mont blanc writing instruments The Fake Montblanc
WHAT: It’s Montblanc brought down to size, the Taiwanese response to the German company’s $125 Meisterstuck ballpoint pen.
Meisterstuck means masterpiece. This one isn’t. But it sells at selected Canal Street stores for $4 to $25, in both of the traditional Montblanc colors, black and Bordeaux (this seems to be the color that used to be known as burgundy). Business is brisk.
WHY: The real Montblanc now ranks as a cultural totem for high achieving business executives. The kind of executive with a big desk and an ego to match. It’s a pen that says, “I sign off on important papers prepared for me by myriad faceless drones.”
Jann Wenner uses one. So does Henry Kissinger. So does Naidansurengiin Zolzhargal, chairman of Mongolia’s stock exchange. Big cigar kind of guys.
GREAT BALLPOINT MOMENT: Mikhail S. Gorbachev used a Montblanc to sign his resignation. HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE: The real Montblanc is made of a natural resin (the formula is secret) that polishes up just like an Aston Martin. It can even shatter, like glass. The metal fittings are 23 1/2 karat goldplate, and the ring around the bottom of the cap has Montblanc Meisterstuck engraved on it. The top of the cap has an inlaid six pointed star, the Mont blanc symbol.
The Taiwanese version is plastic and brass all the way. It feels as if it weighs half a pound. It skips.
“I’ve seen only one copy with the star on the top,” Ms. Brown said. “But if you look at it, it’s a piece of garbage.” WARNING: It is illegal to counterfeit a trademarked product, and Montblanc is zeroing in on the malefactors. A company spokesman said, “The situation is in the hands of our trademark attorneys, and a vigorous effort is being coordinated internationally.” A REASON TO SCALE MONTBLANC: “Americans are living in a world of disposable products and a certain kind of coldness,” said Wolff Heinrichsdorff, Montblanc’s vice president for international marketing, who compares the pen to a Stradivarius or a samurai sword. “It represents continuity, warmth, nostalgia and nonrational production methods.”
He doesn’t like the version from Taiwan. “The people who would buy it don’t even need the ballpoint; they only need the cap to stick out of their shirt.”