Back to the airport…
I always knew that I’d get another Montblanc 149 to replace the one I sold. There’s something about the proportions that’s just perfect, and it’s a timeless design. And a work trip to Krakow this week presented me with an opportunity to scratch the itch.
The Montblanc boutique in Terminal 5 at Heathrow is technically a branch of Harrods, and for its size the tiny shop has a surprising selection. I had time to kill before my flight out and asked if I could hold the Ultrablack M, since I was curious to see whether I’d have the same negative reaction to it as a lot of the reviewers. Not only did I get to hold it, the enthusiastic sales guy was happy for me to dip it, too. In short, I was underwhelmed by the overall design and I found the step down to the section a bit too sharp. So I can cross that pen off the list.
Checking out the 149
While the bottle of ink was out and uncapped, I thought I’d take the opportunity to ask about the 149 in Platinum. It was on my wishlist with an OB or BB nib, but I was aware that retailers only stock it in F and M. I tried the M.
Using plain black ink, dipped, and on rubbish paper is never going to be a fair assessment of a pen, but nonetheless I enjoyed the 149. As expected, no flex, but the nib had a personality of sorts and the feed kept up with fast scribbles. The size of the pen… there’s nothing like it. The seed of a purchase was sown. The price was good (thanks, duty free) and the sales guy reminded me of the 45-day nib swap offer that Montblanc extends in case that OB urge bites.
I’ve posted before that I’ve found the boutiques less stuck-up than you might think for Montblanc (then again, I’m a middle-aged white guy in smart clothes, so I get the “easy mode” experience). Indeed, the sales guy was very friendly and accommodating, as well as very careful with the products — although he didn’t know his pens. He insisted that the nib was 16k gold.
Anyway, after thinking it over with a pint of Guinness I took the punt. And then tried to get the huge gift box into my case.
So, what to ink it with? Obviously I didn’t bring any bottles with me so I had to buy one. The sales guy offered me Red Fox — no cigar, I have two bottles already. On impulse I pointed at the Homer Greek Blue. I’d heard some bad things about this ink, but I’ve used it heavily all this week and I rather like it. It goes down wet almost royal blue, but dries a rather powdery sky blue, with shading and haloing. The colour-change is something that Lavender Purple does too, and I enjoy it. Naturally, like all Montblanc inks, Homer performs well — no smudging, good dry times, no feathering, etc. So thumbs up from me.
What about the pen?
It’s been flawless all week. The nib is a true medium, with good flow and a little tooth. It’s a usable fine when reversed. The rest is typical 149: smooth piston, quick threads, functional clip, good ink window, good fit and finish, that wide section and the enormous nib and feed.
The week’s carry
As if anticipating the purchase, I’d left an empty spot in my Nock Sinclair this trip. With me was my EF Pelikan Ocean Swirl, with Tsuki-Yo; M Visconti London Fog with Edelstein Topaz; B Graf Intuition Platino with Herbin Vert de Gris; and M Lamy 2000 with Herbin Rouge Grenat. In the end I neglected these lovely pens and used the 149 almost exclusively all week, and felt rather pleased with myself.
Hunting down a pen shop in Krakow
My schedule was pretty heavy with work, but flight timing left me with most of Saturday to look around beautiful historic Krakow. Pushing through an awful head cold I trekked along the Vistula river all the way to the Kazimierz shopping mall to check out a pen shop called Kaligraf.
It stocked Parker, Sheaffer, Lamy, Graf and Faber, Visconti, Montegrappa, Waterman, and (inexplicably) Duke. I immediately got the wrong vibe from the shop, though. There was no paper or ink on display, only pens. Everything was behind glass, at super high prices. The shop assistant said hello, but with the language barrier I was left to my own devices and soon left, empty-handed. It’s exactly the opposite experience to what I had at Iridium, or Bartrums, or Iguanasell, at Innsbruck, or even the Montblanc boutiques. Pen shops should make you feel at ease handling the pens and sell the paper and ink you need to use them, too!
That experience aside, I found Poland incredibly friendly. Great architecture, great food, great beer, and lovely people. Can’t wait to go back.