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Review Of The Montblanc 149 By A Former Anti-Montblancite


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#1 sirach

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:29

So, I will be the first to admit that I have said nasty things about MontBlanc, and those who buy their pens. If you look, you can find all over Fountain Pen Network... my disapproval of the company, the pens, and most especially... the cost.

I have been using fountain pens for a long time. I first used a dip pen from HobbyLobby... 20 years ago... when I was in grade school. I made quills from goose feathers my sophomore year of high school (not very practical... but amused my English teacher. They did not last for long...) and I used a kit-pen with a steel nib for college. I have been through Lamy, Sheaffer, Waterman, Pelikan, Pilot, Noodler's. Platinum, Parker, Stypen, Wearever, Retro 51, and even some Hero pens. Through it all, I swore I would never use a MontBlanc.

I now use a lot of pens for work. I am a history teacher. I LIKE taking notes... which is why we give so many notes....

Having children softens you.... When you are teaching your children not to hate something, or to have an open mind... it has an effect on you. I can remember being in and out of the great ink battles shortly after Noodler's came out with ink. I finally concluded that it is.... ink... just ink. The thing that really urked me was that there were people that just would NOT try a brand because of one thing or another. I always thought they were silly... but my MB thing was different... I had just cause... or so I thought. After several years, I concluded that if someone handed me a MontBlanc for cheap... I would give it a whirl... just to see what the fuss was about... but I was not about to be impressed...

Shawn Newton ... the infamous 'watch_art' may be the most laid-back fountain pen user I have ever met... actually he may be the most laid back person I have ever met that still works in education. I went down to visit him in Arkansas, the last time I was down south. We talked about pens, ink, students, and all the personalities on Fountain Pen Network. I realized that I was as judgmental about somethings as some of the people I complain about... the anti-this or the anti-that. He handed me a MB 149 and I thought it was a nice pen... but I didn't know if I thought it was the end-all-be-all. That trip, I also got to go to a pen shop in Little Rock... Vanness... and played with a Waterman Exception Slim, a Sheaffer PFM (or rather the reincarnation... think it is called the Legacy), and a Pilot Metal Falcon. I loved the look of the Waterman and the nib wasn't bad, it was just so scrawny... it hurt. I hated the the look of the Sheaffer Legacy, but loved the feel in my hand; the nib was... generic. I loved the weight of the Metal Falcon... but the Soft-Broad skipped waaaay too much. I was lost as to what pen I wanted next.... everything seemed inadequate.

Then I visited Craig's List. Idle hands are never good, and teachers get summers off... I found someone listing "Montblanc Meisterstück Le Grand Fountain Pen and Meisterstück Le Grand Rollerball Pen" They were listed cheap... really cheap. If you really want a price tag... look at this post To Buy Or Not To Buy ... Montblanc. I bit...

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The pens were not what was advertised. Pictured are the pens I got. The top is a MontBlanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen, the bottom is a MB 163 Roller-ball. Both pens were damaged. The 163 has a crack in the cap, but it is not a big deal. I may fix it someday, but I am in no rush... I am not really a RB user. The 149 had a crack in the finial (top of the cap where the star is.) That did bother me. The seller did give me a discount because of the cracks... so I can't complain too much...

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Finding a rough manufactured date was not difficult using this resource: http://www.fountainp...montblanc-149s/ It had plastic threads on the filler mechanisum, a 14K two-tone nib, and a split ebonite feed. Some of that can be seen below. It is a late 80's model.

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I did send it off to MontBlanc. It took 10 days from when I put it in the mail to when I got it back... this afternoon. I did have some issues with the quote... I called customer service. Both times I called, I talked to Miriam. She was one of the nicest, most knowledgeable, customer service reps I have ever worked with, and everything was taken care of to my satisfaction.

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I did loose a few things... They replaced the entire body... and the entire cap... The only original parts are the clip and the nib. The most important part... the finial was fixed.

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I also gained brass threads on the the filler mechanism....

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While loosing the split ebonite feed...

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All things considered, I think I came out ahead. Considering I got a brand new pen (save the nib) for a very nominal fee... I think I came out ahead.

