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Art Deco Solitaire


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29 replies to this topic

#1 sumgaikid

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 19:49


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Appearance & Design


It's a well-known fact that the Germans are known for making quality instruments. Think of automobiles and Audi,BMW
and MB come to mind....Mercedes-Benz,that is. Think of fountain pens and the "MB" stands for Montblanc,that crafter of
fine writing instruments. My latest acquisition and first Solitaire is no exception;the 146 Solitaire in gold & black. It has
what I call an Art Deco "piano pattern" reminiscent of some patterns seen in the 1930's. To say that its appearance looks
like that of a key board would not be misleading. Standard is the torpedo shape commonly seen in the 14x line,a shape
that has served MB well for nearly six decades. The finish is glossy in its repeating gold/black color. The symmetrical de-
sign is pleasing to the eye,giving a uniform look all around the pen. Familiarity breeds comfort(in this case)and the familiar
two-tone 4810 nib and black-and-white snowcap are welcome interruptions to the gold/black pattern. In this case,less is
more. The ubiquitous Meisterstuck girdle adorns the bottom of the cap as it always does,but with a slightly different twist
--the top and bottom bands aren't separated from the girdle and they both wear a matte finish. A seemingly insignificant
touch,yes,but this makes the pen shine all the more. The complete,classy look is worthy of a 10.





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Construction & Quality


One of the questions always asked in a pen review is "Would you fear dropping it?" . Any fountain pen user should
reply in the affirmative "Of course!". Dropping any pen(or having it fall accidentally to the floor,for that matter)invites
damage even in the smallest sense of the word,i.e.,scratches or a bent nib.While this pen looks sturdy and feels
weighty(more about that in a moment),the sudden fall and and subsequent stop still guarantees damage. In spite of
that caveat,the Solitaire is solid--very solid. The cap screws and unscrews smoothly. When tightened down,the "piano
pattern" lines up evenly and correctly. The pen shines so much that,looking carefully,the "Pix" logo residing under the
clip can be seen on the cap! On the minus side,however,the glossy shine attracts fingerprints such that it needs cons-
tant wiping and those with even lightly sweaty fingers may have a difficult time filling the pen. In use,the pen never
leaked,a tribute to Montblanc quality. The presentation box that it came in(with an accompanying bottle of ink)was sim-
ple,yet elegant. Despite the minor issues,the Solitaire walks away in the C & Q category with a 10.





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Weight & Dimensions



This section of the review will be a little incomplete and personal. Incomplete because I don't have a scale to weigh the
pen and give an idea of its weight;nor do I have an idea of the volume of ink that it holds(though I do suspect that it's
similar to other 146 Solitaires). The length I can give--the pen capped is as long as my vintage mid-60's 149(5 3/4" or
14.6 cm);posted it's 6 1/2"(16.5 cm). Its girth comes in at 0.5"(1.2 cm). The personal part involves choice. As was sug-
gested earlier,this is a solid pen. It's also a very weighty pen. In comparison to my vintage 149,this 146 feels like a brick
(OK,maybe not a brick,but it does have heft). Upon taking the pen out of its box,my first impression was how heavy it felt.
I also own an Aurora Tsugaru-nuri LE(Talentum)having a number of coats of urushi lacquer added to it that seems ordin-
ately heavy,but it wasn't this heavy. It is OK to write with the pen unposted;it writes comfortably with no problem. I choose
to post the cap when I write--it is a habit and I do like how the pen looks posted. Still,for those that find weight in a pen
a problem,they might find it tiresome after a long bout of writing. Another aside to posting: If you wish to post the cap
when you write,make sure that the cap is firmly snug on the end of the pen. Several times I found that if the cap isn't
snuggly posted,the normal action of my hand would "kick" the cap upward. This can be disconcerting,especially if the cap
falls of and hits the floor. Another important consideration: This is not a pen that sits comfortably in the pocket--any shirt
pocket,for that matter. Its weight pulls the pocket forward. Even though the clip is tight to the cap,its tendency-to-slide
factor guarantees movement in the pocket. This is a pen that best fits in a thick coat pocket or pen case. These three fac-
tors--weight,snug posting of the cap and an inability to carry the pen easily and comfortably diminish the shine on the
Montblanc star. I rate it an 8.0 .





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Nib & Performance



The standard nib for the Solitaire series is the rhodium-plated,two-tone 18K nib(there are all-rhodium plated nibs,but
those are found on Solitaire pens featuring silver caps or all silver caps and barrels). Coming in sizes of EF,F,M and B,
the nib that came with this pen is a stubbed "B" nib. Montblanc's reputation for smooth writing nibs is known to its cli-
entele and this one didn't disappoint. The ink flows evenly and smoothly. Diamine Damson(a dark purple hue--a favor-
ite of mine)is being used to pen this review,and quite frankly,the smooth flow of nib upon paper makes the writng ex-
perience very enjoyable. An interesting "point" to be made about the nib: The nib is chiseled on the front. Looked at
from the side,the nib takes on an arrow-shaped look,as seen in the pics:




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I don't think that this nib has seen a nibmeister for re-shaping. This is pure,unadulterated MB handiwork. It's
worthy of a 10.






