Montblanc 149 Review

Introduction

Montblanc, along with Parker and Waterman, seems to be one of those fountain pen brands that even non-enthusiasts seem to know. Their pens can sometimes be quite gaudy, although their Meisterstück line has a certain classic feel to them. The Meisterstück 149 is the largest and most expensive pen in their non-limited edition model lineup. Does it stand up to the price it takes to own

The pens I will be reviewing today were purchased from a local seller and were manufactured in the 1980s. The pens are near identical except for the nibs.

Specs

Length: 14.7cm
Diameter: 14.8mm
Weight: 29g
Place of manufacture: Germany
Price: $935 (retail), $650-800 (street)

Design

The Montblanc 149 has been produced since the late 1940s. Since the beginning, it has featured the classic cigar shape, a piston filler, and a big number 9 nib.

The barrel was initially made of celluloid, although, they later switched to a material they call “precious resin”, essentially a hard, secretly formulated plastic.  The material does not scratch easily, although the scratches that do exist are quite obvious in contrast to the high polish surface.

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The barrel is made from a single piece. Later varieties are made from two pieces. There is an ink window near the grip section. It is slightly tinted, with vertical stripes. The threads for the cap are cut at the height of the barrel.

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In contrast to the black body, there is plenty of gold trim. On the cap, there is a band with the words “…”. The engraving (or perhaps stamping)  The clip has the place of manufacture “GERMANY” stamped in it. On later models, a serial number was also added. The number can be helpful in dating a pen.

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The nib material has also changed over the years, switching from 18 karat to 14 karat and then back to 18 karat gold, with different styles of plating over the years, ranging from dual tone to triple tone.

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The feed is made from ebonite. Fins are cut on both sides, with a solid spine down the middle. This is the “split feed” variety . Later feeds were made from plastic.

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The two stage piston was originally made of brass (the threads) and plastic, although in recent years, the entire assembly is now from plastic. The first few turns of the knob does not move the piston. This is to prevent one from accidentally discharging ink. Following the first few turns, the piston begins to go down. The reservoir has a very large capacity of 2ml.

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A very nice timeline was created by “DKbRS” on The Fountain Pen Network. The thread can be found here. I used the guide to help me date my pens.

Fit and Finish

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As with most Montblancs, the fit and finish of the pen is mostly near perfect. The nibs are hand-finished and it shows. The tines are not perfectly centered (although as I’ll mention later, this does not affect functionality in the least). The engravings are also nicely done, although they are not perfectly symmetrical.

The piston is very smooth. The tension twisting the knob is very smooth at every stage. When the knob is in its closed position, there is no gap between the knob and the body. When the piston is fully extended, there is a bit of give, which immediately springs back when you let go. I assume this is a indicator that the piston is fully extended and to help prevent accidentally snapping the piston.

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The cap fits very well on the body. The threads fit very tightly, with no movement between the cap and body when closed. The engraving on the gold band around the cap is done very nicely and is consistent between pens.

Functionality

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Filling the pen is very easy with the piston filler. A plunge or two fills most, if not all of the reservoir. Flushing out ink, however, can be quite time-consuming. The large feed accommodating the large nib has the unfortunate ability of retaining ink remnants. Soaking the entire pen in water seems to help with the process, though.

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The pen is a joy to write with. With such a large pen, the grip section is very comfortable and is at a nice balance point for the pen when un-posted. Due to its large size, the pen is probably best used un-posted. That being said, one probably wouldn’t want to risk scratching the pen by posting the pen anyways. There are some posting marks on the barrel of one of the pens. Not very deep, but noticeable to a careful eye.

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The nib is surprisingly flexible and the pen is able to produce a multitude of line variations. The feed keeps up no matter how wide the tines are spread.

Flexing the nib does require more force than vintage pens. Although the pen is pre-owned, I don’t believe the pen was used much. Even so, the nib is tuned to be very smooth from the factory.

The clip is springy and holds a pen firm in a shirt pocket. It does not stretch much, though, and would not comfortably clip into a jean pocket without permanently bending out of shape.

Value

The pen retails for $935, making it the most expensive pen from Montblanc’s regular lineup. That being said, I would have a hard time justifying buying the pen retail. Luckily, the pen is commonly found, new, from different retailers for a few hundred lower. Pre-owned, the pen can be found for $3-500, depending on the year that it is manufactured and the condition.

For me, the bottom line is that the pen is a manufactured, plastic-bodied pen. While there is some value in the nib, which is made in house, and the fact that it is hand-tuned, one could get a similar feeling from a pen made by on of Japan’s big three for much less.

Conclusion

All this being said, the Montblanc 149 is a very nice pen, with a very ugly price tag. Sure, it is big, gorgeous, and carries the allure of a brand like Montblanc. However, I would expect so much more from a pen at the price range. Therefore, these pens will soon no longer be in possession.

