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Montegrappa Ali, Silver


mkeeley
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This is my first attempt at a review, probably far too long and far too boring but I’ve not seen one for this pen so it's better than nothing, or is it...! I’m not giving out scores, I’ve read plenty of reviews on here and not seen many where it adds anything, it often just makes you wonder how they possibly came up with what they did. Sorry but only phone pics, I've not the time to set anything more fancy up at the moment.

 

Preamble

This is my first Montegrappa and the most expensive pen I own. Whilst I’m no boxing fan I doubt there are many people anywhere in the world who don’t know the name Muhammad Ali, but I bought it for its looks and not the name association. It is part of their icons series, I'm not sure he would be my idea of an icon but that’s really neither here nor there. There have been 1942 silver fountain pens made corresponding to his year of birth.

 

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Presentation

Whilst I’m not too concerned about the packaging, considering the retail price is around $2600/€1800/£1275 it does look rather low rent compared to many I’ve seen in that price range or even a fair amount less. The made in China box is smart enough just nothing special at all. Black outside, black inside with the odd graphic. It’s boring enough not to go in to much detail on. It doesn’t even smell of leather so I’d guess faux leather (plastic) over card and thin plywood.

 

Of course you’re paying for the packaging so perhaps a better way of looking at it is, in this instance, practically all your money is going on the pen rather than split between the pen and a fancy box. Some might knock it down a point because of this, it depends on your expectations.

 

First Impressions

When you first open the box for something like a pen you experience that initial impression which is on the scale of yuck! through to wow!, obviously you're hoping for something closer to the latter. Well opening the box was definitely a ooh that’s nice bordering on a wow moment. It might have been a bit higher if I’d been fully awake but the post arrived very early. It does look impressive, it really stands out against the black interior, so they did do something right with the packaging, and picking it up it just feels like quality.

 

It comes with an authenticity certificate and a booklet that tells you the usual about the company and the pen but also tidbits about Ali. It also includes two ink cartridges. Two, really? Couldn’t stretch to a whole pack, that’s just cheap.

 

Appearance & Design

Many limited edition Montegrappa pens that I’ve seen photos of are just too over the top for my tastes. However I think this pen stays on the tasteful side of the fence, I might even be tempted to call it classy looking. It has just enough design touches to be interesting without going overboard or being garish.

 

The pen is created from celluloid with 925 sterling silver trim. The black and white on the body is inspired by the colours of his shorts and socks. The clip take its and design shape from the seams from his gloves. The cap shape is inspired by a punch ball, or so they say, perhaps they mean punch bag? The cap and the very bottom socks section on the body have a more grey tone to them with a lot more swirls than the whiter shorts main body area. In a way I’d have liked the body to be the same as the cap, the swirls really catch the light, but I understand the reasoning.

 

The cap has Ali’s signature on one side, personally I’m not sure it adds anything to the pen, all the other design cues were probably enough. On top of the cap is a stylised version of his ring which reads “Ali The Greatest Of All Time”. From the photos I had worried that it might look a bit tacky but it’s quite low key in person.

 

The only two silver parts that are stamped 925 and a code, don’t think that counts as hallmarks but am no expert, are on the lower cap and lower body bands. None of the metal parts are magnetic so looks like they're all silver, I had thought the clip might have just been plated but seems not to be the case.

 

Finally the edition number is on a silver disc on the bottom of the body.

 

Construction & Quality

I can’t really fault anything about either the construction or quality of the materials.

 

The cap takes about 1⅓ turns to unscrew and seems to have just the right amount of “stickiness” to stop it accidentally opening. The clip doesn’t feel too tight or too loose, just about right, having said that I never use them.

 

One really nice thing is that neither the threads on the body or the ridge where it transitions from the grip section to the main body have any sharp edges to dig in, which means you can grip it anywhere and it’s comfortable. That seems to be overlooked by quite a few designs.

 

Weight & Dimensions

It has a decent heft to it without unduly heavy. When you pick it up it feels substantial and you automatically think quality. To give you an idea the body’s slightly lighter than a whole TWSBI 580.

 

Neither is it too wide or too skinny, just feels nice. Again comparing it to the 580, holding the grip section is about the same as holding the 580's filler knob.

 

I don’t like to post my pens which is fortunate as it isn’t ideal with all the metalwork on the cap. It will post but, unsurprisingly, feels top heavy.

 

The Nib

The 18k gold nib is plated with white gold which, compared to many, is quite plain but in a good way, with no extraneous scroll work or text, so the design really pops out. The picture of Ali together the the "Ali" text shows through the yellow gold whilst the nib details are discretely printed.

 

It seems to have just the right amount of wetness, no puddles but certainly no dryness. There has been no hard starts, no skipping and it’s just nice and smooth. I guess you could say that it floats like a butterfly.

 

But, whilst there’s some springiness to the nib, which makes it more enjoyable to write with, there really isn’t any line variation worth talking about. So it’s just a fine nib which seems to write more like a medium probably because of the wetness. Certainly quite a bit thicker than the fine on my Omas.