As far as the pen goes... I said earlier that when I was looking at some other higher endish pens there were things I really liked and things that really bugged me. I just was not satisfied with any of those pens. So I guess we start with the superficial... This pen is a looker....

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I never get tired of looking at this pen. There is something very classic about it. This is the first pen of mine that people spot in my pocket and know it is a fountain pen and comment... and I have been using fountain pens for a long time. There is a flow to it that really works. I know the material is fragile... but it does keep a shine to it that tries hard to impress... and I don't drop pens...

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I don't see it as "bling" per-se ... but it is darn perty...

How does it feel?.... well... do you like big pens.... If you answer "YES" than it is a very comfortable pen. The first night I had it inked, I wrote 6 extra pages in the journal... it was just so comfy. Here's how it compares to some others.

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Front to back, or left to right: Parker 51, Lamy 2000, TWSBI 540, Noodler's Ahab, Lamy Safari, MontBlanc 149, Noodler's Neponset.

It is a big fat pen... no denying it. It does not fit in my shirt pocket very well. It fits fine in a sports blazer inside pocket. It will not fit in my pen case. I have really considered getting a Franklin-Christoph Penvelope 6.

The nib...

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(I love the effect of Pilot Kon-Peki on the Nib)


CAUTION: Don't use this pen outside... you will get a sunburn on the bottom of your nose.

It is not the smoothest nib, but it did not have the best owner for the past 20 years. The little bit of tooth can be smoothed out with a little micromesh. It is a little springy. It is more springy that any of the modern Bock nibs, less springy than a Pilot Falcon. I am content with the nib. Any of my problems have easy fixes. It looks like a medium to me, but I am not an expert...

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There is always a comment on these reviews about price. This has always been a bone of contention with me. How can people spend that kind-of money... etc... Here is the thing. I am satisfied. I could have bought 3 pens adding up to 800$ that could have made me happy... combining the best features. I am not blown away by the pen, but I am satisfied. A good point is that there is a strong used market for these pens... they can be had for half the price... on par with a lot of other vintage pens. Even new, they can be found for 650$ (MB lists them for upwards of 800$ or more). I have been working on a project to teach geography to my students using celestial navigation... I fund raised... and one of the things I was able to buy was this...

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THAT... boys and girls... is an Astra IIIB Deluxe sextant. This is one of the most affordable sextants that still retain maximum accuracy... it is a sweet tool... and I dropped 770$ for it and some accessories. When I did restorations on antique furniture, we spent a whole lot more on tools and equipment. Don't even get me started on what people will pay to have the latest Apple IPad etc...

What I am trying to say is that the Montblanc 149 removed distractions in my writing. It is easy to use for long periods of time, it holds a ton of ink, and I don't spend all my time thinking about other pens that I am not writing with...

Every profession has its tools. Sometimes the name on the tool is Klien, Apple, CodaBow, Global Knives, Dewalt... and sometimes it is Montblanc.

So... in conclusion...

Dear Montblanc Users,

I have offended a lot of you in the past. I was wrong. I take back everything I said about them being COMPLETELY overrated (maybe just a little tiny bit overrated). I take back what I said about the price... they have their reasons. I am not saying I am sold over. These may be the only MB pens I ever have, but I understand. I was not disappointed... I will say the MB 149 is one of the first pens in a long time that did not disappoint me... I will start calling y'all Montblanc users... not people who have been used by Montblanc.

I am not over the moon... but I am satisfied...

Sincerely,

Tom

EDIT:
...as with a lot of my reviews and such... you can also check them out on the bliggity blog... http://www.tomvobori...ormer-anti.html

and I can't spell

Edited by sirach, 14 August 2012 - 06:34.


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#2 hari317

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:38

:thumbup: Welcome home!

There are lots of things on the internet which you read and then are influenced. Same story here, I believed what i read, that MB was overpriced, bad writing, money paid only for the "bird splat" pen. Then, I bought my first MB a few years back, a mint 74 that i got quite cheap, I have never looked back since...

Thanks for sharing your story.

