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149 With A New Nib

Remedial penmanship

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Remedial penmanship

To report a bit on an experience:


I'm a noob, less than 9 months since my first fountain pen. Like many noobs, I was intimidated by the broad nib and what the oblique broad meant. An oblique triple broad would be a preposterously fat tool. My handwriting in college was for equations, in medical school for furious notes. The electronic health record has largely obliterated any need for a written communication, but not quite. To my patients I hand write medication instructions from a pre-printed sheet. I have every excuse for sloppy handwriting: a C in 4th grade. An engineering undergraduate curriculum. A doctor.


Yet it was my Grandma, recently deceased, who inspired in me improved handwriting. An article in last fall's Wall Street Journal advocated a simple Lamy before one splurged on an inconceivably expensive Sailor with gold nib for ~$400. Her correspondence in her last months exhibited more practiced, more beautiful handwriting despite the uneven strokes of geriatric motor control than my young nimble limbs could muster. I would like to say it was her handwriting that inspired me, her communication through the post more intimate than these electrons by beaten keyboard. Perhaps equally important was the need for change in so personal a technique as handwriting and signature in the resolution of divorce.


The Lamy's nib: fine. Many fine nibs purchased before getting curious. A Montblanc Jules Verne, fine, ok, but what's this I hear about line variation? An Izumo with fine nib: too small! Better with a medium nib. A Nakaya music nib - a big, fat highlighter of a pen. I hated the music nib. In a fit of spending violating the Boy Scout's pledge to be "thrifty," I simultaneously bought a Montblanc Moon Pearl with XF nib (one foot still firmly in the fine camp) and a 90th 149 with B nib (one more toe in the land of the fat nib). The B nib I found similarly a big fat writer with none of the stubbish quality I'd heard of. So in a moment of inspiration I visited my Montblanc boutique on perhaps the last day of my 6 week exchange window and asked for the OBBB nib. OBB? No, O Triple B. Oh. We don't get many of those requests.


On Penboard I found a 144 celluloid 1950s ski slope OBBB, and it is butter. It is divine. Line variation galore, sleek and slinky with the superb detail of a convex piston ring (too lazy now to find out if that's the right term). From a FPN'er I found a 75th Anniv 146 with BB nib. I'm finding I much prefer the oblique hold, still, I make do with the BB nib and far prefer it to its F and XF brethren. Four months after submission the boutique received the pen back. Reportedly, the first request for nib replacement to OBBB, it had to be special made, sent back to Hamburg. Free: no service charge, no nib charge, sent in in the waning twilight of the six-week window. Complimentary an ink fill and a test run on Montblanc paper. Sorry for the ink blobs all over your counter: I neglected to open the piston after filling to release a few drops. I'm not a surgeon.


The 146 75th is a revelation of a MOP star. The yellowed 50s 144 has character. In comparison, what I perceive to be a painted white star on the 149 seems rather cheap.


I'll post here and in another post (perhaps a part 2 to this post??) pictures, paper. I'm definitely an OBBB kind of guy. Pity, it's not a usual 146 grind, and it's fairly hard to find those OBBs. Still, one must have the fine nibs: bureaucratic forms allow for little expressive handwriting.post-119980-0-00620400-1441766068_thumb.jpgpost-119980-0-61060400-1441766069_thumb.jpgpost-119980-0-48203400-1441766071_thumb.jpgpost-119980-0-38458900-1441766073_thumb.jpgpost-119980-0-21351000-1441766075_thumb.jpg

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Remedial penmanship

post-119980-0-69156400-1441767726_thumb.jpgpost-119980-0-65846900-1441767720_thumb.jpgpost-119980-0-12979200-1441767722_thumb.jpgpost-119980-0-00396900-1441767725_thumb.jpgpost-119980-0-26912800-1441767728_thumb.jpgpost-119980-0-49332300-1441767723_thumb.jpgAnd part 2!


