Tag Archives: montblanc

Window Shopping

The great thing about Montblanc boutiques is that none are ever the same, not really. I mean, they all sell MB pens and watches and portfolios and stuff, but there are still subtle differences to distinguish each store.

Such as which LE pens are on display. Inevitably, the latest and greatest models will always be under a spotlight, but depending on local supply and demand, other LEs will be happily playing second fiddle on the side. And like all larger-than-life figures, nothing beats seeing the real thing in the flesh.

Today, for example, I saw my first L’Aubrac. The grenadilla wood looks a lot lighter than the pictures on the MB website—and the pen itself, a lot fatter. On the bright side, this allowed better contrast to show between the different-colored wood grain—very pretty. On the other hand, the texture and colors seemed to overwhelm the silver dots in the cap, which looked as if they were tiny stars drowning in an endless chocolate sky. But to each her own.

There were also two 2013 PoA pens on display—the Ludovico Sfoza/Duke of Milan ones, in both the blue and black editions. Black looked grayer than I expected; blue, less turquoise and darker, like concentrated Sailor Sky High. Pretty pens but also a bit too glossy for my tastes (I’m a maki-e, tree-sap kinda pen gal).

Grace de Monaco seems to be in every MB boutique I see, probably since she’s one of the newer Diva lines—which are, incidentally, quite pretty, slim little things. If only they weren’t cartridge fillers, sigh.

There was a MB 149 in the center back display with a nib that could eat all of mine for breakfast and then some (yes, even my #6 on the Danitrio—what a monster!). There’s a saying about princes born with silver spoons on their tongues—I’d say gold MB nibs would fit as well.

The 2013 WE Balzac was there too, the lighting making its thick gray (dare I say Pelikan-esque?) stripes even thicker than usual. I really liked this pen in the promotional shots until I saw one myself. It had an interesting shape, nice lovely Gothic lettering on the nib (shame my initials aren’t HB), and a cute story for the cap band design (inspired by a walking stick! Aww…).

But sadly, it doesn’t appeal to me in real life. The stripes look too…flat and gray, somehow, and the turquoise stones on the cap too small, and—oh, if only the barrel was semi-transparent so it could do that cool glimmering stained-glass window effect you get with ink windows! I suppose my tastes are too girly for it.

Anyways, the star of the moment was the new 2014 Great Characters Leonardo da Vinci pen. I really like the little wheel on the clip, and the cool see-through wrap-around window atop the cap, and the wing design they have on the nib and barrel. It’s a bit too silver for me (I’m a gold trimmings girl, through an through), but I appreciate style and da Vinci’s got it in spades. Totally steampunk!

You can read about its specifics on the official MB website here, but here are some phone photos of the display itself.

I admit, I took it so I could read the text in the booklet later. I devour descriptions like whoa.

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Right, in case it’s blurry, I’ll rewrite the stuff below:

“Leonardo spent almost 30 years investigating the question of how a living creature can propel itself through the air under its own power. In his attempts to reveal the secret, he analysed the aerodynamics of the wings both of birds and bats. He consolidated his findings in many individual drawings and in one general study of bird flight. They are the starting point for the development of his spectacular flying machine–and now also the inspiration for numerous design details of the Limited Edition Leonardo. The engraving on the forepart of the writing instrument shows the study of a wing Leonardo sketched for a flying device on page 74 of one of his most famous notebooks–known today as “Paris Manuscript B”.”

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“This page number served as the inspiration for the Limited Edition 74.

The finely engraved depiction of a bat adorning the handcrafted 750 gold nib is based on a drawing from Leonardo’s study of bird flight.”

& the small gray text: “The page number “74”, inscribed by hand in the top right corner, is the reason the drawing became known as “Wing study fol. 74r” in the literature.”

Yeah, window shopping’s pretty fun and this post was pure piffle fluff filler. Just another day in the life of a fountain pen lover.

Personal Penny #2: Of Dostoevsky, Dreams, & the Holy Grail

Hang around the FPN forums long enough, and you’ll eventually stumble upon the words “holy grail pen”.

No, it’s not a pen modeled after the Holy Grail or King Arthur legends (though that’d be cool—-imagine having Excalibur as your pen clip!). It’s just a generic term for that pen (or pens) you’ve been wanting to get but haven’t because of its cost and/or availability.

