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Laban Mento (Tortoiseshell)


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15 replies to this topic

#1 AndyHayes

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 20:04

First Impressions
Wrapped in a bubble-wrap coffin I ripped off the sellotape to see the Laban Mento in all of its tortoiseshell splendour. I have nothing like this. The vast majority of my pens are black and rhodium so this was quite a breath-taking moment. The previous owner had sent it to me as a gift. We have never met before so it was a very generous gesture, something that I find difficult to deal with and always have. Giving has always been easy for me, but accepting gifts is a whole different matter. I really appreciate the gesture though.

Appearance
I have never as much as seen a tortoiseshell pen before so I have nothing to compare this pen with. The pen is superbly polished and full of blacks, browns and ambers. It has a steel band and clip, which look out of place on this pen. Gold would have been much better here, and I never thought that I would ever advocate anything but silver furniture. The silver has the effect of cheapening the pen.

Design/Size/Weight
This is a fairly large pen. If you have a Danitrio Densho lying around they are almost identical, the Laban tapering more at the bottom and top. The weight is a gramme less that the Densho at 29 grammes. Dimensions are 6” (150mm) capped, 5 1/4” (132mm) uncapped and 6 1/2” (165mm) posted.

Nib
It’s a large two-tone steel nib proportionate to the pen and when it arrived with me it was so scratchy that it made my teeth curl when I wrote with it! Out with the brown paper and loads of figure 8’s later it wrote bearably. After some use it writes nicely, but there is absolutely no flex to the nib. The nib is the same size as the Densho and its length means that many ink bttles are not deep enough to fill from including a Mont Blanc and a Caran d’Ache bottle.

Filling System
The pen uses a convertor, but you could obviously use cartridges. In the end I took the converter out and filled it up from the Caran d’Ache bottle then re-inserted it into the pen.

Cost and Value
They don’t come cheaper than free so at free I think that it represents really good value! Had I have paid the £40 I have seen them being sold for I couldn’t honestly say that I would have felt that I got excellent value.

Conclusion
The previous owner found it too big for their hands, for me it is almost perfect. I know that they have moved onto an even nicer tortoiseshell pen and I am envious of their choice. It stands out in my collection and it is a cheap enough pen to be able to take to work to use. It should certainly be a talking point.

Photos to follow
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#2 andyk

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 22:47

Thanks for the review, I have often looked at these pens and wondered what they were like, whilst I have a good selection of modern pens, most of my favourites echo classic pens from previous eras, this pen certainly looks the part, a vintage look with the advantage (at least in my opinion) of modern filling systems.

The plastics (resins or whatever) resemble those of classic pens and I have always liked the idea of a large® pen and this seems to fit the bill, look forward to seeing the pictures.

Andy

#3 AndyHayes

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 18:17

No option to edit for some reason so I will just add the pics here. Please accept my apologies for the low quality shots, but my motto is better some than none!


Laban Mento all alone


Two tone steel nib


iConic!


Laban Mento meets Danitrio Densho......


......and get their tops off!


Could you pass me a cigarette?


Mento dwarfs the Pelikan 200


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#4 FrankB

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 19:04

This is a good review, Andy. Thank you.

I have exactly the same pen. The cap and body material is quite attractive. I love tortoiseshell, so this one is not my first. But it is very nice. I also love the size of the pen. I had been comparing mine to my MB 149's. I had never even thought to get out my Densho.

My M nib wrote smoothly out of the box. It lays down a rather thin, wet line that I consider on the F side of M, but it is a great writer. And I had to fill my converter by taking it out of the pen, too.

I have had my pen for about a month, but I have only had it inked for a week. I had understood there was an issue with the nib drying out between uses because the area where the clip attaches to the cap has gaps that allow too much air to enter the cap. Sure enough, my nib dries out between uses. I like the pen too much to complain about it, so I am going to seal the interior of the cap with silicone glue - when I can get my hands on some silicone glue. I am very curious if you are experiencing the same drying issue.

#5 bdngrd

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 22:54

I have a few of the mento and meno models and have fixed the drying problem with some nail polish, although I bet silicone glue would work as well if not better. They are great pens, good-looking and reliable!
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#6 slippy

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 00:23

I have a tortoise-shell Meno, which I was really disappointed with. The nib is possibly the worst-finished thing I've ever seen. It's scratchy like sandpaper with a baby-bottom and has an off-center slit. On top of that, I do experience the drying problem, which makes the pen a hard starter even if it sits just 10 minutes. I've given up on it, which is a shame because it is a beautiful pen, but I've got others which don't give me the headache.

