Why are Montblancs so Special? ...Let's Begin with Meisterstück

Why are Montblancs so Special? ...Let's Begin with Meisterstück

I always get a little excited when a customer comes into the store to buy a Montblanc. I don't show it, of course. I play it cool. But secretly, even though I've been selling Montblancs at Pen Boutique for almost a year now, it always seems like a big deal. Why? What is it about Montblanc?

Reputation and History

There's no question that Montblanc is the most well-known fine pen brand in the world, and it has a reputation for being the best in the market. Although there are other fine pens that compare to or surpass Montblanc in the eyes of fountain pen aficionados, none has the recognition of a Montblanc, and there is something about the very word "Montblanc" that carries with it a feeling that these pens are in a league of their own.  Customers who come in looking for a very special pen (either as a gift or as an item of exceptional significance for themselves) almost always end up choosing a Montblanc, even after I show them other highly esteemed fine pen brands like S.T.  Dupont, Graf von Faber-Castell, Visconti, Pelikan, and Otto Hutt. They consider the other pen models briefly, hold them in their hands, admire their features, and then say something like, "But it's not a Montblanc."

The Montblanc company had a humble beginning. It was founded in Hamburg, Germany in 1906 by August Eberstein, an engineer from Berlin, along with stationer Claus-Johannes Voss and banker Alfred Nehemias, both from Hamburg. They began as the Simplo Filler Pen company, producing a range of simple to use fountain pens designed not to leak.  The "simplicissimus" pen included a built-in ink well.  In 1909, they created the Rouge et Noir (a name still given to pens in Montblanc's "Heritage" line), referring to the safest way of playing roulette: betting on both red and black at the same time. This "safe" pen was engineered to eliminate the risk of ink stains.  

A year later, in 1910, the company chose their new name:  Montblanc. Mont Blanc (meaning "white mountain") is the highest mountain in the Alps and also the highest mountain in Western Europe. The implication is clear:  Montblanc is the highest quality; Montblanc is the best.  

Note that the brand is properly spelled Montblanc, while the mountain is Mont Blanc (in French) or Monte Bianco (in Italian). Although the mountain is located mostly in France and Italy, it also straddles Switzerland at its northeastern end.  The brand Montblanc, however, is not Swiss or French, but 100% German.  

You may have noticed the number 4810 engraved on the nib of Montblanc fountain pens.  It's also often used by Montblanc as a limited edition production number.  This number refers to the height of the mountain in meters above sea level.

Montblanc's famous white star emblem (introduced in 1913) also references the mountain's peak.  It represents the six snow-covered glaciers at Mont Blanc's summit, and thus equates Montblanc with the pinnacle. It's fascinating how words like "peak," "pinnacle," and "summit" are used to describe mountains but also refer to the most successful and the highest attainable level of achievement. Montblanc chose their logo well, and they prominently feature it on their pens' caps, so it's easy to see it when you carry a Montblanc in your pocket or if you write with the cap posted on the back of the pen. A Montblanc's cap conveys an unmistakable message.

Meisterstück

Today, Montblanc has expanded to other luxury goods, including watches, fragrances, leather goods, and jewelry. But when someone refers to "a Montblanc" they're talking about a pen, and often to one pen in particular:  the iconic Meisterstück.  Montblanc began using the name Meisterstück (it means “Masterpiece” in English) in 1924 for their best pens, and the Meisterstück 149 model was introduced in 1951. This pen, and its smaller siblings, the 146, 145, and 144, share a timeless and classic shape that will always be in fashion.  It was even the model for the pen emoji.  The Meisterstück pen is one of the most famous writing instruments of all time.

The Meisterstück fountain pen is known for its cigar or torpedo profile--meaning that it is a thin cylindrical shape with rounded ends.  The cap can be removed in one rotation.  Meisterstücks have elegant and practical straight clips with slightly raised detailing near the top in a shape that echos the overall clip and adds beauty and interest.  The top is attached to a ring that encircles the cap and is embedded within it. It's a very study and functional design. Near the bottom of the cap are two more thin rings surrounding a slightly wider band with the words MONTBLANC and MEISTERSTUCK on it, as well as additional writing, depending on the model of the pen.  There is a fifth metal ring toward the bottom of the pen.  In piston-filling models, this finial section is partially unscrewed to activate the internal mechanism that fills the pen with ink; in models that use a cartridge/converter system, it is purely decorative.

Montblanc uses the Meisterstück shape in many of their limited edition pen lines, such as Around The World In 80 DaysLe Petit Prince, Great Masters, and UNICEF, and it is also available in beautiful variations like their Calligraphy series and their new blue-tone Glacier line, but in this article I'm going to keep it simple and just focus on the iconic classic black Meisterstück fountain pens. 

In fact, I was nervous about taking Monblanc pens home with me, so I just chose three representative pens to photograph and examine--one to represent each of the sizes we carry (149, 146, and 145) and in each of the trim colors (gold, red gold, and platinum).  The 149 size is always a fountain pen, but 146 and 145 are also available in rollerball and ballpoint, and there are sometimes pencil versions as well. A lot of the information I will be discussing in this article pertains to all Meisterstück writing instruments, so please keep reading even if you aren't interested in a fountain pen.  As I started to think about all the exponential Meisterstück variations, I got overwhelmed very quickly, so I decided a simple and focused approach was best.  Let's begin with the first and largest.

149, or "Diplomat"

The original Meisterstück model is known by various names:  "Diplomat," "Presidente," "sign pen," or "signature pen."  It's the preferred pen of CEOs, diplomats, and heads of state because it's perfect for signing things and makes your signature look spectacular!  Because of its size, it's showy and instantly recognizable. It has a very important look when you are holding it in your hand.

