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Montegrappa Extra 1930 Dark Bamboo


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#1 lecorbusier

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 23:10

First Impressions

Some weeks ago during my travel in the asia pacific regions I was struck by what some LOTR fans may call "Gollum Syndrome" when I happened to stroll past the display case of a pen store--completely by chance wink.gif--and chanced upon one of the most beautiful pens I have seen to date: the Extra 1930 in dark bamboo celluloid. Lets suppose that the aphorism of 'first impression lasts' really rang true on this one. At that time, I did not own any Montegrappa pens, nor would I even DARE to walk in and demand an inking experience lest incurring the wrath of the shopkeeper for teasing him on something I was not prepared to buy. I have heard of Montegrappa from both sides of the debate, but the whole MB-owns-them line rang loud and clear right then and there. So I tried hard not to look back and swiftly walked away. But the image of that pen stayed with me.

As the weeks rolled on, I tried to convince myself not to think about this pen--the worsening of the Gollum's Syndrome through cognitive consonance--by giving reasons like, 'well, you don't need another pen' but then, 'who really NEEDS a pen these days?'; 'well, you don't need a Montegrappa, too expensive' but then, 'this is really different, the green light is calling out to you (yes, there is a shimmer somewhere in the green: I am not hallucinating)'. Between that few weeks I was quickly developing an acute case of Gollum's schizophrenia so I thought I better confront the mental enemy, and so I did...sadly but happily. This is one of those strange existential contradictions that pen lovers live with.

And so the pen arrived recently. This was one of those 'conspicious consumption' items that I bought blind but then again, I did inked both the Marble Green and Turtle Brown a while back in M nib, so I thought F would be just right. And I guess the hunch that develops with a pen lover is pretty precise as well. I think I got what I want.

Since Mike S. already did a fabulous review with his Turtle Brown, I thought I would concentrate on the F nib and the so beautiful celluloid on this one.

Design/Size/Weight
Nothing special here: same as all Extra 1930s. The only difference is of course, the dark bamboo celluloid. It looks fresh enough to 'eat'. I guess that's the third stage of Gollum's Syndrome, where you begin to comtemplate on eating beautiful, foodish-like celluloids. But lets just say it is fresh looking. I have been trying multiple ways to capture the celluloid shimmer so these are the best of my efforts. I don't think pictures, and definitely not my photographic skills or the lack of, can convey the depth and contrast of the mother-of-pearl veins in light silvery green against the deeper lusher greens. There seemed to be miles of depth on this particular pen. I have two pictures here, one taken with flash and the other without. I thought the sterling silver accentuates the green very well. I think if I play dungeon and dragons again (yes, I belong to that generation), this would have been the pen for a high level druid. Anyway.


Shot with HP PhotoSmart R607 (V01.00)d at 2007-09-17


Shot with HP PhotoSmart R607 (V01.00)d at 2007-09-17

If the Omas Arco Paragon 05 was a flaky amalgam of gold dust and fossified amber, the Extra 1930 dark bamboo is a shifting dark bamboo forest punctuated by slits of sunlight. For folks who want to know about the comparative weight between the two pens here, the Extra 1930 is hardly heavy compared to the gigantic Arco. I think it is even lighter than the Emotica black soft touch!

Nib and Performance
I got the F nib. It writes slightly wider than a Omas Paragon F that I have, and slightly narrower than the Omas Emotica F. I would say it is more like a medium in my usual lineup of nibs from F to MS (music from Sailor, which is the widest I own).

I must admit that the Omas Paragon has the better nib afterall. The Montegrappa nib is....stiff (where's the flexibility of the M nib I tried??), and felt somewhat dead and nail-like when compared to the more aspirated nibs of Omas-Bock. It felt like...Mont Blanc. Not trying to be a troll here as I own MB as well but it just does not write Italian that I have come to associate with Omas, even though the Omas so far is really quite Teutonic. I would like to imagine that Omas requested Bock to make their nibs more italian like for them!

Otherwise, flow is excellent as the pen lays down a nice wet even line. It is almost perfect...just lacking something. Whether it is buyer's guilt or an unseasoned new nib, I do not know. Time will tell if this pen keeps coming back to active duty in my rotation.


