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Which MB149 generation is considered superior ?



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Hello, Everybody,

 

This may be somewhat connected to the “Dating MB 149” topic. I’ve lived to have seen several generations of the lovely Meisterstück 149 in the market. I’ve noticed and understood many engineering, material and design changes.

However, I’ve permanently used only one model (an early 70s, single body, friction-fit piston unit w. 18C nib). I haven’t used others long enough to understand which of the standard issues can be distinguished as superior in terms of manufacturing quality, engineering, material robustness, ease of maintenence and serviceability.

 

I’ve read a very informative interview with the respected FPN member @Barry Gabay, who favors the later seventies generation, if I understood well: 

https://www.vintagemontblancpens.com/barry-gabay-interview-149

I presume it may have to do with the screw-in piston unit, thicker, more robust barrel wall (at the cost of somewhat less ink capacity), and improved ink flow compensation for flexible nibs. 

 

I’ve also read some Forum discussions, which appear slightly broad and inconclusive, such as this one:

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/124358-what-is-the-best-year-for-the-149/

 

I wish I could have a better insight into the matter. I also don’t trust in MB factory practice of replacing everything (except for the nib) when a pen is being sent for servicing, no matter broken or not, because I don’t find the newest to be unconditionally the best.

 

I would truly appreciate your expert and experienced opinions. Please, pardon my post in case I’m repeating a frequently asked question.

 

Thanks in advance.

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like @niksch wrote all those years ago - superior comes at a cost.  the 2nd thread mentioned above was started more than 10 years ago now and much of it holds true.  since 2019 though there has been the mb 149 calligraphy that lifts the nib back up the 1950s glory days.

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Thanks for your reply, @lionelc. I wrote exactly in what terms of superiority I was asking: not marketable superiority, not collectible superiority, not calligraphicability, not “golden age glory” but in plain terms of:

 

manufacturing quality

engineering consitency

material robustness

ease of maintenence

serviceability

 

Thanks.

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I have 149s of all eras.  They’re all good, but you get different things with each.  I much prefer the nibs on the fifties pens, but they come at a much higher price.  Maintenance is somewhat more involved and replacement parts are fewer and further between.  

 

1960s pens are lighter which is nice, but more susceptible to cracks.  The friction fit piston mechanism is harder to remove than threaded pistons on later pens.

 

1970s pens have the threaded pistons which is handy.  The feed is ebonite, either flat, or later in the decade, the split ebonite.  Some people say the nibs are softer.  Maybe. In my experience, some are and some aren’t.  

 

1980s pens up to the middle of the decade  are a lot like the 1970s pens only with 2 piece barrels.  Supposedly the nibs aren’t as soft.  I don’t notice a difference.  The feed is said to e the best of the ebonite versions.  Again, i’m not so sure i notice a huge difference with the flat feed.

 

After the early 1990s, the pens are more or less what they are today.  The various plastic feeds work well, even on the Calligraphy 149 — and the Calligraphy nib demands a lot from its feed.  The pens are a little heavier with the brass piston threads.  Ink capacity is lower if you care about such things.  I don’t.  

 

If you’re into 3B nibs, these aren’t available past a certain vintage.  I forget which exactly.

 

I guess i would agree with Barry that the 1970s pens hit the sweet spot in terms of ease of maintenance and features that i care about.  But then, there are things you won’t get with a 1970s pen, such as a Calligraphy nib or a telescoping piston or a fifties nib.  It’s an economy of gains and losses.

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3 hours ago, Uncial said:

Within those perametres it would be the current ones surely

I respect your opinion, but I can’t share it for various reasons such as not knowing how “surely” would such a pen behave 30 years from now, as well as much luxury industrial hype MB  now puts into their current line of products (at least for my taste)...

 

Thanks for your demistyfying, considerate and elaborate reply, @gyasko.

 

Maybe I should also try asking from a different point of view, in somewhat different words:

 

If you had a chance of choosing among MB149s of different generations (considering they had the same price and quality of nib), which one would you go for and why (I would exclude 50s and 2000s+):

-sixties

-seventies

-eighties

-nineties

(?)

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4 hours ago, gyasko said:

...They’re all good, but you get different things with each. ...

@gyasko Very nice summary!

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1 hour ago, como said:

@gyasko Very nice summary

Yet, somewhat vague and partial comment IMHO, @como, because:

 

- no one presumed or implied that any of those pens was “not good”

 

- one can also get “different things” from MB149s of the same generation, depending on factors beyond the scope of this question...

 

Please, pardon my humble opinion. Thanks.

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bunnspecial

I have 4 149s:

 

60s/70s 18c Tri-Tone friction piston

Late 70s/early 80s 14c two-tone, single piece barrel, flat ebonite

Late 80s W. Germany 14K two-tone, two piece, split ebonite

2019 tri-tone 18K, plastic feed, etc

 

The earliest is the lightest and holds the most ink, but mine was cracked and it took a bit of hunting and patience to get a replacement barrel. The nib(B) is good but not outstanding.