The number 149 seems pretty obscure, but it actually had meaning.  The "1" denoted the Meisterstück grade.  (The other grades, 2 and 3, are no longer used, and are only found on vintage pens.) The “4” referred to the filling mechanism (pens with "4" were piston-fillers), and the “9” referred to the size of the nib (1 was the smallest, 9 the largest). So a Model 149 was a Meisterstück piston-filler with a #9 nib. Because this nib is the largest and therefore has the most surface area, it has the most flexibility and is the springiest feeling to write with. The nib is 18K gold (Au 750 in German), which also adds to its flexibity as compared to the 14K gold used in the smaller pens' nibs.

Knowing that the final number refers to nib size makes it easy to remember that 145 is the smallest model, 146 the medium, and 149 the large one. (Although, really, it's more like medium, large, and extra-large.  I wouldn't call any of them small!) All three have beautiful two-tone nibs with an elegant and timeless design.

The 149 model originally only came with yellow gold plated trim, but all the current models are now available in rose gold (Montblanc calls this "red gold") and platinum plated (silver colored) trim as well. The rose gold color was released to celebrate 90 years of Meisterstück. I'll compare the trim options more later in this article!

Note when comparing the three pens that the 149 and 146 are both piston-fillers (so, you fill them from an ink bottle), and current releases of these models have slim vertical ink windows near the top of the barrel that allow you a glimpse into the pen so you can check on your ink level. These cool windows are most noticeable if you hold the pen up to a light-colored background or a light source, and they are hidden beneath the cap when it is on.

146, or "LeGrande"

The 146, also known as the LeGrand, is the most commonly used Meisterstück because it's so versatile. While the 149 is a beautiful and very impressive pen, it may be too big for everyday use unless you have large hands.  The 146, on the other hand, is a happy medium and is comfortable for both men and women. I used one of the store tester pens, a 146 with an extra fine nib, to take all my notes when I researched this blog article, and I wrote with it so much that I used up all the ink! This size is similar to an Esterbrook Estie

I like smaller pens, so I wrote with the 146 unposted, but it is well-balanced both with the cap posted on the back of the pen or with it set to the side, and this is a matter of hand size and personal preference.

The 146 has a piston filling mechanism (and ink windows in current models), just like the 149, but, like the 145, it has a 14K gold (Au 585) nib, so the nib is less soft. This pen feels great for note taking or letter writing. It's very smooth, with a nice wet flow.

145, or "Classique"

The smallest currently produced size is the 145, designated as the Classique.  This is a little confusing because the 144 size, which has been discontinued, was also called the Classique!  The 145 used to be known as the Chopin, so you may also hear it referred to that way.

This model takes a cartridge or converter, and does not have a built-in piston filling mechanism, so it is lighter weight and allows the option of disposable cartridges if you prefer not to deal with ink bottles.  Montblanc recommends using Montblanc brand ink bottles and cartridges only, but other Standard International size cartridge will also fit, because it was Montblanc cartridges that created the standard size that so many other manufactures now use!  It is up to you if you want to use other brand inks, but many Montblanc owners do without any dire effects. (Montblanc inks are really nice, though.)  The pen comes with a twist-style converter installed, so you can use that to fill the pen from bottles and have access to a myriad of color options.

As with the 146, the nib is 14K gold (Au 585), but smaller to match the size of the pen.  This pen is a great size for women's hands or for men who want a more portable pen that is easy to carry in a shirt pocket.  It is also the most comfortable size for some men, so don't discount this size if you are a man or buying a gift for a man!  I had my father try all three sizes and he liked the 145 the best.  He has average sized hands. It's almost exactly the same size as a Pilot Metropolitan, so it's not as if the 145 is tiny... it just looks that way next to its larger siblings!

The grip section on the Classique is narrower and longer than on the other two models, and I prefer it.  It feels more comfortable in my hand, but this is a very personal thing, of course.  

Comparisons!

Still having trouble deciding which size Meisterstück is right for you?  The best way to judge is to come into Pen Boutique and try holding them all, but, if you don't live near a Montblanc retailer, these handy charts might help. This is my first time creating charts, and I'm not really a numbers person, but I thought it would be a useful reference. Thanks to my mom for letting me borrow her digital scale!

In these charts, I'm including the 144 (original Classique) size, which we don't sell at Pen Boutique because it's no longer made.  Store owner Leena owns one and loaned it to me because she thought it might be helpful as a reference to customers who already have that size and wonder how the other sizes compare.

149 

146 

145

144

Length capped:

147 mm 146 mm
140 mm
138 mm 

Length posted:

167 mm 161 mm
155 mm
152 mm

Length w/o cap:

132 mm 126 mm 123 mm
118 mm

Width:

17.3 mm 15.5 mm 14.1 mm 10.5 mm

Weight w/cap:

32 g 25 g 20 g 13 g

Weight w/o cap:

21 g 15 g 12 g 6 g

 

Here's a photo of the little 144.  It's easy to distinguish from the 145 because it has an additional gold ring right below the nib, and a snap cap instead of screw on.  It's cute and extremely lightweight.

Summary of differences between the Diplomat, LeGrand, Classique, and discontinued Classique models: 

149

146

145

144

Nib: 18K 14K 14K 14K
Filling: Piston Piston Cartridge/converter Cartridge/converter
Cap: Screw on Screw on Screw on Snap

 

The current models are available with extra-fine, fine, medium, and broad nibs, and in a choice of gold, red gold, and platinum trim.  Double broad, oblique medium, oblique broad, and oblique double broad nibs are also available for special order, but that takes at least 2-3 months.

