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  1. The original Platinum Higo Zogan was an impulse buy on Ebay. There isn't much information on this pen, but I do know that one blogger (Phthalo) said she enjoyed how this pen writes. I also know that Platinum currently makes a 3776 with a similar higo zogan ring around the cap. Appearance and Design At first glance, this pen is reminiscent of the Lamy 2000 in both shape and feel, but with a Japanese flair. The matte black resin body reminds me of Makrolon but with slightly less of a brushed texture. Its 18K gold nib that looks very similar to that of the Platinum Pocket Pen and other 1970s era Platinum Pens as well as the Platinum Desk Pen. I must say that I’m a fan of the clear vintage era Platinum feeds, especially the clear blue ones found on the Platinum Pocket Pen. This one has a clear black feed. Instead of having the barrel transition seamlessly into the section like on the Lamy 2000, there is a clearly defined ridge that makes it more comfortable for me to hold. The cap includes an understated and beautiful higo zogan ring made of iron and gold formed into the shape of cherry blossoms. The gold mirror polished clip is also reminiscent to that of the Lamy 2000 in form. I have to say that I prefer the brushed clip on the Lamy. Mirror polish or gold plating doesn’t seem to last in my experience. Construction & Quality It’s easy to tell that the Platinum Higo Zogan is a high-quality item. While the plastic and metal parts feel thin, there is a certain presence to the pen when you hold it. Since I’ve only had this pen for about a week, I can’t speak much about its durability. However, given that the pen has went through one full cartridge of ink in the 1970s, and looks practically new after 50 years, I have high hopes for this piece. Weight and Dimensions This pen is relatively large and about the same size as the Lamy 2000. Despite its size, it’s also relatively light, and lighter than the Lamy. Since this pen has a clearly defined section unlike on the Lamy, its additional reference points allow your hands to find a consistent grip on the pen. If you’re like me and you like girthier pens, whether your have large or small hands (like I do), you might like this one. Nib & Performance The 18K gold fine nib is springy and a light touch allows it to float away from the feed. It kind of reminds me of a well-tuned and delicate suspension system. I would not call this a flex nib at all, though it does provide for a tiny bit of line variation. The kanji translates to “Fine Text,” and I have seen other versions of this pen with kanji that reads “Fine Soft.” I would imagine that the Fine Soft version is even springier. I purchased a Platinum Pocket Pen with what I believe to be the same nib but in Fine Soft and I’ll see how it performs and whether they’re interchangeable. This nib is likely equivalent to a modern Platinum F nib. It writes quite wet with J. Herbin Perle Noire and does not skip at all (after I cleaned the feed). The tip provides some feedback as you write, but it's a pleasurable(?) responsive feedback. I’ve found that for a person like me who has a habit of rushing when they write, having some nib feedback encourages me to slow down and focus more on the rhythm of writing. Take my opinion on the nib with a grain of salt because I have never owned another pen with a Japanese gold nib. Filling System & Maintenance The Platinum is a cartridge converter that comes with an "Aerometric" style squeeze-converter; however, since this pen lacks a breather tube, it has trouble taking advantage of what little real estate the sac provides. The stock converter does not fill to satisfaction. I have since switched out the stock squeeze-converter in favor of a modern Platinum piston converter. In addition to having increased ink capacity the gold trim of the modern converter better suits the aesthetics of this very modern looking piece. A part of me wishes that this pen had an integrated piston mechanism instead. There is a lot of real estate in the barrel for ink. Taking apart this pen is very much like taking apart the modern Platinum desk pen. I wouldn’t say it’s too difficult. It was tricky at first since the parts are tightly fitted together. I was actually afraid that a previous owner superglued the pen shut. Luckily, that was not the case. It became easier to disassemble after the first time. I had to clean the pen because it wasn’t feeding from the converter to the feed. After deep cleaning the feed, the pen worked perfectly. Cost & Value For $99 on Ebay, I think this pen was a steal. According to the Platinum website, this pen sold for 8,000 yen in 1970. That is the equivalent to around 27,000 yen ($260.00) today. If we’re evaluating this pen purely for performance, there are many less expensive options that will do the same job. But I do believe that there is value in traditional craftsmanship and I would like to say the pen was worth it. I have never written with a pen that has fit my relatively small hands better than this one. Additional Notes I would post side by side photos with the Lamy 2000, but I have already gifted it to a friend. I also would like to get an experienced 3776 owner to do an A/B. I also want to see if the nib is interchangeable with an 18K Fine Soft nib from a Platinum Pocket Pen with the diamond inlay. Would you folks recommend that I don’t swap out the nibs?