 

My W. Germany one is in my pocket now. It is an EF nail, which isn't my favorite grind but I find Fs and Ms boring and EF is a nice compromise on being a bit more versatile on where I use it and still having some character.

 

My 2019 is an OB nib. There's really not a lot to say about it. It's a good reliable writer, but doesn't excite me terribly.

 

My favorite of the bunch is the late 70s/early 80s, and mine is currently inked with Penman Sapphire. The B nib on it is wonderful, with a a tiny hint of springiness but not overboard. It has just the perfect amount of tooth. If I had some criticism of my newest one, it's that it's smoother than I'd like but not Pelikan glass smooth.

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@Stoen

My personal opinion would fall to the old celluloids with a telescopic piston, broad nibs like a bladed stub and a nice softness to the nib. But I'm not sure it would fit what you seemed to be looking for in scope -

manufacturing quality

I'd be surprised if modern pens from MB didn't pay attention to manufacturing quality, but celluloid isn't without its issues, especially as it ages. Some might argue the two piece barrels are an inherent weak point. The only weakness I'm aware of in most recent production would be the end collars.

 

engineering consitency

Not entirely sure what you meant by this.

 

material robustness

As above; celluloid has its issues. In times of shelf life the modern resins are probably better and arguably less prone to dull matting spots than celluloid.

 

ease of maintenence

Some might call me chicken on this, but personal maintenance of a telescopic piston scares me a lot. Cutting cork seals can be fiddly alright and I would be terrified of pulling on old nib collars, even ones from the 70's that feel stable.

 

serviceability

Modern is the answer to this. Send it off and it comes back in three weeks. Parts for older pens can be brutally expensive and sometimes really hard to find and you need a good, trusted repairer/servicer.  Put a dent in a modern 149 barrel and it comes back from MB with a new barrel. Get an interior lump due to celluloid deformation and a piston that gets sticky as a result in an old MB ....well, that's a much tougher thing to fix, if it can be fixed at all.

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14 hours ago, Uncial said:

engineering consitency

Not entirely sure what you meant by this.

 

Thanks for your replies, @Uncial& @bunnspecial. Great comments and trustworthy feed-back.

 

Three aspects of engineering consistency are usualy being taken into account:

 

- that there is not a part whose installation, maintenence and serviceability is substantially more difficult than that of the other parts, or in other pen models of the equivalent class.

 

- that there are no known undocumented engineering changes within a generation, which could result in incompatibility of parts otherwise expected to be compatible.

 

- that there are no parts which happen to perfom substantially worse or fail more frequently due to an engineering decision.

🙂

 

As for “trusted repairers” at MB, I know enough of what was going on “behind the shop counter”, and have witnessed how the company had changed its market appeal and customer treatment in the last 40 years. This may have been their road to survival, yet I don’t agree with the brutality of their “replace all except for the nib” servicing policy. I’m *not* and will never be one of those guys shopping for status.

🙂

 

I’m aware how brutally expensive some parts of old 149s can become. Yet, it is a matter of discussion if it’s worth having everything replaced just for a minor fault?

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I think for modern 149's it is worth replacing in terms of servicing and I quite appreciate MB's policy on this front. I must confess that I can't fault their servicing at all. I'm not sure if it's a specific policy on the WE's but I've sent some in for servicing or nib exchange and received the pen back with scratches polished out and clips, rings and signatures re-gilded at no extra cost to me. To me, that's a good service. It does seem to depend on where you are in the world though. Plenty of USA customers appear to have a rather different and less satisfactory experience. Of course, the policy doesn't work for older and vintage models if they just replace everything with new pen parts. I'd never send an older or vintage MB to MB for servicing. 

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8 hours ago, Uncial said:

I'd never send an older or vintage MB to MB for servicing. 

Thanks so much, @Uncial. This is exactly what I meant...

 

Here’s my experience. Recently as I had to have the spindle replaced, the MB serviceperson was kind enough to write they would simply sell me a new 149 and take my old pen as trade-in, when they read of its age (early seventies). Even that kindness was offered to me only once I insisted in asking what sort of repair they would exactly do. Had I just sent my pen naively, as they first suggested, I’d have probably just received a new one  instead. My unique early 70s 149 would have gone forever...

😪

 

So, thanks to the FPN and a bit of individual research, I learned the proper way of doing it myself, got a “new” spindle from a #34 broken beyond repair, and just did it.

🙂

 

Let’s go back on-topic...

 

I’d like to know if there is a plastic/ebonite or plastic/plastic “generation”, that can be considered “outstanding” in terms asked before. Nib performance doesn’t count.

 

Thanks, everybody, for participating the thread.

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