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What Makes The Montblanc 149 Special Other Than Its Size?

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#121 Thymen

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 19:58

"Maybe, even likely, you are right when you say that marketing lures us into buying things we either don't need, are overpriced or both. But not always."



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#122 como

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 20:08

Thymen, thank you for sharing your wonderful and bittersweet story. I have modern pens but my vintage pens remind me of my grandfather, whom I also never met. He too endured the war time and the horrible sufferings after WWII. Sometimes I look at my vintage pens, thinking that how wonderful it is that they have existed since his time. It's like a time machine that I can go back to. When pens mean something to us, it's more special.

 

Honestly I didn't really know what the "sour grapes" were about, because I tend to tune out when people start passionately disagreeing on each other's tastes and decisions.

 

Nah, don't mean anything bad. I just wanted to indicate there are many different ways of looking at things. Maybe, even likely, you are right when you say that marketing lures us into buying things we either don't need, are overpriced or both. But not always..

 

I spent quite some money on pens and inks the past year and a half, but less then I would have spent on a single holiday. I have many reasons, but showing off is not one of them. On the contrary: most time people ridicule me for using fountain pens. And if they find out I spent € 100,-- or more on a single pen, they think I am crazy.

 

What got me started is the fountain pen my grandfather bought when he was a young man, in the year of 1920 or so. After WWII, my father was in a military hospital, and in the year and a half he needed to recover from his injuries nobody was able to visit him. To far away, too expensive. My grandfather had been a forced laborer in Germany during the war, suffered a lot over there and when he finally came home after war ended, he was too weak to earn a decent living. So, no money to visit his son in hospital.

 

But every other Saturday he would go to the local grocery store and buy a few loose sheets of letter paper, and have his fountain pen filled from a large bottle of ink. And he would write a letter to my father. Stamp-free envelopes were supplied by the military.

 

I never knew my grandfather. I so much wish I had. He died just a few years after the war, broken by the hardships he suffered in Germany. But they did not break his spirit. He was adored by the people around him, for being a most kindhearted and gentle person, even to those who did him so very wrong.

 

I've been told, by people that knew him the best, that I look just like him, both in appearance and in character. I feel honored by that, and even more wish I could have known him.

 

The fountain pen my grandfather used, and the letters he and my father wrote, they are here with me. I won't use that pen, even though I could. It needs restoration, but I am anxious to have it done. Don't want to have it ruined.

 

So I bought a pen myself, over 20 years ago. To be given to my eldest son, together with my grandfather's pen and the letters, after I am gone. A Shaeffer Grand Connoisseur. Last year I bought another pen, a Montblanc 146, for my youngest son. Both are quality pens that will last a long time, or at least long enough. And I use these pens; they are intended to be given used, half-worn, and not Mint-In-Box. And with the letters I am going to write to my children, once my hand-writing has improved enough to be legible.

 

I scoured the Internet a long, long time for pens that were classic in appearance, and of the best quality. And I found that Montblanc to be what I was looking for, just like the Shaeffer that I found in a  pen store when these were still common. So I bought them. For personal reasons. Not for showing of...



#123 OMASsimo

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 20:51

 

What made MB pens (of which the 149 is just an example) special was that, at the time, they were better yet somewhat more expensive than others, and most middle class people could get one, or be given one as a present.

 

 

I agree with a lot of that post, which I don't want to copy in full for more clarity. But in my experience, the above notion is in contradiction to my experience. I collect European vintage pens from the 1930s through 1960s and I have many German made pens from that era when using a fountain pen was a sheer necessity for many people. On the contemporary German market, Montblanc was the most expensive but by far not the best in quality. Meisterstück pens were an exception in the MB lineup. But other companies like Osmia, Soennecken, Pelikan, and Kaweco had equally good standing and mostly better nibs and durability. The marketing offensive  of MB is not a recent thing but it started way back when.

 

In my own collection I only have a small number of MB pens, though I come from a "Montblanc Family". Most of them are inherited, one I bought as a workhorse in the 90s and it failed within a few years, some I got out of curiosity or as by-catch. Even before getting into collecting pens, I was underwhelmed by MB. I needed a new pen some 20 years ago and considered a MB Meisterstück. But testing it at my B&M store made it very clear that I wouldn't become friends with the nib. Instead I discovered OMAS and fell in love with them. I also found older Pelikans more pleasant to write with. And when I finally got into vintage pens, I had to learn that there are so many brands who made superior writers that are much cheaper to have than a third tier MB pen that I lost interest in MB. But I'm always curious to read why people think that MB pens were anything special.