For me, there are holy grail pens, and then there are dream pens—the kinds you also want to get, but have a slightly better chance at actually buying. The differences between Dream pens and Grail pens are in degrees. Both can hit you when you least expect it, leave a lasting impression that makes you want more, and dig a hole in your heart until you fill it up by actually buying the darned thing. (Or give up. There’s always the option to give up.)

Grail pens just hit harder and dig deeper—because they’re just that much more difficult to get.

I consider myself lucky to be picky about my pens—it means I don’t get hit with the OMG-Want-This-Now Bug as often. Still, I have fallen victim once or twice…maybe even thrice.

Take, for example, the Montblanc Fyodor Dostoevsky (Dostoyevsky if you like extra consonants) Writer’s Edition. Beautiful pen, tapered section, ink window!!!, with gold accents and a shiny blue cabochon in the clip…it was love at first sight. Then I saw the current price tags and love turned to heartbreak.

At that moment, the Dostoevsky transformed from “lovely pen” to Grail status. I was sure I would never get one, and would have to settle for longingly looking at Google images from far away…but THEN!

An eBay listing appeared for a used Dostoevsky! Just the fountain pen, without boxes or papers—-which meant it was being listed at a fraction of the market price. Heck, even at a fraction of the original retail price! (MB Writers’ Editions tend to sell for more in the years after they come out. Darn limited supply.)

So, I bid on it.

And, six days later, I got it.

Today, I have a Grail pen. And it is beautiful.


Yes, I know I spelled his name wrong. It was hot. I wanted fro-yo. Accidents happen…

Of course, another interesting fact about Grails is that they tend to multiply. Probably because human desires for unattainable things tends to run unchecked—precisely because it is unattainable, there can’t be more harm in fantasizing more about the things you can’t get, right? So the logic goes in my brain. 😄 Ha! Illogical logic, but since these desires are related to emotions, I can relate.

So, just for fun, I’m going to list some of my private wanna-haves below. Because listing them is more likely than me actually getting them. Comprende?

-Dream Pens-

Aurora Archivi Storici (thanks to an FPN member!)

MB 146 UNICEF (2009 version) (thanks to another FPN member!)

Danitrio Sho-Hakkaku (short octogan) in Ki-dame (just because it’s pretty. But if I really want it, I’ll need to save up serious $$$ and sell off some others to justify its use in my EDC)

Hero Century Dragon (I know where I can get this pen for much cheaper—it’s just, the pen is too heavy (38g!), so even if I do, I wouldn’t use it. It’s still nice eye candy, though.)

Pilot Custom 823 in Amber (the main appeal of this pen is its ability to be used on AIRPLANES, thanks to the pressure-releasing valve. But in the end, it still looks too plasticky for me to justify the cost—I don’t fly all that often, so meh.)

Sailor pen with Sabi-togi nib (I’ve heard so much about Sailor’s XXF+ nib that I want to try one someday, just to see how it compares to my .38mm gel pens. But that’s not a reason to go out and throw money at one. And the ink capacity of Sailor pens…depressingly small! )

Guanleming 2001 hooded demonstrator for less than $10 (seriously! they went from $3~5 on isellpens a year ago…now Todd’s out of stock, and the only ones I can find go for $12.75 on eBay—ridiculous. But if I get desperate…)

Another Fancy-smanchy demonstrator with gold trim (but as all the ones I like have ridiculous price tags…eh. No thanks.)

-Grail Pens-

MB Dostoevsky (by a miracle of eBay and luck + virtue?)

Danitrio Kaguya-hime (no chance of getting this limited edition—even if it pops up, I don’t think I can bear to pay that much…)

Pelikan Moon Goddess (very, very, VERY tempting. Thank goodness it’s sold out, or I’d be seriously bankrupt.)

Waterman Serenite (despite what people say about its flow problems, its proportions are divine. If I could custom-order one with a maki-e design of my own choosing, that’d be the icing on the cake. Sadly, Waterman discontinued the Serenite models.)

Various Danitrio maki-e pens (that I will not list, for the sake of my sanity and wallet)

****** (Currently in the works—a custom project I will talk about when it finishes. ^-~)

So…the moral of all this?

I like pens. But I refuse to go absolutely crazy over them. Balance is key to maintaining a healthy collection! 😉


(For reference: Dostoevsky on left, MB 146, 2009 UNICEF Edition on right.)