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  1. My Original Montblanc 149 — Background and Age Estimation ~ After reading through the entire thread begun by DKbRS titled “Dating Montblanc 149s” I was deeply impressed by the careful thought which he, Barry Gabay and others gave to developing an approach to estimating the dates of 149s. Their resulting graph is both comprehensive and practical, enabling a novice like yours truly to easily follow and understand. A comment in the thread by jar made a strong impression on me: “Gifts are Beyond Price”. His wise thought especially resonated with me because my original introduction to Montblanc was through the receipt of a gift. Around 1987 or 1988 a friend was supplementing his junior high school teacher salary by working part-time in a men’s clothing store in a relatively small community in farthest northwest California. The store offered men’s suits, shoes, neckties, belts, wallets and such, with nail clippers, straight-edge razors and fountain pens on offer. I had no direct acquaintance with the store beyond my friend’s conversational tidbits about his work. At that time I hadn’t thought of fountain pens in nearly two decades, since briefly using them in my teenage years for school assignments. I’d certainly never heard of Montblanc, although my dad had both Sheaffer and Parker fountain pens in his desk, which were inked with dark blue ink of unknown provenance. Late one afternoon without any lead-up my friend presented me with a small cream box, saying that it was a gift to express his appreciation, as I was in the process of relocating for career reasons. When I opened the box there was a large black pen with a white star on the cap. After uncapping the pen and glancing at the large nib, I mumbled thanks to my friend for such an unexpected gift. The boxed pen remained uninked for weeks as I was caught up in moving and employment change. I had no sense whatsoever of the value of the gift, let alone of the reputation of the Montblanc brand. Any information about the model or the nib size was wholly unknown to me. Uncertain as to what to do about inking it, I tucked the presentation case into a storage box as a keepsake of past friendship, gradually forgetting its existence. Decades passed with my career taking me far beyond the shores of North America. The digital age arrived bringing global network connectivity. Once a high-volume writer of personal letters and postcards, my postage stamp purchases dwindled down to nothing. Somehow I felt uneasy about the diminishing personal touch in communication, fondly remembering afternoons or evenings devoted to expressing thoughts and feelings on paper. No matter where I moved, the presentation box with the large black pen went with me, as a tangible reminder of a happy time in my life. Nevertheless it never once occured to me that the pen would ever be of practical value, it being little more than a tchotchke of sentimental value, but nothing more. Years went by without the presentation box ever being looked at or the pen seen. In a sense I thought of it as an impractical dust-catcher minus any dust as I had no inkling what it was. One evening in 2011 I was reorganizing my desk in my Beijing apartment. Looking through storage drawers filled with documents, blank paper, ball-point pens, markers and office paraphernalia, I came across the decades-old cream presentation box, forgotten in a back corner. Smiling, I mused on how it had traveled with me to many farflung locations but had never been of any use. Opening it, I took out the pen and looked at it. As had never previously been the case, something about the pen’s white star seemed familiar yet no specific association came to mind. A bright desk lamp facilitated a close inspection of the pen, which I’d never done before. I was surprised to read words on the cap which were transcribed with a ball-point pen in order to look them up in a search engine. Within minutes I first read a general overview of Montblanc, discovering that there was a boutique in Beijing. The laudatory comments on-line about Montblanc motivated me to take subway line #1 to the Oriental Plaza Montblanc boutique in Wangfujing Street. I also read that counterfeit Montblanc pens were widespread, which prompted me to conjecture that what I owned was most likely a fake, as I couldn’t imagine having ever received a gift of substantial value. When an English-speaking sales staff member asked how they might help, I pulled out the scuffed presentation box and asked if the fountain pen was one of theirs and, if so, would it be possible to purchase ink. Several staff members scrutinized the pen informing me that it was indeed a genuine 149 Meisterstück. The price of ink on offer exceeded what was in my wallet so the staff offered to ‘unofficially’ give me two bottles of outdated ink. I left the boutique with the pen finally identified, two bottles of blue ink and without having spent anything beyond the modest round-trip subway fare. The name 149 meant nothing at all to me. They made no comment about the nib size and I didn’t know enough to have asked. At my desk I sought to draw ink into the pen but nothing happened. I tried again with the same lack of result. Losing enthusiasm, I thought that it might be broken or that it required a high degree of expertise to use. Accordingly, I put it away uninked. In 2012 I spotted a reference to Montblanc on the Internet, with the familiar star emblem. Remembering the pen and two bottles of ink, I pulled them out and decided to renew my effort to write with it. Once again, no ink drew up when I turned the piston. This time I went to the Internet to seek guidance about difficulties in inking a fountain pen. I read that in certain cases long-dried plugs of ink interfered with ordinary functions. It was recommended to soak a fountain pen in water and wait. This I did, waiting for over ten minutes. Suddenly a dark blue cloud exploded into existence in the clear water. Feeling that progress had at last been made, I carefully followed the cleaning regimen I’d read. After drying the pen I opened one of the ink bottles and turned the piston. It worked! With joy, I nervously put the nib onto paper, writing my first-ever stroke with a Montblanc fountain pen. After a quarter of a century, the gift I’d received was at long last functional. In the years since, I’ve purchased from Beijing Montblanc boutiques 11 fountain pens, two ballpoint pens, 18 bottles of ink, a Starwalker Extreme ScreenWriter, two belts, a wallet and a large briefcase. I’ve also bought two vintage 3-42 G semi-flex fountain pens. As the various pens I’ve purchased and enjoyed using have taken up all of my thoughts, I never wondered about the original 149. After using nibs of various sizes, it seemed that the first 149 was an M nib, which writes smoothly with every use. That was good enough for me. ***************************************************** The “Dating Montblanc 149s” thread educated me at a basic level about the features used to assess approximate age of a 149. I’d never given any thought to such diagnostic features as 2-section barrels, narrow shoulders, plastic threads, split ebonite feeds, ‘Germany’ on the cap ring or the style of the umlaut over the ‘ü’ in ‘Meisterstück’ on the cap. As it happens, all of those turn out to be relevant to dating my original “gift 149”. The M 149 sits on my desk, rather than in the presentation box. After reading “Dating Montblanc 149s” I pulled the box out of storage, finding a one year guarantee card and trouble-shooting tips, both of which are dated 2/87. Comparing the evidence from the pen itself and the presentation box with the 149 feature chronological graph from “Dating Montblanc 149s”, it may be that the pen is a mid- to late- 1980s 149 sold in the American market. It was probably pre-owned when I received it. To date I’ve only inked it from the two gratis ink bottles given by the boutique during my initial visit. There’s never been any issue, but I realize that it might be time to shift to current inks. If I’ve overlooked the obvious and made gross misjudgments it would be another step in my gradual education about Montblanc fountain pens. For anyone interested I’ll post photographs of salient features of the pen, as well as the presentation box, its contents, and the two original ink bottles. All of my association with Montblanc has been more than satisfactory. Reading FPN posts in the Montblanc brand section is consistently enjoyable. I hope that this post may be of interest. Tom K. 2-Section Barrel with an M Nib Narrow Shoulders Plastic Threads Split Ebonite Feed Germany Umlaut Presentation Box Box Interior Pen in the Box Outer Guarantee Card One Year Guarantee Trouble-shooting Tips More Tips Ink Bottles Ink with Box

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