When choosing a nib size, think about what the pen will be used for.  If you want a pen for distinctive and dramatic signatures, choose a broad nib or even one of the special order nibs.  If you have smaller handwriting and will be taking a lot of notes or writing in a journal, I'd recommend a fine or extra-fine nib.  Montblanc's nibs are wide, so my favorite when I tried our store tester pens was extra-fine!  I normally like a medium or fine nib in most other brands. I think the extra-fine nib wrote more like what I would expect from a fine or from a Japanese medium-fine.  If you love the Meisterstück, there's also nothing wrong with owning more than one of them in different models and/or nib sizes.  Maybe you have a special signature pen with a wide nib and also a fine nib pen for writing letters.

Here's another photo comparing the three color options and sizes. All three trim colors are beautiful, and it's hard to choose between them! When helping a customer decide, I often suggest thinking about what color jewelry or wristwatch you (or the people you are buying gifts for) usually wear.  Not that your Montblanc and your jewelry have to match, but sometimes we gravitate toward certain tones.  I usually choose white gold or silver jewelry and prefer silver colored (platinum) pen trim, but I have a lot of gold trim pens, too. Red gold (rose gold) is also an intriguing choice and is a good one for someone who likes to be a little different. It's elegant and warm, and more modern feeling than classic yellow gold. The difference between Montblanc's gold and red gold is subtle, but each one has its own distinct feel.  Yellow gold is definitely the most traditional and classic choice of the three.

  

What Are You Paying For?

Yes, Montblancs are expensive.  Why?  Well, first of all, Montblanc is a recognizable luxury brand.  You are paying for that designer name just like someone who buys a Louis Vuitton handbag or a Rolex watch.  Montblancs are used by influential people like world leaders, celebrities, and royalty.  They have a reputation for luxury, and are only sold at select authorized retailers, restricting supply and making them more exclusive.  A Montblanc is a great pen and a beautiful writer, but it is also a status symbol.

In addition to the recognition factor, Montblanc puts years of engineering, skill, and repeated testing into their designs. Meisterstücks are classics that have stood the test of time.  Making a single pen takes over 100 meticulous steps, with the pen's nib requiring more than 30 steps.  After it is finished, every Montblanc Meisterstück nib is given a handwriting test by a trained craftsman, making sure the nib writes smoothly and feels right. This level of attention to detail is costly.

Each Montblanc also has an international guarantee for two years from the date of purchase, covering all defects in manufacturing and materials.  When you purchase your pen at an authorized retailer, it will include a certificate of authenticity and warranty.  We stamp your booklet to show that you bought it from an authorized Montblanc dealer.

Because Montblancs are so desirable and well known, they are often counterfeited, so it's very important to get your Montblanc from a trusted source.  Montblanc has introduced a lot of fascinating measures to combat the fakes. Each pen has its own nine-digit serial number laser-printed on the ring of the clip or the side of the clip, and, when you buy a Montblanc from us, we record this number and make sure that it matches the number in your accompanying booklet.  The number is very small, so I use the magnifying glass app on my phone to see it when I am checking that it matches!  It's usually extremely hard to see, but it caught the light just right when I took this photo.

Another cool way to recognize a genuine Montblanc is that its black resin has a translucent reddish tinge that you can see when you hold it up to strong light. It is revealed in this photo I took outdoors in bright sunlight.

The security measures have changed over the years, so, on the new Montblancs I borrowed from the store, there is a secret "Made in Germany METAL" hidden under the clip, whereas, on the older model that belongs to Leena, the underside of the clip says "Pix" written in cursive. 

Montblanc introduced their Pix trademark way back in the 1930s as an anti-counterfeiting feature.

On a Montblanc fountain pen's nib, you'll find another registered Montblanc hallmark:  StøD.  This is Montblanc's designation for precious metal products.  

A Montblanc nib will include:

  • 4810
  • an M inside the six-pointed snowcap circle logo
  • the gold content (Au 750 = 18K; Au 585 = 14K)
  • MONTBLANC
  • StøD

(Montblanc is tricky, so the information isn't always in that exact order.)

Note the nib's iridium tip. Iridium is a silvery metal of the platinum group, notable for its hardness, resistance to corrosion, and rarity. It's considered the second-densest naturally occurring metal, and is the most corrosion-resistant metal known. The iridium tip keeps your nib from wearing, while the gold part gives the flexibility, warmth, and smoothness to your writing. The gold will naturally adapt to your handwriting style, becoming better and better as you use the pen more.  Montblanc's nibs are a beautiful, thoughtful design with a lot of elegance and class.  

The body of a classic black Meisterstück is made from what Montblanc calls "precious resin."  People sometimes make fun of this term because it sounds like Montblanc is claiming their resin is a rare material like precious metals or gemstones. The word they use in German is actually "Edelharz," which translates crudely into "precious resin" but actually means something more like high grade resin. "Edel" means "noble, superior." It's not cheap plastic, but is an incredibly strong high quality plexiglas type material that is scratch resistant and feels nice to the touch. Yes, a Montblanc will show wear and tear with time and stop looking brand-new if you use it a lot, but it can be polished with a soft cloth and will develop character like any well-loved high quality belonging.

The other thing to remember when you own a Montblanc is that they are a great investment.  If you take care of your pen, the value will increase over time. If this is something that is important to you, keep in mind that while all Montblancs appreciate over time, the fountain pen version has a higher value than rollerballs and ballpoints, and appreciates more.  But when you're choosing a pen, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable using it, so a ballpoint or rollerball Meisterstück is a better choice for someone who wouldn't be interested in a fountain pen lifestyle.  Any Montblanc will become an heirloom, passed from generation to generation, and will make a big impression if you give it as a gift. 

-Laura P. 

I love comments on my blog!  Please leave comments if you like the articles, and, if you have any questions about this article, or any of the other blog articles, you can e-mail support@penboutique.com.  Thank you!

