No. 8 Montblanc Safeties

L to R: No. 8 standard, No. 8 short/thick, and No. 8 long

Pic credit and pen owner: Joudenali

These hard rubber No. 8 pens were manufactured in Hamburg from 1924 to 1929. Collectible Stars I claims that this entire series of safety 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). As per a Stöffhaas advertisement from the 1920s, the safety series was 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, and No. 6 long, but the No. 7, No. 8, and No. 12 are shown in just one variant.

1920s advertisements 

Now, here's where it gets interesting... the No. 7 and No. 8 are actually found in multiple sizes too. Even though they didn't advertise a long size, we can see that they existed. The No. 8 in the leftmost picture below is a long version of the No. 8 (it has the turning knob imprint to prove it too). But, this long version is not common. Jordi says he knows of only 4 such examples. Even rarer is the third size variant - the short and stubby No. 8 pictured in the middle. This doesn't have the turning knob imprint but there isn't really any other explanation for it apart from the fact that it was must have been an attempt to create yet another size variation. Jordi says he knows of only one example in this size. The length of the long variant is much more than the standard variant and short/thick variant as expected. In fact, it is sized similar to the No. 10 (not mentioned in the catalogue, but known to exist - although exceptionally rare to find). In terms of girth, the short/thick variant is thicker than the standard variant and even a little thicker than the long variant. Notice the cap  - it's rather large compared to that on the standard version.  As far as nibs are concerned,  The long variant clearly has the largest nib from among the three. The standard variant seems to have longer tines than the short/thick one, but the latter looks broader at the shoulders. Basically, the No. 8 short/thick looks like a stouter version of the standard. Its a rather interesting size, and to me more appealing than the standard. The three No. 8 pens are sized as followed:

- No. 8 standard: Capped length 13.20 cm, cap thickness 1.475 cm, and barrel thickness 1.3 cm. 

- No. 8 short/thick: Capped length 13.60 cm, cap thickness 1.6 cm, and barrel thickness 1.425 cm. 

- No. 8 long: Capped length 15.40 cm, cap thickness 1.6 cm, and barrel thickness 1.4 cm. 

L to R: No. 8 standard, No. 8 short/thick, and No. 8 long

Pic credit and pen owner: Joudenali

Why did MB make the non-standard sizes? We don't know! But, Jordi's hypothesis is that MB might have made them for export. Other brands might have been selling pens of the No. 8 size and those might have been in-between MB's standard size, so the company might have made the long and short/thick to comply with international sizes. Maybe? Looking at the nibs on these No. 8 pens, we can see that it is the design made between 1924-29. While the No. 8 standard was produced from 1920-1929, it seems these different size variants might have been made for only a very few years sometime in between 1924-29. 

L to R: No. 8 standard, No. 8 short/thick, No. 8 long and No. 12

Pic credit and pen owner: Joudenali

One of the No. 8 pens here has a very special 900 silver snake clip. These are not easy to come by. The pens were not sold with clips originally, but instead, they were accommodations that customers could purchase along with the pen. The snake clip came in skinny and not-so-skinny variants (for lack of a technical term!). The No. 8 pen in this article possesses the latter.  See an example of the skinny snake clip in this article ->link. As per Collectible Stars I, the snake clip has never been offered in official catalogues, and so there is no evidence that it was a standard clip from Montblanc. However, it was made and sold on Astoria pens - a subsidiary of Montblanc - and so it is speculated that the clip might have been offered by retailers even on MBs if requested. 

L to R: No. 8 short, No. 8 big, No. 8 long and No. 12

Pic credit and pen owner: Joudenali

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.

Here's an example of a super rare No. 8 in silver spider overlay. This pen belongs to a private collector.

For bibliography, see Resources page -->link

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