Hari
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#3 steviebee

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:44

Nice post, Tom.
Reminds me of the old gag: had this broom 40 years - only had to replace the head three times and the handle twice :)
"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn...."


#4 sirach

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:49

Nice post, Tom.
Reminds me of the old gag: had this broom 40 years - only had to replace the head three times and the handle twice :)


In my head... I keep thinking of my first MB pen... had it for a few weeks... now I am on my second one... for what they charge... it's not a bad deal.

#5 quinden

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:52

Nice review! I just traded away quite a few pens for a Montblanc 149 from the late 80s / early 90s; I love the size and balance of it. Thanks for sharing your experience with Montblanc's customer service as well!
Currently using:Too many pens inked to list, I must cut back! :) I can guarantee there are flighters, urushi, and/or Sheaffer Vac-fillers in the mix!!!

#6 Muncle

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:49

Very nice review. Made me nostalgic for my MB back home, which I won't see for almost another year.

#7 geoduc

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 03:31

Well done and kudos for publicly eating a little crow.

I haven't used an MB149 for more than a couple of minutes, so I don't really have an opinion on them. Montblanc as a brand seems to be quite polarizing so it can be hard to separate reality from hyperbole. Thanks for being objective.

#8 penmanila

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 03:50

welcome to MBs. i have all kinds of pens (i'm mainly a parker vac guy) but i do have and use some MBs--a 149 and a 146 are in the daily rotation--and what i can say is that my 1980s 149 is the one pen of all my 100+ pens that writes any time, all the time, even if i've left it unattended for weeks. for that alone, i love it (and i've learned to separate the pen from the company hype and all the bad buzz that's generated).

Check out my blog and my pens


#9 pavoni

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 05:54

Honest, objective and entertaining, what more could one want from an article! :clap1:

Pavoni.

#10 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 06:01

yayay :roflmho: one more converted mb 149 user :clap1: congrats
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

#11 roger3

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 06:07

I used to be a little disrespectful of Mont Blanc pens, and in 2006 said that "MontBlanc pens are overrated because they don't write worth a d..., and simply show how easy it is to spend money on an icon rather than a true work of functional art, like a Nakaya or Hakase." Yep, I said that and now, (just a sec, let me cap the 149 I'm using and put it up...next to the other three 149s on my desk)well now, I'm a believer due to extraordinary customer service, the way the pen feels in my hand,and indeed, how smoothly they can write when properly tuned (like any pen)Funny how time can change your perceptions...welcome to the MB universe.. :thumbup:
May you and those you love, be always blessed with peace and never ending joy.
Roger

#12 Chrissy

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 06:24

Hi Tom
I enjoyed reading your review very much. You write in a very entertaining way. :embarrassed_smile:

Welcome to the world of Montblanc. :happyberet:

#13 humsin

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 09:43

I still can't justify the $200+ difference between a new 149 and a new M1000
The pen I write with, is the pen I use to sign my name.

#14 reval

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 11:16

The MB149 converted me too. It is an incredible nice pen and probably my favourite.

BTW Although the pen has quite a hefty price tag, sometimes it can be had for quite a good price. I paid, for example, € 222.22 for a new, never been inked MB 149 with an OM nib.



#15 jar

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 13:52

It's amazing what we learn when learning is the objective, isn't it? Epiphany can be a never ending joy.

Now maybe you are ready to check out a few other pens that you would never use.

My Sister's website :  Rose Hill Studios

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#16 dcpritch

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 14:13

I appreciate your candor, and your humility. I never shared your disdain for MB as my very first fountain pen was an MB 146 given to me as a going away gift, more than 20 years ago. It was the fountain pen I learned on, the one that led me to the hundreds of other fountain pens I've had over these many years. Thanks for a great review. Now, after reading your review, I'm off to ink that old 146 to see if it writes as well as my memory tells me. I'm pretty sure it will be as perfect as it always was.

How small of all that human hearts endure,
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure.

— Samuel Johnson

 

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#17 richardandtracy

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 14:19

Seeing the sextant...
I know a cheaper one. It can come out of your workshop... go to http://www.chestnutp...misc/index.html , click on 'projects' and then 'sextant'. Several have been made. I know of a lady in Spain who made one for her 'Master Mariner's' certificate.

