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Montblanc 149 Calligraphy: break in period?



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Dear friends,

 

Last week I was fortunate to obtain a 149 Calligraphy. It had been on order for a long time (6+ months). It has given me a great deal of pleasure already. A few queries for those of you who have been able to work with this pen far longer than I have.

 

  1. Is there indeed a break in period for this pen? The tines are very tight, which allows for a nice thin EEF line. But it is also prone to skipping and the occasional hard start when writing with little pressure - especially on horizontal strokes from left to right but also (more rarely) on light downstrokes. Is this indeed something that will be resolves after more extensive use?
  2. The tines make a clicking sound from time to time. Do you also experience this?

 

Kindest regards,

Marty

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Frank C

You are indeed fortunate to have gotten one. They are great pens. 

 

A few questions, first:

 

What ink are you using?

 

What paper are you using?

 

They are great pens to use. If you have not viewed it already, I refer you to Franco Pupulin's 

It contains a wealth of practical information on the pen. 

 

When I first got my pen, I filled it with Montblanc Permanent Black ink. Montblanc specifically says not to use this ink in this pen, but many people do. You just have to rinse the pen thoroughly between fills and not let the ink dry out in the pen. I noticed some railroading at first, but that has gone away. I also had some hard starts, but that is not uncommon in Las Vegas where our humidity hovers around 6% in the summer. And the central air conditioning takes out whatever moisture is left. I also had very little flexion in the nib at first. Franco mentions this in the above topic. Early on, I took the pen with me to the Montblanc boutique in Las Vegas. The salesman wanted to try it. I guessed—wrongly—that he new how to write with a premium fountain pen. When it didn't start writing immediately, he began to press the pen on the paper trying to get it to express some ink. Before I could stop him, he was burying the feed into the pad of paper. The pen has written differently since that experience. The nib spreads easily and evenly, and the tines return quickly to the center. Montblanc cautions users not to use pressure on horizontal strokes. The tines are so thin, they could bend. The nib is designed for pressure on downstrokes. Having said that, I find that sometimes it is hard to transition from hard to soft in the middle of a letter. One just has to practice, which is how one learns to use this pen anyway. 

 

Twice I have run my pen off the edge of a Rhodia pad accidentally. Each time, I discover that the tips of the tines have crossed. I just make a downstroke and they return to normal. I have examined them with a loupe, and they still are in perfect alignment.

 

As you can tell I use Montblanc Permanent ink in my pen. I alternate between Blue and Black; these are Franco's preferred inks, too. I use Rhodia or Clairfontaine paper. Franco uses various Fabriano papers; I still need to order some. 

 

I wish you well with your new pen. I have learned much by using mine. 

"One can not waste time worrying about small minds . . . If we were normal, we'd still be using free ball point pens." —Bo Bo Olson "I already own more ink than a rational person can use in a lifetime." —Waski_the_Squirrel

I'm still trying to figure out how to list all my pens down here.

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invisuu

From my experience, there's no break-in period, but you will learn how to use it better with time. It's not a nib like others, it demands time and practice from the user. 
 

Ink and paper play a huge role as well. My ink of choice is Aurora Black for this grind and paper should be a rougher paper, not the typical super smooth waxed paper.

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fpupulin

My more heartfelt congratulations for your acquisition!

 

The Calligraphy is an engineering masterpiece. If you look at the tines, you will note that they are quite different from those of a vintage flex. They are distinctly thicker at the apex, which gave them a sort of "mechanical" hardness, mostly on the pressure from the side. I guess this was designed to avoid misaligning them under the pressure necessary to obtain those 1.6mm strokes of which the nib is effectively capable.  

 

My experience was that the subtle "click" from the tip of the nib is not permanent and its not a constant or a characteristic of any individual nib. It comes and goes, and now I think that it depends on how "tight" we push the tines close each other after a particular stroke. When we involuntarily made a "counterstroke", the click disappears.

 

Also, skipping and hard starts tend to disappear completely with time and, as FranK C justly suggested, with the more appropriate combinations of paper and ink. Now, my nib wrote almost flawless with any ink on any paper, but the writing experience is not the same, depending on the support and the ink of choice. And I wrote almost flawlessly because you may sometimes experience again a few skips, mostly on the horizontal strokes when you begin a new stroke after lifting the pen from the leaf. It is a very minor price to pay now and then for an otherwise superlative nib. 