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American Kami Stubby Spork Review

Introduction

The spork is a combination of a fork and a spoon. It can be difficult to design the utensil to get both the utility of a fork and a spoon. If the fork prongs are too long, then the spoon cannot hold much liquid. If the spoon is too big, it will unwieldy. DJ Urbanovsky, from American Kami, has created what might be the beefiest spork on the market. But is this just a niche product, or is this a spork that everyone can appreciate?

This product was provided by EatingTools for review.

Specs

Place of Manufacture: USA
Length: 6.85 inches
Weight: 1oz (30g)
Material: 6AL4V Titanium
Price: $30 USD from EatingTools

Design

The spork holds true to its name of being stubby. With an over all length of 5.25″ and handle length of 2.75″, the size of bowl is quite overbearing in comparison to the rest of the spork.

The spork is made of US aerospace and military scrap 6AL4V  titanium. It is 0.071″ thick, which gives it strength and heft.

The handle shape steps down before tapering into the bow. The connection between the handle and the bowl is abrupt, although there are no sharp edges.

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The bowl itself is wide and deep. The tines are not too long and, as such, it has a higher fluid capacity compared to most sporks.

There are three other models of this spork created by American Kami. They all have longer handles, with some longer than others, and there is a variation on the handle that has a bottle opener.

Fit and Finish

The spork is handmade by DJ Urbanovsky, of American Kami, using dies. There are a few indications that the product is handmade. Some parts of the bowl in between the tines show stretching and compression, most obviously between the tines. Further, one of the middle tines is slightly longer than the other.

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Along the edges of the spork, there is a coin-edge-like finish. It is not rough and adds a certain aesthetic to the spork.

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The anodization is done by hand and, as such, there is some color variation between the handle and the bowl.

In the bowl itself, there is some really beautiful color depth in the anodization.

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Functionality

The spork does well in its intended purpose. The large bowl holds a large volume while not becoming cumbersome. The tines are dull and do not feel sharp at all. Overall, the eating experience is wonderful.

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There are some other uses that will take advantage of the beefy build. I took the spork out to put it to some unconventional tasks and it fared quite well. It was easy to dig through top soil and even clay. I did not feel any bending. The tines encountered small roots and pebbles during this test.

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I washed off the spork using a Scotch-Brite sponge. The stonewashed finish held up very well, with scratches blending into the finish and the anodization looking unchanged.

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With its small size, the spork can easily be dropped into a pocket or thrown into a backpack without being obtrusive. While this model does not have any holes drilled into the handle for a lanyard, unlike other models, its size would have made a lanyard an annoyance for use.

Conclusion

DJ Urbanovsky has created an indestructible spork. However, it does not give up functionality with its heft. Instead, the large bowl and effective fork tines make eating meals a breeze. The short, stubby length is very convenient while still being useful. This spork will replace my Snow Peak Titanium Spork as my go-to eating tool and will certainly prove to be a useful companion.

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Midori MD Notebook Review

This is my first paper review so bear with me please.

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Midori probably most famous for their Traveler’s Notebook series. They’re essentially a combination of a leather slipcover for replaceable notebook inserts. However, they produce a multitude of other great products, such as my Brass Pen Case. When I was looking for a journal, I considered Rhodia and Leuchtturm1917 among others, but I eventually settled on Midori, partially to test out their paper quality.

Specs

Dimensions: 8.3 in (length), 0.4 in (depth), 5.8 in (width)
Paper Size: A5
Pages: 88
Weight: 260g (9 oz)
Place of Manufacture: Japan
Price: $15.50 (retail)

Background

The Midori MD is a bit different when compared to other journals in that it does not have a sturdy cover. Instead, Midori offers plastic, recycled paper, and leather options. The plastic is the cheapest coming in around ~$5 while the leather one is around ~$70. I have been using mine without a cover and the cardstock cover has been holding up quite well.

Packaging

The journal comes in a plastic sleeve that has an adhesive flap. This makes taking the notebook out quite easy. Then, there is an additional layer of tissue paper on top of which is a blue half-sheet containing the name as well as some information on the journal.

Design

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The journal comes with a small sheet of stickers that can be affixed to personalize the journal.

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The cover is almost blank with a small Midori logo embossed on the left hand side.

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The first page of the journal features a title page with two lines. It is quite simple and the font is matching (*cough cough* Life notebooks) making for an attractive design.

 

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The grid design is one that I have not seen before. The lines are not connect and, instead, they look more like a square “U” i.e. |_|.

 

The back features a bit of information (which I unfortunately cannot read).

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Functionality

As I am a frequent fountain pen user, having fountain pen ready paper was a necessity. The label showed no signs of feathering when I wrote the start date.

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On the actual paper, the paper fared well with both pencil and pen. I have yet to find any complaints about the paper quality.

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Conclusion

At this point, I love this journal. It features a simple design, the paper feels premium, and the price was acceptable. I will continue to update this review as I use it to provide a more comprehensive overview!