Shot with HP PhotoSmart R607 (V01.00)d at 2007-09-17

Filling System
I think most folks already know that the Extra 1930 has a poseur piston. I find it a little hard to visualize the turns but it is one of those quirks one have to put up with and demanded by such a beautiful piece of work...I did inquire about the gold version turtle brown and turns out that it is really a REAL piston filler but so is the gold as well. This version is rarely seen or sold since it costs nearly 2.5-3 times as much as the sterling silver version, possibly near to the lower end of their limited edition bracket.

I have yet to fully deplete my first load of PR midnight blue on this pen. It is completely the wrong ink for this pen but I thought, 'hey, I haven't used you in a while' so I went for it...

Overall Impressions...
As noted by Mike S., there are that same few quirks with this pen: pseudo piston, many turns for the cap to come off....and so on. But on the other hand, this is a wonderfully well-made pen. I was trying to find faults with it and though I tried--and people probably know here that I DEMAND flaws in production designs--I could not find one physical flaw on this one unlike the flagship Omas Arco that I have learned to live with like an old alfa romeo even though it is quite new. On this Montegrappa, the celluloid lines up (as noted by Dupontfan unlike some OMASes), the silver is flawless and scratch-less; the silver ring is not loose (unlike many of the Arcos...), and screwing the cap closed and opened does not scratch the section (which is another Omas problem). Everything is very precise, very much like a Graf von Faber-Castell than an italian production. The size and proportion is just right, and it fits my writing hand quite aptly. The presentation of this pen is marvelous as well--presented in a dark wooden box with a special polishing cloth already "impregnated" (wonder how they did that) with silver polish for the metalic trims of this pen, and a leather polishing cloth and a shrink-wrapped bottle of black Montegrappa ink. If I have the time and the artistry with a bandsaw, I suppose I can convert the wooden box into a pen case, and it would be better than many of the commercially available ones at below $100. If I select to throw away every boxes of the pens I own, I would never throw this one out.

But then this pen even with this level of craftsmanship is relatively more expensive than other 'flagship' level models of other brands. Unless one believes that Montegrappa deliberately raised the price of their pens (and a justified reason is the rise of the Euros against the dollar) for appealing to the post-Concord crowd, the question of unfairly increasing prices for commensurate levels of craftsmanship must surely appeal to pen users and collectors these days. I tend to think that great craftsmanship is still affordable but it takes special dedication on the management--and sacrifice as well--to keep this level of craft from only appealing to the stratospheric regions afforded en masse by a selected few. And as it is, who involving in bottom-line ventures are apt to take sacrifices ever?

Would I buy another Montegrappa again? Probably not. I guess Gollum's Syndrome is cured (hopefully) by this green pen. Hehehehe.


AAA

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#2 omasfan

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 01:56

Thanks for the great review. I have a 1930 extra, too (in the turtle brown color). While I love the pen's looks, I have similar issues with it as you do. I would say that my nib has the springy feel to it, though. It was a rather poor writer until it returned from a trip to Deb Kinney. Now it writes just beautiful with a nice truly fine line. I chose the fine line since the poseur piston (as you aptly call it) does not hold as much ink as a true piston, and besides, the combed hard rubber feed is gigantic which means it guzzles ink a lot before it even reaches the paper. I don't think that someone who enjoys a fat and wet ultra broad would enjoy this pen a lot.

I, too, saw it in a shopwindow and then couldn't stop thinking about it as it is so beautiful. The bamboo green is very similar to the turtle brown with respect to the pattern and the structure of the celluloid. In Montegrappa's pictures, the green looks boring, in your pictures one sees that it is actually a quite stuninng material.

Incidentally, when I visited the Montegrappa factory this summer, they were just making the 1930 turtle browns, so I could see every step of the pen in actual production which was quite fascinating. I also went into their storage room where they stack all of their celluloid rods. Mmmmmhhh that heavenly smell....

Anyway, it's a wonderful pen designwise. It could be more handy though in terms of actual usability. I prefer my OMAS Paragons (old-style) way over the Montegrappa for daily use.
What did you pay and where did you buy it?

