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Montegrappa 1930 Extra

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37 replies to this topic

#1 Mike S.

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Posted 24 February 2007 - 20:33

I recently bought myself a Montegrappa 1930 Extra in Turtle Brown celluloid with sterling silver trim:

user posted image

The pen has a nice-looking and physically large medium nib (the website states that it is 18K gold with a platinum mask) that is surprisingly flexible and lays down would I would consider a true medium line -- not so fat as some other mediums and a perfect match for my handwriting. A look at the underside of the nib reveals an ebonite (hard rubber) feed, which is a nice touch compared to the plastic feeds in so many other pens (including some fairly expensive pens). The inkflow in my example is perfect -- not too wet, and not too dry -- and the nib was perfectly aligned and quite smooth right out of the box. I have been using it with Private Reserve Chocolat ink, which seems to be a perfect match for the dark brown streaks in the celluloid. I initially considered using P.R. Copper Burst, as I have found it to be an extremely good performer in many different pens and I like the subtle line variation you get with less-saturated inks, but it was the wrong color and didn't really match the pen, to my eye. (As an aside, the most fun color of this variety that I've come across is Noodler's Habanero, which is a free-flowing pale orange that exhibits a great deal of color variation depending on how wet or dry the line is. It's not the best business correspondence color, however.)

The balance and weight of the pen are as close to perfect for my medium-sized hand as I have tried. It's not too heavy, and not too light, with a balance that keeps just the right amount of weight on the tip to keep the pen under control with light pressure but not so heavy that it gets fatiguing. I preferred to use the pen without posting the cap.

The finish and fine detail work on this pen are impressive. The pen itself is built to perfection, with perfectly-fitted silver appointments. There is an inlaid symbol in the top of the cap that says "1912," which according to the firm's website is the year the company was founded as a fountain pen and nib manufacturer. The trim ring around the bottom cap lip contains a beautifully-executed Greek key pattern. The curve of the clip is soft and graceful and it has a little wheel at the bottom to hold it firmly in your shirtpocket without tearing at the fabric (Omas and Delta have this as well, and I think it's a nice touch). There is also a silver ring separating the body of the pen from the blind cap, and a silver disk inlaid into the end of the blind cap. Everywhere you look on this pen, you see a new detail. The pen has a classic bullet shape (actually, sort of a cigar shape with the ends cut off), and though the diameter of the cap is quite large, it does not feel overly fat in the hand. The pen fills via an internal converter (more on this in a minute), and the blind cap turns easily, though it's not loose. The pen comes in a huge (I would guess 8" x 8" square and 5" tall) wooden presentation box containing a cushion for the pen, a silver polishing cloth, and a bottle of Montegrappa ink.

I said in the tag line at the top that this pen has a couple of quirks. They are not fatal flaws, but they are worth pointing out because they are not obvious from a picture or even casual testing at a pen store.

Quirk #1 -- the cap threads. This is the single most annoying thing about this pen in actual use. It takes at least 8 turns to get the cap off this pen (believe me, when you're working to get the cap off this pen, you'll have plenty of time to count the number of turns). It is nearly impossible for me to imagine that there is a sound design reason behind this. If someone calls you and you want to jot down their phone number quickly, you'd better have a Namiki Vanishing Point handy or you'll never get the cap off in time to write it down before you've forgotten it. If Montegrappa wanted to improve this pen, from this user's point of view, they should cut the number of turns it takes to get the cap off in half. (Pelikan has this nailed, in my experience -- it takes barely a quarter turn to get the cap off a Pelikan.)

