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  • A Fleeting Ripple

under-pretentious: montblanc meisterstuck 144 fountain pen

As the silvery dawn rises, clouds start to appear overhead. They’re a darker, colder ash grey, speeding off to the north. A beautiful mug of coffee steams the window, filling up the room with its sweet scent. The cold seeps in through the window, it chills your hands and climbs in between your shoulder blades. Even when you’re warm and bundled up in your home, the infuriating February cold manages to find a way in.


Closeup of a fountain pen nib.

To me, vintage pens seem to be a whole hobby into themselves. Some people are avid collectors, diving deep into specific years, makes, brands… It’s amazing to see the range and the sheer variety when fountain pens were the writing instrument. There seems to be a line, where this sort of “vintage” pens ends around 1960’s, when the ballpoint took the main stage. The rest seems to be “modern.” Well, if those are modern, with the nowadays popularity of fountain pens, I try to call them “contemporary” to make a little more distinction.


Closeup of Montblanc logo.

This matters to me because I really like 1980’s and 1990’s fountain pens. They have a more similar feel to pens after 2000’s in most cases, rather than “vintage,” and their price makes them extremely attractive. It seems like they sit at a bit of a weird spot: they don’t have the specific characteristics that make older pens more attractive -such as celluloid, cool filling mechanisms, nib variety, flexible or softer nibs, etc- but they don’t have the newness factor of the pens from past 20 years or so. So they’re familiar, and easily accessible.


Honestly, my favourite.


Uncapped fountain pen.

This Montblanc Meisterstuck 144 (also called the Classique) is a good example of that. This pen was made with a piston filling system and a screw cap until 1960, like rest of the Meisterstuck range. Then, got its current form with the cartridge-converter system and the snap cap. It seems to have been made until 2004 or so. Afterwards, to make tracking down of this model especially confusing, the “Classique” name was given to the 145 model, a slightly larger pen.


My 144 has a two-tone nib that’s smooth, yet not very soft. Even though the slightly upturned nib makes for a nice writing experience, it doesn’t have much character. Well, that means it’s quite forgiving to write at any angle, making it perfect for writing on my lap or on a cramped table. I found that even though the nib is certainly not dry, it does benefit from a well-flowing ink. I’m not sure exactly which one it was, but it had J. Herbin Vert Empire that was on the drier side. It showed lovely shading.


Writing sample of Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-jaku.

Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-jaku makes for a smoother writing experience, even on toothy paper like Midori. I tend to dismiss Iroshizuku inks as very basic inks, even when they surprise me when I ink them up. Perhaps they just don’t photograph very well, and the flow and shading make up for it in-person. Every single one of them have been beautiful and not even close to anything else I own. I digress.


Anyway, the Iroshizuku inks are well known to be pretty great, I should rather continue on the 144’s nib. The reliable flow of this nib makes me want to put it on par with Pelikan M400 (the one I have is also from 90’s) or the Aurora 88 (90’s strikes again), but the lack of character makes me hesitate a little. It lacks character in a softness and variation sense, the feel of it is quite characteristic in my opinion. If I was blind folded and I was handed pens, I could probably tell you that this is the 144. For some reason, the only way I can think of to describe how this nib feels is cheerful. It’s a fun little nib, happy to be along for the ride. It can be said that its heart makes it up for the lack of “character.”


Well, it’s a fun little nib for a fun little pen. It’s a very slim pen, much thinner than any other fountain pen I own. It’s more like a pencil at the narrowest part of the section. This puts it narrower than the Kaweco Sport, even though its length is similar to the Pelikan M400 or the Sailor Pro Gear Realo. The size lends itself to being carried around pretty well, it’s ready to go after I clip it into a single pen pouch and throw it into one of the pockets of my bag.


The weight of the pen is also on the lighter side, which is helped by the fact that it doesn’t have a piston mechanism. It came with a Montblanc branded converter, and I’m pretty sure it’ll take regular international cartridges or converters too. Though, the best part of this pen is its snap cap. It has my favourite snap cap out of all the pens I own. It’s just so satisfying. There’s a bit where it slows and its quite cushioned and then it finally snaps into place with a little click. I love it. The cap functions great to keep the nib from drying as well, it was completely fine after several weeks, which is something I’m more worried about with snap caps than screw caps. Though, my other Montblanc also has a tendency to unscrew itself in the pen case, so perhaps snap caps are a better idea.


Closeup of Montblanc fountain pen converter.

For the size comparison above, the pens (left to write for the top one and bottom to top for the bottom one) are: Sailor Pro Gear Realo, Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Aurora 88 Big, Pelikan M400, Montblanc 144 and Montblanc 146.