 

Just my personal view and experience.



#124 salmasry

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 21:08

"Maybe, even likely, you are right when you say that marketing lures us into buying things we either don't need, are overpriced or both. But not always."

 

Sorry, I got ya mixed up  with that other fellow

 

Oh my, how sour these grapes are...



#125 txomsy

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 06:38

 

I agree with a lot of that post, which I don't want to copy in full for more clarity. But in my experience, the above notion is in contradiction to my experience. I collect European vintage pens from the 1930s through 1960s and I have many German made pens from that era when using a fountain pen was a sheer necessity for many people. On the contemporary German market, Montblanc was the most expensive but by far not the best in quality. Meisterstück pens were an exception in the MB lineup. But other companies like Osmia, Soennecken, Pelikan, and Kaweco had equally good standing and mostly better nibs and durability. The marketing offensive  of MB is not a recent thing but it started way back when.

 

True and yet not true. This links to other comments. A pen maker has to run risks, has to make pens, make them attractive, sturdy... and has to get them out and sold to survive.

 

In current, Internet times, I have also gotten several german 40's-50's-60's cigar-shaped piston fillers. And found some pens that were up to par with MB, or even better, usually from brands practically unknown in the Internet (FPN, Reddit, blogs...: nothing to be found, except for maybe penexchange.de).

 

It is absolutely true that there were lots of pen makers and that some of them had better products. However, to oneself, what one cannot find about does not exist. In pre-Internet times, only a few brands succeeded in securing a global or quasi-global market. In those times when you could only buy or know about what was on display at a physical B&M store nearby, all those other pens didn't exist. So, it is true and yet not true.

 

As for the 149, I think, from the comments, that there was a quality factor, it truly was superior to what was usually available in most places, a nostalgia factor, an association to success, a vanity factor and a lot of marketing. And as I said, when compared to current offer, I wouldn't know: I lean towards thinking that likely it will not be inferior to other plastic piston fillers regarding performance/price.

 

But there are many more pens, and the 149 may not be the pen for you. As I said, it wasn't the pen for me, but I could find another MB pen instead. And I fear they're not making any pen for the new generations (unless new generations are only interested in showing-off).



#126 Uncial

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 09:04

Is there any product that doesn't use marketing to appeal to our vanity? Even food is marketed these days as a lifestyle aid!. I sat through a soppy advert that seemed to go on and on forever all about the ups and downs of someones life and at the end.....finally,,,,, it was revealed that life is held secure and made better by occasionally eating at Subway. Now I'm sure there are some poor saps out there who are so deeply dense they really think this might be true, but I'd like to think that the vast majority of us just laugh at it. As far as I've seen Montblanc scatter shot the marketing to hit as many points as possible; the hipsters, the new twenty somethings looking to de-digitize, the novelists and note-takers, the business folk, those who want a fashion accessory, those who enjoy writing, those who aspire to be wealthy, those who look up to movie stars, those who like the arts and literature, those who are so deeply insecure they think they might need a plastic pen to help them get that promotion or beautiful husband or wife....and so on and so on. They look to me like they try and hit every angle possible because it's a seriously hard market out there for pen manufacturers these days. 

 

The thing is that when you clear all that marketing dross away, you're still left with a really great pen. For some, the size, shape, seeming dullness of design etc will mean they don't like it, but from an objective point of view, whether you like it or not, it's still a classic of design that will likely be around for a very long time - and that's what makes Montblanc's so special; in exactly the same way that the Bauhaus/Futurist design of the Lamy 2000 will give it legs for 'specialness' for many, many decades to come. To ask if a Montblanc is worth the price paid new is an entirely different question and one that slips into an objective opinion. I'd argue that Visconti aren't worth the price, many of which are far, far more expensive than any 149, but for many the price of a Visconti (despite their faults) is deemed to be reasonable. But, like all these 'is it worth it?' threads that usually involve lots of rants we all forget one vital thing - none of us ever has a gun put to our head to force us to buy any of these things. 



#127 como

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 09:41

You like, you buy. You don't like, you don't buy. You don't know, try one. You can't afford, problem solved. It's nobody else's business if, why, or what you buy. :)



#128 A Smug Dill

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 09:54

Is there any product that doesn't use marketing to appeal to our vanity?