Quirk #2 -- the internal converter. This pen fills like a piston filler, but I don't think it is a real piston filler, I think it's just a converter that's permanently mounted inside the pen and actuated by turning the blind cap on the back end. The first clue is that when you turn the blind cap to fill the pen, it doesn't screw out and away from the body of the pen like my Pelikan or Omas piston fillers do -- the blind cap stays in place and merely rotates. This doesn't make much of a practical difference, in my mind. The second clue, however, does make a practical difference: the pen does not hold nearly as much ink as a true piston filler would. It holds about the same amount of ink you would expect to get into a pen with a converter. I am enough of a pen snob that I prefer real piston fillers to cartridge/converter filling pens. However, at least pens with removable converters can be more easily flushed out and offer the option of using a cartridge in a pinch (for example, when traveling or at a meeting outside the office). Being stuck with a captive internal converter, you get all of the disadvantages of a converter filler with none of the advantages. As I said, this is not really a flaw, in my view, but it is rather annoying. (For the record, Montegrappa's website suggests that the version of this pen with gold trim is a piston filler. I have not seen the gold trim version and prefer the look of the sterling trim to the gold; if given the choice, I think I might still choose the silver trim version with an internal converter to the gold trim version with a real piston filler.)

With a MSRP of $1,050, this is not an inexpensive pen -- it's in the same price class, for example, as the new Omas Bronze Arco celluloid, the gorgeous new Visconti Divina in orange and blue celluloid, or the black and gold Cartier Python, to name a few -- but the high-quality celluloid with solid sterling silver trim, the build quality and finish of the pen, and its exemplary writing characteristics make it a worthwhile contender in what I would call the high-end user pen market (this is not a limited edition or a collector's pen -- though expensive, in my view, this pen is meant to be used, not kept in a vault or on display in a cabinet). It is more costly, for example, than the regular Omas Paragon or the soon-to-be-discontinued Bologna, the DuPont Orpheo, or that benchmark high-end user pen, the Montblanc 149. In fact, for the same price, you could probably buy two Pelikan M1000s, 3 Pelikan M800s, or 4 Pelikan 600s if Pelikans are your pen of choice. For your money, you get a solid performer, but you also get beautiful, high-end Italian design and sterling silver trim that will make you want to pick up this pen and admire (dare I say fondle?) it. As much as I like my Pelikans, I have never felt the slightest urge to fondle one.

In my book, the first $200 to $300 of the cost of a pen is for the performance (for me, the benchmarks in this price class are the Pelikan M600 or M800, the Sailor 1911, or the Aurora 88 before the recent spate of quality-control issues started cropping up). Most of my pens fall into this price range (Bexley Submariner Grande and America the Beautiful, Delta Dolce Vita, Sailor 1911, Pelikan 600 and 800, Pilot Custom 823). Anything you pay above $300, in this user's opinion, is for looks, design, materials, packaging, brand name, marketing costs, exclusivity, and je ne sais qua. I have a few pens in this $300 to $1,000 category, including the Omas Paragon (new style), the Omas Bronze Arco (old style), the Visconti Wall Street LE and Divina, the DuPont Orpheo, and the Waterman Edson. With the exception of the Omas pens, I would not say that these more expensive pens are better writers than their less-expensive brethren (the new Omas Paragon is the best writing pen I own, bar none). I would say, however, that I derive more pleasure and experience more of a sense of pride of ownership when I use the pens in the latter group. I look forward to the days when it's their turn to be up in the rotation more than the others. Is that worth paying for? Only you can answer that question. All I can say is I would buy them again without hesitation.

If you are willing to spend this much money on a beautiful, high-end user pen, I think the 1930 Extra is worth a look.

For more information on the pen and the company, here's a link to Montegrappa's website

Montegrappa 1930 Extra


Edited by Mike S., 24 February 2007 - 20:35.

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#2 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 24 February 2007 - 22:19

Nice pen Mike and nice review smile.gif I tested this pen last week but it was not enough big for my hand (I like myself 149 or söveran 1000 sized pens) but the nib was excellent .
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

#3 Phthalo


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Posted 24 February 2007 - 23:53

Beautiful pen, and very nice review - thank you! smile.gif

I have a little Montegrappa Micra, which is a cartridge-filler, and its quality is excellent. Like the Extra though, it's takes many turns to cap/uncap the pen, that was my only gripe in my own review, I think.

Edit: Added eye candy.

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Edited by Phthalo, 25 February 2007 - 08:00.

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#4 jonro



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Posted 25 February 2007 - 02:18

Mike, thanks for the review. It's a very striking pen.