#7 Maja

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 06:06

Thanks for the review and photos, Andy (the captions are hilarious! laugh.gif ).

I have a Mento that was also a gift from a fellow FPNer from way back and I really like the pen. It is a large fountain pen but light so it doesn't tire my hand. I got the nib stubbed right after I got it, so I don't really remember how it wrote before it was reground. If it wasn't stubbed and the nib had issues like FPNer Slippy's, then I would either bring it back to the store for a new one or invest in some 8000 and 12000 grade Micromesh sheets and try to smooth it myself (after checking the nib alignment and fixing it with my fingernail, if necessary). The drying out problem can be easily solved by dripping some nail polish (clear!) on the inside of the cap where it meets the pen's clip. A recent thread on Pentrace.net mentioned the use of silicone glue as an alternative to the nail polish, but I haven't tried it myself. Don't give up on your Mento! smile.gif

Edited by Maja, 03 November 2007 - 06:07.

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#8 alvarez57

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 07:01

Very good and concise review! I love tortoiseshells, which reminds me of my lost-in-the-mail CS Dandy angry.gif .
The pen is gorgeous and if you like it enough, you can have it reground.

sonia alvarez

 

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#9 AndyHayes

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 14:30

I used the nail varnish trick to seal the hole near the clip. You only need a little though. I went rather mad with it and put a big blob in the cap. It ttok 2 days to dry, but all seems OK now.
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#10 haydnp

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 14:07

Having read Andy’s comprehensive review about this pen, I decided to take the plunge and as a result, a shiny new Laban Mento tortoiseshell arrived on my desk this morning.

My first impressions, even before I took the pen from its gorgeous walnut presentation case (not the standard Laban issue, but the shop had run out of the normal boxes so very kindly gave me one usually reserved for their more expensive pens!) was how gorgeous the colours of the tortoiseshell are. Photos do not do this pen justice.

This pen is big – I have always favoured the chunky resin pens, and even before I handled it, I was in love with its chunkiness - it has an almost cuddly look (if a pen can indeed be cuddly!)

The medium nib possesses none of the scratchiness that other members have reported, and laid down a lovely smooth (slightly thin) line – in fact it is a far better writer out of the box than my Parker Sonnet which was, and still is, a bit of a pig to write with. It is true that there is no flex to the nib, but, and maybe this is purely down to my writing style, I actually quiet like it.

It’s too early to tell whether it suffers from the drying problem, so I’ll have some nail varnish on stand by just in case.

All in all, for £40, I cannot fault this pen at all. Much nicer than my Sonnet, and also my Balance II – this is one pen that will get a lot of use.


#11 AndyHayes

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 15:54

Put your lips around the cap and blow into it. If there is an air leak it will soon become apparent as you will hear air escape from where the clip joins the cap.

Congratulations on your purchase.
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#12 bdngrd

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 00:03

Yes - they are great pens. I have 3! (Also a shameless plug for the one I have for sale in Marketplace.)
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#13 JDFlood

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 14:29

I have two and a half of them. I like the size. My first had a scratchy nib, and dried quickly. So I bought a replacment nib (isellpens.com, not expensive). The second nib was much better. Still then new nib drys out easily. Perhaps I should get some nail polish... but isn't the hole for pressure equalization? Well, I have a gaggle of expensive pens for business, so I will not be flying with this pen. Anyway, I got some fine sandpaper (5000)... I'll see if I can improve the 1/2 pen... nib and make it functional. JD

#14 haydnp

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 15:18

Tested my pen again after more than 14 hours without use, and still writes first time and as well as when I first filled it yesterday. Do I need to leave it for longer to see if it suffers from drying out? Also, looking inside the cap, mine has what appears to be a black O ring postitioned just before where the clip is attached, which might make it difficult to get any nail varnish to cover the hole. Has anyone else spotted this?

#15 sofian

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 07:49

I have one of these babies and experienced the same drying out problems that many posters have talked about. I will try the nail polish trick and see what happens. But this drying up isn't that big a deal - at least, not at this stage. Its quite minor and I think I can live with it (for a while).
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Pilot Vanishing Point / yellow / medium nibstroke

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#16 chandelle

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Posted 17 October 2014 - 05:19

I received my gorgeous Mento y'day and wish to know if it can be converted into an eyedropper...


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