With Rouge et Noir Montblanc Celebrates 110 Years Of Red And Black Writing
by Nancy Olson
If you like pens, you may be well aware of Montblanc’s history in making them – which began long before it garnered a reputation in making high-end Swiss timepieces.
Founded as the Simplo Filler pen company in Hamburg, Germany, at the turn of the twentieth century, the brand is this year marking 110 years of existence.
And to celebrate, it introduces a model inspired by its very first serial pen creation: the Rouge et Noir.
The original Rouge et Noir is a black ebonite pen with a red-accented crown, attributes that have given it its no-frills moniker, which translated from French means simply “red and black.”
It wasn’t until much later, around 1913, when the now-familiar Montblanc snow-cap crown motif was first conceived in its most primitive form; it is said to represent the peak of the company’s lofty namesake, Mont Blanc.
The new commemorative collection, Rouge & Noir, comprises a variety of editions within the Montblanc Heritage Collection, including some ultra-limited high-jewelry versions that really show off the company’s craftsmanship in areas we don’t always think about in pen making – like engraving and stone setting.
As an example, the Ultimate Serpent Limited Edition 1 is crafted in rose gold and set with dark blue sapphires and diamonds. Priced at about $1.36 million, this one-of-a-kind pen is a real showstopper, as are the other gem-set pens in the collection, each of which is outfitted with a serpent motif.
But for us mere mortals, there are some quite spectacular options in the Heritage Collection Special Edition and Limited Edition 1906 lines.
I should mention here that the serpent design is a recurring theme within the collections of many pen companies, no doubt due to its broad symbolism, with Montblanc’s serpent clip first surfacing in the 1920s.
These new pens are a nod to that heritage, though they incorporate the latest pen technology, including a modern piston filling system and a new metal alloy for the serpent clip.
The cap and barrel of the Special Edition are crafted from black resin and lacquer and feature the historical Montblanc logo engraved on the side of the cap.
An off-white “snow cap,” inlaid in coral-red resin crowns the cap, while a second snake (in addition to the clip) is visible on the rhodium-plated 14-karat gold nib.
The Montblanc Heritage Collection, Rouge & Noir, Special Edition Coral is made from coral resin and lacquer reminiscent of a coveted hard rubber pen color from the turn of the twentieth century. This pen features a bi-color nib in 14-karat gold, also decorated with the serpent engraving. The clips within the Special Edition (black or coral) feature green-eyed snakes; a rollerball pen is available.
Most interesting to me is the Rouge & Noir Limited Edition 1906, a series of 1,906 pieces crafted from ebonite. This material contains natural rubber with sulphur and linseed oil and recalls a hard-rubber Montblanc model from 1909.
Once again, the serpent adorns the rhodium-plated gold nib with the bi-color design (18-karat), while the snake on the clip is set with two rubies for eyes. A rollerball pen is available.
And, yes, according to Montblanc, the name of the original Rouge et Noir was inspired by Stendhal’s two-volume novel Le Rouge et le Noir, published in 1830. This kind of makes me wonder if things would have been different if his unfinished novel, Le Rose et le Vert, had been the inspiration instead.
A three-piece limited edition Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary Limited Edition watch was also introduced at the same time; for more see Montblanc Celebrates 110 Years With ‘Mysteriously’ Complicated Tourbillon Watch And $1 Million Pen. For more information on these pens, please visit www.montblanc.com/rouge-et-noir.
Edition: Rouge & Noir Limited Edition 1906 fountain pen and rollerball
Cap and barrel: ebonite
Nib: 18-karat gold
Limitation: 1,906 fountain pens
Price: $1,825 (fountain pen); $1,620 (rollerball)