The History of Montegrappa

We’re taking further our series of articles based on the history of the most famous brands in the pen industry and today’s article is about Montegrappa. An incredible brand that has been writing history since 1912 must have incredible stories to tell. Already known all over the world for all the astonishing writing instruments it produces, we are pretty sure that you have always wondered what is behind such a manufacturer. 

Founded in 1912 by Edwige Hoffman and Heinrich Helm as “Manifattura pennini d’oro e penne stilografiche”, the Italian manufacturer has its origins in Bassano del Grappa, a city located in the Vicenza province in the northeastern part of Italy. Although most of you are familiar with Montegrappa, you should know that the company got this name some years later. 

The first writing implements the company produced were hard rubber pens equipped with an eyedropper filling system. Limiting production to just two lines, one was inspired by a German design pen, while the other borrowed stylistic features from the Waterman 42.

During the First World War, Bassano happened to be a centre of military operations, which was an opportunity for the company, as many soldiers used the company’s pens to write the correspondence. Among them, the American novelists Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos, both volunteers as ambulance drivers.

An important acquisition marked the year of 1922 when the company bought a building in Via Ca Erizzo, which still houses the company’s headquarters today. Three years later Alessandro Marzotto and Domenico Manea bought the company and changed its name in “Industria Pennini Oro e Penne Stilografiche Elmo”. In order to bring a significant contribution to the company’s following projects, Heinrich Helm has remained a Production Manager.

Introduced between the late 20s and the early 30s, the first celluloid pens featured both button fillers and lever fillers. This was also the period when the production became differentiated: all the low pens were marked with ELMO, while Montegrappa was reserved only for the top range pens.

In the late 1930s some new celluloid pens with a transparent section were introduced and with that, Montegrappa started to use the piston filling system. With the end of the Second World War, Montegrappa introduced the classic torpedo shape for its pens. Each pen was marked with a three digit numerical code and sources claim that the decimal number indicated the filling system while the unit number the pen dimension.

A disastrous event occurred in 1946 when a fire partially destroyed the buildings and with that all the celluloid pens production (the celluloid material is highly flammable). From that moment onwards, the company focused on of the production of metal overlays as well as on the use of plastic injection for pens. Around 1950, most of the celluloid pens were replaced with acrylic models. However, Montegrappa kept using the celluloid for specific models. The same period brought with it the transition to the filling cartridges.

In 1970 as a modern interpretation of the 300 and 400 series, Montegrappa released some models in sterling silver, vermeil, enamel and enamel with vermeil. Sources claim that the 300 series had sterling silver clips and trims while the 400 series had vermeil elements. Only the precious metal pens were equipped with a gold nib, whereas the enamel ones were fitted with a gold plated steel nib. 

Launched in 1983 and available in several styles and sizes, the Reminiscence line was based on a model produced by Montegrappa around 1915. This line was characterised by octagonal and round shapes and each model came in a large or slim size featuring a plain or an engraved finish. An interesting detail of this line was the end part of the barrel. Montegrappa made a thread on it so that the cap could be screwed in place when posted.

After the Reminiscence followed the Symphony line which was made of celluloid with silver trims and sections along with The Brier & Sterling collection on which Montegrappa used brier wood from the roots of the Erica trees.

In 1999 Montegrappa released the Classica, a line characterised by round bodied pens made of celluloid and silver. The first models introduced to the public were Charcoal, Turquoise and Cinnamon. All of them have an interesting colour scheme, however we are impressed by the Turquoise model and its unique pattern. After the Classica series there followed Miya, Extra and Extra 1930.

In recent years, the company has launched so many incredibly manufactured writing instruments, fact that proves one thing: Montegrappa has significantly developed its expertise over the years while it remained tied to a single ideal: to design writing instruments that spark interest and powerful emotions around people.

One Comment

  1. This was a very insightful piece of writing instruments’ history. Reading it I thought about materials (i.e. celluloid mentioned in the text) the pens are made of. Maybe there could appear a text on Inkstable devoted to fountain pens’ materials? It would be very interesting to know the differences between celluloid and resign, steel, brass, silver and other metals, wood (different kinds). What are the good sides and bad sides of certain materials? Why section is so rarely made from metal, even if cup and barrel are. Are wooden pens less durable or it is a myth? What is the difference between steel and gold nib?

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