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Montblanc 149 Calligraphy Nib: A Personal View For Those Still On The Fence



fpupulin

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The last time I bought a new Montblanc Meisterstück 149 I was 18, way back in 1978. I chose it with an extra-fine nib, in a fine arts shop, right next to the entrance of the Venice Academy, where they proposed it as a drawing pen. I had no idea what a status symbol was, nor would I care: the 149 was for me only a splendid pen designed to do its duty well. Then others 149s came, with other nibs: medium, medium oblique, fine, double wide ... but no other arrived new.

 

Today a new Meisterstück 149, purchased in a Montblanc boutique, costs 800.00 Euros. Wow! Used but like new, maybe even never inked, it can be found for 350-400 Euros, with luck even for less. Honestly, I hadn't considered buying a new 149 from a boutique anymore, until ...

 

Until last year, when Montblanc presented the first of his Meisterstück series with Expressive Nibs, including a 149 Calligraphy with flexible nib (this year it will apparently be the turn of the "curved” nib).

Since it began to be available to the public I have read and seen everything that has been published on the net, in five different languages... Although with some exceptions, most of the opinions were that Montblanc had done a good job with his flexible nib. For better or for worse, I thought, the Hamburg company is a guarantee: they cannot have done it too badly (and there are various brands that have recently offered flexible nibs, but they have done it really badly ...). For better or for worse, the policy chosen by Montblanc was that of a special edition, limited in time. The Calligraphy flexible nib is a 2019 edition and apparently will not go into series production: those who found it and bought it have it, who doesn't ...
In December, in the city of Cologne, I visited a Montblanc boutique with my wife and was able to see the 149 Calligraphy live. Beautiful, like a 149. I confess that the somewhat plump torpedo shape of the body of a 149 is irresistibly attractive to me. I also really like the 146, but the 149, especially uncapped, seems to me to be just perfect. But ... But 915.00 Euros (the price of the Calligraphy version is higher than the regular version), without even being able to dip the nib to try it, they seemed to me unreachable, almost immoral …
Unfortunately, the fact that something costs too much (and 915 Euros is too much for a beautiful and functional pen, but still made with a resin mold) does not stop it being desirable. Unfortunately, the fact that this model of nib is produced in a certain quantity and that one can lose the opportunity to buy it when it is still available, makes it somehow even more desirable. Unfortunately, the fact that one also likes the calligraphy made with a pointed pen makes it really special. Oh well...
In Costa Rican currency, the 149 Calligraphy costs 679,900 colones. The conversion is done directly by Montblanc, automatically, when one connects to the virtual shop from a computer located in Costa Rica. In the only Authorized Montblanc dealer in Costa Rica (a luxury brand shop called Daoro) they had exhibited a 149 Calligraphy. Price: 640,000 colones (what a bargain ...), but ... with installment payment for a year without interest. Come on, only 75 Euros per month! Do you think I could resist? Goodbye to my pen budget, at least until I'm done paying for it, in March 2021!
Now, after four days as an owner, I can confess to you: did I do well? Even though I'm still licking my economic wound, the answer is a round yes!
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The monochrome nib is very simple and beautiful, with a slightly different geometry from that of my other 149. Having it in my fingers, I appreciate that Montbanc has chosen not to put any frills on it, not to make it special except for its nib. A Meisterstück 149 is already a special pen.
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Below I will give you my opinion on this particular nib, alongside with some examples on paper. In many cases, my impressions do not differ from those expressed by other users, but I will also present some new and unpublished considerations, the result of my tests. They are a few specific points that I would like to emphasize based on my first exercises rather than a review, aspects that I had not been able to clearly understand in other discussions on the Calligraphy pen and that could be of some interest to those who are still undecided whether to buy this pen or not.
1. This is the most and truly extra-fine nib that I have had on any of my modern Meisterstück. Compared to it, my other extra fines look terribly fine tending to skinny mediums.
2. The grind of the nib tip is different from the extra-fine on the current Meisterstück line, which are made to lay down an horizontal stroke that is wider than the vertical one where no pressure is exerted. The current grind has been called “architect type”, and depending on the pen époque it may be more or less pronounced, but in my experience all the modern extra-fine nib – on the 149 at least – are of the “architect type”. In the Calligraphy nib the horizontal and vertical strokes - with no pressure - are equal in width, with a very slight boldness on the vertical as it is difficult to completely eliminate pressure.
3. From the point of view of the line width, the 149 Calligraphy nib behaves like the extra-fine, flexible nibs of my vintage Omas Gentelemen(s). I have a vintage Omas Milord with a flexible fine nib, and the line is distinctly thicker than that of the Calligraphy nib.
4. I have probably not flexed the Calligraphy nib at its maximum (as I do not need to do it for my calligraphy), but the capability of its tines to spread is very similar to that attained by my vintage flex, with the same amount of pressure. You can see it, in the examples, where I drawn some sinuous lines under the text.
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5. The Calligraphy nib is slightly less elastic than the vintage flex. This means that the time for the tines to come back to the rest position is longer, and this has effects on the calligraphy performance, as the ink continues flowing through the nib for a time after the pressure is released. Please compare the curve under the letters “d” and “t” in the last two lines of text in the example made with the Omas nib and the Calligraphy nib. In the latter the curved line continues to be a bit bold when it comes back (in the word “downstrokes” the letters “o” and “r” after “d” and “t” are also bold).
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6. Even though the Calligraphy nib is able to write a line as thin as a vintage extra-fine flex, as well as a line equally bold, the “variation” is slightly less pronounced as a certain amount of wetness is maintained after the pressure is released.
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Points 5 and 6 obviously depend on other variables which are not only the nib, in particular the type of ink and paper used. I have not experimented with inks (so far I have exclusively used Edelstein Onyx), but I have tried various types of papers of which I propose a snapshot of the whole to make it easier to compare their performance. From the top, in order, are: Amalfi paper or charta bambagina, generic photocopy paper, Fabriano Ingres 90 g, Fabriano Grifo 100 g (very smooth paper, without cotton fibers), Montblanc Boutique paper for the nibs test, Moleskine Notebook Large ruled, Moleskine Pocket Sketchbook. As I hope you can see, although the Calligraphy nib passes the test on all the kinds of papers used, the quality of paper has a considerable influence on the behavior of the nib.
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The worst result is given by the Montblanc paper, however ridiculous it may seem. The surface is so porous-absorbent that the extra-fine section becomes almost a medium and the paper takes care of sucking up the ink with the result of minimizing the variation of the flexible nib.
Not extraordinary - as was easy to foresee - even the photocopy paper, but even on this really common paper the Calligraphy pen is able to show its talents.
The sharpest and truly extra-extra-fine stretch is obtained on the Amalfi paper, but the surface is so "dry" that the nib becomes very inclined to railroading.
The best performance overall was provided by the ruled paper of the Mokeskine Cahier Journal (it is sold as a set of 3 notebooks with cardboard cover and visible stitching). The quality of the paper in the Moleskine notebooks is decidedly unpredictable, but in this specific case I would rate it as "perfect".
It follows, qualitatively - and in my opinion - the beautiful Ingres di Fabriano. Here I used the color that Fabriano calls "white" (which is ivory). If you want a white Ingres you have to buy the color "ice". If you buy the color "ivory" they will give you a suede-colored paper. Dry at the right point to enhance the extra-fine stretch but smooth enough not to cause railroading.
Following - and I'm happy, because I also use this a lot - the "sketching" paper of the Moleskine Sketchbook, a beautiful 165 g acid-free paper, rather constant in performance. Since the Sketchbook paper is slightly "oily", sometimes the ink has difficulty to adhere when using large, italic or stub nibs, but with the pointed nib of the Calligraphy it behaves very well.
Separate speech for Grifo. Normally, it is magnificent and enhances any nib, but in the case of Calligraphy it underlines the slowness of the tines in returning to rest, so that on a paper so smooth and not very absorbent the ink accumulates on the tip which continues to produce a wide line even when the flow should now be reduced by the absence of pressure.
7. The nib of the 149 Calligraphy prefers a light or very light hand in general strokes. It flexes with relatively little pressure, which can be applied with some precision once you learn to stay generally light.
8.I found the Calligraphy nib extraordinary to write small, with no pressure. Here it outperforms my vintage flex(s), which are more “pointy” and slightly scratchier, so requiring a more educated hand.
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9. Even when the “elasticity” is not the same, I found the Calligraphy nib well comparable to a vintage flex, much more than any other modern flex that I had a chance to ext (admittedly, not so much).
10. I would buy it again both for calligraphic purposes and for daily writing.
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Thank you for the patient reading.

