The Classic Montblanc 149

I’m impressed that the Financial Times dedicated an article to a fountain pen.

Design classic: Meisterstück 149 fountain pen

Distinctively chunky and cigar-like, it is beloved for its gravitas when signing on the dotted line

Beloved by heads of state and businesspeople for its gravitas when signing on the dotted line, the Meisterstück 149 (German for “masterpiece”) has been accessorising rarefied desks since 1924. Distinctively chunky and cigar-like, the Meisterstück has always been a status item. In 1906 Hamburg banker Alfred Nehemias and Berlin engineer August Eberstein spotted the gap for upmarket writing tools. They produced an inaugural model, the Rouge et Noir, in 1909, made of matt ebonite, followed a year later by the pen that would give the company its name, the Montblanc.

While fountain pens once ruled the workplace, since the 1960s the cheaper ballpoint has been a remorseless rival, and in a recent survey less than half the British population said they handwrote anything in the course of a day.

Still assembled in Hamburg, the Meisterstück’s smooth body of resin, silver or lacquer is edged in precious metal, its hand-ground 18-carat gold nibs come with delicate rhodium inlays and its lid is tipped with a signature snowflake as a nod to the company’s alpine namesake. The most expensive is the limited-edition rhodium-coated Unicef Solitaire Skeleton, topped with a mother-of-pearl snowflake, for £7,600. The gold-coated 149 version costs £650.

Vintage models are popular with collectors and have an even more satisfying weightiness thanks to their heavier brass ink-filling mechanisms. Since 1930 the nibs have been engraved with the number 4810 (Mont Blanc’s height in metres) so if you find one without, you are either looking at something very rare or fake.

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