Gold Overlay No. 204 Safety
This No. 204 long safety filler pen was made in the 1920s. It has an 18 karat rolled gold overlay typical of Italian pens at the time. A few German metal works companies were known to make gold and silver overlays for MB back in the day - Maenner, Sarastro, and Fend. But, Italy made its own overlay work too. The pens were manufactured in German and sent to Italy for overlay work, like the No. 204 featured here.
Many variations in overlays were found. They ranged in the amount of gold content used - from solid gold to rolled gold (a technique that deposits much more gold than typical plating).
Many different overlay designs were available - some were more subtle like the pen here, while others carried intricate and elaborate work. Also, some pens were fully covered with the overlay, some would leave parts of the pen uncovered (like the pen here), some would keep the cap top star intact while others would cover it (like the pen here), some were octagonal shaped, and different clip types were used though the spade clip like on this pen was quite characteristic of the Italian overlay.
1926 Catalogue for Italy
From the 1926 catalogue pictured here, it can be inferred that the first digit in the No. 204 refers to the nib size while the last digit stands for the specific overlay design. From my perusal of the rest of the catalogue, I assume that the second digit refers to the specific line or range of models.
These pens came in a short and long version, as explained earlier in the catalogue. The 204 we have here is the long version, measuring 70 mm capped, which is quite large and only about 1 mm shorter than the celluloid 149. The 204 short version was advertised at 200 Lira; I assume the long version is a little more expensive. Practically speaking, this translates to between 400-600 Euro today. Collectible Stars I rates the pens in this catalogue a 10 out of 12 points in rarity or "once in a blue moon" finds with an estimated less than 25 pieces available in the market.
The 204 has the typical No. 2 nib made of 14-carat gold with the heart hole which is period correct.
Safety fillers are a wonderfully intelligent filling system! The nib unit rests inside the barrel when the pen is capped. After uncapping, a turning knob at the bottom of the pen is used to extend the nib unit and lock its collar against the section so that no ink can flow out of the barrel. Because of the fact that the nib unit is always submerged in ink, this pen was advertised as never suffering from hard starts! Also, because it capped in a way to prevent leaks it was called a 'safety' pen and advertised often as non-leakable.
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