 

 

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A wonderful and insightful education you have provided us. Thank you for taking the time and effort!

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

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A very informative and detailed review, awesome hand writing and pictures. Have to agree with everything you said. Thanks!

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Many thanks for an extraordinary report and demonstration, fpupulin! This beautiful pen could not have gone to a more deserving owner. Wishing you joyous hours of writing!

Happiness is a real Montblanc...

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neverforget

Thank you very much for writing this review and for the writing samples. You have beautiful penmanship and your review provides me personally with great value.

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Dear all: I just realized that I forgot including in my post the pic with the comparison of the Calligraphy nib behavior on different papers.

 

Here it goes with, from the top: Amalfi paper (charta bambagina), generic photocopy paper, Fabriano Ingres 90 g, Fabriano Grifo 100 g), Montblanc Boutique paper for the nibs test, Moleskine Notebook Large ruled, Moleskine Pocket Sketchbook.

 

 

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Beautifully written and photographed, as usual. Thank you so much!

Rationalizing pen and ink purchases since 1967.

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What a great review of a pen that I am very curious about. Thank you for the time and effort (and expense) you put into this.

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A (for me, at least) most interesting presentation, as it's the first one I've seen trying to compare this modern flex nib to a vintage one, and then with such a level of detail and caligraphy examples.

 

Thank you sir.

Edited by jmnav
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Outstanding review. I have considered this pen but had a number of questions. You have answered them all. I can honestly say that this would not be a good match for me. So, thank you.

 

I hope you enjoy the pen and it brings you many years of joyful writing.

"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours. When it is gone, it is gone. Be wise, but enjoy! - anonymous today

 

 

 

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This is a great review. If I didn't already have one this would have definitely helped me decide (to get one).

Thank you; although now I feel the need to practice my hand writing (and perhaps buy some nicer paper) so I can get the same performance you are out of mine!

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After reading you most detail review and your comments , I will go to the MB boutique to buy one if they have it. Thank you for your review and for showing us your calligraphy. :D

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Thanks for the awesome review!

In use today: MB LeGrand Pettit Prince and Aviator, Pelikan M100N, Conid First Production Run demonstrator.

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Exceptional everything, as usual, fpupulin! Thank you so much for this!

 

I hope you don't mind me downloading the images and sharing them with my friends.

Edited by adim
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Thank you, you have outdone yourself once again. Thank you for sharing your talents with us, Franco!!!!!

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