The story of NASA’s million-dollar space pen and the Soviet pencil has become one of the more enduring tales from the space race and still floats around the internet today and goes a bit like this. During the 1960’s as NASA was sending the first men into space and they realize that pens don’t work in zero gravity, so they spent years and millions of taxpayer dollars to develop one that did meanwhile in the Soviet Union the cosmonauts simply used pencils. The moral of the story to many is that NASA was a wasteful government organization that would be giving your hard-earned tax dollars to some greedy contractors charging sky-high prices for seemingly trivial objects whereas the enemy, the Soviets were common sense and practical.
But the story is a myth, however like all good myths it’s based on facts, facts which over time like Chinese whispers end up as grossly exaggerated stories which are then taken at face value and purport to be the real facts. the true story of the space pen is a bit more down-to-earth start from the sandwich from the Gemini 3 mission on march 23rd 1965. The crew of the flight was Gus Grissom and John Young.
After the mission it came to light the John Young had smuggled a sandwich on board in his space suit pocket. Although it had been allowed by the director of flight operations it was frowned upon by the flight surgeon because when they took bites out of two day old sandwich in orbit the crumbs floated around in the cabins microgravity and these could get into the electronics room cause a problem.
At the time the astronaut had an exclusive deal with life magazine and some thought they had planned little stunts like this so as to reveal them in upcoming articles. In the earlier mercury missions it had been commonplace for non flight items to have found their way on board missions when it was discovered that the two mechanical pencils that the crew were using coughed $128 84 cents each $986 in today’s money and that NASA had bought 34 of them for a total price of $43the equivalent of $33,700 in today’s money the press had a field day and there was a public outcry. It turned out that the actual pencils only cost $each but they had custom-made housings so that the crew could hold and write with them whilst wearing their thick space suit gloves and that’s where most of the R&D and manufacturing costs of these housings has gone.
The issue here was that people might not know what a flight computer or a rocket engine costs but when they see a pencil for a $128 they might well end up thinking what else are unscrupulous contractors have been overcharging for. After an investigation as to what was being carried on to mission it also turned out that they had on board for Japanese Pentel pencils which cost $each, something that NASA definitely didn’t want to be known about when they had flown alongside the $128 dollar American versions. During the mid-1960s, Paul Fisher inventor and owner of the Fisher Pen company patented what he called the “Space Pen”. Fisher knew about the issues with the NASA pencils and had the idea of making a pen that would work in space. The space pen had a cartridge pressurized with nitrogen and used a special gel ink that became liquid when the ballpoint rotated against the gel. It could write any angle on almost any surface in a vacuum even underwater and it worked in temperatures from minus 46C to plus 71C. However he didn’t have any official backing nor was he contracted by NASA, it was just his idea to make the perfect pen and he funded it privately with his own company’s money to the tune of reportedly $1 million dollars, how true that figure was might be up to question but it’s where the $1 million dollar price tag comes from.
Fisher knew what space was the hot topic at the time so with a bit of creative writing copy he advertised he as “Space Pen by Fisher and it writes in space” this was something which NASA objected to when he tried to get a copy of the history of the Pens development reviewed by NASA, something was he managed to get into the congressional record of March 1966. He also submitted a version of the pen known as the AG-7 or Antigravity 7 for consideration to be used in upcoming Apollo missions. After the Gemini pencils debacle of a few years earlier and the need to make sure that everything in the small cabin and high oxygen content recirculated air system was safe, NASA had clamped down on what could be taken on to missions. So wood shavings and graphite from normal pencils, inks from pens and other things that could be floating around in microgravity were now considered to be a hazard to both the open switches in the electrics and also the crew as well as a fire hazard in the oxygen-rich atmosphere after the Apollo 1 fire disaster.
NASA eventually opted to use the sealed AG-7 Fisher pens in the Apollo mission alongside felt-tip pens and they ordered 400 of them. As for the Soviets they moved away from pencils because the tips will break off and float around in the cabin. So for a while they used grease or wax pencils on plastic slates but these was not as durable as ink and they still had to dispose of a pencils paper wrapping safely, so in 1969 the Soviets also bought 100 Fischer Space Pens and 1,000 ink cartridges and the Space Pen went on to be a staple of not only the space missions but also many other industries too. So was the American Space pen better than the Soviet pencil, yes it was. Did it cost NASA a million dollars no it did not.
