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No. 432 & 422 Stylo/Tintenschreiber

Some of the earliest pens made by Montblanc were 'ink pencils', also referred to as "stylos" or "stylographs" or "stylographic pens". One Montblanc catalogue described them as having "no lead, no nib, yet ink". Companies like Cross and MacKinnon led the design of ink pencils in the 1800s (learn more on David Nishimura's website -> link). This might have inspired Montblanc to produce its "Simplo-Stylo" series in 1909, as shown in the company's first catalogue. Collectible Stars I suggests that MB made stylos up until 1922, after which it took a break till 1930. The early pens were eyedroppers and lever fillers. 

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Montblanc 1909 Catalogue offering the Simplo-Stylo model in different sizes and colours (red hard rubber and marbled black hard rubber)

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Early Simplo-Stylo with white cap top
Image and pen belong to a private collector

During the 1920s, German companies like Rotring started experiencing much success with the ink pencil technology. This might have inspired MB to restart production of its stylos around 1930, now branded as "Tintenschreiber" in its catalogues. Different models of these pens were made all the way up to 1945, as per Collectible Stars I. The earliest models were button fillers, but most common were the pushknob and piston. Price wise, they were positioned around the same as the size-2 tier-3 pens like the 322. So, they were relatively inexpensive, only higher in cost than the student pens offered at the time. 

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1932 French Catalogue

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Rounder cap top
Image: Penboard.de

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A No. 17 1/2 gold nib and No. 422 Tintenschreiber that are identical in shape
Image and pen belong to Valeriu I.

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Tintenschreiber in red
Image: Fishler & Schneider, Fountain Pens and Pencils, The Golden Age of Writing Instruments, p 221

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High cap top No. 17.5
Image: Penboard.de

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Montblanc No. 432 piston filler (black) and No. 422 pushknob (black, and mottled red) from my personal collection

1937 catalogue

The Tintenschreiber was presented in a few different designs between 1930-45. Examples from the early 1930s were often without model numbers, without cap bands, had the "teardrop" clip, hard rubber bodies, and donned the rounded dome and large star logo cap tops. Then the No. 17 1/2 had the higher top, rounded domes with smaller star logos. Examples from the mid/late 1930s had two options. One was the more commonly found classic shape - two cap bands, "papyrus" clip, celluloid bodies, and flat top with a smaller star logo. These were part of the No. 432 and 422 range. The 422 also had a slightly more expensive streamlined torpedo shape option described as "stromlinienform". In the 1950s, the series saw a few changes. There was a No. 44x piston filler that has a stainless steel cap and red dot ink window, very similar to the more common No. 44x series that had a gold nib from the same time. Finally, there was the super rare No. 390/4 model, which was essentially the 344 from the 1950s but with a stylo nib instead of the gold nib. I am sure there are variations that I have not been able to capture in this article too!

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1932 German Pricelist

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1936 Pricelist

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No. S 422 (streamlined) in marbled green & brown, made in c. 1936
Image and pen belong to a private collector

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No. S 422 (streamlined) in marbled pearl & black, and marbled green & black
Images: Stefan W.

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No. 340/9 modelled on the popular No. 344 of the 1950s
Image: Penboard.de

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A No. 340, but with a plain cap top (instead of the Montblanc star logo)
Image and pen belong to Valeriu I.

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No. 444 with steel cap and red dot ink window
Image: Interpens.de as found on Penboard.de

These stylographs came in a variety of colours. My study of MB catalogues, Montblanc Diary and Collectors Guide, and Collectible Stars I, found the following colours - black, malachite green, azurite blue, marbled black-green, marbled black and pearl, marbled green-brown, lapis, platinum lined, red ripple / woodgrain / mottled red, coral  red, and pearled colours. 

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MB 422 (PL) in platinum lined colour
Image: The Montblanc Diary  Collector's Guide, p. 79

Tintenschreiber in malachite green and azurite blue
Image: Collectible Stars 1, p. 128

Tintenschreibers in mottled red, malachite green, and coral red
Images: Stefan W.

Vintage Montblanc No. 432 and 422 Stylograph
Vintage Montblanc No. 432 and 422 Stylograph
Vintage Montblanc No. 432 and 422 Stylograph
Vintage Montblanc No. 432 and 422 Stylograph

MB 422 in red ripple / mottled red / woodgrain, from my personal collection

Stylographs are often found with imprints of "IMPORTÉ D' ALLEMAGNE", implying that this pen was imported from Germany for distribution or sale in France. However, they were not only imported but also manufactured in France post the WWII period. 