 

31 comments

Prashanth

Prashanth

Thank you for writing such an insightful article. I knew very little about Mont Blanc pens until I read this article. I have always loved fountain pens since my childhood days. The most precious one that I own and use now is the Pelikan Souveran. I have been thinking about upgrading to a Mont Blanc. This article definitely helped me make the right choice!

Thank you for writing such an insightful article. I knew very little about Mont Blanc pens until I read this article. I have always loved fountain pens since my childhood days. The most precious one that I own and use now is the Pelikan Souveran. I have been thinking about upgrading to a Mont Blanc. This article definitely helped me make the right choice!

Meredith Johnston

Meredith Johnston

Thank you so much for an informative post. I was recently given a 146 from a beloved friend after her untimely death. The gift brought me to tears not because it was a Montblanc, but because it’s clear she loved it (and several other pens). The only ask was that I continue to use them and love them. Since she was a huge supporter of my writing endeavors, I will be using her 146 often in my rhetorical adventures. Thank you, Laura, and thank you to my beloved Kathy.

Thank you so much for an informative post. I was recently given a 146 from a beloved friend after her untimely death. The gift brought me to tears not because it was a Montblanc, but because it’s clear she loved it (and several other pens). The only ask was that I continue to use them and love them. Since she was a huge supporter of my writing endeavors, I will be using her 146 often in my rhetorical adventures. Thank you, Laura, and thank you to my beloved Kathy.

Ginger

Ginger

Thank you for your contribution… a newbie, yet in love with fountain pens as a young child, my father entrusted me to his Father’s fountain pen. I’m hungry to learn and these pens have me captivated. The history amazing.

Thank you for your contribution… a newbie, yet in love with fountain pens as a young child, my father entrusted me to his Father’s fountain pen. I’m hungry to learn and these pens have me captivated. The history amazing.

BossTalker

BossTalker

This was so informative especially being a newbie. I purchased a vintage pen I believe a 145 model. I will take it to a Mont Blonc store this weekend to have them look and verify. I feel more comfortable and knowledgeable because of the information I received from you. I thought the pen was kinda small however it has a great feel. The nib is all gold in color as well as the section that unscrew. Looking forward tobseeing what is said once I take it to the store. Thanks again. I’m going to read this article again.

This was so informative especially being a newbie. I purchased a vintage pen I believe a 145 model. I will take it to a Mont Blonc store this weekend to have them look and verify. I feel more comfortable and knowledgeable because of the information I received from you. I thought the pen was kinda small however it has a great feel. The nib is all gold in color as well as the section that unscrew. Looking forward tobseeing what is said once I take it to the store. Thanks again. I’m going to read this article again.

Marcos Sousa

Marcos Sousa

As an owner of some Montblancs I found the article a pleasure to read and very informative. I’ve even learned many things that I didn’t know about my pens.

As an owner of some Montblancs I found the article a pleasure to read and very informative. I’ve even learned many things that I didn’t know about my pens.

Campbell

Campbell

Really interesting and informative post. It’s made my appreciation of this lovely instrument much greater. Thanks a lot from Edinburgh.

Really interesting and informative post. It’s made my appreciation of this lovely instrument much greater. Thanks a lot from Edinburgh.

Stephen Monk

Stephen Monk

Back in 1998 a friend gave me a Montblanc clip top rollerball. I broke it when working on a mine site in Ghana. Devastated I vowed to replace that pen not with another roller ball but a fountain pen. Now I have 4. A Johannes Brahms, Carlo Collodi, one with a diamond in the cap and a rose gold 149. As well a 0.9 mm mechanical pencil. The pens all have a different nib and consequently a different use. The 149 has a fine nib and so I use it for signing engineering drawings. The Brahms and Collodi are for making notes. I love them all. Thanks for the background.

Back in 1998 a friend gave me a Montblanc clip top rollerball. I broke it when working on a mine site in Ghana. Devastated I vowed to replace that pen not with another roller ball but a fountain pen. Now I have 4. A Johannes Brahms, Carlo Collodi, one with a diamond in the cap and a rose gold 149. As well a 0.9 mm mechanical pencil. The pens all have a different nib and consequently a different use. The 149 has a fine nib and so I use it for signing engineering drawings. The Brahms and Collodi are for making notes. I love them all. Thanks for the background.

Paul Canady

Paul Canady

This is a great post, and I appreciate the research! It helped me to figure out that I have two 144 “Classique” pens. Both passed along when different friend’s found them among their grandparents’ things and knew I’d appreciate it.
Does the Montblanc converter work in the 144? I’ve used cartridges, but would rather have the converter.

This is a great post, and I appreciate the research! It helped me to figure out that I have two 144 “Classique” pens. Both passed along when different friend’s found them among their grandparents’ things and knew I’d appreciate it.
Does the Montblanc converter work in the 144? I’ve used cartridges, but would rather have the converter.

steve jones

steve jones

I just caught this post. Thank you. My wife gave me a 149 with 14K nib in the early 1980s and I got a 146 as a gift in a closing ceremony in 1989. I never knew all the details that the tip contained. The big one started leaking on airplanes 2 years ago. Had a cracked barrel. MB fixed it free. The little guy’s rubber piston mechanism is getting hard so I will send it off to MB’s support center.

I love the pens. Great German engineering. However, I have now been buying Italian pens, such as Leonardo and Armando Simonie which have celluloid bodies, piston fillers, 18K nibs and they are so beautiful. To be fair, I have sent a few pens (Armando Silvonie) to a place where they fine tune the nibs and flow mechanism. ($25 per pen.) Resin an a totally black pen loos great but check out celluloid.
Any chance you will do a blog on the question of whether we need to use MB ink in a MB pen, and whether I can use my MB ink in a non MB pen?
Again, I really enjoyed the post.

