My search for the four Montblanc French writers LE has finally ended today: I just received the fourth pen, and thought I would write a brief review for these four exceptionally beautiful pens.
Why the French Writers? Well... mainly because french is my mother language. But also because I was attracted by the fact that these four pens are extremely different in character, shape, style, color and nib. Not only do they offer striking different "visual" experiences, but also different "writing" experiences, ranging from the heavy Verne to the light Proust, the fat nib of the Dumas to the more slender Voltaire.
Before I launch myself into aesthetic considerations, a bit of statistics (the four pens have M nibs):
Made in 1995
Yellow gold 18K nib
Length capped: 15,0cm
Length uncapped: 12,9cm
Length posted: 16,7cm
Made in 1996
Two tone gold 18K nib
Length capped: 13,5cm
Length uncapped: 12,5cm
Length posted: 16,0cm
Made in 1999
Two tone gold 18K nib
Length capped: 13,5cm
Length uncapped: 11,9cm
Length posted: 14,8cm
Made in 2003
White gold 18K nib
Length capped: 14,2cm
Length uncapped: 12,8cm
Length posted: 17,0cm
And now to the pens:
The visual experience:
As can be seen on the picture above, and as stated in the introduction of this post, the four pens are extremely different in looks. The most striking of the four, as far as I am concerned, is the Jules Verne. The blue of the barrel and cap is so bright and brilliant that it does remind you of the ocean and the sky. It also has a "technical" look to it, which goes very well with the necessity to have highly reliable apparatus and machines to survive under water (20,000 Leagues under the Sea). The Voltaire has an almost austere look to it, which makes it a very "formal" pen (a friend told me it looks like a "widow's" pen, or a pen to use when you are mourning someone!). The cap is very beautifully decorated with gold plated silver.
I think I have read everything Dumas has written. And this pen is very much him. It is exquisite, like his writing! The barrel is made of what looks like icy marble, framed with gold. The base of the cap is decorated with golden quills, and the clip has the shape of a sword (The Three Musketeers). The most enigmatic pen, to me, is the Marcel Proust. Of the four, it is the first I bought, as I was attracted by the silver barrel (I prefer silver over gold, to be honest...). It is the only one with the signature of the writer on the barrel, the other three having it on the cap, next to the clip.
The two older pens (Voltaire and Proust) bear the old Montblanc "logo" (the words MONT-BLANC, with a little mountain between the dash and the B: on the barrel for the Voltaire, and on the clip for the Proust), whereas the newer pens do not have Montblanc written anywhere, and only bear the white Montblanc star at the top of the cap. The platinum plated Verne and silver Proust are more to my taste, but I cannot deny that the Voltaire and Dumas are beautiful pens.
The writing experience:
Not only are the pens very different, but so are the nibs. I very much like the fact that I find myself with one yellow gold nib (Voltaire), one white gold nib (Verne), one yellow gold nib with white decorations (Dumas) and one white gold nib with yellow decorations (Proust).
The nibs are all decorated with something that reminds you of the writer:
Voltaire: engravings reminiscent of the age of Voltaire (taken from the Montblanc site)
Verne: diver's helmet
As stated in the introduction, the four nibs are M (my favorite size), but they are not all equal. The Dumas nib is much bigger than the three others, as can be seen in the picture above, whereas the Voltaire, Proust and Verne have more or less the same size. The four nibs write beautifully well, and are excellent writers, although I am more attracted to the larger Dumas, also because I found the nib to be more generous (wet) than the three others (as a left handed writer, generous pens always have my preference as I spend more time "pushing" on the nib than "pulling"). Being very wet has its inconvenience for an above-the-line lefty like me: I very often dirty my hand and smear the ink, and have to be careful to cover my writing with a piece of paper if I do not want to ruin everything! But the writing experience is much more satisfactory.
I find the Voltaire and the Verne to be similar writers: good ink flow without being too wet. The Proust, on the other hand, is once again the most "enigmatic": it is the least "generous", and the thinnest of the Ms. It can be an excellent writer on certain types of paper, but becomes frustratingly uneven on other types. I am not sure if it is a problem with the nib, or if it was just "made like that".
How do they feel in my hand while I write?
I have used the four pen while writing letters and have had a good time with the four of them. If I must criticize, I will say that 1) the Jules Verne is too heavy, 2) the Alexandre Dumas is too "fat" (for my small hands), 3) the Marcel Proust is too uneven (inkwise) and 4) the Voltaire is too plain to look at (uncapped).
The Voltaire, by the way, is the only one of the four to have an ink window, so you can see when it is time to refill. The three others are blind, and you must guess!
Et voilà! I have not performed a thorough evaluation, and you may feel frustrated that I have not given enough details, but I just wanted to give some of my personal (and subjective) impressions on these four fabulous pens. I hope you enjoyed!
Edited by Ipsilon, 09 December 2011 - 20:03.