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First Fountain Pen?

first bespoke montblanc

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28 replies to this topic

#1 TigerB

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 00:03

Ok... first post, no idea what Im doing. If you dont want to put up with a Newby, stop here. This is probably an age-old post topic, but I didnt see one, so Im starting my own. Anyone willing to tolerate my ramblings and help/weight-in, would be much appreciated.

I believe in the awesomeness of handwriting. I developed a love and skill for it when learning mechanical drafting in high school. My mom was a self-taught calligraphist (?) and her dad could fill a piece of blank paper with handwriting that made it look like it was college ruled. Anyway... I love the skill, art and value of it. And I believe your handwriting says something about you. (It crushes me that they barely even teach cursive in school anymore and place almost zero value on handwriting of any kind now that we live in the digital age)

Initially, my weapon of choice was a 0.3 Pentel draftsmans mechanical pencil. Not $5, but under $40-50 pretty easily. As for pens, I settled on decent Uni-ball Micro slim black rollerball. Nothing special, but most people saw me as a pen snob for insisting on these. (Id rather stick a ball point in my eye rather than write with one) I knew about Montblanc pens in high school, but only could dream of having one someday.

So here I am, 20 years later, ready to buy my first fountain pen. I know nothing about them. But as I mentioned, the idea of a Montblanc has always intrigued me. Im doing well enough that I can probably treat myself to the price of one as an occasion gift (birthday, Christmas, etc), even though 99% of the population would see spending that on a pen to be insane. (And admittedly, I still think its a little silly, but hey - its would be one of a very few endulgences I allow myself) - Side note: how in the world do people come to own 25-50-100 high quality pens?? That sounds like tens of thousands of dollars... I digress.

My concern is this. Do I really want to drop $350-1000 on a pen when Ive never even used a fountain pen before? Im terrified that either, A) Ill damage it by not knowing how to use it, B) Ill drop it or otherwise break it, C) Ill lose it, or D) I just wont like it. So do I buy something else to mitigate the aforementioned risks? I dont want to buy a cheapie and get turned off from getting something better due to its quality. And, if Im going to buy a medium range pen, Id rather just spend a few more bucks and get the real deal.

To make matters worse, I lose pens all the time. Granted, maybe I would keep an eye on a $500 pen, but then again, its not like I lose my current $2 rollerballs on purpose. And not using it is not an option. If Im going to buy it, Im going to use it - as much as possible.

I guess it gets way more complicated from there - 149? 146? Limited edition? Nib size? (I do believe in one for writing, one for signing, maybe even one for printing, but Im also not ready to buy two or three just yet) And Im enthralled by the concept of Montblancs bespoke nibs. The handwriting analysis and custom nib option sounds too cool. Im also open to a used option, but know nothing about what, where, how or who that process involves.

Long story short - any advice on purchase #1?
I defer to the community of experts. Thank you.

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#2 simko

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 00:51

Why not a pilot metropolitan? Has good reviews. Pretty good construction and comes with a converter and cartridge

#3 Fuzzy_Bear

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 00:55

No expert here, but I have a decent collection. Some high end, mostly middle end. MB is very well advertised, so much so that most recognize them without knowing any other pens.

I've never spent that much on a pen. I have one at that lower end, but it was a gift. I've spent in the $100 range on 3 different Pelikans, damn good pens. I've got Lamy's, TWSBI, Esterbrook, Sheaffer, Pilot, Dollar, etc.

In general, buy what you like. In general, I've bought all those looking and liking what I bought. Then again, ADHD lets me like a LOT of things. I've been called a "Jack of all trades, Master of none. "

Knowing all that, my advice.

Visit a pen store of you can. Go to a pen show if a store is not a possibility. Go to a pen show anyway. Try out several pens. You may find you don't like MB, or you might fall in love with them. Ink makes a difference to the writing feel as well. Do what you can to physically handle the pens.

And don't just stick with manufactures ink as there is all kinds of ink out there.
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#4 sandy101

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 01:27

Ok... first post, no idea what Im doing. If you dont want to put up with a Newby, stop here. This is probably an age-old post topic, but I didnt see one, so Im starting my own. Anyone willing to tolerate my ramblings and help/weight-in, would be much appreciated.

I believe in the awesomeness of handwriting. I developed a love and skill for it when learning mechanical drafting in high school. My mom was a self-taught calligraphist (?) and her dad could fill a piece of blank paper with handwriting that made it look like it was college ruled. Anyway... I love the skill, art and value of it. And I believe your handwriting says something about you. (It crushes me that they barely even teach cursive in school anymore and place almost zero value on handwriting of any kind now that we live in the digital age)

Initially, my weapon of choice was a 0.3 Pentel draftsmans mechanical pencil. Not $5, but under $40-50 pretty easily. As for pens, I settled on decent Uni-ball Micro slim black rollerball. Nothing special, but most people saw me as a pen snob for insisting on these. (Id rather stick a ball point in my eye rather than write with one) I knew about Montblanc pens in high school, but only could dream of having one someday.