Both NASA and the Soviets got a bulk buy discounted price of $6 dollars each. So as always thanks for watching and please subscribe, rate and share. .
Hey it’s Brian Goulet of ghuli pen company and Inc Revo want to talk to you about the pilot custom heritage 92 it’s not a new pen per se it’s been available in Japan possibly elsewhere but it is new to the US so it just got a min and I wanted to show you what they’re all about they’re in a custom line which is consist of the custom 74 the custom heritage 92 the custom 823 possibly some other Penzer recieves but those are the three that are in the u.s. anyway so I want to show you what they’re all about compare those and show you this relatively new pen the pilot custom heritage 92 here comes in the standard pilot box that you might have seen in several of my other videos of use the thermo and vanishing point this box is there’s no different standard you know embossed and grave I don’t know exactly how the process of doing that but it’s got the logo in there alright here’s the pen you know nice little pilot logo on the top the pen is kind of held in here by a little band underneath we’ve got you know thing telling you not to try to remove the nib or neck assembly from the barrel it’s got kind of the same designation on the custom 823 you notice that there’s nothing in the bottom most every other pilot review I’ve done has had you know a cartridge interconvert or whatever in the bottom but you know this is a piston fill pen so it’s strangely empty down there anyway not that it really matters because it’s the it’s the case anyway who really cares about the case so I care about the pen it does come with a little sticker usually on here that has a designation and English and Japanese as far as the nib size and it’s got a little tag here that says you know custom heritage 92 so that’s fine not a big deal but here’s the pen it is a piston fill clear demonstrator pen it looks kind of similar to the prera as you may notice here’s the prera prera is pilots it’s a steel nib pen it’s a little bit smaller it’s a cartridge converter pen but you know the prayer comes in different colors and when I say color is I use the term loosely because basically the only thing that changes the top and the very bottom down here is you know changes to a different colored you know tinted demonstrator type accents there but the the custom heritage 92 has kind of a similar look to the smoke color prera a few key differences obviously the size is quite a bit different custom heritage 92 is a piston fill versus cartridge converter it’s got a 14-karat nib versus a steel nib and then the one of the biggest aesthetic differences would be that you’ve got this white kind of cap insert here on the prayer and you’ve got a tinted smoked one so you can see the nib a lot better on the custom heritage 92 so that’s the prayer but that’s not really so much of the comparison I will bring that one back here in just a minute but on the other two pens that are more easily compared to would be the other custom pens you got the custom 74 which is one of my all-time favorite pens and then the custom 823 which is another one of my favorite pens so you’ve this one kind of fits in the middle here so if you think about it as kind of a low medium high and it kind of you know works out like most fountain pens do where the cartridge converter pen usually ends up being a little cheaper piston pens end up being a little more expensive and then a vacuum filling pens usually end up being even more expensive so that’s what you’ve got here that custom 74 is a cartridge converter pen so it takes standard pilot and Ameche cartridges or it comes with a con 70 converter it can also take a con 50 converter but that doesn’t come with the pen this is what comes on the vanishing points and a lot of the other pilots it’s what comes with the prera the Mickey Falcon but the con 70 is a little bit bigger converter than most so I think a lot of people find it to be a good compromise if you like an ink capacity that’s you know beyond what your typical cartridge converter is con 70 is a good good ticket for that so that’s the custom 74 the custom heritage 92 is very similar in size to the custom 74 you can see here custom setting for is just a little bit a little bit longer okay but not a significant amount and the diameter of the two is almost exactly the same so they feel very similar in the hand there’s some aesthetic differences sure I mean granted this is the blue custom 74 there is a smoked one which is more of a gray color that kind of closer matches this one but this is this is the one I like is the blue one you know but then that’s that’s neither here nor there that’s just the color thing so it’s got some similar accents the center band on both pens is very similar I can show you there it’s actually I wouldn’t be surprised if it was you know the same center band just labeled differently you know it’s got the name here custom heritage 92 stamped out there you know pilot Japan stamped on the back the the cat the clip is different for sure it’s got kind of this dagger style clip instead of the you know tapering with the ball on the end of it that the custom 74 has you know it’s it’s different different taste for different people I personally don’t really use my pens in my pocket very often I usually keep them in a slip so I can’t really say whether one’s better than the