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REVIEW: Montblanc 100 Years Historical Fountain Pen


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#1 QM2

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:36



Montblanc 100 Years Historical Fountain Pen

This review is of the Fountain Pen version of this pen. The Rollerball and Pencil versions are reviewed here by kaisede.

The 100 Years Historical Fountain Pen was released as a Special Edition in 2006 and only produced during that year. It was
designed and marketed as a replica of the original Simplo Rouge et Noire safety filler c.1908 -- Montblanc's first safety pen.
Unlike the later Montblanc safeties, this model used a sliding (rather than twist) mechanism, that covered and exposed the
nib like a sleeve. Photos of the original pen can be found on fountainpen.de.



Appearance and Design

The 100 Years Historical Pen is an unbearably sexy pen, especially if you are as in love with the early vintage dome-top
Montblancs as I am. It is a pretty good replica of the original MB safeties. The overall form, the domed endcap, the "bulb"
on the barrel, the shape of the section, the sliding sleeve, the "vintage proportions" (ie it's a small pen), and even the nib,
are decidedly reminiscent of the original.



What somewhat detracts from the vintage illusion, is the overkill of gold trim (a total of 5 gold bands, seemingly placed on
every part of the pen that could be fitted with one) and the strange clip, which I cannot place historically. The very early MB
safeties were either clipless, or fitted with slip-on/ wrap-around clips. The latter would have been a nice touch here -- for
instance, a more modest version of the clip on the Schiller LE. Also, if we are going to get technical here, the vintage
"MONT-BLANC" logo with the mountain in between that is imprinted on the side of the cap of the pen, was never used on
the early model sliding safeties; it did not come until later.

My intent is not to be pedantic here, and I am only making these observations because the booklet that came with the pen
describes it as as an "exact replica" of the original. That is clearly not the case even at the visual level. I would say that it is
more of an "homage" to the original.



Filling System

Of course, the biggest discrepancy between the 100 Years Historical Pen and the original, is the filling mechanism. The
original Simplo filled via eyedropper directly into the barrel, through the opening created by the retraced nib. The 100
Years Historical Pen is... ahem... cartridge only. I know that many MB collectors did not buy this pen because of that aspect.
I was initially turned off by it as well, but aesthetics finally won over. What can I say, I had to have that sexy dome-top.

One thing that can be said in favour of the cartridge system, is that at least it is more convenient than a true ED safety.
I don't think that much else can be said, but there it is.

The pen fills via unscrewing the lower, bulbous part of the barrel. Inside is a rather scary looking black metal cage. The
cartridge is placed inside the cage loosely and the "bulb" is screwed back on. The motion of screwing in the bulb pushes the
cartridge forward and impales it onto the "nipple". I admit that this mechanism is kind of cool. However, it makes using even
the mini-converters that fit into other cartridge-only pens out of the question. If you want to use your favourite inks in this
pen, and your favourite ink does not come in international cartridges, the you will have to fill cartridges via syringe.



Retractable Mechanism

I have to admit that the retractable mechanism is fascinating, if only because it is like nothing I have ever tried before. I
am used to the traditional twist safeties, but this is an altogether different animal. The nib does not exactly retract. Rather,
it gets exposed and covered by the sleeve that slides in and out of the bulbous part of the barrel. The thin part of the barrel
(which includes the section slides) into the bulbous part to expose the nib. It slides out of the bulbous part to cover up the
nib. The pen can only be capped with the nib covered. In other words, the actual nib stays stationary, while a part of the
barrel slides over it like a sleeve.

The triple image at the very top of this review illustrates this: The sleeve moves up and down, but the total length of the
pen remains the same, regardless of what stage of exposure the nib is at.

Even though this is a fairly simple mechanism, I initially found it counter-intuitive to operate, because you have to make a
pulling-back motion with your fingers in order for the nib to appear, and a pulling forward motion in order for it to disappear.
So you really must get used to the idea that you are covering/uncovering, rather than retracting/ extracting.

