Rouge et Noir No. 12
This pen is from the personal collection of Ariel Zuñiga - a generous contributor on FPN, seminal Montblanc collector’s books, and now this website. Watch out for a series of reviews of truly rare pens thanks to AZ’s generosity!
It all began with the first line of pens developed by Simplo Filler Pen Co. in 1908 branded "Rouge et Noir" (ReN). This was before the line of pens branded "Montblanc" was released by the company in 1914. The company chose the French-sounding name of ReN to make it an aspirational product to its European clients. I am assuming that French culture was perceived as sophisticated and elite. But, once World War I started, Germany's hostility towards France did not allow the sale of products affiliated with the country. So, the Rouge et Noir was rebranded to Rotkäppchen or 'Red Riding Hood' for a brief period of time (see review of this pen --> link)! The ReN was still sold under its original name, but only in Italy and other markets till 1923.
The initial ReN designs did not have the star logo as it was only trademarked in 1913. So, the early ReN had just a fully red cap top. Catalogues from c. 1912 show a range of such safety pens on offer, but the largest was a No. VIII. Another advertisement shows a ReN with the red star in c.1914. Considering this, one might expect that the No. 12 ReN with the red star was made sometime between 1914-1923. After 1923, the No. 12 continued production but under the 'Montblanc' brand name with the white cap star (see red marbled version - link and plain black version - link). With regard to dating the pen we have pictured here, I'd say it was made between 1919-23 because that's when this particular nib design was under production.
This is the largest size MB pen ever made! It measures more than 15cm posted! Collectible Stars I rates the white cap star Montblanc version of the No. 12 which was made later, a 9 out of 12 in rareness. While it is not uncommon to find the Montblanc version for sale on eBay or from renowned sellers, the price quoted is quite astronomical - ranging from USD $ 10,000 to $ 20,000. Now, it is important to note that the red star ReN version of the No. 12 is not seen in Collectible Stars I, Montblanc Diary, or Fountain Pens of the World. This makes it a rather rare pen for me - rarer than the Montblanc version made later.
For bibliography, see Resources page -->link