 

I also would not call the progressive improvements in the behaviour of this nib a true break-in, but instead a progressive confidence we develop with the nib and its mechanical qualities. In my experience it is true, however, that the duo hand+nib performs better and better with time. 

 

As other suggested, take your time with the nib. I only very rarely heard of a Calligraphy nib that was truly non-functional. In all the other cases, it was just the necessary training for the duo to perform at their best. 

 

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Congratulations on your new pen.

 

As these become increasingly harder to obtain (I think it was in Franco’s Calligraphy thread that someone in fact mentioned they were told by MB staff that even they are not able to readily order them from Hamburg for their boutiques), and after a six-months wait, this is quite an achievement.
I’m sure you will be very pleased with the 149 Calligraphy.

 

I have had mine for a little over a year now. If memory serves me right, I do not think there was a big break-in period as far as the pen is concerned.
What I did realize, though, was that the softness of the nib required some getting used to, especially if you’re coming from modern standard MB nibs.
I had used flex pens before, but none of them had the size of a 149 nib.
So if you are not used to flex pens, it might be your hand and brain which will need a little bit of a break-in period to control the nib 😜

 

I also experienced some hard starts at the beginning, but those have completely disappeared after going through two or three fills, and now they only occur occasionally when using really smooth paper, but I do not consider this a flaw of the 149 Calligraphy.
As the previous contributors have pointed out, finding the right combination of pen, ink, and paper is essential. This, however, I would also not consider something that would be particular to the 149 Calligraphy or your pen.

I mainly use Clairefontaine, Oxford, Rhodia (for note-taking, journaling, basically all everyday purposes) as well as Tomoe River and Crane & Co. Ivory Woven (for letters, cards etc.), all of which work well with the 149 Calligrpahy. Once you know how and with what papers to use it (or you like to use it), it's a great pen for pretty much anything you want.

 

At the beginning, I also heard the clicking. It has almost completely disappeared over time, but I think that is due to the fact that I have become familiar with the nib and how to use it.
For my everyday writing, I tilt my pens slightly to the right, and whenever my brain switches to autopilot and does the tilting when I use the 149 Calligraphy, the clicking returns from time to time. This is why I think that it might be related to how the tines spread and close (or release tension, or rub against each other) when writing in particular angels.
So maybe your writing angle is something to pay attention to as you try out your new toy.

 

In any case, the clicking (or its cause) has so far not adversely affected my pen or the writing experience in any way.

 

Please do report on your progress and experiences with the 149 Calligraphy.

New input from new users, I am sure, will be greatly appreciated as we all figure out what this pen can do.

~N

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newstudent
8 hours ago, Martty said:

Dear friends,

 

Last week I was fortunate to obtain a 149 Calligraphy. It had been on order for a long time (6+ months). It has given me a great deal of pleasure already. A few queries for those of you who have been able to work with this pen far longer than I have.

 

  1. Is there indeed a break in period for this pen? The tines are very tight, which allows for a nice thin EEF line. But it is also prone to skipping and the occasional hard start when writing with little pressure - especially on horizontal strokes from left to right but also (more rarely) on light downstrokes. Is this indeed something that will be resolves after more extensive use?
  2. The tines make a clicking sound from time to time. Do you also experience this?

 

Kindest regards,

Marty

Does it function well when used as a non-calligraphy 149 without any pressure, just the usual EF nib?

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invisuu

I also have the clicking of the tines - it's because when you flex, the tines don't snap back completely, and when you put the pen to paper again after unflexing, the tines snap back together. I have observed no functional change in the tines in "true" position versus slightly misaligned position after flexing.

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Frank C
11 hours ago, newstudent said:

Does it function well when used as a non-calligraphy 149 without any pressure, just the usual EF nib?

Yes, it is perfectly functional as an EF nib. Very few of us are able to write, consistently, without any pressure. When I write as I normally write with it, it adds a small amount of character to the letters. If you can find one—and can afford the premium price—it is worth buying. They may, or may not, be a limited edition. If the former is true, the price will just go up. 