However, now that I've got the hang of it, I find the system very easy -- and more convenient that traditional retractables
like the Boheme, because the nib can be exposed and covered while holding the pen in one hand. This is extremely
convenient when pausing between writing sentences: If I simply retract the nib, the pen can remain uncapped for quite
some time without drying out. I tried leaving it uncapped for just over 10 minutes, and the pen started right up without
problems. I have not yet tried leaving it for longer periods.



[this photo was taken by MDI]

Nib

The nib is one of the nicest aspects of this pen. It is 18K single tone yellow gold; small, but proportional to the size of the
pen. Instead of the usual MB nib decor, this one is imprinted at the base with a large snowcap outline enclosed in a circle.
Above this are the words "MONTBLANC/ 2006". And above this, is the best feature: a snowcap-shaped breather hole!
This little design detail completely "makes" the pen for me -- I just can't take my eyes off it.

My nib is a Medium. Even though I am an XXF nib user, I took what I could get, as there are not many of these pens
available. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the nib runs a little fine, so that the Medium, is more like what is
normally a MB Fine, if not EF. The nib was incredibly smooth out of the box and had no problems what so ever.



Size Comparisons

The 100 Years Historical Pen is quite small. It is 5.25" capped, 4.5" uncapped (nib exposed or not), and 6.25" posted.
It posts securely, and seems to be designed to be written with posted. Unposted it is too small for me to write with.

As shown on the image above, the 100 Years Pen is about the same size as the Greta Garbo, but considerably larger
that the Boheme. Below it is next to the Boheme again, with both of their nibs extracted.



And here it is next to my husband's MB Chopin and Pelikan M150: the 100 Year pen seems to fall right in the middle.


[this photo was taken by MDI]

The release of the 100 Years Pen set was accompanied by a special pouch, but alas I do not have one (...yet?). I have
housed my pen in a lovely, sleek Piquardo "Nikolai" case, along with my Greta Garbo. Here is a gratuitous shot of them
in the pouch together:



Cost and Value

The MSRP of this pen is in the mid $700's. Some MB boutiques and retailers still carry it, but most no longer have it.
Personally, I think that for a resin, cartridge-only pen, that price is insane, even for a special edition. I bought mine
on clearance from a European jewelry shop, thanks to the help of an FPN member. (Thank you!!)

Conclusions

The Montblanc 100 Years Historical Pen is a beautifully designed tribute to the earliest era of MB safety fillers. It is
mechanically fascinating, easy to operate after a brief acclimatisation period, and comfortable to use. The nib is not
only visually unique, but performs perfectly out of the box, and unlike most MB nibs, does not run wide. There is no way
around the cartridge-only filling system being a major minus for those preferring internal mechanisms, but the cool way
in which the system operates, makes up for this a bit. For a lover of the early safeties and a modern Montblanc collector,
this pen is a must: I encourage you to get it before it is no longer available at all. And those of you who have one, but
don't use it due to the cartridge system (you know who you are) -- I encourage you to give it a try.

Hope you enjoyed the review,
QM2


Edited by QM2, 26 January 2009 - 04:06.


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#2 Breck

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:42

Wait, what!? They made a replica of a safety pen and it's cartridge only!?

*head explodes*



Still, it does look comfortable, with that nice long section...

Nice review, too. Great photos, and you've given a really good sense of the pen.

#3 QM2

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 04:17

QUOTE (Murderface @ Jan 26 2009, 04:42 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Wait, what!? They made a replica of a safety pen and it's cartridge only!?

*head explodes*


Yup : ) But note the cool impaling mechanism!

QUOTE (Murderface @ Jan 26 2009, 04:42 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Still, it does look comfortable, with that nice long section...


It is very comfortable. The curvy, elongated section insures that the fingers don't touch the threads, and don't slide into the nib unit either.



Edited by QM2, 26 January 2009 - 04:18.


#4 Blade Runner

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 04:37

Really complete review and congrats on a fascinating pen! I like MB's hommage to their older pens in general.
Now you must get that tailor made 2 slotted pen case, the nicest looking case in MB's current line up imo.
And like the pen, there's no guarantee it will last on the shelves. It is too bad my bigger Meisterstucks don't fit, but I may get one for my smaller pens.