#5 alvarez57



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Posted 25 February 2007 - 06:23

Beautiful pen! rolleyes.gif
I have two Montegrappas (one of them was "mortally "abused). the one that writes, took some time to "break-in" (it would skip and tended to be on the rigid side). Once it did, it is one of my favorites! They are expensive, but the pearlized celluloid is just worth gazing over and over!

sonia alvarez





#6 eric.zamir



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Posted 23 May 2007 - 22:12

Thanks for your review, and analysis of collecting in general - I concur with just about everything you wrote.
I have the Extra in blue-black celluloid. Beautiful pen, and I didn't pay list.
I have it with the broad nib. As you mentioned, it is quite flexible, and the flat ebanite feed is excellent.
I don't mind the three zillion turns to open and close the pen.
I do mind the three zillion turns just to load up eight big drops of ink. I'd be surprised if it even holds a converter worth. More like an international cartridge. With a fat B nib and wet, juicy flow, that's deadly. Three pages and we're done!
When I first got the pen, I immediately realized this when I loaded it up for the first time and the piston didn't come out. Typical twist filler.
I spoke with Montegrappa service about this after I got the pen back from the nib exchange (from M to cool.gif. They didn't want to admit that it was a twist filler as we both know it is. They said they had replaced the filling system because the original one (on the red, parchment, blue black, etc. Extras) was prone to leakage, while the new one (tortoise and green Extra) was not. They said this new filler holds even less than the one that came with mine, because they now use a double seal ring.
It's for that reason alone that the pen is not on my "never sell" list. As much as I like it, it's one of those pens I'll sell if I need money for rent, or another pen.
Just another note: Montegrappa also told me the the large limited editions (e.g., Human Civilization) use the same nib, and hold at least twice as much ink...
I still haven't found a pen that beats out my chunky oversize vac with semi-flex broad stub nib for ergonomics, writing pleasure, ink capacity, etc. That, my M800's, my Delta Pompei (ok, lever fillers don't hold that much, but they hold more than the Extra) and my Omas Galileo are sacrosanct.
Still seeking the One Pen to Rule Them All...

#7 omasfan



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Posted 24 May 2007 - 06:54

I got the same pen (the turtle brown color) with an M nib that was debbified into a nice fine. I got the pen from a private collector for an affordable price, and so I had to take the M nib that came with it. I later decided to have it turned into an F because 1.) I like fines more and 2.) with the limited ink reservoir a fine is going to last longer.
I agree to everything Mike S. and Eric Zamir have said above.
Oddly enough, this is my only celluloid pen that does not emanate the distinct camphor smell. Other than that, this is one of the most beautiful pens in my collection, and I do not regret having paid the money.

#8 Meisterstuck1964



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Posted 31 May 2007 - 21:55

Great review of a great pen! Personally I like the Symphony more, but that is of personal matter ofcourse.
Greetings from the other side of the earth

#9 Celticshaman


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Posted 31 May 2007 - 21:56

Stunning pen!! I want one someday.

Thanks for a wonderful review!!


#10 TMLee


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Posted 22 June 2007 - 02:48

Tks for the review.
I find the pen heavy. Not for long bouts of writing.
I like the green marbled design - its beautiful.
I do agree that the nib is surprisingly (pleasantly) flexy.
The cap unscewing is indeed quirky and sometimes annoying.
Mine did not write well out of the box. I had to wait 3 months for it to be sent to their Italian factory for an adjustmt. Major flaws. Its fine now.
Surpisingly, when I write with this pen, I find my handwriting slowed down quite abit , resulting in more beautifully formed lettrs. I am not sure why.
The green marbled is translucent enough to see the ink level inside.
The large ebonite feed is a definite plus.
Yup, not a true piston.
Its pricey. I think its more $bling than pen though.

Edited by TMLee, 22 June 2007 - 02:48.

#11 beginnersmind



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Posted 19 June 2011 - 12:44

I recently bought myself a Montegrappa 1930 Extra in Turtle Brown celluloid with sterling silver trim...

Quirk #2 -- the internal converter. This pen fills like a piston filler, but I don't think it is a real piston filler, I think it's just a converter that's permanently mounted inside the pen and actuated by turning the blind cap on the back end. The first clue is that when you turn the blind cap to fill the pen, it doesn't screw out and away from the body of the pen like my Pelikan or Omas piston fillers do -- the blind cap stays in place and merely rotates.

