What's up at Ravens March.

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Would You? Could You?

Posted by Dirck on 20 July, 2016

Not too long ago, I was working on a Montblanc 149, the burly gargantua of that company’s expensive output.  It actually hung around my place for about a month, because paradoxically it took longer to arrange an in-person handing-over to a local client than it would have to pop it in the mail.  I’ll digress for a quick explanation– it was her grandfather’s (an early ’60s version, if I’m understanding the signs correctly) and she was on a fence about whether it was worth the cost of getting it running again, because sending it off the the company’s quite able repair service costs rather a lot.  Getting me to free a stuck piston?  Less so, although since I lack the tool to dismount the point, the piston could still do with lubrication.

In any event, I was able to do a little semi-illicit writing with what is for many a Grail Pen, the summum bonum of pen collection aspiration.  I learned two things from the experience.  First: I have no problem whatever writing with an oblique stub.  The slight angle of the tipping hardly called for any amendment of my usual approach to a piece of paper.  Good to know.

Second, and even more important: had I the resources to lay my hands on a Montblanc 149, I would devote them elsewhere.  This is not (just) because I incline to agreement with the position that the pen is unjustified in its expense– indeed, “if I had…” dismisses that head entirely, since it implies all other material needs and wants are dealt with.  It is a nice pen, pleasing to look upon, impressive of dimension… and that’s where it falls down for me.

It’s too damn big.

The raw diameter of the section is such that I never felt comfortable in my grip.  Perhaps, over months of devoted practice, I would lose that sensation of not having closed my fingers sufficiently around it; it is said, after all, that a wider item is easier on the joints than a slender.  However, I’ve got plenty of moderately-sized pen at my command right now.  Those months of dedicated practice would be to gain an end I already have plenty of means to realize– physical enjoyment of the task of writing.  I’m already there, so why make the journey?

In light of this realization, I open the door of speculation.  If not the Montblanc, what of other modern Brobdingnagian pens?  Interestingly, my dear OMAS Arte Italiana is almost as wide, but apparently the tiny fraction of difference is sufficient that I don’t get the same almost-cramp from using it.  It is thus not impossible for me, having unearthed a hoard of pirate dubloons (very sneaky pirates of the 17th century would travel 2,500 km inland to hide their chests), to go out and buy huge pens meant to impress.  But… as much as I like my Pelikan M600, I don’t know that I’d bother taking two giant steps up the Souverän ladder to the M1000.  Pockets are only so big.

One final item to ponder before I wrap up for today.  Almost the moment I had formed my opinion about the Montblanc, I when and bought a Jinhao 159.  Eventually a quiet moment will beckon, and I’ll have time to add this pen and its maker to my site, but for the moment let me sum up what would appear on a model profile for the 159: it’s a loving reproduction of the Montblanc 149, but for a different clip and a missing ink window… oh, and it’s a lot heavier.  I apparently haven’t got my powers of insight turned up quite far enough to sort out why I would do this to myself.  Even if the Jinhao cost a grand total of $3.00, shipping included, and is thus well within my means… well, see above and it’s heavier, which is never an inducement to me.

Until something better appears, I’ll cling to the ring-buoy explanation of satisfying curiosity regarding build quality.  For $3.00, it’s a pretty good pen….

Today’s not at all widebodied pen: Parker 180
Today’s ink: Lamy Black (gotta get through those cartridges!)




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