Oh yes. Thanks for the review. In some ways it's nicest to hear from someone who was a skeptic, because the reasons why you changed your mind must be compelling, and you have partially convinced me.

Regards,

Richard.

#18 torstar

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 14:51

Excellent review.

Bought my 1990-91 149 on ebay (in 2001 or so) for $200 and HQ fixed it up for the same amount.

And once again... people with $$$ who keep a high market value on a product are generally not morons or fools. The pens cost that much because over decades people who love FP are willing to pay this price, every few years for some of us.

#19 sirach

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 16:43

The MB149 converted me too. It is an incredible nice pen and probably my favourite.

BTW Although the pen has quite a hefty price tag, sometimes it can be had for quite a good price. I paid, for example, € 222.22 for a new, never been inked MB 149 with an OM nib.

That is the only way I was able to afford one right now on a teacher salary... found one dirt cheap...


It's amazing what we learn when learning is the objective, isn't it? Epiphany can be a never ending joy.

Now maybe you are ready to check out a few other pens that you would never use.


I completely agree.... now than, those vintage Doufolds do seem intriguing... I think I like big pens.... The red/orange even seems intriguing now...


Excellent review.

Bought my 1990-91 149 on ebay (in 2001 or so) for $200 and HQ fixed it up for the same amount.

And once again... people with $ who keep a high market value on a product are generally not morons or fools. The pens cost that much because over decades people who love FP are willing to pay this price, every few years for some of us.

That is kind-of what I was saying with the tools of the profession bit... If they were such horrible overpriced pens, they would not survive. There are plenty of luxury brands that have come in and out of history... MB has survived... For the most part... we are a global free-market economy.... for the most part...


I used to be a little disrespectful of Mont Blanc pens, and in 2006 said that "MontBlanc pens are overrated because they don't write worth a d..., and simply show how easy it is to spend money on an icon rather than a true work of functional art, like a Nakaya or Hakase." Yep, I said that and now, (just a sec, let me cap the 149 I'm using and put it up...next to the other three 149s on my desk)well now, I'm a believer due to extraordinary customer service, the way the pen feels in my hand,and indeed, how smoothly they can write when properly tuned (like any pen)Funny how time can change your perceptions...welcome to the MB universe.. :thumbup:

I have always respected my Dad... he told me once that I still looked up to him because he made all of his worst mistakes when I was too young to remember, and that he has never given me a reason to look down on him. My hope is that my own children never get to see me as a judgmental ninny. jar said it... when you get over yourself... there is a lot to see.


Seeing the sextant...
I know a cheaper one. It can come out of your workshop... go to http://www.chestnutp...misc/index.html , click on 'projects' and then 'sextant'. Several have been made. I know of a lady in Spain who made one for her 'Master Mariner's' certificate.

Oh yes. Thanks for the review. In some ways it's nicest to hear from someone who was a skeptic, because the reasons why you changed your mind must be compelling, and you have partially convinced me.

Regards,

Richard.


I use this software to make sextants with my students: http://www.tecepe.co...TantProject.htm I learned on a Tamaya. My only sextant the last few years has been a cheap Davis plastic sextant... accurate to something like .5° of arc.... which is ridiculous... the kids laugh at me... my self esteem plumits... seriously... it is not a full 30 miles (1' of arc = 1 nm.... .5°=30'+30 miles) off. I think it is really only a minute or two of arc.... but my new metal one is supposed to be +/- 20"....

....anyways.... I digress.....

Thanks guys and gals for all the nice comments...

Edited by sirach, 14 August 2012 - 16:44.


#20 ethernautrix

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 18:35

Nice post, Tom.

It's useful to stay flexible. As a kid, I didn't like okra at all, and I'd usually refuse to eat it when my mother cooked and served it at dinner. Every once in a while, though, I would try it, just to prove I didn't like it. And one day... I liked it. It was shocking. I still like it. Love it, more like. Still don't like oysters, though! But at least I know why I don't like them.

Right on. Enjoyed reading your story and am glad you're enjoying your 149.

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