other or not it’s really a personal preference kind of thing but I find both clips you know act respectively the custom 74 is more rounded the heritage 92 is kind of more angular especially on the ends here and that’s that’s okay I don’t mind that that’s where that’s really where it kind of looks more like the prayer in that respect but then the nibs themselves I believe are identical on these two pens so they’re custom 74 in the heritage 92 nibs are the same 14-karat gold that’s even stamped and says all the exact same stuff on it I happen to choose to medium nibs here so they really look identical so and then the feed system as well looks similar granted the custom 74 is inked up and the heritage 92 is not so that’s why it looks darker but I believe it’s the same feed and and system so I expect I actually haven’t inked up this yet I’m going to save it for this video but I believe they’re going to write you know pretty well exactly the same as far as you know how they are posted I think they’re going to be pretty similar in terms of their length ok the custom setting for is just a little bit longer there you go a little bit longer but nothing noticeable it is just a tad heavier so the heritage 92 is just a little little bit lighter I find the balance to be pretty good though I think it it’s it’s good when it’s posted it’s going to be pretty well balanced too when it’s not posted now it’s for me I have really big hands so I probably am more comfortable when I have it posted I used to never post my pens but now I post them all the time I don’t know just a preference thing that’s kind of changed for me over the years but I really like the feel of it when it’s posted best not to say you can’t have it that way it’s not like the prayer out the prayer if you are trying to write with it it’s almost hard to write with it unposted unless you have very small hands because the prayer is a pretty small pen so with me I’ve got really big hands and I tend to hold my pens pretty far back as well and you can see it’s almost falling into the open part of my hand here when I try and write with it unposted so if the prayer for me is like it’s got to be posted just so I can handle it the heritage 92 though is not not quite that way it’s um I can definitely write with it it’s not like in danger of falling out of my hand or anything like that so it could really kind of go either way and then I’ll just kind of touch on the custom 823 here the custom 823 is kind of a big brother to both of these it’s very very different it’s probably similar and aesthetically to the custom 74 more so than the heritage 92 so you can see the difference there the 823 is a little bit bigger in diameter it’s definitely heavier because that vacuum mechanism in there definitely adds a bit of weight to it as far as the overall weight goes you’re looking at 29 grams for the heritage or the 823 you’re looking to 20 grams for the heritage 92 and 22 grams for the custom 74 so the heritage 92 just by a little bit is the lightest one of the group here and then the most notable thing about aside from the filling mechanism about the custom 823 is that the nib size is bigger so you’re going to get a much bigger nib with it than you will with the custom 74 or the heritage 92 that may make a difference for you it may not I find that all the nibs actually kind of perform about the same despite the different size and I’ll show you that here in a second but there’s the there’s the custom custom lines I’ll get those out of there and I’ll just focus on this pen for a second so I’ll show you some close-ups here so there you go you can really see that clip now these are all it’s a golden tip but it’s a rhodium plated gold nib so it’s going to be the same 14 karat gold that you get on all of the you know higher-end pilot pens except it’s rhodium plated so it’s going to give it that silver color it doesn’t really affect the performance or anything it’s more of an aesthetic thing it is clear it’s a clear demonstrator all the way through so that means when you fill it up with ink you’re going to see the ink in the grip section here that’s one question I get for people that never had demonstrators before is they they think if ink is all up in the grip section here that something might be wrong well that’s not wrong it’s just how pens work and every pen looks like that it says usually you can’t see it unless it’s a demonstrator here’s the cap so I already kind of showed you the close-up of the band let’s see if I can get a little more here they go custom heritage 92 pilot Japan nice it’s it’s it’s subtle I like I like a lot of the details that pilot has it definitely is a clean looking pen there’s nothing really rough looking on here and then here you can see the piston mechanism it’s just a single seal it’s not a double seal so I think that’s interesting but you know it’s got the mechanism up here and then the way that the mechanism works is you untwist this part it kind of separates where this gray gray part is and that untwists from the back of the pen and then you can see it’s obviously moving the seal down and it’s going to move it back a voila there you have it now you may think to yourself well gee look at the seal stops right there and I can go further you know can I pull this mechanism out and get it to go further up well that’s like the first thing that I tried I got this bent out of the box and no you’re not