So here I am, 20 years later, ready to buy my first fountain pen. I know nothing about them. But as I mentioned, the idea of a Montblanc has always intrigued me. Im doing well enough that I can probably treat myself to the price of one as an occasion gift (birthday, Christmas, etc), even though 99% of the population would see spending that on a pen to be insane. (And admittedly, I still think its a little silly, but hey - its would be one of a very few endulgences I allow myself) - Side note: how in the world do people come to own 25-50-100 high quality pens?? That sounds like tens of thousands of dollars... I digress.

My concern is this. Do I really want to drop $350-1000 on a pen when Ive never even used a fountain pen before? Im terrified that either, A) Ill damage it by not knowing how to use it, B) Ill drop it or otherwise break it, C) Ill lose it, or D) I just wont like it. So do I buy something else to mitigate the aforementioned risks? I dont want to buy a cheapie and get turned off from getting something better due to its quality. And, if Im going to buy a medium range pen, Id rather just spend a few more bucks and get the real deal.

To make matters worse, I lose pens all the time. Granted, maybe I would keep an eye on a $500 pen, but then again, its not like I lose my current $2 rollerballs on purpose. And not using it is not an option. If Im going to buy it, Im going to use it - as much as possible.

I guess it gets way more complicated from there - 149? 146? Limited edition? Nib size? (I do believe in one for writing, one for signing, maybe even one for printing, but Im also not ready to buy two or three just yet) And Im enthralled by the concept of Montblancs bespoke nibs. The handwriting analysis and custom nib option sounds too cool. Im also open to a used option, but know nothing about what, where, how or who that process involves.

Long story short - any advice on purchase #1?
I defer to the community of experts. Thank you.

 

Save yourself a whole lot of money and take yourself to the nearest Montblanc shop/boutique. They've got pens you can try - with the different nib sizes and so on. You can try before you buy. If you happen to come across something you like (MB classic, MB 146 or MB 149) buy it and a case if that is within your budget - and don't look back.

 

You will have a pen that will inspire you, work for you and crucially not have a drawer full of pens that you do not use anymore.

 

If you don't like the MBs you tried (and I'm not saying you have to like them), come back to the forum and tell us what you didn't like and we can probably come up with some more suggestions.



#5 TigerB

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 01:55

Interestingly, I just got back from a week in Hamburg, Germany today. Only on the way back did I realize it was the home to the Montblanc factory. Doh! I did check out some pens in the airport store/boutique. At least the rollerball. They wouldn’t let me try the fountain pens. I get that they won’t put ink in a new pen, but no trial pens? Odd.

Good advice. I do want hold and try some. A pen show sounds good. Might be a little tough in Wichita, Kansas, but I’ll keep my eye out.

And, maybe I’ll come off the highly popular/advertised Montblanc and take a look at a Pilot or Pelikan. Thanks for the advice! I’ll take all I can get.

#6 Buzz_130

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 02:11

There are four principles of writing with a fountain pen: the pen and its nib, the ink, the paper, and the writer. As you approach your first purchase, you must consider all of these principles.

 

The recommendations for trying out a fountain pen wherever you can will save you time and money over the long haul. A Montblanc 149 versus a 146 are significantly different pens, and your hand is the only judge that matters.

 

Remember, the ink will be the line that records your thoughts and ideas for all to see and remember. Different inks have different properties, and you'll have to find the colors and properties you either need or enjoy. There's another forum just on inks. Buy samples before you commit to a whole bottle! Enjoy the ride.

 

Your paper will change your writing experience. A typical stack of paper for a copy machine will disappoint you. The paper soaks up most fountain pen inks. Look at fountain pen friendly paper available, and you'll experience all of the aspects that ink can offer like shading.

 

Finally, consider you, the writer. Your budget matters, and you must find a pen that you will enjoy. The tool of your art is within your reach. Write even when you have nothing to say. Enjoy the feel of the nib as the gentle pool of ink glides along the surface. 

 

Welcome home to join some of the world's best enablers.

 

Buzz



#7 SoulSamurai

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 04:42

Personally I am a big believer in starting off with some quality but affordable pens, to help get a feel for what qualities work for you (size, weight, balance, grip shape, material). That way you're less likely to spend a ton of money on a pen and then be disappointed with it because it just doesn't fit your hand.