"One can not waste time worrying about small minds . . . If we were normal, we'd still be using free ball point pens." —Bo Bo Olson "I already own more ink than a rational person can use in a lifetime." —Waski_the_Squirrel

I'm still trying to figure out how to list all my pens down here.

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newstudent
1 hour ago, Frank C said:

Yes, it is perfectly functional as an EF nib. Very few of us are able to write, consistently, without any pressure. When I write as I normally write with it, it adds a small amount of character to the letters. If you can find one—and can afford the premium price—it is worth buying. They may, or may not, be a limited edition. If the former is true, the price will just go up. 

That is correct. I use mine for straightforward writing most of the time, and only once in a while attempt calligraphy exercises, and that too in a modest way.

My point here was that if Martty's one functions properly as a normal EF, then there shouldn't be a problem with the pen

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Thank you all for your insightful comments. This is really helpful. My pen functions as a proper EF, with an occasional skip or hard start. I will go on to experiment with different inks, and will certainly try the MB permanent inks. Nice observation also about not the pen needing break in time, but the user-pen combination instead. I will pay attention to the writing angle as suggested and will report back!

 

Interesting how much using the Calligraphy is similar to getting used to a high quality musical instrument. I play the violin myself and there as well it is the user who needs to adapt to the bow-violin combination, instead of the instrument adapting to the player. It is all about the player/writer bending towards the infinite possibilities and (sound) colours of the instrument.

 

What a special journey to embark on!

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Frank C
22 minutes ago, Martty said:

Interesting how much using the Calligraphy is similar to getting used to a high quality musical instrument. I play the violin myself and there as well it is the user who needs to adapt to the bow-violin combination, instead of the instrument adapting to the player. It is all about the player/writer bending towards the infinite possibilities and (sound) colours of the instrument.

 

What a special journey to embark on!

I especially like this analogy. Although I think that learning to play the violin in much harder. Having said that, I don't think that, with any amount of practice, I will be able to reach Franco's level of artistry with my Calligraphy pen. Some people just have certain natural abilities. 

"One can not waste time worrying about small minds . . . If we were normal, we'd still be using free ball point pens." —Bo Bo Olson "I already own more ink than a rational person can use in a lifetime." —Waski_the_Squirrel

I'm still trying to figure out how to list all my pens down here.

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6 minutes ago, Frank C said:

Having said that, I don't think that, with any amount of practice, I will be able to reach Franco's level of artistry with my Calligraphy pen.

I quite agree, the quality of Franco’s artistry is in a league of its own!

Incidentally, I am now using Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite & a Leuchtturm notebook. 

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Frank C

I do have the Edelstein Tanzanite, but I have never tried Leuchtturm paper; I know that Leuchtturm is very popular in the USA. Pelikan inks, in general, work very well. I have noticed that inks sold by pen companies are usually compatible with almost any fountain pen. There are exceptions, of course. 

 

As I said, I have had good success with the Montblanc Permanent inks. The blue is especially useful if you draw lines in pencil to layout your calligraphy; it doesn't erase easily. The black permanent ink erases to a gray (American spelling) color. I am still working on the alphabet. I made a whole bunch of Ts yesterday. I still have to work on lower-case letters and then put everything together. But I am having fun in the process—and I've noticed that my handwriting in general has improved as a result of all this practice. 

"One can not waste time worrying about small minds . . . If we were normal, we'd still be using free ball point pens." —Bo Bo Olson "I already own more ink than a rational person can use in a lifetime." —Waski_the_Squirrel

I'm still trying to figure out how to list all my pens down here.

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To OP @MarttyCongratulations on your newly acquired Calligraphy! I second the opinions of other members here. From my perspective, this pen should do the following well, as it's designed to do:

 

1. Under zero or very little pressure, It should write a true EF (If you write as you normally would, and the pen produces a western F, I would say that it's not good enough); 

2. Upon some pressure/flex, the pen should still feel very precise in terms of snapback and ink flow (if you apply some pressure, it gets too wet and continues to produce a rather thick line after the tines are back together, it's not so good);

3. Occasional hard start is ok but should not be excessive (if you find the hard starts at an annoying level, it's probably not right);

 

I mention the above three things because I don't believe they will disappear after "break-in" period (however you define it). The clicks and occasional hard start will most likely disappear after some "getting used to and learning how best use" this pen.