I just caught this post. Thank you. My wife gave me a 149 with 14K nib in the early 1980s and I got a 146 as a gift in a closing ceremony in 1989. I never knew all the details that the tip contained. The big one started leaking on airplanes 2 years ago. Had a cracked barrel. MB fixed it free. The little guy’s rubber piston mechanism is getting hard so I will send it off to MB’s support center.

I love the pens. Great German engineering. However, I have now been buying Italian pens, such as Leonardo and Armando Simonie which have celluloid bodies, piston fillers, 18K nibs and they are so beautiful. To be fair, I have sent a few pens (Armando Silvonie) to a place where they fine tune the nibs and flow mechanism. ($25 per pen.) Resin an a totally black pen loos great but check out celluloid.
Any chance you will do a blog on the question of whether we need to use MB ink in a MB pen, and whether I can use my MB ink in a non MB pen?
Again, I really enjoyed the post.

Joseph Jedrychowski

Joseph Jedrychowski

Laura,
Thank you for a well-written and informative article on Montblancs. Will you write about other makes of fountain pens?

Laura,
Thank you for a well-written and informative article on Montblancs. Will you write about other makes of fountain pens?

Stacy Chiarello

Stacy Chiarello

HI Laura, Thank you for this deep dive into Montblanc. So very interesting.

HI Laura, Thank you for this deep dive into Montblanc. So very interesting.

Gary Dunning

Gary Dunning

Several decades ago, as a groomsman at my brother Richard’s marriage, he gifted me my Montblanc 144, according to your information. It is burgundy trimmed with gold vs exclusively black specimens you picture. It is a delightful writer, with elegant appearance. Dwelling in San Luis Obispo, California wine realm, it is inked akin to Zinfindel. My hands require size nine gloves, so this pen serves to write about half an hour, otherwise something bigger is more comfortable. Thank you for a very informative report.

Several decades ago, as a groomsman at my brother Richard’s marriage, he gifted me my Montblanc 144, according to your information. It is burgundy trimmed with gold vs exclusively black specimens you picture. It is a delightful writer, with elegant appearance. Dwelling in San Luis Obispo, California wine realm, it is inked akin to Zinfindel. My hands require size nine gloves, so this pen serves to write about half an hour, otherwise something bigger is more comfortable. Thank you for a very informative report.

Benny Victory

Benny Victory

Congratulations on such a well written and researched article about such a desired writing instrument. You are 100% correct that the two companies that have done a brilliant job on their marketing of their “luxury” goods are Rolex when it comes to watches; and MB, when it comes to writing instruments! However, if you ask any true watch collector/ watchmaker, they will tell you that a Rolex is not the best, i.e. in terms of horology.
Instead, brands like Patek, AP are much more storied , but don’t nearly do the great job of marketing that Rolex does. ( I am not “hating on” Rolex. I have their watches and know that I won’t lose money in resale!
Unfortunately, with fame comes a sense of “letting your guards down” and quality suffers as you begin to slap your five pointed star /MB “snow cap” on EVERYTHING!! Belts, wallets, bags, colognes, etc! MB started as a true “fountain pen” company! However, since being purchased by Richemont, they have lost their way!
I purchased two 146 MB, 18knib, fountain pens; within 6 months apart. One in rose gold, the other in sterling silver. Both of the pens were sent to the manufacturer for nib repair/ replacement for skipping, baby’s bottom and non starts, following their purchase. Each pen was $1,800. How both pens could have had such poor quality control is beyond my comprehension!
Meanwhile, I bought a $150 Penlux, La Grand , and not a single issue. Since then, I have purchased 8 more, in different colors! The MB fountain pen experience was a bust for me! While I do have their roller balls in different styles, I also know that being more expensive is not always better! For the total MB cash outlay/ investment I made, i could have had many of the other excellent brands, Pelican, etc. (Don’t get me started on paying $18. for two pen refills either! I guess the logic goes, if you are willing to pay $800.+ for a roller ball, with the limited editions/ special editions being $2,000+, paying $18.00 for refill is a non-issue?)
Sometimes, you may falsely believe that you cant be happy with a "lesser’ brand! I thought I “needed” the MB fountain pen to have a great writing pen; in reality, I only needed a great out of the box, steel nib, $150. pen.
In the end, the desire to be part of some elite/ exclusive luxury brand makes us feel more special! While quality does have a “cost” i.e. better material etc. you end up paying for the marketing rather than the cost for the material.
I will leave you with this last point. Louis Vuitton started their company as trunk makers for ocean travel aboard great ships! The majority of the ladies hand bags are now made from “canvas”, i.e. PVC rubber! NOT supple lamb skin leather! When a consumer is paying $2,000+ for a hand bag, they are paying for $50. worth of PVC rubber. The “value” is in the name LV and the exclusiveness of being able to pay for/ afford the item! Meanwhile, a coach bag is made from actual leather and has a great brand history/ legacy at a fraction of the cost. Coach was and continues to be a bag maker!
Once you realize what true value is and what you are paying for, then you can actually get a lot more value, without having paid a significant amount to a have it. =)

