I have been collecting fountain pens for a little while now and have made a few poor purchases. My most expensive blunder has been this pen, a Montblanc 149 Meisterstück. (If you want just want to hear about the 149 as a pen skip down to the “Appearance” section.)
There is a well-regarded pen catalog (whose name I will not mention) and the best pens are purchased almost instantly upon release of the catalog so you don’t have much time to think.
The 1960s 149 that I had wanted sold before I had a chance so I jumped on the still available 1972 model and paid a hefty premium as it was new-old-stock.
The pen arrived in the original box with the original guarantee and with the sticker still on the pen. When I took off the cap and found that the nib was tarnished and the rhodium plate had disappeared in spots. The pen must have been dipped at one point and then put away uncleaned.
I contacted the catalog owner and to his credit he offered a few fair options: 1) lower the price, 2) re-plate the nib, or 3) refund my money. I foolishly became attached to the pen and decided to go for the lower price when I should have simply returned the pen. Oh well…
When I first saw a 149 in person years ago I thought it looked like a ridiculous cartoon pen; it is just so large. I have come around to liking the looks of it’s imposing size but if I am honest I would be embarrassed to use this pen at work…or around people in general.
The streamlined shape with black resin and gold furniture is a classic and this pen really is the archetype for a luxury fountain pen. The 149 is an icon much like a Rolex Submariner and as such there are many lookalikes.
The 149 has the best shape of any pen in the Meisterstück line. It is more cigar-like than the other Meisterstücks, which tend to have a longer and thinner profiles. There isn’t too much to say other than it’s a classic and a very attractive shape.
Montblanc has been producing the 149 since the late 1940s/early 1950s and there have been numerous iterations. The first models were the best quality and as such are the most valuable. So what about my early 1970s model? In my opinion, the Meisterstück line has gotten worse over time.
My 149 is made from plastic (“precious resin”) and has a plastic piston mechanism (not the metal telescopic one from the 50s and early 60s nor the metal one in the current 149). The barrel is a single piece of plastic compared to the modern two-piece barrel, which is cheaper to manufacture. The plastic is soft and scratches easily. Montblanc finishes the plastic with a very high shine so it is possible to polish out scratches if they are not too deep.
The tri-color nib is made of a soft 14ct gold with a solid ebonite feed instead of the plastic feed and stiffer 18kt tri-color nib on the modern 149. Montblanc produces all of their nibs in house and hand grinds and hand finishes each nib. If you look closely you will see that the slit between the tines doesn’t quite line up with the design.
One sore point on my pen is the plating on the nib. The rhodium (white metal) plating seems to have come off a bit. Which is something that shouldn’t really happen on a pen this expensive. I have confirmed through accounts of members of the Fountain Pen Network that this is not that uncommon for Montblanc pens.
Overall I would consider the build good but not great for a pen this expensive.
Size & Weight
One of the benefits of the plastic piston mechanism is that it keeps the weight down to 29.3 grams (empty). The 149 is the fattest pen I own and for me it is too fat to use comfortably for a longer period of time. See the picture below…
Even though this pen doesn’t have the biggest nib it clearly has the fattest section by a big margin.
The pen measures just under 15cm long and 1.6cm at it’s widest point. The grip section is about 1.3cm in diameter which is the most oversized measurement of the entire pen. You can post this pen but there really is no need to do so as it is a hair over 13cm long uncapped.
There are people with small hands and people large hands that love this pen so don’t assume that it wont work for you. If you want a 149 I highly suggest to you try before you buy. One of the major perks of owning a Montblanc is that there are many boutiques all over the world so they are easy to purchase and service. It is worth mentioning that pens serviced by Montblanc may be repaired with modern (often less desirable) parts.
The big OB nib is a great performer. The nib has long tines that make the nib soft and springy. The OB point is more round than the points on the older 1950s nibs. The rounder the nib the less line variation but the tradeoff is that nib is less position sensitive. Given the choice I much prefer the flatter nib.
The nib does allow for some line variation with pressure; it is much better than most modern pens in this regard.
One of the benefits of the 149 is the massive 2.7ml ink capacity. By comparison the average converter holds about 0.5ml of ink and the average piston filler holds about 1.0ml.
The piston is very smooth and the striped ink window is ultra clear and has remained easy to clean. One thing that I don’t care for is the amount of play in the piston knob once loosened; it hasn’t caused any problems but it doesn’t instill confidence.
If ink capacity is your top priority this may be the pen for you.
Used, these pens can be had for around $300-$400. The 1960s versions go for a bit more and the 1950s models are usually over $1,000. For $300 you get an impressive looking iconic pen that non-pen people will notice and appreciate; if that sort of thing is important to you, I can assure you wont do better for the money.