Filling

Filling is via the supplied converter and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I can’t help thinking it seems a bit cheap even though I know that much more expensive pens use the same system. Montegrappa do have piston fillers so it’s not as though they don’t have the choice. Anyway the converter works so I guess it’s fine although the capacity obviously isn’t great compared to some pens.

 

Cost & Value

If it wasn’t for the fact I managed to snag it for a steal I wouldn’t own it, not even at sale prices, it would have been too rich for my blood. It's certainly not a cheap pen however that’s not to say it’s not worth the asking price. One person’s good value or affordable is another persons “how much!”. Put it this way, there’s nothing on the pen that says cost cutting, OK perhaps the filler, or anything that’s not of top notch quality.

 

Final Words

So as you can tell I think it’s a really nice pen. If I had to be pressed for 3 things I’d have done differently then I would have made the packaging look as high end as the pen, thought about dropping the signature and perhaps change the filling system or if not at least throw in a full pack of cartridges. So really not much to complain about at all.

 

However, as nice as the pen is and in no way do I regret buying it, it has made me realise, or rather confirmed, that I much prefer a vintage nib. Both this and the Omas Alma I recently acquired have nibs that you can’t fault for smoothness or writing performance, but even compared to some modest vintage pens are missing something. I bought a sub £20 Waterman at the same time, it’s tiny and the body feels extremely cheap, you wouldn’t expect it to be mentioned in the same breath as this pen. But it’s such fun to write with, while this and the Omas are, for want of a better word, workmanlike. They’re not without soul just that modern production techniques seem to have sucked most of it out of them. So I’m coming around to thinking that my “grail” pen, not that I really have one, would be a lovely vintage nib on a lovely modern body.

 

If you're still awake, Specifications

The lengths are just measured with a ruler, so +/-1mm’ish, but close enough to give you a good idea.

 

Weight (empty): Complete 52g, Body 26g, Cap 26g

Length: Closed 144mm, Body 133mm, Cap 59mm, Posted 166mm

 

A Few More Pics

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Edited by mkeeley

~ Marc

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I like the nib :)

Me too.. :)

It's knockout. I'll get my coat. :(

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A fine looking pen, and a good review.

Enjoy. :thumbup:

 

Ian

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I doubt it's actally made of celluloid. The material looks like acrylic to me.

 

You're free to doubt but they say it is:

 

"Montegrappa have combined celluloid and sterling silver in a sensuous curving form, each element perfectly complimenting the other to produce exquisite writing instruments.

 

Celluloid, a material that was widely used in the last century and derived from the cellulose in cotton, was always difficult (and dangerous!) to manufacture, but no modern resin materials have ever managed to replicate the feel of celluloid. It was inevitable therefore that celluloid would make a comeback, but it's high cost has restricted it's use to only the best quality pens."

 

so I'm just going by what they say.

~ Marc

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You're free to doubt but they say it is:

 

"Montegrappa have combined celluloid and sterling silver in a sensuous curving form, each element perfectly complimenting the other to produce exquisite writing instruments.

 

Celluloid, a material that was widely used in the last century and derived from the cellulose in cotton, was always difficult (and dangerous!) to manufacture, but no modern resin materials have ever managed to replicate the feel of celluloid. It was inevitable therefore that celluloid would make a comeback, but it's high cost has restricted it's use to only the best quality pens."

 

so I'm just going by what they say.

 

That's a description that pops up on websites selling Montegrappa's celluloid pens from the regular line, such as the Miya or the Symphony. I can't find it referred to the Ali. And even if it was, that wouldn't change the fact that the material does not look like celluloid. And it wouldn't be the first time an Italian brand sells acrylic for celluloid (see Aurora with their "Auroloide"). In fact, if you look at the official website that sells Muhammad Ali merchandising, you will find that the pen is described as being "Finished in white pearlised resin with a black stripe running its length".

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That's a description that pops up on websites selling Montegrappa's celluloid pens from the regular line, such as the Miya or the Symphony. I can't find it referred to the Ali. And even if it was, that wouldn't change the fact that the material does not look like celluloid. And it wouldn't be the first time an Italian brand sells acrylic for celluloid (see Aurora with their "Auroloide"). In fact, if you look at the official website that sells Muhammad Ali merchandising, you will find that the pen is described as being "Finished in white pearlised resin with a black stripe running its length".

 

Montegrappa refer to their celluloid as celluloid resin which is why I thought it was also simply referred to a "resin". If you want to be sure you'd really need to ask them to clarify. Whatever it is it really catches the light.

~ Marc

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  • 1 month later...

I really like the design of this pen, I guess I would say it's one of my grail pens. Many of the LE Montegrappa Pens are incredibly beautiful with really pretty nibs.

 

Unfortunately, they are all way out of my price range.

 

I'm curious though if you don't mind me asking, how much did you pay for this and where did you get it?

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