Congratulations on such a well written and researched article about such a desired writing instrument. You are 100% correct that the two companies that have done a brilliant job on their marketing of their “luxury” goods are Rolex when it comes to watches; and MB, when it comes to writing instruments! However, if you ask any true watch collector/ watchmaker, they will tell you that a Rolex is not the best, i.e. in terms of horology.
Instead, brands like Patek, AP are much more storied , but don’t nearly do the great job of marketing that Rolex does. ( I am not “hating on” Rolex. I have their watches and know that I won’t lose money in resale!
Unfortunately, with fame comes a sense of “letting your guards down” and quality suffers as you begin to slap your five pointed star /MB “snow cap” on EVERYTHING!! Belts, wallets, bags, colognes, etc! MB started as a true “fountain pen” company! However, since being purchased by Richemont, they have lost their way!
I purchased two 146 MB, 18knib, fountain pens; within 6 months apart. One in rose gold, the other in sterling silver. Both of the pens were sent to the manufacturer for nib repair/ replacement for skipping, baby’s bottom and non starts, following their purchase. Each pen was $1,800. How both pens could have had such poor quality control is beyond my comprehension!
Meanwhile, I bought a $150 Penlux, La Grand , and not a single issue. Since then, I have purchased 8 more, in different colors! The MB fountain pen experience was a bust for me! While I do have their roller balls in different styles, I also know that being more expensive is not always better! For the total MB cash outlay/ investment I made, i could have had many of the other excellent brands, Pelican, etc. (Don’t get me started on paying $18. for two pen refills either! I guess the logic goes, if you are willing to pay $800.+ for a roller ball, with the limited editions/ special editions being $2,000+, paying $18.00 for refill is a non-issue?)
Sometimes, you may falsely believe that you cant be happy with a "lesser’ brand! I thought I “needed” the MB fountain pen to have a great writing pen; in reality, I only needed a great out of the box, steel nib, $150. pen.
In the end, the desire to be part of some elite/ exclusive luxury brand makes us feel more special! While quality does have a “cost” i.e. better material etc. you end up paying for the marketing rather than the cost for the material.
I will leave you with this last point. Louis Vuitton started their company as trunk makers for ocean travel aboard great ships! The majority of the ladies hand bags are now made from “canvas”, i.e. PVC rubber! NOT supple lamb skin leather! When a consumer is paying $2,000+ for a hand bag, they are paying for $50. worth of PVC rubber. The “value” is in the name LV and the exclusiveness of being able to pay for/ afford the item! Meanwhile, a coach bag is made from actual leather and has a great brand history/ legacy at a fraction of the cost. Coach was and continues to be a bag maker!
Once you realize what true value is and what you are paying for, then you can actually get a lot more value, without having paid a significant amount to a have it. =)

Joseph Wright

Joseph Wright

Caveat Emptor. I purchased the Rudyard Kipling writers series from Pen Boutique in 2019 ( it is built on a 146 frame) and it is all you say it is. Unique, beautiful, and writes wonderfully. You have somewhat restored restored my faith in Montblanc. Thank you. In 1982, although writing very nicely with another well respected brand I had my heart set on a Montblanc, but $ was an issue until I found one on sale. Very shortly thereafter while showing it off at the hospital where I worked I bent over and it fell about 2 feet from my shirt pocket onto a marble floor and shattered into hundreds of shards. No possible fix or refund. I’m sure this was not “high quality resin”. Was it a “knock off”? I’ll never know because I didn"t realize there were such things and did no checking. Caveat #2; 38 years later as I now have more $ than years left in life I decided to show off a bit and bought 6 Montblancs ( one for my wife) over the past 4 years. A writers series model’s (for >$1000 and not purchased at Pen Boutique) piston broke the first time i used it. $350.00 to fix it. Not broken when received so not under warranty. Your warranty ends as soon as you open the box. Read the warranty carefully. Everything you described about Monntblanc is true aesthetically. I actually love the ones I have, including my 149. But they do not travel away from my desk (sitting on a carpet) and they do not get much use for fear of breakage. They do write very nicely, but no better than any of several other brands I have in the same price range. I would be interested in knowing if Pen Boutique has had any experiences with breakage of Montblancs or am I the Black Swan.

Caveat Emptor. I purchased the Rudyard Kipling writers series from Pen Boutique in 2019 ( it is built on a 146 frame) and it is all you say it is. Unique, beautiful, and writes wonderfully. You have somewhat restored restored my faith in Montblanc. Thank you. In 1982, although writing very nicely with another well respected brand I had my heart set on a Montblanc, but $ was an issue until I found one on sale. Very shortly thereafter while showing it off at the hospital where I worked I bent over and it fell about 2 feet from my shirt pocket onto a marble floor and shattered into hundreds of shards. No possible fix or refund. I’m sure this was not “high quality resin”. Was it a “knock off”? I’ll never know because I didn"t realize there were such things and did no checking. Caveat #2; 38 years later as I now have more $ than years left in life I decided to show off a bit and bought 6 Montblancs ( one for my wife) over the past 4 years. A writers series model’s (for >$1000 and not purchased at Pen Boutique) piston broke the first time i used it. $350.00 to fix it. Not broken when received so not under warranty. Your warranty ends as soon as you open the box. Read the warranty carefully. Everything you described about Monntblanc is true aesthetically. I actually love the ones I have, including my 149. But they do not travel away from my desk (sitting on a carpet) and they do not get much use for fear of breakage. They do write very nicely, but no better than any of several other brands I have in the same price range. I would be interested in knowing if Pen Boutique has had any experiences with breakage of Montblancs or am I the Black Swan.

Ed Ashley

Ed Ashley

Laura, my Montblanc is a 147 Traveller, which you might look into. It carries two cartridges in a specially designed metal frame, one in use and one as the spare. I do not believe it is made anymore, but it is a nice option, roughly the size of a 146, but I believe just a tad larger. Smaller than a 149. Very smooth writer. The only downside to a Montblanc to me is my sensitivity to “putting on airs”, or appearing to hold myself out as ‘better’ than the next person. Hence I rarely take it out in public, since people may make the wrong assumption, that I am a status seeker. :-)

Laura, my Montblanc is a 147 Traveller, which you might look into. It carries two cartridges in a specially designed metal frame, one in use and one as the spare. I do not believe it is made anymore, but it is a nice option, roughly the size of a 146, but I believe just a tad larger. Smaller than a 149. Very smooth writer. The only downside to a Montblanc to me is my sensitivity to “putting on airs”, or appearing to hold myself out as ‘better’ than the next person. Hence I rarely take it out in public, since people may make the wrong assumption, that I am a status seeker. :-)

Jim

Jim

Enjoy your blogs! I’ve always loved fountain pens and at one point had a Montblanc then somehow over the years it disappeared. Needless to say I’m still crushed by that but reading your blog was both insightful and left me yearning for a new one.

