Mont Blanc today is a status symbol; it is a recognizable luxury brand and so we ask, is it worth your money or not?
When I was a teenager, I started collecting fountain pens, particularly Mont Blanc fountain pens. At one point in time, I had over a hundred of them in my collection. Although they are mostly vintage, I learned a lot about the brand, the history, the materials, the nibs, and everything that goes into making a fountain pen. Over time, I lost interest in collecting and I sold most of them off, however, I kept a few of them simply because I really liked them and there were timeless pieces that were really worth it to me.
What’s So Special About These Pens?
Timeless & Classic Design
It has a torpedo shape and it was first introduced to the market in 1951. I also like it a lot because it’s the biggest pen in the Mont Blanc fountain pen range, and it’s very thick with about 13 millimeters at the grip. I find it’s a great fountain pen to take notes and especially for signatures because you can untwist it with just one rotation and quickly sign it, and if you have a nib with a certain width, you get a really characteristic look that is very hard to fake or copy. In combination with a green ink that I use with my fountain pens, it becomes very difficult to imitate my signature. Because the fountain is so big, it often doesn’t fit in regular cases. So if you look for one, make sure it fits and test it before you buy.
Large Gold Nib
I really like the 149 for its large gold nib. Mont Blanc has excellent nibs that have the right amount of springiness without being too boring, very comfortable to write, and because they’re made out of gold, they will easily adapt to your hand and to your writing and they will remain like that for years to come.
Why do I have three fountain pens of exactly the same model, you might wonder?
It’s because of the nib width. I have a vintage model from the 50s which an EF nib which stands for extra fine and it has a very different look than a broad nib which is what I usually use to write and take notes on an everyday basis; and that is even slimmer than a very wide O3B nib which means it’s three times as broad as a regular one, and it’s just a very wide look and I use it only for signatures.
The name 149 wasn’t just made up but back in the day, Mont Blanc had a system where one denoted the masterpiece which was the highest category of fountain pen you could get for them, they also had the second grade, and a third tier, however, they’ve discontinued those today.
The four-piston filler mechanism which meant you didn’t use cartridges but a lever that you would twist at the back. It’s the same today, you don’t use cartridges, you simply hold the nib into an inkwell and then turn the back knob. 9 is a nib size and a scale from one being the smallest and nine being the largest. A larger nib has more flexibility, a nicer springiness, and in general, when it comes to fountain pens, larger nibs are better.
Something all Mont Blanc pens had since almost the beginning is the hexagonal white shape on top of a black background. It’s supposed to resemble the snow on top of theMont Blanc mountain in France which is the highest mountain, and they chose it because supposedly they wanted to represent high quality and Montblanc pens were supposed to be the best in class. As you might notice, all Mont Blanc nibs have 4810 on it which is actually the height in meters of the Mont Blanc mountain.
Now if you like the design of the Meisterstuck 149 but you have smaller hands, I suggest to look into the 146 which means it has a smaller nib but also a smaller body; or if you have very small hands or if you’re a woman with likewise pretty small hands, maybe a 144 is right for you. Originally, you could find the 149 only in a yellow gold plating on a clip and on the bands. Today, you can also find it in platinum or rose-gold. The nib design has changed over time, sometimes it’s 14-karat gold, sometimes 18 karats, sometimes it has yellow gold, white gold, and yellow gold sometimes, it’s just yellow gold at the tip and then all platinum, or white gold. In any case, it always has an iridium tip which is a very hard material that keeps your nib from wearing without sacrificing on the comfort of writing with it. Even though the name Montblanc sounds like French, the company is, in fact, German which was founded in Hamburg.
Is The Mont Blanc Meisterstuck 149 Fountain Pen Worth Its Money?
When I bought the Meisterstuck 149 10 to 15 years ago, I paid about a quarter of what I would have to pay today. So to me, that’s a great investment even though if you consider inflation. Also, the Mont Blanc 149 is a very recognizable writing instrument, it’s used by several heads of states around the globe to sign certain things, it is made of a resin these days which is very scratch resistant and nice to the touch. So if you have large hands and you like a classic design that stands the test of time that will have a value that increases over time even though you use the pen, then it’s definitely worth it.