able to do it because if you try to re insert this thing where the thread is a little bit deeper then it’s the back end of the piston rod is going to hit the back of this part of the pen and it’s not going to be able to close all the way and then this part is just kind of free spinning so technically you can get a little more space out of here but then this parts going to be free spinning I don’t you know really think it’s worth that trade-off but if you do then you know more power to you if it’s your pen you can do whatever you want with it but I don’t know how pilots warranty Department might feel about that but you know it’s it’s totally up to you so there’s the pen I wanted to ink it up show you how it writes especially because I’m curious myself I expect it to write identically to the custom 74 and I actually have all four of these pens with medium nibs I personally like the pilot medium nib just that’s just my own thing so I have a bottle of kujaku here and I already have all the other pens inked up except for the Heritage 92 with kujaku so I will go ahead and demonstrate how to fill this pen now if you’ve never seen a piston filler before I just kind of showed you how it works but basically you just move your piston all the way down and then you need to immerse the nib in the ink all the way until it gets up to the grip section here because it’s going to fill from right back here okay so technically if you’re filling from you know very low bottle or an ink sample or something like that really as long as you’re getting some of the fins here if you’re filling it very slowly you might be able to draw it up in there but ideally you want to be able to completely immerse the whole nib all the way up to this filler hole to be able to get a good filling so I’ve got a relatively full bottle here so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem for me I have my paper towel I almost always forget it but I have it today okay so I’m going to immerse the thing and then I just slowly untwist as I draw ink up into the pen and normally when I’m filling like that there’s usually a pretty big air gap I’m actually kind of surprised at how much of a filling I got this first go-around that’s that’s kind of impressive there’s normally a big air bubble when you go to fill a piston pen for the first time but I really don’t have much of an air bubble so I want to just expel this back out and then try filling it again see if I can max this thing out and maybe I can get a reading on how much ink this pen will actually hold so bear with me for just a second okay so I still have a little bit of an air bubble if you want to completely max it out there’s a little trick that you can do just have it go down about halfway kind of expel some of the ink back out and then turn it upside down and make sure you know which direction you’re twisting but twist it so that the piston is going to go back into the pen until you’re drawing some air into the pen like that now you’ve got an air bubble at the top here you just expel it you might get some bubbles there so kind of watch out where you’re doing this okay and so you just get some ink coming out just like so and now I know that there’s no air left in this thing and when I insert it back in here I’m going to twist it back up and I know that I have about as much ink in this pen as you can fit okay so there it is I will just kind of wipe off the grip section there I kind of wanted to get a reading on how much this thing will actually hold so I’ve got a little sample vial here that’s got some you know milliliter markings on it so let’s see I’ll just kind of dump the ink into there try and get all of it out and I’m reading it’s hard for me to show this in the video but I’m reading about maybe milliliters something around there you know that’s a pretty decent volume for for a pen your typical cartridge converter is going to get you about a half a milliliter so it’s going to be you know a good deal more than your typical cartridge converter there are some piston pens out there that will hold more than that you know the custom 8023 will hold more than that because it’s a big vacuum pen but you know getting more than a full milliliter is is pretty good it’s going to last you a good while okay now that I’ve got the thing inked back up again I can just kind of get all the excess off of here and I’m going to just kind of take and touch the the nib to the paper towel and kind of draw some ink through before I do my writing sample okay so there we go things all inked up good to go now it’s time to write okay so here it is this is a Miam 14 karat pilot custom heritage 92 oops so I can spell heritage you know this has a 14-carat medium nib now I’ve written a lot with my custom 74 so I’m very familiar that’s got a medium nib to same them as this and I can say that these two perform pretty much identical same smoothness same spring you know I would expect that it would perform the same and it’s very much meeting that expectation same wetness to let me try out real quick the prayer because the prayer is very interesting it looks like it and it’s a steel nib too it’s it’s significantly less in price so you know I think the prayer attends to get some attention so here’s the prayer and for having a steel nib in this pen you know is around $50 rates pretty darn smooth prayer is actually you know one of the pens that I hear talked about a pretty