Enjoy your blogs! I’ve always loved fountain pens and at one point had a Montblanc then somehow over the years it disappeared. Needless to say I’m still crushed by that but reading your blog was both insightful and left me yearning for a new one.

Richard Bauer

Richard Bauer

I feel that I have made an expensive investment with the right provider. Thanks for even more information at this point in my buying experience. I have written with a variety of other fountain pens for decades, and have even purchased a few “knock-offs” in Asia, all proving themselves to be inferior. I have used other Montblanc fountain pens, but for the most important job in my writing career ahead of me, it’s time to go with the best. Thanks for validating my confidence and trust that I would get an authentic fountain pen of exceptional quality, from people who “geek out” on these kinds of things—like I do. I will write back in a few months with my impressions, which I sure will be thankful for this choice. Sincerely, Rick

I feel that I have made an expensive investment with the right provider. Thanks for even more information at this point in my buying experience. I have written with a variety of other fountain pens for decades, and have even purchased a few “knock-offs” in Asia, all proving themselves to be inferior. I have used other Montblanc fountain pens, but for the most important job in my writing career ahead of me, it’s time to go with the best. Thanks for validating my confidence and trust that I would get an authentic fountain pen of exceptional quality, from people who “geek out” on these kinds of things—like I do. I will write back in a few months with my impressions, which I sure will be thankful for this choice. Sincerely, Rick

Andrea

Andrea

Hi, I enjoyed your blog – I’ve had a Solitaire for two years now and am still learning about the brand. It helps me to appreciate what I have!

Hi, I enjoyed your blog – I’ve had a Solitaire for two years now and am still learning about the brand. It helps me to appreciate what I have!

George Buchanan

George Buchanan

Very well done. History, utility and promotion all successfully rolled into one.

I have several Montblanc pens – a couple of ball points, a beautiful Meisterstück platinum banded roller ball that I bought from y’all last year, but most important is the big fella. That is the 149 I inherited from my late father whose centennial birthday was this past April. My mother bought the beast for my Pop as an anniversary present in the early 1960s and had his initials engraved on it.

That pen is truly impressive and writes most fluidly; an amazing testament to engineering, fit and finish. I am sixty-six years of age (and, by the way, for whatever it’s worth, while I have lived in the Atlanta metro area for many decades, I was born and raised in Bethesda, quite near your shop) and Pop’s pen is barely ten years younger than I, but it writes and feels like it was manufactured yesterday.

And, yes, there is a “But” coming here: I was very interested to read your commentary about showing customers more-than-worthy alternatives but so many reflexively opting for the Montblanc because of the brand power. I mention this because while I love my Pop’s big fella and the other Montblanc items I own, my real favorite fountain pen brand is the mighty Pelikan. Their offerings just suit my hand and style better than any other I’ve used.

So, this would only underscore the importance of having options – competition! There are many different avenues of expression available and the trick is to find the one that best suits your needs.

Very well done. History, utility and promotion all successfully rolled into one.

I have several Montblanc pens – a couple of ball points, a beautiful Meisterstück platinum banded roller ball that I bought from y’all last year, but most important is the big fella. That is the 149 I inherited from my late father whose centennial birthday was this past April. My mother bought the beast for my Pop as an anniversary present in the early 1960s and had his initials engraved on it.

That pen is truly impressive and writes most fluidly; an amazing testament to engineering, fit and finish. I am sixty-six years of age (and, by the way, for whatever it’s worth, while I have lived in the Atlanta metro area for many decades, I was born and raised in Bethesda, quite near your shop) and Pop’s pen is barely ten years younger than I, but it writes and feels like it was manufactured yesterday.

And, yes, there is a “But” coming here: I was very interested to read your commentary about showing customers more-than-worthy alternatives but so many reflexively opting for the Montblanc because of the brand power. I mention this because while I love my Pop’s big fella and the other Montblanc items I own, my real favorite fountain pen brand is the mighty Pelikan. Their offerings just suit my hand and style better than any other I’ve used.

So, this would only underscore the importance of having options – competition! There are many different avenues of expression available and the trick is to find the one that best suits your needs.

Paul

Paul

I have been using a 149 for more than 40 years, yet I still learned a few things about Montblanc from your carefully written blog, as always. Keep up the good work.

I have been using a 149 for more than 40 years, yet I still learned a few things about Montblanc from your carefully written blog, as always. Keep up the good work.

Orlando Izquierdo

Orlando Izquierdo

Excelent reading material. My MB 149 with the correspondent ball point was the graduation gift from school of law back in 1983. Still have as the crown jewel of my colection.

Excelent reading material. My MB 149 with the correspondent ball point was the graduation gift from school of law back in 1983. Still have as the crown jewel of my colection.