When I started collecting fountain pens, the retail price for 149 was about $400, today, it’s 935. If you don’t want to shell that much money but still want to go with that kind of a pen, you can go to the used market, there are lots of 149 available but there are also lots of fakes out there so rather than just going to eBay and buying any random pen, I suggest you go with a trusted seller for used fountain pens that nobody is selling that has a reputation to uphold because then you get a better pen. It also pays to look at the details such as the clip and look at the original, see how it’s made. The originals are finished very well, they are plated very heavily, so it won’t just come up and rub off, and they always have a laser imprinted serial number which cheaper versions oftentimes don’t.
Now when you buy a fountain pen it’s important to remember that it needs to be written in and when you write in your fountain pen, it becomes better over time. Now if you hand it over to someone else to write it with, it will change the characteristic and will take quite a bit of time to rewrite it into your hand again, therefore, a fountain pen should only be written by you and if you buy a used pen, bear in mind that it has to be written in and it will take some time.
So At The End Of The Day, Is The 149 Worth It?
I think, yes, absolutely! If you have the money and if you can afford it. If you want a likewise big quality writing instrument without the cache of it, maybe a Pelikan m-1000 is right for you. In my opinion, the design isn’t as elegant, it usually comes in a dark green barrel, I think you can also get it with a black one, the nib is good, it’s working well, but it definitely lacks the status symbol of the Mont Blanc 149.
If you like a more modern aesthetic on a bigger fountain pen, I suggest you look into the Omas 360. It was recognized by the MoMA in New York, it has an outstanding unique design and such as the design classic, but I still think not as classic and timeless as the 149.
What About Other Mont Blanc pens?
No matter what Mont Blanc item you have, it will always be a recognizable status symbol. If that is too flashy for you, it’s maybe not the right brand for you. Also, other Mont Blanc models have come and gone over time, but the one concept that has always been in their lineup is the 149.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of ballpoint pens because I associate it with a very cheap pen that doesn’t roll very easily, some very comfortable to write, and it sometimes leaks, and leaves ugly stains inside of your suit pocket. So if you want a mix, I suggest to always go with a rollerball because it uses ink and it has a ball just like a ballpoint pen but it rolls much more smoothly and it’s more comfortable to write.
Personally, I always go with a fountain pen even if I travel by plane because I think the look of my handwriting is just much superior and it has a very different character than if I go with a ballpoint pen where it’s always the same thickness.
My personal preferences aside, if you look at the value development of ballpoint pens and rollerballs, the fountain pen is always higher and appreciates more, therefore, I think the rollerball and ballpoints are not as worth it unless you really hate a fountain pen or you travel by plane a lot.
For collecting purposes, the regular Meisterstuck series is not limited by any means and therefore, you only have a certain degree of appreciation over time, however, if you go with limited editions from Mont Blanc, you can look at those as an investment just like maybe art, musical instruments, or stocks.
Today, Mont Blanc has lots of different limited editions; some are very high-priced, others are very low priced, but if you look at some of the very early editions such as the 1992 Ernest Hemingway pen, which was part of the writers edition and it was based on the 149 but it looked more like its predecessor the 139, it had a coral orange barrel with dark brown elements and today, if you want an unused version, you have to pay anywhere between three-three and a half to four thousand dollars.
At the time when it was launched, it cost just 10% of that and during that same time span, maybe the regular fountain pen only doubled, tripled, or quadrupled in price so investing in those limited editions is definitely worth it over time if you know what you’re doing. Also if you look at pens as an investment, you must never write them and just leave them in the original box with original papers and just keep them in the safe.
Now personally, I don’t like it very much. I like to use the quality items I own. Also, Montblanc also produces very small limited editions, sometimes made with solid gold and those are very expensive when you buy them but amongst collectors, usually the prices go up quite a bit.
The Starwalker Series
It’s a more modern pen, it’s a more streamlined design, it oftentimes speaks to younger people with a cleaner aesthetic or people who like mid-century modern stuff. Personally, I’m not too fond of the design and I think it will go out of style in 10 or 20 years. We had other Mont Blanc series and they ran out of favor. Now for collectors, that can be a nice thing because they’re not around anymore and that’s the price goes up, on the other hand, it can also mean there’s just not a demand for it and so people don’t like it anymore.
At the end of the day, when it comes to a pen, you always want to have a really wonderful nib that highlights your character of your handwriting because that what makes it unique and special. With the Star Walker series, I think you’re even more likely to get a fake product a used market so pay very close attention to where you buy, otherwise, you pay several hundred dollars for something that is worth nothing.