#3 lterry

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 04:31

I own a lot of Omas pens and a few Montegrappas. I like them both and I rank my Midnight Blue Extra as one of my favorite pens. I purchased it from Novelli while I was in Rome this past June. The nib had a couple little flow issues, so Marco's mother spent about 45 minutes with working over the nib and I must say that it is a dream to write with - very smooth and my nib had very good flex.

I agree with other comments about the filler and cap turns, but I still like these pens very much. I also own the Extra in red and green marble. I do plan to buy the bamboo green and turtle this year. After that, I am going to see if I can last at least 6 - 9 months without buying a pen. Do they have rehab for pen collectors :-)

Your review is very good and the photos are really nice and show off the color of this pen. It's exactly how I recall seeing it at Novelli.






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#4 lecorbusier

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 08:21

Thanks for the comments. As noted, this pen wrote well out of the box. And it is possibly always a matter of getting used to it, especially so when the prior standards are not low by any comparison (i.e. Omas and Sailor). I did consider getting a B and then getting it customized but at the end, I thought sending pens in and out, especially such higher end ones and considering my schedule, did not work for me. I always thought a crisp italic would be nice.

Yup, I think it is very hard to convey the depth of this pen and the company did not seem to take full advantage of what they have got. But then, many of these pens are marketed as corporate gifts so our representation which often see this aspect as significant is really not a large one.

I did not know you can drop by their factory. Next time I am in and around Veneto, I will do the same. Does Omas open their doors too? Do you have a review of the Montegrappa process listed somewhere? It would be nice to read some of your discoveries during that visit.

I purchased the pen from Bromfield pen shop in Boston, and got it at a fairly reasonable price of $770 for this pen.



AAA

#5 CharlieB

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 09:15

Poseur piston? And what might THAT be? Please don't tell me that it's a fixed-mounted converter......
CharlieB

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#6 omasfan

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 17:08

OMAS is almost impossible to get into. Even their dealers have a hard time. I tried but was rejected (I am just a user/collector so no big wig). Montegrappa is very friendly but they don't do tours on a regular basis (I know Aurora does, though!). I called Montegrappa up and talked to them many a time in order to get the tour. They are nice but it was rather difficult to somehow set up a date. Once it was set up, our guide was so friendly, however. He let me try everything. I could touch all the celluloid rods, and he would even hand me a $20,000 LE gold pen. I got the impression that they were rather proud of what they are doing in this factory. The only drop of bitterness was to see that all these wonderful Italian craftsmen are "ruled" by Montblanc managers in pinstripe suits. I met one such specimen during my tour. Sorry, bt this guy just didn't belong there. He was haughty and overbearing, so unlike the rest of the Montegrappa bunch. (sorry for saying this but I am German myself, so I wasn't amused at meeting a German capitalist manager in an Italian factory). And while the rest of the Montegrappiens walk the factory in mufti, the immaculate pinstripe coupled with immaculate stiffness was just a sight for sore eyes. From what he said, he didn't really betray a lot of knowledge and/or appreciation of Montegrappa's products. I am NOT looking forward to their strategy of having Montegrappa undergo the Montblanc marketing strategies. This means they will end up with MSRP price tags on them in MB Boutiques. And they are also going into the direction of the pure "luxury" market. Which is a pity because I don't see myself as a buyer of "lifestyle products" but as a buyer of pens, as simple as that. I don't wear pinstripes when I wear and use my Montegrappa pens. And I don't make money in the six figures...

I haven't written down a full report of the factory visit although I have promised to myself and to the forum to do so. I will try to tackle that but unfortunately I have no pictures as I didn't bring my camera on my visit.
I purchased my pen used from another FPNer

lecorbusier, what do you think of the amount of ink that the pen holds? I think it's ok with a fine nib but I guess it would be desatrously short-lived with a broad nib. I also recently noticed that there is no inner cap installed in the cap... Could you check on yours if you can spot something. Just curious...