Best,
Jeen

#5 QM2

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 14:10

QUOTE (jeen @ Jan 26 2009, 05:37 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Now you must get that tailor made 2 slotted pen case, the nicest looking case in MB's current line up imo. And like the pen, there's no guarantee it will last on the shelves. It is too bad my bigger Meisterstucks don't fit, but I may get one for my smaller pens.


Oh thanks for encouraging me : )

The only local place I have seen the pouch is the MB Boutique, but I am afraid to even ask how much it retails for. Swisher's lists it on their website, so perhaps I will make an inquiry...

#6 goodguy

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 22:11

I love you review QM2!!!
beautiful pen but I would never see myself getting it due to the cartridge thingy .
I love gadgets and vintage pens and Safety pens always interested me.just like you I love the design of the pen but I think MB should have gone all the way and made this pen a true Safety.

Respect to all

#7 Brian

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 23:02

Another great review QM2. I like this pen and agree with your assessment having acquired mine by good fortune and chance. It is not too big and not too small. Everything fits just right and it is a solid well made pen. At first the cartridge only aspect bothered me but I did two things to make it better: (1) fill cartridges with a syringe so that the type of ink used is no longer a problem; and (2) make a cleaning unit out of an old cartridge (cut the end off), some aquarium tubing (to put into the cartridge), and an eyedropper (to connect the aquarium tubing so that you can expel water through the nib unit to clean it or when changing ink color).

Thanks for the great montage too. It really adds depth and an artistic element that works well.

Happy writing.


#8 FrankB

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 23:25

Thanks. I always enjoy your reviews, and this is another great one. I think I especially like the photo of the gal in the 1930's Art Deco-ish jump suit. They just don't make 'em like that anymore.

It has already been said, but I cannot help but wonder what the MB folks were thinking when they made this LE a cartridge only pen! I guess it might be an "old meets new" theme, but ... Otherwise the pen looks great.

This is a pen I won't own. Physically it is a tad small for me, but the price is the killer. Still, it is a great pen to look at and enjoy aesthetically.

#9 QM2

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 04:41

QUOTE (goodguy @ Jan 27 2009, 12:11 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
beautiful pen but I would never see myself getting it due to the cartridge thingy .


But you're okay with the trapped-converter Kafka! To me the two are equally blasphemous : )
Is the cartridge issue the reason why you sold your Boheme?


QUOTE (Brian @ Jan 27 2009, 01:02 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
At first the cartridge only aspect bothered me but I did two things to make it better: (1) fill cartridges with a syringe so that the type of ink used is no longer a problem; and (2) make a cleaning unit out of an old cartridge (cut the end off), some aquarium tubing (to put into the cartridge), and an eyedropper (to connect the aquarium tubing so that you can expel water through the nib unit to clean it or when changing ink color).


Actually, I don't quite understand what is the recommended method of washing out the pen?.. I had assumed they would include some sort of special gadget, but they do not.

FrankB, yes, the pen is borderline too small for many people when posted, and I would venture to say that it is near-impossible to use for most unposted.... As for the price, they do occasionally pop up on clearance, for quite a substantial reduction.






Edited by QM2, 27 January 2009 - 04:48.


#10 MDI

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 04:51

At first (when we played with the pen in the MB boutique last year?) I hated the design aesthetic with the interrupted silhouette, but then... And it reminds me of...

The point is, it's a brilliant little pen. Everyone who gets to play with one will eventually succumb to wanting it.

Cartridge-only would never stop me. Montblanc Racing Green in cartridges flows perfectly and is my favourite ink whether from the tap or in tiny plastic bullets.
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#11 QM2

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 04:53

QUOTE (MDI @ Jan 27 2009, 06:51 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
At first (when we played with the pen in the MB boutique last year?) I hated the design aesthetic with the interrupted silhouette, but then... And it reminds me of...


I think you will be banned from FPN if you share what it reminded you of!