In my experience Chinese pens such as Jinhao are VERY affordable and write smoothly, but can dry out quickly. They are good for trying different form-factors to see if they are comfy, as the pens tend to be based on existing designs.

Japanese pens such as Platinum tend to be affordable and reliable, making them good choices for practical use.

If you want an ebonite pen - which are generally considered to be very comfortable in the hand - look to Indian pens like Ranga, FPR, and Noodlers. Conklin also has Italian made ebonite pens now I think.


A couple of important points: often new fountain pens don't write smoothly right away. This can be because of manufacturing oils and debris, so it is generally recommended that you flush a new pen with water with a bit of dish soap, then clean water, before you use it for the first time (and occasionally during use, especially when changing inks).

Also, fountain pen nibs can arrive slighlty misaligned, making them scratchy and write poorly. This can be fixed by the end-user, but it can take a bit of practice, which you'll probably want to do on a cheap oen rather than an expensive one.

Finally, as people have already mentioned, ink and paper matter to performance as well. If a pen does not write well, sometimes the issue is just that it doesn't like the ink and a dryer or wetter ink would solve the problem. If you start off buying a few affordable pens, then pickup a few inks and papers, you'll be in a better position to trouble-shoot if a pricy doesn't perform to expectation than if you buy the expensive pen first and don't have any inks, papers, or experience to work with.

#8 SenZen

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 12:58

For me it's way more about the entire experience than just the pen: ink, paper, what you use it for. You can absolutely start with a Metropolitan for $11, an ink in your favorite colour, some Rhodia, Triomphe or Clairefontaine (same company) and have a great experience, and from there see what the real step up is: more wet nib for specific inks, a specific design... You can also use a $500 pen, boring ink on bad paper and wonder what the point is.

 

If you can, try to visit one of the few remaining pen stores that carry a big variety, sometimes pictures on the web don't do them justice, I just got a used Pelikan m205 in clear blue, I think it's my grail pen but I'd never seen it as such, because I'd never seen it in person. There are also pens that have more sober design but have spectacular nibs, I have a Sailor Professional Gear, it makes my favorite ink look spectacular.

 

I also lose everything, from eyeglasses to mobile phones, I just try to be a little more mindful with pens, using quick rituals, for instance keeping them in pouches at all times at work.


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#9 ENewton

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 15:43

Given the writing implements you have enjoyed up to now, you might want to start with a Japanese pen.  They tend to be of high quality and to write very fine lines.  If you like the idea of calligraphy, you will eventually want to explore nibs of other widths, but a fine nib would probably be a good transition from your .3 draftsman's pencil.

 

For example, you could consider a Platinum 3776.  The least expensive ones cost far less than any Montblanc, but if you are charmed by the idea of something fancier--I notice that you include "bespoke" as one of the tags on your post--you can choose a model on which the barrel is something other than smooth plastic.  (The nibs.com website will give you an idea of the finishes available.)

 

There are just a few rules to follow to avoid inadvertently damaging your pen "by not knowing how to use it":

  • Do not push down on the page as you write.  Fountain pens operate by capillary action, not pressure.  
  • Use only inks that are intended for fountain pens.  Do not use India ink, calligraphy ink, sumi ink, or paint your pen. 

To avoid being disappointed with your pen, consider buying it from a reputable pen dealer with whom you can communicate easily.  Some pen dealers will check and tune the pen in advance to ensure that the tines on the nib are properly aligned, for example.  I am going to mention nibs.com again here, because I know they provide this service, but there might be other Buying from a US shop will cost more than ordering a Japanese pen from overseas, but given that you are new to fountain pens, it could be a wise move.

 

As for having a nib customized for how you write, there are various ways to achieve this end, including having the dealer make adjustments--Montblanc is not the only company that does this--and sending or taking a pen to a "nibmeister."  However, given that you are new to fountain pens, it might be premature for you to have anything customized.  

 

Alas, I have no advice on how to avoid dropping or losing your pen.  



#10 mitto

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 06:54

Buy yourself, as a first step, a good old Parker 51 aerometric that would cost you $80-$120. And from there you can go up the lader.

Good luck finding a pen you would like writing with.

Edited by mitto, 15 April 2018 - 17:27.

Khan M. Ilyas

#11 Moonshae

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 11:55

You'll find that MBs either get love or hate from people here, and both sets of opinions are perfectly valid. "Is it worth it?" is a question best answered by the buyer.