New, the 149 costs around $900 and for me there many other pens that I prefer in terms of quality and comfort but none can really match the imposing presence of the 149. If you want something with true snob appeal the $900 might be justifiable.
The 149 is fat….fat price, fat size, fat snob appeal.
Final Score 17/30
Here are some great reviews of the Montblanc 149:
(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)
Inky Journal – Montblanc Meisterstück no 149 (fine) Review
Best Fountain Pen – Montblanc 149 Meisterstuck Fountain Pen Review
What! No Tea and Scones? – Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 Review
5 thoughts on “Montblanc 149 Meisterstück Fountain Pen Review”
I myself fell in love with the first Meisterstuck 149 I ever saw which was my grandfathers, a 1940 MB 149, and even though I was only about twelve or so, I remember the look in my Grandfathers eyes as he held that pen. I was a graduation gift from my Great Grandfather when my Grandfather graduated from Harvard, and while it would be many years before I would own a Mesiterstuck, I still remember how my Grandfather held that pen and the pure emotion his eyes displayed. I am quite sure it wasn’t just the pen, but his father’s gift to his son after graduating from such a prestigious school that would bring those tender emotions to his eyes when holding that pen.
My grandfather was one of those hardened old men, you read about in old books; his library was strewn with stacks on old first edition books, the smell of tobacco, an old chess set with its pieces perfectly set up awaiting its next match, but of all of the things in his library that always grabbed my attention was his ancient and most formidable desk!
While his library was always in this sort of orchestrated disarray, his desk was always neat, tidy and throughout the all of the years I spent there with him, the only thing that ever changed on his desk, was the laptop I had set up for him, which replaced the equally ancient Corona manual typewriter he owned.
I always held a deep affinity for fountain pens, and I suppose I owe this to my grandfather who would let me sit at his desk and do my homework with that beautiful large pen. I remember it took me longer to learn how to hold it correctly than just about anything I ever did in that wonderful old school mancave!
While I only own two Meisterstuck’s, I purposely bought a 149 simply because my grandfather owned one and just like my grandfather I do not keep mine hidden away in my desk or in my safe with most of my other vintage fountain pens, but rather it sets on my desk proudly. I do wish it was a gift from him or my father, but it isn’t and I didn’t graduate from Harvard, but I truly believe I earned an education that is far more valuable than any degree from Harvard or some other fancy college; no I earned my greatest education sitting in my grandfather’s library asking all those questions impatient twelve-year-olds ask, and always following that question up with another one which required one more question, and so forth!
While I do consider my Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 my “kind of pens”, that title is because of the bond I shared with grandfather while he let me use it to do my homework. I remember the first day I turned in my report which was written with whatever blue ink was popular in the early 1970s and the look on my teachers face seeing that paper that was full of bleeds, but each word was written perfectly!
As I began collecting fountain pens, I discovered Sailor, which has a variety of pens which look exactly like a Meisterstuck 163, all the way up to Sailor’s King of Pens, which is a perfect visual copy of a 149, minus the white star, and #9 Montblanc nib. I own a few, but I still use my 149 as my daily writer mostly because it reminds me of the man who taught me about such things as integrity, honesty, and most of all, the love of family!
So here I am now looking at my “king of pens” as I write a reply to your blog post about your Meisterstuck 149. The Mesiterstuck was introduced in 1924, and while conducting research on the Meisterstuck line I have discovered that there are two eras where the Meisterstuck was at their peak of perfection, the first is 1950-59, and the second is 1985-89. I am fortunate to be close friends with a Montblanc expert in Michigan, and I was told that these years were when the pens were made with such tender care, and for that reason is why they are more expensive than pens made before or after. I was fortunate to pick my 1985 up from a vendor I met while at an Amazon publishing training seminar. The vendor was also an avid pen collector and while we were talking about pens, I mentioned I wanted a mb149, and as it happened he had a number of them for sale on eBay. After we exchanged info, I called him the following day and we arranged a direct deal via PayPal, so for $385.00 I was the proud owner of a 1985 Mesiterstuck 149 with a 14k two-tone fine nib. Since then I discovered there are some 149’s that were produced for sale in France exclusively that have bi&tri tone 18k nibs and are pure works of art. Naturally the prices are higher, but it all comes down to supply and demand!
Because I love collecting vintage fountain pens, my number one favorite pen in my entire collection is a 1937 parker Deluxe Challenger. While this pen is far from the technical perfection that is the cornerstone of the entire Montblanc line, however, to me it is an example of pure American quality, craftsmanship, and innovation! This pen retailed for a wapping $3.50 in 1937 and was more than likely a graduation gift from a father to a son, and I believe the backstory that surrounds these pens I collect is what I really love about the whole passionate obsession of collecting and owning vintage fountain pens!