QUOTE(lecorbusier @ Sep 18 2007, 04:21 AM) View Post
Thanks for the comments. As noted, this pen wrote well out of the box. And it is possibly always a matter of getting used to it, especially so when the prior standards are not low by any comparison (i.e. Omas and Sailor). I did consider getting a B and then getting it customized but at the end, I thought sending pens in and out, especially such higher end ones and considering my schedule, did not work for me. I always thought a crisp italic would be nice.

Yup, I think it is very hard to convey the depth of this pen and the company did not seem to take full advantage of what they have got. But then, many of these pens are marketed as corporate gifts so our representation which often see this aspect as significant is really not a large one.

I did not know you can drop by their factory. Next time I am in and around Veneto, I will do the same. Does Omas open their doors too? Do you have a review of the Montegrappa process listed somewhere? It would be nice to read some of your discoveries during that visit.

I purchased the pen from Bromfield pen shop in Boston, and got it at a fairly reasonable price of $770 for this pen.


#7 lecorbusier

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 23:32

That's quite an insightful tour you have had. Was it Stipula or Signum that is comprised of ex-Montegrappaians? I am not surprised if these folks left just before or slightly after Mont Blanc took over. I guess the Mont Blanc attitude even stretched far into their supply and management chain. That's an insight. However from an innovation perspective, the MB story is a successful one. To take a small pen company to become the 'universal' standard of luxury is no small feat.

I have not measured the volume of the fixed converter on this pen but as now, I have written nearly 3-4 full page with fairly generous flow for a F nib and it is still going strong. I remember that there was someone in this forum before (an italian owner) who complained about the depletion on his B nib quite quickly after three pages. If so, then the mileage on this F nib may be higher. I am also beginning to like the pen more as I write. As I noted before, it just writes different, and perhaps not an indication of characterless-ness.

I also checked on the inner cap against my other pens and you are right, there is no inner cap on this design. So anything like their Parchment model, or even the Marble Green will suffer from an extreme case of nib creep at least visually from the outside. I guess that makes the cap so much lighter than the rest.


[quote name='dupontfan' date='Sep 19 2007, 05:08 PM' post='374124']
OMAS is almost impossible to get into. Even their dealers have a hard time. I tried but was rejected (I am just a user/collector so no big wig). Montegrappa is very friendly but they don't do tours on a regular basis (I know Aurora does, though!). I called Montegrappa up and talked to them many a time in order to get the tour. They are nice but it was rather difficult to somehow set up a date. Once it was set up, our guide was so friendly, however. He let me try everything. I could touch all the celluloid rods, and he would even hand me a $20,000 LE gold pen. I got the impression that they were rather proud of what they are doing in this factory. The only drop of bitterness was to see that all these wonderful Italian craftsmen are "ruled" by Montblanc managers in pinstripe suits. I met one such specimen during my tour. Sorry, bt this guy just didn't belong there. He was haughty and overbearing, so unlike the rest of the Montegrappa bunch. (sorry for saying this but I am German myself, so I wasn't amused at meeting a German capitalist manager in an Italian factory). And while the rest of the Montegrappiens walk the factory in mufti, the immaculate pinstripe coupled with immaculate stiffness was just a sight for sore eyes. From what he said, he didn't really betray a lot of knowledge and/or appreciation of Montegrappa's products. I am NOT looking forward to their strategy of having Montegrappa undergo the Montblanc marketing strategies. This means they will end up with MSRP price tags on them in MB Boutiques. And they are also going into the direction of the pure "luxury" market. Which is a pity because I don't see myself as a buyer of "lifestyle products" but as a buyer of pens, as simple as that. I don't wear pinstripes when I wear and use my Montegrappa pens. And I don't make money in the six figures...

I haven't written down a full report of the factory visit although I have promised to myself and to the forum to do so. I will try to tackle that but unfortunately I have no pictures as I didn't bring my camera on my visit.
I purchased my pen used from another FPNer

lecorbusier, what do you think of the amount of ink that the pen holds? I think it's ok with a fine nib but I guess it would be desatrously short-lived with a broad nib. I also recently noticed that there is no inner cap installed in the cap... Could you check on yours if you can spot something. Just curious...

AAA

#8 lterry

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 04:20

I too really like pens from Omas and Montegrappa. I was lucky enough to get a tour of the Stipula facility. Very nice people who are truly dedicated to making a great product and are real friendly to deal with. I have heard from one retailer that they didn't support their products well, but I think they have had a change of staff and direction. I hope more US retailers give them another try.