One word of caution I kept hearing with this pen was that the plated collar ring right above the nib is prone to corrosion. Mine also does have some spots of pitting. The constant exposure to ink is not very good for metal parts. As far as I know, this is only cosmetic and the collar should function fine. No complaints from me so far, even though this pen has been constantly inked for over 4 months now.


Closeup of Montblanc fountain pen clip ring.

I had always wanted a West German pen, because I grew up reading too many spy novels and I wanted a bit of that for myself. You cannot believe how happy I was when I saw that little “W. Germany” engraving on the side of the cap. This pen just keeps on giving and I cannot get enough of using it, even compared to its larger brother 146. The proportions also seem so much more elegant and the weight distribution makes it more comfortable for long writing sessions.


Thank you for reading! Though I heard some people call this the “entry level” Montblanc due to the price, I want to say that this pen needs a bit more thought before buying. The size and weight will disappoint you if you are expecting a showy, heavy “luxury” pen. You really need to know what you’re getting into, and honestly, most people would probably be happier with a 146. If you’re looking a small pen more reminiscent of old “lady pens,” this pen is more for you.


I’ve been listening to some bossa nova playlists recently, so I’ll link to one this week instead. Lately, I started listening to music from Youtube a lot more than on Spotify due to the images they use. I like putting them up on the screen while I work to daydream for a moment like I’m in a cozier place or by the sea when I’m working…



8 Comments


Krista Gaulin
Krista Gaulin
Mar 08

Your post has helped me figure out more about a pen I was given while cleaning out a home of a deceased family friend. It was in a drawer with other random pens and my daughter asked "Hey want this fountain pen?" I replied with " Na just toss it, more then likely its just one you get out of the kits at the hobby store". Something in my head yelled "NO stop" and with that the search began. Looks like I have a pen just like yours but not converter just a old dried out cartage, well two one was so old it feel apart. Mine is also from W. Germany and I would have never noticed it before…








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A Fleeting Ripple
A Fleeting Ripple
Mar 09
Replying to

It's great to hear you decided to not throw it away! A little cleaning and with a new international-style cartridge or a new converter it would be back in working condition. You don't have to buy them from Montblanc, but they do sell both. It seems like the pen really is in a good condition, it's lucky to find such a pen just in a drawer.

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Carolee Wheeler
Carolee Wheeler
Feb 22

I read this post (start an article with "under-pretentious" and you've got my interest!) and was curious enough to poke around on eBay. I've never touched a Montblanc before (I don't travel in those circles) but I've long been oddly attracted to that bubbly little snowflake and the cachet of a timeless brand...and so, I took a chance on a pen that had once belonged to a T. Tomotsune (whose name is engraved on the cap).


I'm so happy to report that it is indeed a beautiful pen! I've come to realize that a lighter pen suits me because I have to expend almost no effort in holding it, and thus can write for longer periods of time with less…


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A Fleeting Ripple
A Fleeting Ripple
Feb 27
Replying to

I'm glad to hear that you like the pen! I like lighter pens for the same reason too, it's so much more effortless.


I love reading Link Love and similar link round-ups from Pen Addict and The Gentleman Stationer as well. You always stumble upon great new blogs :)

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harry marshall
harry marshall
Feb 14

I love vintage pens. I seem to gravitate to them. Not all but many seem to have some sort classic appeal. It's fun searching for an illusive model. Sometimes I'd give up and by chance find it by chance after completely forgetting about it. I guess it's 'the thrill of the hunt.' Another great thing about those vintage pens is, everyday that goes by they get scarcer and scarcer. I didn't take this picture. It's a Moore L96-B Fingertip, mines black. Made between '48 and '52. It took four years for me to find it, only by chance. A couple months ago I saw a couple on ebay . Happy hunting.

Almost every pen has a story

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A Fleeting Ripple
A Fleeting Ripple
Feb 27
Replying to

I agree, I found a Parker 21 Super in a antique market for a decent enough price. I was on the lookout for a cheaper Parker 51 or 21 model for everyday, and it was super (hehe) lucky to find one. Happy hunting to you too!

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chandon1
Feb 12

Thank you for a great review of a much under-appreciated pen. I have used one of these for more than 30 years, and it is by far my favourite pen. I have a medium nib model and a burgundy model with a fine. Both are excellent. You are completely right about the cap!

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A Fleeting Ripple
A Fleeting Ripple
Feb 27
Replying to

It's great to hear you've been enjoying this pen so much as well!

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