 

That said, if you've never used a fountain pen, going right to high end can be hit or miss. Maybe the pen will be too large or small for your hand, or heavy, or uncomfortable. Or maybe you'll love it from the first time you touch it. I suggest buying a few pens of different sizes and styles at a lower price. You can get dirt-cheap Chinese pens like Jinhao and Wing Sung on eBay for a couple dollars each. Get a few different sizes and styles, different nibs, and see what you like. Maybe then spring for a $40-$100 pen once you have an idea of what you like. If you're still sure, then spring for the high-end pen.

 

As others have mentioned, ink and paper are also really important...you won't be happy with regular paper for ballpoints when your FP ink bleeds and feathers all over the place as you write.

 

Finally, regarding losing pens...I was the same way when I wore cheap sunglasses. I'd leave them on a shelf in a store so I could see while browsing, I'd sit on them, lose them in various ways. When I bought a pair of decent sunglasses, it was amazing how much more aware of them I became and have always taken care of them. Accidents happen, of course, but odds are, if you spend nearly $1000 on a pen, you'll be more careful with it than a $2 pen that is easily replaced.


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#12 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 13:06

Ok... first post, no idea what Im doing. If you dont want to put up with a Newby, stop here. This is probably an age-old post topic, but I didnt see one, so Im starting my own. Anyone willing to tolerate my ramblings and help/weight-in, would be much appreciated.

I believe in the awesomeness of handwriting. I developed a love and skill for it when learning mechanical drafting in high school. My mom was a self-taught calligraphist (?) and her dad could fill a piece of blank paper with handwriting that made it look like it was college ruled. Anyway... I love the skill, art and value of it. And I believe your handwriting says something about you. (It crushes me that they barely even teach cursive in school anymore and place almost zero value on handwriting of any kind now that we live in the digital age)

Initially, my weapon of choice was a 0.3 Pentel draftsmans mechanical pencil. Not $5, but under $40-50 pretty easily. As for pens, I settled on decent Uni-ball Micro slim black rollerball. Nothing special, but most people saw me as a pen snob for insisting on these. (Id rather stick a ball point in my eye rather than write with one) I knew about Montblanc pens in high school, but only could dream of having one someday.

So here I am, 20 years later, ready to buy my first fountain pen. I know nothing about them. But as I mentioned, the idea of a Montblanc has always intrigued me. Im doing well enough that I can probably treat myself to the price of one as an occasion gift (birthday, Christmas, etc), even though 99% of the population would see spending that on a pen to be insane. (And admittedly, I still think its a little silly, but hey - its would be one of a very few endulgences I allow myself) - Side note: how in the world do people come to own 25-50-100 high quality pens?? That sounds like tens of thousands of dollars... I digress.

My concern is this. Do I really want to drop $350-1000 on a pen when Ive never even used a fountain pen before? Im terrified that either, A) Ill damage it by not knowing how to use it, B) Ill drop it or otherwise break it, C) Ill lose it, or D) I just wont like it. So do I buy something else to mitigate the aforementioned risks? I dont want to buy a cheapie and get turned off from getting something better due to its quality. And, if Im going to buy a medium range pen, Id rather just spend a few more bucks and get the real deal.

To make matters worse, I lose pens all the time. Granted, maybe I would keep an eye on a $500 pen, but then again, its not like I lose my current $2 rollerballs on purpose. And not using it is not an option. If Im going to buy it, Im going to use it - as much as possible.

I guess it gets way more complicated from there - 149? 146? Limited edition? Nib size? (I do believe in one for writing, one for signing, maybe even one for printing, but Im also not ready to buy two or three just yet) And Im enthralled by the concept of Montblancs bespoke nibs. The handwriting analysis and custom nib option sounds too cool. Im also open to a used option, but know nothing about what, where, how or who that process involves.

Long story short - any advice on purchase #1?
I defer to the community of experts. Thank you.


MBs are great, but they aren't for people who have never bought a fountain pen before. There are many beginner pens you can buy in the $5-$35 range, from the Platinum Preppy/Plaisir line (Plaisir's the same apart from an aluminum body...I love both) through the Nemosine Singularity (which allows you to try many different styles of nib) and the already-mentioned Pilot Metropolitan. There's also the Lamy Safari (similar to Nemo in that it offers many nib sizes/styles). Those are cartridge-filled. For the same price you can get a TWSBI Eco if you want to try piston-filled pens, just like the MB 146 and 149.

I own all the above, but then I've been using, collecting, and now restoring, for decades.

Stick around. You'll figure it out...and welcome aboard. :)

#13 Uncial

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 14:27

Get a second hand 146 in the nib of your choice. If it turns out you don't really like it then you should be able to sell it again without too much of a loss, or of your lucky, with no loss at all. But to be honest, that wasn't the first piece of advice that sprung to mind on the foot of your question. That response was this:

 

Asking people what pen they think you should buy will only result in people telling the name of the pen they would like to buy. Nine times out of ten, it won't be the pen for you.