As for Montegrappa and their new management, one pen store owner told me that they were visited by a salesperson who did not have product to show, a crappy sales plan, all capped off with a very high stocking order. Not exactly the way to build a brand and to make matters worse their only real retailer/dealer is a MB shop with awful service. Imagine how well that brand could do with a little less attitude in a crowded market place.


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#9 omasfan

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 05:04

QUOTE(lterry @ Sep 20 2007, 12:20 AM) View Post
As for Montegrappa and their new management, one pen store owner told me that they were visited by a salesperson who did not have product to show, a crappy sales plan, all capped off with a very high stocking order. Not exactly the way to build a brand and to make matters worse their only real retailer/dealer is a MB shop with awful service. Imagine how well that brand could do with a little less attitude in a crowded market place.


I agree. Montegrappa speaks for itself in terms of beauty and design coupled with tradition and a high level of craftmanship. The crappy MB sales strategies will not help this brand, I dread.

#10 errantmarginalia

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 10:55

Thanks for the review. I have a nib question for all of you Extra owners: I know that some Montegrappas use the standard Stipula/CS/Bexley/Tibaldi/Delta Bock nibs, but is that also the case for the Extra? From pictures, it looks like the Extra's nib might be different (perhaps bigger?), but I can't tell for certain. Thanks in advance,
David

#11 omasfan

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 18:03

The Extra uses a much larger nib than the standard size. It's almost the size of a Pelikan M1000 nib.

QUOTE(parrhesia @ Sep 20 2007, 06:55 AM) View Post
Thanks for the review. I have a nib question for all of you Extra owners: I know that some Montegrappas use the standard Stipula/CS/Bexley/Tibaldi/Delta Bock nibs, but is that also the case for the Extra? From pictures, it looks like the Extra's nib might be different (perhaps bigger?), but I can't tell for certain. Thanks in advance,
David


#12 errantmarginalia

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 18:23

QUOTE(dupontfan @ Sep 20 2007, 06:03 PM) View Post
The Extra uses a much larger nib than the standard size. It's almost the size of a Pelikan M1000 nib.

QUOTE(parrhesia @ Sep 20 2007, 06:55 AM) View Post
Thanks for the review. I have a nib question for all of you Extra owners: I know that some Montegrappas use the standard Stipula/CS/Bexley/Tibaldi/Delta Bock nibs, but is that also the case for the Extra? From pictures, it looks like the Extra's nib might be different (perhaps bigger?), but I can't tell for certain. Thanks in advance,
David



Thanks, dupontfan. That actually makes my pen "life" easier, as that and the metal section knock the Extra out of contention for my next purchase. Take care,
David

#13 omasfan

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 19:00

Well, I don't think any of the Montegrappas uses the screw-in system that you like so much. However, the silver section of the Montegrappas is incredibly comfy. I really, really dislike metal sections, but with my two Montegrappas I have to say they don't bother me in the least. Plus, did you see that the" Extra" was available in a beautiful blue color?

QUOTE(parrhesia @ Sep 20 2007, 02:23 PM) View Post
Thanks, dupontfan. That actually makes my pen "life" easier, as that and the metal section knock the Extra out of contention for my next purchase. Take care,
David


#14 errantmarginalia

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 20:21

QUOTE(dupontfan @ Sep 20 2007, 07:00 PM) View Post
Well, I don't think any of the Montegrappas uses the screw-in system that you like so much. However, the silver section of the Montegrappas is incredibly comfy. I really, really dislike metal sections, but with my two Montegrappas I have to say they don't bother me in the least. Plus, did you see that the" Extra" was available in a beautiful blue color?