#12 goodguy

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 04:58

No QM2,the main reason I sold the Bohem was because I needed the moeny for a WE pen.
I decided to focus on WE pens.
Saying that I just bought a stunning pen that isnt a WE.
Respect to all

#13 ilvecchio

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 07:19

QUOTE (QM2 @ Jan 26 2009, 02:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (jeen @ Jan 26 2009, 05:37 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Now you must get that tailor made 2 slotted pen case, the nicest looking case in MB's current line up imo. And like the pen, there's no guarantee it will last on the shelves. It is too bad my bigger Meisterstucks don't fit, but I may get one for my smaller pens.


Oh thanks for encouraging me : )

The only local place I have seen the pouch is the MB Boutique, but I am afraid to even ask how much it retails for. Swisher's lists it on their website, so perhaps I will make an inquiry...



I paid $110 at the MB Boutique for the case.

MB also sells a syringe (3 syringes for $8) that you use to clean the pen by inserting one where the cartridge fits and flushing the nib with water. I have done this once with good success. MB recommends one use only but that seems over cautious to me. They are probably afraid that the syringe would collect dirt which could then be driven into the nib and cause problems.

Currently, I am using a Private Reserve cartridge in the pen with no problems so far. Normally, I use MB Racing Green, but I wanted to try some different colors.

Finally, thanks for the review and the very clear pictures.

#14 QM2

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 19:14

ilvecchio, thanks for letting me know. I will pick up one these the next time I visit the local boutique. I agree that the syringes should be reusable for at least a couple more cleaning sessions without problems.

I wonder whether this is the same system used to clean the Bohemes? I keep using the same colour ink cartridges in mine and have not yet washed them out. Since one of them I've owned for over a year, it seems about time!


Edited by QM2, 28 January 2009 - 17:22.


#15 misterstevenuk

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 20:23

Great review QM2...and I love the vintage Mont-Blanc images used.

I'm so happy that everything went smoothly and the pen was perfect straight out of the box!

It looks fab next to Greta Garbo. A classy vintage-looking couple

I wonder whether this is the same system used to clean the Bohemes? I keep using the same colour ink cartridges in mine and have not yet washed them out. Since one of them I've owned for over a year, it seems about time!
[/quote]

And these MB cleaning cartridges are ideal for washing out a Boheme, if you fancy a change of ink. Sometimes MB will include them when they service a pen also, so for cartridge fed pens they are pretty useful little devices!
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#16 RevAaron

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 20:32

QM2- I don't have one of these, but I do have a few C/C pens with long barrels around where the cart goes that prevent the usual cleaning of C/C pens. I have a small eye dropper, plastic one from a chem lab, that works great. Fits right onto the cart nipple, and I can squeeze water in and out until it runs clean. Very handy.
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#17 QM2

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 14:32

QUOTE (RevAaron @ Jan 29 2009, 09:32 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QM2- I don't have one of these, but I do have a few C/C pens with long barrels around where the cart goes that prevent the usual cleaning of C/C pens. I have a small eye dropper, plastic one from a chem lab, that works great. Fits right onto the cart nipple, and I can squeeze water in and out until it runs clean. Very handy.


I have some syringes with openings that seem like they will fit the cartridge nipple, so I will give it a try. The worry that if the fit is not perfect, water will get inside the pen's mechanism. I'll report how it goes.

#18 kaisede

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 18:39

nice review QM2, now I am thinking about adding the FP into my collection.

#19 archie001

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 19:53

it's an interesting pen with a retractable nib like boheme. Enjoy it! Congratz!
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#20 QM2

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 16:50

QUOTE (archie001 @ Feb 7 2009, 08:53 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
it's an interesting pen with a retractable nib like boheme. Enjoy it! Congratz!


Thanks Archie! But the 100 Yr Historical is actually very different from a Boheme. The Boheme is a true retractable: you twist the back of the barrel and the nib comes out. In the 100 Yr Pen, the nib remains stationary, and you slide a sleeve back and forth to cover it up or expose it. The sliding mechanism of the 100 Yr Pen actually makes it easier to use than the Boheme, because you can operate it with one hand.






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