates this pen an 11 out of 12 in terms of rarity, with an estimated 10 pieces or less available today.
Eyedroppers were found from 1911 till about the mid-1920s in various shapes, sizes, and colours. This particular No. 1 model was also available in a mottled red colour.
The overall length of the pen is 130 mm with a diameter of 9.6 mm. The nib on this pen was produced from 1919-25, maybe just a few years later than the pen's production.
Notice the absence of the Montblanc star on the cap top. This is because the star was only introduced in 1914, before which the Montblanc line had full-white cap tops and the Rouge et Noir line had full-red cap tops. The idea of coloured cap tops was patented by one of the founders of the company - A. Eberstein (link to patent). The patent states that the coloured cap top indicates to the user which side up the pen must be held in order to avoid ink leaks.
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 reassembling it, and done! Eyedroppers were abandoned for higher tech options like levers and pistons and such, because eye droppers suffered from burping and leaking on occasion. This particular No. 1 eyedropper has some pretty cool technology to address these issues - notice the smaller cylinder inside the open barrel (pic 1). One might hypothesize that the purpose of this inner cylinder might be to prevent ink leaks from the barrel-section seam and/or to prevent ink burping due to pressure changes or temperature changes and/or prevent excessive ink rushing into the nib.
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.
The eyedropper might represent the simplest of pen designs ever made, building on L.E. Waterman's patent in 1884 (link to patent).
Pic Credit: The Montblanc diary & Collector's Guide, by Jens Rösler
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