Peter J Puleo

Peter J Puleo

Thanks for posting this description of MB pens. I have had one for many years and I was never sure about the model number. Based on what you posted, I have the now no longer made Model 144, and it has PIX in cursive under the clip for authenticity. It also has a serial number which is MX 1249742. The specifics are exactly as you describe.
Regards,
Peter

Thanks for posting this description of MB pens. I have had one for many years and I was never sure about the model number. Based on what you posted, I have the now no longer made Model 144, and it has PIX in cursive under the clip for authenticity. It also has a serial number which is MX 1249742. The specifics are exactly as you describe.
Regards,
Peter

Ross E Meyer

Ross E Meyer

Is it possible to retrofit a smaller nib to a 146? I have a 35 year old 146 with a
“narrow” nib and its like writing with a paint brush.

Is it possible to retrofit a smaller nib to a 146? I have a 35 year old 146 with a
“narrow” nib and its like writing with a paint brush.

Zach DeGuzman

Zach DeGuzman

Absolutely splendid information on Montblanc fountain pens. And I love it. Thank you very much!

Absolutely splendid information on Montblanc fountain pens. And I love it. Thank you very much!

Dan Workman

Dan Workman

Thank you, Lena, for this article! You answered my questions about the different models, and your added impressions were very helpful. I’m intrigued by the brand. I’ve not yet made the plunge, but I’m saving up & looking forward to my ‘Montblanc Day’!

Thank you, Lena, for this article! You answered my questions about the different models, and your added impressions were very helpful. I’m intrigued by the brand. I’ve not yet made the plunge, but I’m saving up & looking forward to my ‘Montblanc Day’!

Charles Anderson

Charles Anderson

A great article! I learned many new things about my 149 that I never knew. In fact, it made me fall in love with the pen all over again. Since mine is older, it made me wonder about what appears on these older nibs. Mine has both 585 (now I know what that means) and 14C, which I am deducing means the same thing. Thanks again for the wonderful article.

A great article! I learned many new things about my 149 that I never knew. In fact, it made me fall in love with the pen all over again. Since mine is older, it made me wonder about what appears on these older nibs. Mine has both 585 (now I know what that means) and 14C, which I am deducing means the same thing. Thanks again for the wonderful article.

Laura

Laura

Really appreciate this article. I recently bought an MB Writer’s Edition used. I cherish it but it was a high price. This article made feel better about that however knowing if I care for it well, it will appreciate in value! Can’t say that for all fountain pens! Nice details in this article that are very helpful to buyers.

Really appreciate this article. I recently bought an MB Writer’s Edition used. I cherish it but it was a high price. This article made feel better about that however knowing if I care for it well, it will appreciate in value! Can’t say that for all fountain pens! Nice details in this article that are very helpful to buyers.

Jerry Maymi

Jerry Maymi

Prices?

Prices?

Bill Modlin

Bill Modlin

Thank you so much for this detailed and really informative essay. I have a (somewhat) vintage 144 although my dimensions don’t exactly match what you have in your chart. It’s a great writer. The size is a bit small, but the nice thing is that I have matching sized ballpoint, roller ball and pencil.
At some point I would love to have a special edition 146 as that would be a better size for me.
Again, thanks for the research.

Thank you so much for this detailed and really informative essay. I have a (somewhat) vintage 144 although my dimensions don’t exactly match what you have in your chart. It’s a great writer. The size is a bit small, but the nice thing is that I have matching sized ballpoint, roller ball and pencil.
At some point I would love to have a special edition 146 as that would be a better size for me.
Again, thanks for the research.

Lisa McLean

Lisa McLean

This is just a wonderful description of the brand, the models and all the reasons one spends their hard earned dollars on fountain pens. Especially one from Montblanc. I have to say, although I purchased a vintage model, you can still send to the company for repair for a relatively modest fee decades later. What customer service. And who doesn’t love the iconic white logo/brand mark?

This is just a wonderful description of the brand, the models and all the reasons one spends their hard earned dollars on fountain pens. Especially one from Montblanc. I have to say, although I purchased a vintage model, you can still send to the company for repair for a relatively modest fee decades later. What customer service. And who doesn’t love the iconic white logo/brand mark?

James George

James George

I want to thank you for this interesting and informative piece. You make things so understandable for neophytes like me. You anticipated and answered one of my burning questions; that is, if I buy one, what am I paying for? Now I truly feel like I know. And with the weight specs. and photos, I think holding them in my hand is all I would need to do (because I’m a dart thrower and know my preferred weight). And information like what a piston filler is, the fact that they have iridium tips and how that metal cooperates with the gold to produce the feel and durability. Yeah, just tons of stuff. When my older brother left Ritz-Carlton for Fairmont Hotels, years ago, he gifted me his S.T. Dupont rollerball and bought himself a Montblanc. I wanted many times to try it, but you wouldn’t play someone’s Martin 12-string without permission, would you? I finally asked and tried it once. I don’t know the model, but the feel was distinctive. I still like my Dupont but, maybe, someday. Thanks so much for helping me learn. It’s cool that they had a “Chopin” model because everything he wrote included the piano. Master something and remain dedicated to it.

I want to thank you for this interesting and informative piece. You make things so understandable for neophytes like me. You anticipated and answered one of my burning questions; that is, if I buy one, what am I paying for? Now I truly feel like I know. And with the weight specs. and photos, I think holding them in my hand is all I would need to do (because I’m a dart thrower and know my preferred weight). And information like what a piston filler is, the fact that they have iridium tips and how that metal cooperates with the gold to produce the feel and durability. Yeah, just tons of stuff. When my older brother left Ritz-Carlton for Fairmont Hotels, years ago, he gifted me his S.T. Dupont rollerball and bought himself a Montblanc. I wanted many times to try it, but you wouldn’t play someone’s Martin 12-string without permission, would you? I finally asked and tried it once. I don’t know the model, but the feel was distinctive. I still like my Dupont but, maybe, someday. Thanks so much for helping me learn. It’s cool that they had a “Chopin” model because everything he wrote included the piano. Master something and remain dedicated to it.

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