QUOTE(parrhesia @ Sep 20 2007, 02:23 PM) View Post
Thanks, dupontfan. That actually makes my pen "life" easier, as that and the metal section knock the Extra out of contention for my next purchase. Take care,
David



Yup, that's the one I've been idly thinking about. I was thinking that if the nib could be changed from pen to pen, I would get an Extra, have the nib reground, and not be limited to using it in the Montegrappa. But that's not an option. As for the Bock nib units, I'm pretty sure "lower-end" Montegrappas like the Miya take the standard unit (at least, that's what it looks like from the pictures of the nibs I've seen on Regina Martini's site. I could be wrong, though. Thanks again,
David

#15 omasfan

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 20:29

QUOTE(parrhesia @ Sep 20 2007, 04:21 PM) View Post
Yup, that's the one I've been idly thinking about. I was thinking that if the nib could be changed from pen to pen, I would get an Extra, have the nib reground, and not be limited to using it in the Montegrappa. But that's not an option. As for the Bock nib units, I'm pretty sure "lower-end" Montegrappas like the Miya take the standard unit (at least, that's what it looks like from the pictures of the nibs I've seen on Regina Martini's site. I could be wrong, though. Thanks again,
David


David, I think all Montegrappas have a pull nibs. I know from my girlfriend's Micra and my Symphony that this is true. So no screw-in unit there at all. I guess the Miya will be the same. Good luck on your search for more blue pens.

#16 lecorbusier

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 23:07

Hi David,

I think dupontfan has answered your question with more knowledge than what I know. I would not be surprised if Montegrappa nibs are Bock made too.

As I was signing some papers just now, the word 'imprecise' finally came to my mind in describing the lack of character on this nib when compared to the omas paragon nib. To restate it in another way, the Paragon nib is just more precise, even though both are fine nibs and supposedly if dupontfan is right, from the same company possibly with little variance in specifications as far as a fine nib is made for an ebonite feed. That said, the cuts and channeling of the feed is different for the pens. I don't know how these words came to mind but 'laser' would be my metaphor for the paragon and 'death-ray' would be the other metaphor for the extra1930. A little diffused for the latter.

As for the metalic grip, I agree with dupontfan: the Montegrappa silver section is the pen I have least problem with as far as metal grip sections are concerned. The celluloid floats and then fits naturally into the silver grip, so unless one feels differently as one sees a difference between the celluloid and the silver, one should not feel the metal grip at all.


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#17 errantmarginalia

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 01:17

QUOTE(lecorbusier @ Sep 20 2007, 11:07 PM) View Post
Hi David,

I think dupontfan has answered your question with more knowledge than what I know. I would not be surprised if Montegrappa nibs are Bock made too.

As I was signing some papers just now, the word 'imprecise' finally came to my mind in describing the lack of character on this nib when compared to the omas paragon nib. To restate it in another way, the Paragon nib is just more precise, even though both are fine nibs and supposedly if dupontfan is right, from the same company possibly with little variance in specifications as far as a fine nib is made for an ebonite feed. That said, the cuts and channeling of the feed is different for the pens. I don't know how these words came to mind but 'laser' would be my metaphor for the paragon and 'death-ray' would be the other metaphor for the extra1930. A little diffused for the latter.

As for the metalic grip, I agree with dupontfan: the Montegrappa silver section is the pen I have least problem with as far as metal grip sections are concerned. The celluloid floats and then fits naturally into the silver grip, so unless one feels differently as one sees a difference between the celluloid and the silver, one should not feel the metal grip at all.


Hi, lecorbusier. Thanks for the extra info. I keep going back and forth on the Extra, I must say. And I know exactly what you mean about OMAS nibs; even the ones made by Bocks feel different (nicer) than other Bock nibs, though the Tibaldi nibs come close, in my limited experience. Best,
David

#18 Bruce-YVR

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 14:55

Hi... thanks for the review... I tried to look for Mike S. review on the Turtle Brown but with no success. Can you send me the link to his review? Much appreciated!

Thanks

Bruce

#19 lecorbusier

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 13:04

Here you go: http://www.fountainp...n...c=26154&hl=



QUOTE(Bruce-YVR @ Nov 18 2007, 02:55 PM) View Post
Hi... thanks for the review... I tried to look for Mike S. review on the Turtle Brown but with no success. Can you send me the link to his review? Much appreciated!

Thanks

Bruce


AAA

#20 goodguy

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 00:06

WOW what a nice pen.
Does all the 1930 come with a piston filler ?
Respect to all






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