good amount but not probably as much as I think it should because it really writes well for what it is so it’s writing pretty similarly it’s it’s not quite as wet the prayer as the as the heritage 92 that’s kind of what I’ve found with the prayer is they tend to be just a little bit stingy er which is not necessarily such a bad thing especially if you’re going with the fine nib the prayer is available in fine and medium nib and if you’re if you want that if you want to find nib then that is definitely a good way to go so I’ve got the blue custom 74 here you can just see how the custom 74 is writing a little bit wetter than that prayer now it’s not necessarily such a fair fight because I’ve been using this pen a lot and I’ve broken this Nibin really well you know it’s a gold nib on this one so it does have a little bit more spring to it but I also kind of write with a heavy hand because I like wet writing pens and so this custom 74 is really broken and well for me this is all the same ink and all three of these pens but the the performance of how the heritage 92 and the custom 74 is is pretty much identical then of course I have the 823 as well which has the bigger nib but you’ll see it writes pretty similar as well so it’s about the same the heritage 92 probably is going to break in a little bit just like the custom 74 will it’s not unusual for gold nib pens to kind of break in and adjust a little bit to your to your writing pressure but overall I would say I’m impressed with the way this thing writes it’s a nice pen as far as the price goes you know the prairie you’re looking just over $50 for one of these so that is definitely kind of an its own league with this group the custom 74 is going to sell for about one hundred and sixty dollars so it is a jump but you’re going up to a golden in the custom heritage 92 is going to go up to 220 or somewhere thereabouts you know really a lot of that is pretty much just the piston the filling mechanism and whatnot and then the the custom 823 jumps up to about 288 pushing 300 so there you’re getting the vacuum filling the larger capacity the bigger nib and so on but you know if you if you like the custom line I I am definitely a big fan of it obviously I’m a retailer I’m biased but you know if I was got a great reputation and it has it for a reason and the the custom heritage 92 kind of fits in between the custom 74 and custom 823 because before that it was kind of a jump you know the custom 823 is close to twice the price with a custom 74 so if you want a little bit bigger in capacity if you like the maintainability of a piston fill pen as opposed to the cartridge converter pen and you don’t quite want to dive in or you maybe you like the clear version instead of the amber of the 823
Today we’ll discuss five awesome beginner fountain pens that won’t break the bank. Even though it might seem differently fountain pens need not be intimidating expensive or maintenance intensive you can really find a lot of fountain pens that are inexpensive the problem is some are bad and some are good. In the u.s. most adults never get acquainted with fountain pens unless they intentionally seek them out in Germany where I grew up it’s part of the school curriculum so I first wrote with fountain pens when I was 5 years old Over time, I’ve used many different fountain pens, expensive and inexpensive ones. Today, I’ll highlight the 5 best value pens that won’t break the bank.
It’s particularly good if you don’t know if a fountain pen is right for you so we focus on low price, easy maintenance, easy writing, and overall, a good experience at a minimal investment. First, a bit of Fountain Pen Terminology Just like with any hobby, there’s a lingo in the fountain pen world that you need to understand so you can distinguish between the different pens. The first important and probably the most important part is the nib. The nib is this little metal piece at the tip of a fountain pen that you write with on a piece of paper. Basically, a fountain pen uses capillary action as well as gravity to get the ink from the inside of the pen through the nib onto the paper. Right below the nib, you can find the ink feed which helps the capillary action and to get the ink onto the paper. Unlike ballpoint or rollerball pens, nibs come in different widths. The finest ones are EF which means extra fine then there’s F for fine.
The most common nib is M for medium. If you want a broader nib, you get a B, an even wider is a BB nib, and if you want it really broad which is usually only used for signatures, you get a 3b nib. Sometimes, you can also find oblique nibs which means they’re angled at the tip and that would, for example, be an OB which is an oblique broad nib. When you start for the first time, I suggest you maybe go with a medium nib, a fine or an extra fine nib, because they’re easiest to learn with and later on, you can upgrade and invest in more pens with broader nibs. Another term that;s important is the so called converter. Unlike a ballpoint pen, most fountain pens don’t come pre-loaded with ink and you can either get cartridges but they’re more expensive on a per-use cost and instead, you can use a converter so you can choose from any kind of ink you want and you can just fill the ink into it. Usually, they cost anywhere from one to five dollars but you’ll save money over time compared to a cartridge which is usually a one-time use.