  • Australia Post prepaid Registered Post envelopes. (I was looking into those two days ago, since I have some six-packs of ink cartridges I wanted to return.)
  • Teac multi-region Blu-ray disc player model BD150HD: As unglamorous as it gets. (I ordered one on Monday.)
  • Aldi supermarket's "Super Savers" this week: beef cheeks and beef eye fillet (I bought some yesterday, while I was out to pick up the Teac Blu-ray player next door.)
  • Platinum Preppy fountain pens.
  • Any number of Noodler's Inks.

A discussion about objects, techniques and applications should not be a contest of personal values. Your values mean nothing to me and require naught from me, and I'll gladly assume my values equally mean nothing to you and do not impose on you in any way; my dissenting views do not oppress your personal views, when neither of us can claim to represent the majority position or consensus, or speak on behalf of the community of fountain pen hobbyists worldwide. Let's treat each other with due respect prescribed by some entity bigger than either of us without our input and just offer our sentimental opinions of no particular standing with anyone else, without trying to control the narrative, or demand moral support and/or solidarity from others as consumers and users.

#129 Thymen

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 20:17

Sour grapes.... just kidding! Earlier this post I mentioned how much people were in awe and treated me differently after I purchased a MontBlanc... just kidding...

 

I am Dutch (even worse, I am Frisian). In general, Dutch people a not so much impressed by bling, en definitely not by fountain pens. Only once a person was impressed by one of my pens; a co-worker, who borrowed my Jinhao 159 for taking notes during a meeting, and liked the juicy wet and smooth way it wrote. I am sure he would not even guess there is a price difference between that pen and my 149...     :bawl:



#130 salmasry

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 21:24

Sour grapes.... just kidding! Earlier this post I mentioned how much people were in awe and treated me differently after I purchased a MontBlanc... just kidding...

 

I am Dutch (even worse, I am Frisian). In general, Dutch people a not so much impressed by bling, en definitely not by fountain pens. Only once a person was impressed by one of my pens; a co-worker, who borrowed my Jinhao 159 for taking notes during a meeting, and liked the juicy wet and smooth way it wrote. I am sure he would not even guess there is a price difference between that pen and my 149...     :bawl:

 

 

I know, I know.  One moment, we were sitting outside the Cafe and kidding about how the MB149 will bring us fame, fortune, and catapult us to the cool status and the next minute, ..  :unsure:

 

I tend to think of this forum as one big happy family, where we can take things easy, and not to consider a pen, no matter  what pen it is,  as somethign worth going into all this agony that I see here often. 

 

Person A is free to pay $1000 for a pen, Person B is free to think it is too much, without it being necessary that A and B have to duke it out to prove who is right.  There is no right or wrong in this.

 

If I and others  can  tolerate  the   hoity toity,   weird, agressive, and sometimes  personally insulting attitude we encounter here, there should also be  tolerance for  innocent tongue in cheek remarks about seeking status from a  pen,   Abso-freakin-lutely.  :lticaptd:

Perhaps,  I could just close shop and deactivate my account here,  I have not decided which route to take yet. 


Edited by salmasry, 07 August 2019 - 21:34.


#131 txomsy

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Posted 08 August 2019 - 07:50

Should you decide to leave, do not forget to get a shiny LE 149 before closing your account, and let us know. This will ensure you are admired by everybody you meet, round and around you, and given a priority, VIP treatment. This way we will be able to say goodbye in the confidence that everything will be alright for you and we will not have to be worried whether you may be faring well away from home. :D

 

Sorry if that sounds too paternalistic. :lticaptd:



#132 bemon

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Posted 08 August 2019 - 19:46

Marketing.



#133 salmasry

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Posted 08 August 2019 - 20:50

Should you decide to leave, do not forget to get a shiny LE 149 before closing your account, and let us know. This will ensure you are admired by everybody you meet, round and around you, and given a priority, VIP treatment. This way we will be able to say goodbye in the confidence that everything will be alright for you and we will not have to be worried whether you may be faring well away from home. :D

 

Sorry if that sounds too paternalistic. :lticaptd:

 

 

Just  getting to know people such as yourself, is good enough justification for being here. I do enjoy learning from what you write and your unique perspective. I will stick  around,  at least to read some of the posts for people like you.  







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