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No. 6 Safety

This pen is from the exquisite personal collection of Roberto C. 


The safety series from the 1920 were advertised as available in sizes "baby short", "baby long", No. 0, No 1 short,  No. 1 long, No. 2 short,  No 2 long, No. 4 short, No. 4 long, No. 6 short, No. 6 long, No. 7, No. 8, and No. 12. However, vintage Montblanc experts have explained to me that a No. 10 size has been found too, though this is very rare, and the No. 5 size is even rarer.  

The No. 6 under review is the "long" version of the series, and it measures 14 cm capped and 19 cm posted. Collectible Stars claims that the pens that were available in black, were also made in red marbled colour (2x more valuable than black) and even coral red (3x more valuable than black). Here is an example of the red mottled version - link


1920s advertisements 

Black hard rubber No. 6 safety pens were manufactured from 1914 to 1930. However, this particular pen can be dated to c. 1919. Why? First, the nib has (a) the "Simplo" imprint, (b) a "6" inside the star border, and (c) the "trademark" imprint at its sides. These characteristics are known to be found on pens made between 1919-25. 


Second, notice the knurling on the cap top and barrel bottom. It has horizontal knurling found on pens between 1914-19, instead of the vertical knurling found on pens made from 1920 onwards. Considering this fact, along with the nib's dating, we can say that pen under review was made in c. 1919. Two other points that distinguish this safety from later ones are (a) the uncommon barrel imprint, and (b) the single barrel threading instead of quadruple threading found on later pens. 

IMG_6652 2.jpg

The older No. 6 with horizontal knurling (top) v/s a safety with the vertical knurling made a bit later. 

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.


For bibliography, see Resources page -->link

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