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Filling System



The filling system in this pen is the typical piston filler unit that MB has been using in its 146's and 149's since it started
making resin-bodied pens in the 1960's. It uses an elastomeric seal instead of cork. Suffice it to say that with the size
of the barrel,a writer shouldn't have a problem of getting at least 10 pages of writing from this pen(this review was/is
10 pages long and there's still more ink in the barrel). The system takes up ink easily,though as was pointed out earlier
dry fingers are necessary for ease of operation. A small point: The knob on this pen moves 3/4 of a turn before engaging
the piston. Perhaps not typical of Montblanc,but it would have to be sent out to be tightened down. Though minor,the
play in the piston knob was just enough to keep the filling system from getting a complete 10. It gets a 9.5 .






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Cost & Value


This for me,was the best part. I enjoy getting a bargain,and this indeed was a bargain! MSRP on this pen is $1,520.00 .
I was able to get it for much less by buying it off of Ebay from a reputable seller(I paid just a hair over 39% of MSRP--I'll
let you do the math.). Seeing that the pen is still listed on MB's website,I'd say that that qualifies as a bargain,wouldn't
you? Obviously buying it from an MB botique negates any such bargain,but if you're willing to do a little fishing you might
be able to get one from someone for 25-50% off of MSRP. Couple a great price with a great writing instrument would
bring a smile to the most cynical of MB users My miles-of-smiles rating? A happy 10.




Summary


Great bargain,proven filling system,smooth writing nib--these are what the fountain pen user(and collector) wants. This
Solitaire doesn't skimp in any of these areas. It's solid,despite the weight factor and limited portability. This might put
some buyers off,but in my book,this Solitaire's a winner. Like the automotive allusion at the beginning of this review,it's
hard not to smile about something that gives so much pleasure,looks good and moves so effortlessly.


Fact is,I'm still smiling.




John
Irony is not lost on INFJ's--in fact,they revel in it.

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#2 Vicary

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 02:08

I recently purchased one of these and it's a beautiful piece. I like the size, style, weight and writing quality.

I have to say though that the gold finish seems to be very susceptible to picking up light scratches and scuffs. So even though mine came new and has been treated very gently, stored in leather pen cases and used sparingly, it's already developed a bit of a patina of use.

Also, my OBB nib needed some work before it wrote the way I would expect. By and large I've been very pleased with my oblique Montblanc nibs over the years, so that was a bit of a surprise. Luckily, Richard Binder was able to work on the pen at the Ohio Pen Show and set everything right...

Edited by Vicary, 02 December 2009 - 02:09.


#3 Ghost Plane

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 02:16

Have one in a B nib and it's in constant rotation. Picking it up always results in a silly smile followed by, "Ahhhhhh!" :cloud9:

#4 sumgaikid

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 03:29

Thanks,guys............I had fun doing this review,have another one in mind as soon as
the pen comes in....................



John
Irony is not lost on INFJ's--in fact,they revel in it.

#5 PigRatAndGoat

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 03:49

Thank you for reviewing one of my favourite MBs! :thumbup:

Montblanc 145, F nib
Faber Castell E-Motion in Pearwood, F nib
Montblanc 149, F nib
Visconti Divina Proporzione 1618, S nib
Montblanc Cool Blue Starwalker, EF nib
Montblanc Solitaire Silver Barley BP
Montblanc Rouge et Noir Coral, M nib


#6 alvarez57

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 05:04

Your FPN name really goes with your purchase! (I did the math). Beautiful, beautiful pen. Honestly, I have 3 MB (2 Bohèmes and a 149) and I really do not have major complaints about them. I like the way your nib is ground for it gives a bit of line variation, something I found on two of my MB, including the 149. I think they are good pens overall although some a bit too pricey. Enjoy your beautiful pen! Liked the photos.

sonia alvarez

 

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#7 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 20:53

well done sumgaikid, great review thanks for sharing
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#8 MYU

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 16:43

Very nice review, with eye catching photos. :) You show this pen off quite well, John. I thought I'd never consider another modern MB, but this one... well, it has me rethinking that. ;)

[MYU's Pen Review Corner]   |   "The Common Ground" -- Jeffrey Small


#9 Ed Ronax

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 17:10

Excellent review for an excellent pen, I can live with the fingermarks, just holding it feels good.
And how can this be, because he is the Kwisatz Haderach.


#10 Blade Runner

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 17:27

The Montblanc Solitaires are among my favorite pens, and this is a very nice one. I see the nib has the characteristic stubbish qualities of MB broad nibs. I thought you were going to go with a narrower nib. Is this your first MB broad, and are you going to keep it?

#11 sumgaikid

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 19:34

The Montblanc Solitaires are among my favorite pens, and this is a very nice one. I see the nib has the characteristic stubbish qualities of MB broad nibs. I thought you were going to go with a narrower nib. Is this your first MB broad, and are you going to keep it?