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1930 Montblanc instruction manual

Vintage Montblanc No. 432 and 422 Stylograph

MB 432 from my personal collection

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1926 Inkograph advertisement

1936 Instruction Manual

Vintage Montblanc No. 432 and 422 Stylograph
Vintage Montblanc No. 432 and 422 Stylograph
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1936 Pricelist

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1940s Spanish Catalogue

Early MB stylographic pens had a spring loaded wire like the American and British brands. However, the MB Tintenschreibers from the 1930s had the wire attached to a small weight (writing rod) contained in a separate threaded unit. Hidden inside the section is the mechanism that makes the pen work - a lead weight attached to a thin needle feed housed in a small pipe. When the nib is pressed against paper, it causes the the needle feed to push back, allowing ink to flow out. And when the nib is lifted off the paper the lead weight pushed the need feed out and clogs the pipe, not allowing ink through.

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Montblanc 1909 catalogue showing the spring loaded wire mechanism of the Simplo-Stylo

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1936 Pricelist

The 1932 pricelist explains that "instead of a gold nib, one writes with a finely rounded tube made of platinum-iridium alloy which prevents scratching on paper. The writing tube does not have the subtleties of a gold nib, one cannot achieve calligraphic typeface, but a large number of copies". Stylos were made for use with carbon copy paper. For the younger readers out there, carbon paper consists of a paper sheet that has been covered on one side with a mixture of carbon black and wax. In order to create a duplicate, this carbon-coated paper is positioned between two other paper sheets, ensuring the coated part is directed downwards onto the document you wish to copy. By exerting force on the uppermost sheet using a writing instrument like a pen or pencil, a typewriter, or an impact printer, the pigment from the carbon paper is transferred onto the sheet beneath, thus producing a copy. So, as you can imagine, soft gold nibs would not be great for this purpose. Instead Montblanc created a few other options like the glass nib (MG Glasfeder -> link) or specialty extra-rigid gold nibs (No. 314 -> link, or "D" nib -> link). Stylos were yet another option, with an MB catalogue exclaiming "now the problem is solved"! The red dot on 4xx stylograph cap tops refers to the line width of the nib - fatter dot means broader width and vice versa. Also, the thinner dotted pens were suitable for carbon copy writing, while the fatter dotted pens were appropriate for normal writing needs. The 1932 catalogue says “ besides the original, writes several copies at the same time, particularly suitable for modern straight-through accounting”. 

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1939 Catalogue explaining the meaning of the size of the red dots

422 and 432 from my personal collection

Vintage Montblanc No. 432 and 422 Stylograph

The 422 was produced between 1932-41. It is a long pen. Notice the lovely imprint on its barrel.  The clip on this pen is known as "papyrus" and I find it quite elegant. This 422 is a push-knob filler called "Stoßfüller" and "Stossfüller" in old catalogues. It was advertised as "a press of the button, that is the handling for the Montblanc; no losable individual parts and allowed single hand operation". It is similar to a button filler from the inside i.e. it has a sac and a pressure bar, but it has a push knob that allows for more comfortable action than the small metallic knobs on button fillers. The same mechanism was used on the top-tier 12x series.

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MB 422 from my personal collection earlier

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1936 Pricelist

MB 421
Image: Stefan W.

MB 422, war-time cap
Image: Stefan W.

MB 422 in red ripple / mottled red / woodgrain, from my personal collection

The 432 is a stylograph like the 422, except it is a piston filler. This one is considerably shorter than the 422, it is more regular sized. The cap top and blind cap are in ebonite while the rest of the pen is in celluloid. It doesn't have a clip, instead, it has a black ring in the place of the clip. I don't know if this is original or not but it fits perfectly and looks great, so I'll just let it be. Considering the engraved cap bands, I date this pen to the WWII period when restrictions placed on the use of metals caused MB to stop using cap rings whenever possible.

The 422 and 432 are arguably the most common Tintenschreiber models found today. I have a few in my personal collection and so I'd like to present some more detailed information on them... 

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MB 422
Image: Stefan W. 

In addition to making carbon copies effectively, the stylographic pen can also be useful for line drawing. One reason why it might have been revived and became popular in the 1930s was that it was widely used for technical drawings used for the growing number of industrial products being manufactured. A 1926 advertisement by the Inkograph company (pictured below) explains the many benefits of these ink pencils. In my experience, the nib tube and needle feeds are quite delicate and it is difficult to find them in great condition always. This is probably why replacements could be purchased in packs of three, as per the 1932 pricelist. 

Vintage Montblanc No. 432 and 422 Stylograph

Montblanc box for pens that were manufactured in France

Two stylographic pen models manufactured in France, post WWII period

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1939 Catalogue

Vintage Montblanc No. 432 and 422 Stylograph

MB 432 from my personal collection

For bibliography, see Resources page -->link

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