Another popular way for fountain pens is the so called piston filler. This one doesn’t have a cartridge and you simply turn the knob at the end of the fountain pen to basically suck ink in or push it back out. Normally, you find this kind of mechanism in more expensive fountain pens. Personally, I am a big fan of the piston fillers or the converters because down the line, they’re less expensive than cartridges and they’re also less hard on the environment because you have less waste. Now that you know the basics, lets talk about the 5 best Beginner Fountain Pens The first really greatly expensive fountain pen is the Pilot metropolitan which retails at around $15. It was introduced in 2012 and it was universally praised as a really good fountain pen especially at the price point. It comes in a nice gift box, has a nice weight, very clean lines, and you can even choose between different nib widths which is not something you often find in this price range.
It uses proprietary cartridges and converters but when you buy a new one, it comes with a converter where you just have to squeeze and let go which sucks up the ink into the fountain pen. Personally, I think it’s a very good pen that comes in different finishes so you can personalize it to your taste. The nib is made out of steel, made in Japan, and I think for what it is, it is really good, it’s not harsh, it is definitely a pen that we recommend to anyone who just wants to start out and who’s not sure if he wants to invest hundreds of dollars into a fountain pen. now the second pen is the Pilot Varsity also known as Vpen which is really inexpensive it only costs about $2. Usually, it’s sold in a five pack for ten dollars and it has a nib, it looks pretty cheap like a typical rollerball and it is all plastic. It’s considered a disposable fountain pen that you can’t refill once the ink is all gone.
Now if you look at YouTube, you may find people who have actually hacked that and were able to refill it. That being said, the plastic is so cheap that over time, it will probably break anyway, so if you think that you might use the pen for a longer time, I suggest going with the Metropolitan over the Varsity. The good part about it is that it has a great nib, consistency, and it’s not scratchy. pen number three and four are the Chinese Jinhao X 450 and X 750 both of These pens cost approximately $5 each and most people are shocked by how low the prices are and how valuable it seems in comparison.
If you want a huge bang for the buck, Jinhao is definitely worth a look. Unlike the pilot Metropolitan, the Jinhao pens are larger and the 450 is also a lot heavier. Now if you write a lot, that can tire out your hand more quickly but if you just use it for signatures, it’s really nice to have a certain weight. The nib of the X 450 looks pretty similar to a Montblanc nib, however, it’s just gold-plated and not made out of solid gold. Right out of the plastic bag, it even comes with an ink converter which is rather nice and unexpected in that price segment.
Overall, it doesn’t look like a high-end fountain pen, at the same time, it doesn’t look like a five-dollar pen either. On the other hand, the X 750 has kind of a brushed stainless steel look in platinum color the nib is likewise in the same color. It has a nice lid that clicks on and seems quite tight even though over time, I don’t quite think it will stand the test of time. The name engraving on it looks rather cheap but at the end of the day, it is a cheap fountain pen. In my opinion, it’s very similar to the x450. It’s just lighter in weight and frankly, if you want to try them out, you get both for just about 10 bucks which is really inexpensive. last but not least the most expensive pen in our lineup is the Lamy Safari It’s made in Germany in Heidelberg which is very close to my home state and when I was in third grade, this is the fountain pen I used.
Because of its sleek design and look, you can even see sometimes people today wearing it with their bespoke suits which I find quite ironic because it was a school pen that I used. For the same reason, I just can’t get myself to use that pen today because it always makes me feel like a little school pupil. The standard version of the Safari is made out of plastic. You can also find different versions of metals such as aluminum but in my experience, they dent very easily and scratch so they don’t look very well.