 

If you find little things about your Calligraphy that just don't feel quite right after some period of use, don't hesitate to contact Boutique and discuss with them. This is a superb pen, and the Calligraphy nibs, though very high precision and high tech, are still handmade. If one performs outside the tolerance range, it will need to be dealt with and Montblanc is capable of doing that. 

 

 

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Dear all,

since the skipping continues, I decided to upload some photos of the nib. I would be most curious to hear what you think. Is this a properly aligned nib?

Best, MartyE78A1D9B-7B79-4165-8470-C5F09DCCE4A5.thumb.jpeg.79e14d69f654f3091323742f6822f5be.jpeg91969800-8033-46BC-8A59-7F1ED1063638.thumb.jpeg.96bc3b8428561ea42f477d5901f1c81d.jpeg

A95BDE09-38FF-48BD-95CA-056EC33F5DD9.jpeg

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Frank C

I took out my loupe to examine my nib. That's what mine looks like. You might want to try a different ink. There are a few posts on the topic I mentioned above about which inks work better than others. 

 

As I said, mine skipped initially, especially with MB Permanent Black, less so with Permanent Blue. Permanent Blue cleans out faster, too. 

"One can not waste time worrying about small minds . . . If we were normal, we'd still be using free ball point pens." —Bo Bo Olson "I already own more ink than a rational person can use in a lifetime." —Waski_the_Squirrel

I'm still trying to figure out how to list all my pens down here.

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@MarttyAs others said, the paper and ink choices play a role here. But In order to understand the nature of your pen skips, may I suggest the following?

 

Ink up your pen with a "normal" MB ink, say, MB Royal Blue (because if/when you make the case of pen skipping to Montblanc, you don't want them to start arguing that you didn't use a suitable ink). Do a test as shown in my photo, with light pressure (not zero pressure, nor medium to heavy pressure), in different strokes, at normal speed (try not to write too fast as one tends to do with such a mundane task :-))) Try to hold your nib steady, and don't rotate the nib unconsciously. 

 

The purpose of this exercise is to try to pinpoint where and how often the skips occur. Can you see a pattern? Once you have done this, it gives you a good sense if this is acceptable to YOU or not. 

 

This nib is very different from other modern conventional nibs, so observing it from photo or even in person with a loupe may or may not necessarily offer a definitive clue. It looks ok, maybe slightly over-polished, but it's not sure that this is the case, or that it's the cause. It could very well be that a nib that looks exactly like yours has zero problem.

 

You can do this exercise on two or three different types of papers too. It could give you an idea with which paper the skips are more prevalent.

 

In the photo: #1 and #3 skips are genuine skips, but #2 is due to my doing too fast and lifting the nib off the paper. I've used this pen for a couple of weeks. To me this amount of skipping is acceptable and I expect this to totally go away in a few weeks. You have to decide what's with yours. Good luck!

large.0A0A7C7C-D75E-425E-9F22-1C784E79AB79.jpeg.f3a8451924ed87db77edcfbaa109c0ad.jpeg

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This is very helpful! I have inked it with MB Midnight Blue. See the attached photo for the results. Quite extreme skipping, as far as I am concerned. I am using Leuchtturm paper, and wrote slowly. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

kindest regards, Marty

 

 

DC561FFD-C032-4387-AD9C-35C7773F870B.jpeg

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@MarttyMay I ask how long have you been using this pen? Daily, a few pages a day? Have you tried to flush the pen with warm water and a drop of dishwasher detergent, then try the pen again? Do different kinds of paper make any difference? If you've done all of this and after a month or so constant use, it improves nothing, consider contacting MB. If you do, don't forget to show them your writing test so they understand your issue.

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@comoI have now been using the pen for a week, four to five pages a day, using the pen several times a day. Different kinds of paper make no real difference. I will try flushing with dishwater detergent and see if that makes a difference. Would there be a time limit within which to contact MB? Within 6 weeks? 

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