I just got an Extra and I have to beg to differ with you about the piston. I am quite certain mine is a piston filler for two reasons:
1) Mine is in the parchment celluloid. This material borders on being translucent in areas and I can see the ink filling the entire diameter of the barrel. It looks to me to hold at least two to four convertors worth of ink.
2) Yes, the piston knob does not back away from the body of the pen but it does not back away in my vintage Kaweco piston filler either. This pen has a visualated barrel and I have seen the piston so I know it is a piston filler.

That said, I do not know when my Extra was made (it is an estate pen) and it is possible that they changed the design of the pen at some point.

Edited by beginnersmind, 19 June 2011 - 12:50.

#12 Brian


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Posted 20 June 2011 - 16:54

A very nice review with good attention to two major quirks. If it hasn't been mentioned yet, a third quirk could be added to the list that would include the metal section. Overall however, a very well put together pen with great visual appeal.

#13 Ipsilon



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Posted 20 June 2011 - 19:49

I too own the Extra 1930, Bamboo black. I agree that it is a beautiful pen, and an excellent writer (I have the M nib, which is just perfect). But I also agree that unscrewing the cap is for patient people!! I tried to use it at work, but found it excruciatingly slow. I use the pen at home now, when I am in no hurry: for quiet writing evenings only!!

<b>In my hands</b>: Waterman, MontBlanc, Stipula, Visconti, Graf von Faber-Castell, Pelikan, Delta, Aurora, Omas, S.T.Dupont, Montegrappa, OnLine, Parker, Pilot, Favero, and... <i>a few goose feather quills</i>.

#14 MidnightBlue



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Posted 20 June 2011 - 23:04

What I like about Montegrappa people.....objectivity and honesty. I have said pen and agree with all the above. Is a captive converter, and for me it's not a problem. Love the work on this pen. Another "quirk" :if not used, the silver section will tarnish from reaction with the ebonite feed. Not a problem if in use. The Miya is the same. Thanks

#15 jaredpens


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Posted 01 July 2011 - 12:39

Beautiful pen! I have the Bamboo Black and love it. It is my daily writer. I have it with a Fine Nib.
Currently Inked:
Montegrappa Extra 1930 Bamboo Black, Fine Nib, Aurora Black Ink
Aurora America Limited Edition, Fine Nib, Aurora Black Ink

#16 bugmd


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Posted 07 July 2011 - 20:26

Truly beautiful pens.

My gripes are the same as yours 1)too small an ink capacity, 2)too many turns to get the cap off. Mine are in limbo right now, don't make it as daily users but liked just enough that I do not want to get rid of them.

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A. Don's Axiom "It's gonna be used when I sell it, might as well be used when I buy it."

#17 Silvermink


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Posted 07 July 2011 - 21:26

I like my Montegrappa Historia - the cap threads aren't as long as the Extra's (I think they're about half as long). It doesn't have as large a nib and is C/C, but there's a blind cap that screws off to allow access to the converter knob.
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OMAS Italia '90 - Aurora Blue // Montblanc 14 - Visconti Purple

#18 camoandconcrete


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Posted 28 August 2011 - 03:34

The pics in this review are making it very hard for me to resist this pen. I tried one at a store recently and loved, however, the store I was in is known for selling at full retail and never selling a brand like Montegrappa on sale. So I passed.
What I'm looking for: Montblanc 132, 235, 422 and 432. Any help would be most appreciated.

#19 Ghost Plane

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Posted 28 August 2011 - 14:52

Keep an eye on FPH. Seems like once a year or so they get a batch of Montegrappa they put on special. Bagged a red Miya and the tortoise Extra from them at exquisite prices.

Bryant manages phenomenal deals on a more regular basis. Drop him a line if you're thinking a specific model/nib combo.

#20 Soulmaker1



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Posted 28 August 2011 - 15:28

What is the current retail price on the 1930? Are they more than a MB 149 at retail?


MB 149 YWC, MB Doue BP, Parker Sterling Silver Cisele BP & RB

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