Going with the original plastic version is just fine. The styling is definitely the most industrial one but it’s very comfortable in your hand and it’s very easy to grip for small hands as well as medium hands. If you have really large hands, I find the Lamy Safari is not quite the right pen for you. Lamy was quite smart and they introduced the proprietary ink cartridges which are much larger than regular ones but also more expensive. They also have ink converters but you have to buy them separately and they are not part of the package as for the Jinhao. Unlike the other pens in our line up, the Lamy Safari has a convenient ink window so you can see if the pen is dried in or if you simply ran out of ink. The Lamy Safari nib is smooth right out of the box and it comes in different nib widths as well. It’s also easy to exchange the nibs in different widths and because it is such a popular pen, it comes in many different colors and patterns and varieties. The Lamy Safari is most expensive of the bunch and cost between $20-$25 dollars depending on where you buy.
If I had to choose just one fountain pen out of the five, it would probably be the Pilot Metropolitan in a F or fine nib because medium is something that you find in a lot of nibs so fine is a little different. It also has an ink flow that it’s not as strong so you can basically write on it with any paper without risking it to bleed and it also has a heavier weight than the Lamy Safari and to me, it’s a more professional looking pen and it doesn’t have that schoolboy image.
All the Pens mentioned here can be used by right-handed and left-handed people but it’s really a personal preference and so I suggest you go out and try them out, you can even buy two or three different ones to see which ones you like more and then write it up for a little bit. If you really fall in love with them, you’ll probably want to invest in a more expensive piece that has nicer materials and a nicer nib because that way, it remains a good investment. .
Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette! In our second installment of is it worth it? Today, we’ll discuss Montblanc pens, fountain pens, and rollerballs. If you haven’t already seen the first installment of is it worth it? About Burberry trench coats, you can check it out here. Now today, is all about Montblanc pens and we not only discuss the difference about a pen type such as fountain pen, rollerball, & ballpoint pen but also limited editions Star Walker and the Meisterstuck Edition. After all, Montblanc 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 Montblanc 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. So what’s so special of these pens and why did I decide to keep those? First of all, it is a timeless and 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 Montblanc 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. I really like the 149 for its large gold nib. Montblanc 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, Montblanc had a system where one denoted the masterpiece which was the highest category of fountain pen you could get for them, they also had a 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 Montblanc 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 the Montblanc mountain in France which is the highest mountain, and they chose it because supposedly they wanted to represent the high quality and Montblanc pen was supposed to be the best in class. As you might notice, all Montblanc nibs have 4810 on it which is actually the height in meters of the Montblanc mountain. Now if you like the design of the my 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 karat, 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 Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 Meisterstuck 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 Montblanc 149 is a very recognizable writing instrument, it’s used by several heads of states around the club 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, may be 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 Montblanc 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. Alright, now that you know the 149 is worth it, what about other Montblanc pens? No matter what Montblanc 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 Montblanc 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’s 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 ball points 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 Montblanc, you can look at those as an investment just like maybe art, musical instruments, or stocks. Today, Montblanc 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. So what about other pens like let’s say the star Walker series? it’s a more modern pen, it’s a more streamlined design, it oftentimes speaks to younger people with a more clean 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 Montblanc 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 one more 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. For today’s video I chose to wear a classic stroller suit ensemble with a twist. I chose a black jacket because the Montblanc 149 is also black. I combined it with a black and white houndstooth pair of slacks and typically this is a combination that is very formal and the equivalent for day wear for a tuxedo. now because I thought that would be too formal I decided to combine it with a light blue shirt rather than with a white shirt and I went with a wool challis tie in orange turquoise and olive gray I picked up the tones of orange and green and blue in my silk pocket square which is contrasting and texture to the tie and both of them are from Fort Belvedere you can find them in our shop here. I picked up the green elements in a pocket square and the tie and chose a dark olive green pair of Derby shoes it’s a very unusual color mints were yet it’s still dark and it goes with a color scheme of my outfit my socks are charcoal gray which is the mix of white and black of my pants and therefore it goes quite well together it has little clocks on it in red white and black and so it picks up the color in my pants for my cufflinks I wanted to go with some gold cufflinks that match the gold parts of the fountain pen so I opted for a classic Monkey Fist knot cuff link from Fort Belvedere again you can find in our shop here my ring is a yellow gold citrine ring that works again following my cuff links with my pocket square my tie and fountain pen my jacket is single breasted with two buttons and a peak lapel without any flaps and without any side bands because again it’s part of a relatively formal stroller suit however with my colorful accessories I really toned it down and I made it a very business appropriate outfit that is not too stiff