#14 Nail-Bender

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 14:41

Whatever pen you get, I'd recommend just trying ink samples in the little 5ml vials rather than getting whole bottles.

My other recommendation is getting a XF (extra fine) nib (sometimes called EF) because you will likely be using it a lot on bad paper where it will bleed & feather.

One ink to try is the fast dry inks by Private Reserve especially the Ultra Black fast dry one.

Try out a Nemosine tablet as they are very nice to write on.

 

The 146 is a great pen but rather expensive and not often seen in XF on the used market.

It also requires special tools to work on it and spare parts are hard to come by.

Good luck.



#15 Karmachanic

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 15:07

What SoulSamurai said.

 

Get a handful of inexpensive, variosly sized and shaped pens made of differing materiels. Three or four nib sizes. Find out what works for you. Then after careful consideration buy a mid-tier pen, and go from there.

 

No need to rush. One can play with a pen in a shop and love it, only to find after a few weeks that you've made a costly mistake.


Edited by kd3, 15 April 2018 - 15:08.

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#16 Tseg

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 16:14

If you go too cheap with your first purchase, you likely will retire it within the first few weeks.  I did such with my $15 Pilot Metropolitan.  It wrote great but the section was way too thin and the step from section to barrel dug into my fingers.

 

After having used a number of lower priced pens I found an ideal ~$40 purchase - An ebonite Triveni Jr. Flex nib from Fountain Pen Revolution.  Forget about learning how to 'flex' write, that nib is actually awesome at writing Western Fine and then throw a little flex into it for fun.  For the price range it is pretty smooth.

 

Most sub-$50 pens have nail-nibs and/or bad ergonomics and the pen and nib have a plasticy feel.  Here you can have an ebonite pen (hand made in India) with a juicy nib that does not hard start or skip unless really pressing the flex capability.  The pen is attractive and the ergonomics of this pen are very nice.  Check the boxes: Ebonite; Flex, Hand made 

 

It has been one of my more rewarding purchases from a value perspective.  Throw in a bottle of Diamine in with your order to get it over $50 to get free shipping.

 

I think this is a starter pen that you will always keep and remember fondly vs. acquiring something that will invariably become a disposable in your collection for not too much less money.

 

 39643171770_926c4d5ec6_k.jpg

 

40736945384_645566e217_k.jpg



#17 TSherbs

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 17:25

Montblanc starter for that kind of $? My gosh, no. Take a week or two, look at both jetpens and Goulet starter lists and watch some review videos of pens and nibs. See if something under $50 catches you. If nothing in particular, get a Nemosine Singularity with a 0.6 mm stub to immediately see what it is like to fill a converter from a bottle and use a nib that has some flair beyond the look of a gel pen. And don't forget a few samples of blue and black ink.

Edited by TSherbs, 15 April 2018 - 17:26.


#18 Terry Brack

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 17:27

You are getting a lot of good advice here but I want to add my own 2 cents.  Why not start off with a reliable inexpensive fountain pen to see how you like writing with it and like using wet ink.  I recommend getting a Lamy Safari as a starter.  You can get one as cheaply as $20 on Amazon.  You can select the nib size you like.  I also recommend getting a bottle of ink and the converter for the Lamy if it does not come with one.  This way you can get the full fountain pen experience.  If you do go on to a MB later you can always use your trusty Lamy as carry-around pen when there is a risk of loosing or damaging a more expensive pen.  The Safari is a bit industrial looking by design. If you prefer or more sophisticated look you could spring for a  Lamy Studio (around $60).  They use the same nib as the Safari so the writing experience is more or less the same but they are more stylish.  



#19 praxim

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 22:50

It has been discussed in other, similar threads, that there is not necessary merit in buying something you do not want just so you are not "rushing" into something you do want.

 

Trying is good, the pen must be comfortable for you to write.

 

Buying to try may not be a good investment unless you happy to write off the cost beforehand, defining it as a stepping stone or throwaway, particularly if the item you are trying is distinctively different from the one you expect to have.


Anyone owning three or more working pens is in no position to disparage choices by others.

#20 siamackz

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 01:00

I would:
1. Go to the MB store and try a 149 and 146 of different nib widths
2. I would confirm in my mind which pen and nib width is for me
3. I would buy a used pen from a reputed dealer because it will be at about 40% discount for a great condition pen. Your new pen will look like a good condition used pen in like 3 months anyway

My Vintage Montblanc Website--> link

My free restoration service--> link






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