  2. Just over a year ago I purchased a brand new Montblanc 149 and almost to the day I bought another one. Why? Well, they are somewhat different. I will get my bias out of the way first. While the 149 is not my favourite pen of all time (I appreciate a bit of bling) I do recognise that it is possibly the most perfect pen ever made. It is quality without being overly blingy. The size and balance (to me anyway) is perfect, the nib; a thing of beauty. The filling system, great. The first Montblanc I bought was a medium nib but I had a little fight to get it adjusted so that it was wetter as a writer (it skipped and dried a bit). The second one is a fine nib. So, one being new and the other being from the late 60's, I thought I'd have a bit of a face off to see which is best. Below is a list of the differences and similarities with a conclusion at the end that hopefully some may find helpful. I'm no expert, so if there are inaccuracies in this, please do correct them. Number 1 is the first one I bought (the modern one) and number 2 is the recent purchase (the late 60's model). Nib. 1. Medium nib. Writes very wide for a medium, but I did have it adjusted for maximum wetness. It has a plastic feed with fins cut right across it. 18K gold with gold inner portion, then silver and then gold to the flanges. It is very firm but has a distinctive tooth that is very pleasing. 2. Fine nib. Writes nicely wet, but not overly so. It has a rounded ebonite feed that actually looks quite nice in comparison to the other, with fins either side. 14K gold with gold flanges only (maybe 'wings' is a better term than flange? Hopefully you know what I mean). The imprint on the nib seems more distinct and deeper to the eye on this one. It is soft and somewhat flexible. It's not quite a semi-flex but it is very pleasant to write with and provides nice line variation. It is very smooth and the distinctive 'toothless' is considerably less, although this may be more to do with age and use. The nib appears to be slightly wider (at the widest point), but sadly I lack the precision instrument to measure this, so it may be a trick of the eye. Cap & Barrel. 1. The gold furniture is bright, the imprint on the cap band is crisp with the 'Pix'. The cap has the snow peak. There is a gold ring at the piston nob. There are six rings for the screw on cap. The ink window is slightly smoked in appearance and not always easy to see the ink inside. The point where the nib meets the barrel has a flat section of one piece with two rectangular holes opposite each other and a matt collar up onto the barrel. 2. The gold furniture is somewhat dulled, which is to be expected of an older pen and the imprint on the cap band seems a little less crisp (although this may be age and wear) and there is no 'Pix'. The snow peak, to the eye at least, seems to be a fraction larger. The gold ring at the piston nob, again to the eye only, seems a tiny hair thinner. There are six rings for the screw on cap but they are placed much closer together, therefore less noticeable under the fingers when writing and there is a fine line directly underneath them. There is a tiny touch of play to the cap and barrel, but again this could be age and wear, but it's not significant enough to worry about. The ink window is very bright and clear, seems a little fraction longer and the faceting is much easier to see. The ink inside is clearly visible. The point where the nib and feed meet the barrel appears to have a cut section parallel to the nib and feed (possibly made of two parts?) and there is no collar, but there is a ridge on the barrel at the end of the grip. Filling System. 1. The piston mechanism is brass and feels sturdy and a small bit stiff. You can't really see the piston moving in the barrel through the ink window even when doing a flush to change inks. It adds a good bit of weight to the back of the pen, but not so much as to annoy me in any way. 2. The piston mechanism is black plastic and very smooth and easy to use. There is no stiffness and while it seems perfectly fine it does not feel as 'sturdy'. You can clearly see the piston coming down the barrel through the ink window. The weight is notably less due to the plastic piston and when posted, the balance of the pen is about as close to perfection as you could get in my book. Conclusion. I love my modern 149, but the late 60's model (at least I think it is late 60's!) just tips it to the post. Aspects of it feel a little better. I much prefer the softer nib and find the appearance of the nib a bit more satisfying, especially with the nice looking ebonite feed. The line variation and spring make it more interesting to use. The weight of the older model is perfection to me. Both of these pens are great and I would have no problem recommending it, but if you were looking to get a 149, I think I would strongly advise looking for a good older model. It is possible to get one at a quarter of the price of a new one with a bit of patience and a thorough search through various channels and you would end up with a pen that is probably as close to perfect as one can get. Certainly if price is a concern - and it should be, for a new 149 is not an insignificant purchase - then the older model is the way to go. I prefer the fine nib and find that it is a true European fine. I hope that makes sense, but if not and by way of explanation; I find American 'fines' tend to be 'medium' and Asian 'fines' to be 'EF's'. The older 149 wins in my book.

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