More about ignoring that Boy Scout virtue of "thrift." It's true, the 149 is smaller than the Danitrio eyedroppers. Doesn't hold a candle to a Mikado or Genkai, and isn't significantly different in size from a Densho, though the Montblanc's nib is the larger. I say doesn't hold a candle to the Mikado or Genkai because I perceive, perhaps in their heft compared with a relatively lightweight 149, greater quality of material, of worksmanship, in the Mikado and Genkai. Never mind there's the "if you've got it, flaunt it" gold Ishi-meji finish and byakudan-nuri Genkai that scream "look at me" compared with the black 149, but in size, cannot be called stealth or subtle.


I hope in posting these thoughts I might communicate what I've read: seek the nib and not the pen. It wasn't until my 149 found its OBBB nib I think it found its soul. When spelunking through FPN it seemed there are very well written, very well thought out individual reviews, many reviews comparing models, but not always easy to find comparisons among similar sizes across brands. Having said that, without the ability to attend a pen show or have a local fountain pen club or friend with lots of pens, it might be hard to take a stab at what you might want to aim for if your budget allows. If I really had to do it all over again: perhaps get a Lamy with every steel nib size for not a lot of money and figure out which writing character you seek, then seek the pens with the nibs that most closely match that nib. Still, perhaps only by trial and error you'll find you enjoy the music nib Mottishaw'd to an oblique cursive italic. Some things just take a hunch and a leap of faith.


Hope you enjoyed reading this comparison of sorts. Thank you for all of the opinions and posts I've had the pleasure of reading.

Edited by Remedial penmanship
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If the 146 solitaire 75th was available in pinstripe (I haven't come across one anywhere) i think i would've sold a kidney already, the barley is still quite lovely :).

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  • 1 month later...
Mister Mont Blanc

I just took the plunge on the same exact pen, the 90th 149 with an OBBB nib. I just received it today and had some second guesses, but this thread has more than solved my problems. I honestly thought the nib looked too small to be called an OBBB. After seeing your pictures, it is the same nib. In comparison, the tip of the nib is about the exact same width as my TWSBI 580 1.1mm stub nib. Man I love the TWSBI nib, and even the 1.5mm as well. The problem though is they lack tipping material per se and you have to go slow with them, ink flow is light but makes for crisp letters. I've always wanted to have a Montblanc that could make such beauty and apparently, the OBBB nib is exactly that. Making it oblique does change it a bit but it is still a versatile nib giving multiple writing styles depending on vertical angle and nib rotation. I just love how Montblanc's version has just as much stub to it but so much more ink flow, shading, and allows for faster writing. I think the BB nib is the next one on the list... Maybe in the new Platinum trim model..? :)

I like your point about chasing the nib and not the pen. Thank you for the comparisons, pictures, and writing samples!

I keep thinking about selling some of my pens but all that happens is I keep acquiring more!

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Great posts Remedial Penmanship. When you get tired of that Genkai look me up!


I wish my handwriting in primary school was good enough for a C. I think a C- was my best through 6th grade.


The 149 O3B is not to be missed. It's the only reason I was willing to buy a new 149. And yes, the MB boutique did not believe me that they had nibs that wide. Kind of sad actually...

If you want less blah, blah, blah and more pictures, follow me on Instagram!

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~ @Remedial penmanship


Thank you so much for the superb article.

The images enhanced the vivid text. You weren't an author on the side to fund your medical education?

As you, I started out with Lamy...dark steel nibs.

Then on to an ever-expanding quiver of Montblancs, all purchased at the Oriental Plaza boutique here in Beijing (东方新天地在北京).

A half-dozen vintage Parker 51s have made there way across the Pacific to add variety to the collection.

Yet the nibs all were EF (6) with a single F and an M. Early this year a bespoke EEF nib from Hamburg arrived, with flex and flair beyond all expectation.

Two weeks ago I took the computerized handwriting analysis which Montblanc offers at selected boutiques. It concluded that the natural nib most fit for me was B.

The boutique sales representative and I laughed, as I've been so dedicated to the precise EF nibs. A second test yielded the same result.

After mulling it over for one week, I returned last week to purchase the sole B nib on offer — a 146 90th anniversary.

The first few days were inconclusive. However, one full week later I'm in love! The smooth writing and rich display of ink color beguiles.

Reading your post persuades me that an OBBB might be the next step.

I highly appreciate your insights, candor and lyrical style.

Tom K.

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