I still plan to go to an OM nib;I'm waiting on the seller to send me the service guide. If for some reason
I don't get the guide,I will keep this one. My preference for a nib 1-2 sizes smaller is only because I like
to see the open area when I write my a's,e's and o's. It is my 1st MB broad nib,BTW.



John
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#12 Blade Runner

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 20:15

Some of your a's and e's are open, so perhaps with a little adjustment you could have more sucess with those forms.
My writing is similar in size and I have no problems with keeping the letters open with my MB broads.
But I do use mostly Crane's cotton stationery and my style is a little different. I bet the paper you're using is making the difference, but if you're committed to using that paper, then you'll probably need a different nib.

#13 sumgaikid

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 20:36

Some of your a's and e's are open, so perhaps with a little adjustment you could have more sucess with those forms.
My writing is similar in size and I have no problems with keeping the letters open with my MB broads.
But I do use mostly Crane's cotton stationery and my style is a little different. I bet the paper you're using is making the difference, but if you're committed to using that paper, then you'll probably need a different nib.


Perhaps it's not so much committed to a certain type of paper(legal pad as seen in one of the photos)as
it is a matter of cost. There is a Crane's down here in Tampa,but for now,it's cheaper to buy legal pads in
bulk than to buy a special brand of paper. One thing that I didn't mention that I should have was the lack
of feathering that I had with the pen. Of course that goes more to paper and ink than the pen................



John
Irony is not lost on INFJ's--in fact,they revel in it.

#14 sumgaikid

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 20:40

Very nice review, with eye catching photos. :) You show this pen off quite well, John. I thought I'd never consider another modern MB, but this one... well, it has me rethinking that. ;)



I'm glad,Gary. That means that I've done my job.............:thumbup:



John
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#15 Blade Runner

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 20:48

Some of your a's and e's are open, so perhaps with a little adjustment you could have more sucess with those forms.
My writing is similar in size and I have no problems with keeping the letters open with my MB broads.
But I do use mostly Crane's cotton stationery and my style is a little different. I bet the paper you're using is making the difference, but if you're committed to using that paper, then you'll probably need a different nib.


Perhaps it's not so much committed to a certain type of paper(legal pad as seen in one of the photos)as
it is a matter of cost. There is a Crane's down here in Tampa,but for now,it's cheaper to buy legal pads in
bulk than to buy a special brand of paper. One thing that I didn't mention that I should have was the lack
of feathering that I had with the pen. Of course that goes more to paper and ink than the pen................


John

Paper is indeed a big factor. Using beautiful papers somehow seems fitting with using beautiful pens imo. Keep Crane's in mind, but if you try it, you may find yourself another addiction. Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy your beautiful Solitaire.

Edited by jeen, 05 December 2009 - 20:50.


#16 reprieve

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 21:16

I still plan to go to an OM nib;I'm waiting on the seller to send me the service guide. If for some reason
I don't get the guide,I will keep this one. My preference for a nib 1-2 sizes smaller is only because I like
to see the open area when I write my a's,e's and o's. It is my 1st MB broad nib,BTW.


My handwriting is about the same size as yours (I like my college-ruled legal pads). I started out with fine nibs, but I use broad nibs (and even wider) almost exclusively now. I especially love my buttery, stubbish Montblanc Bs. When I first made the transition to wider nibs, it took some practice and conscious effort to keep all of my letters open. Occasionally, when I'm writing very, very quickly, some of my E's still close up--but even then it is rare.

Your writing looks very nice with the B nib. It might be worth a couple of weeks of trial and error before you send it off for a nib exchange.

#17 Blade Runner

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 21:22

As reprieve suggests, give it a trial period to practice and perhaps make a little adjustment.. Those 146 broad stubs are so worth it.
I forgot to suggest trying a drier writing ink like MB blue black or Pelikan blue, blue black, or black.
That might make just enough difference even on legal pads.

Edited by jeen, 05 December 2009 - 21:23.


#18 Blade Runner

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 21:30

Here's a sample of my writing on Migeulrius (non-cotton) notebook paper. The tallest letter is no taller than 4 mm.

Posted Image

OM's are no doubt very nice, but they won't give you the line variation and you don't have the broad stroke presentation of B's.

Edited by jeen, 05 December 2009 - 21:31.


#19 sumgaikid

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 21:34

As reprieve suggests, give it a trial period to practice and perhaps make a little adjustment.. Those 146 broad stubs are so worth it.
I forgot to suggest trying a drier writing ink like MB blue black or Pelikan blue, blue black, or black.
That might make just enough difference even on legal pads.



It might;I'm just an odd duck that when I see a colour that I like--no matter the company--I tend to go
for it. If MB made a shade of the muted purple that Diamine does,I would probably buy it. One of the points
that I have against companies like MB and Pelikan is that they don't branch out enough when it comes
to ink colors. They tend to stick to basics. You want me to buy your ink exclusively? Branch out more with
different colours.



John
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#20 Blade Runner

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 21:37

As you may have heard MB's coming out with some new inks, including:
Oyster Grey, light blue, midnight blue, black Mystery, Toffee, among others. Like you, I'm glad for the expansion.






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