In this 4K video I review the Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen with stub nib. This is an excellent affordable fountain pen with an easy-to-use stub nib.
The 13X series of pens were the first Montblancs to feature a piston filling mechanism. The 136 was the senior size pen just as the 146 is today in the current Meisterstück line.
The 13X series was produced in the mid 1930s to the end of the 1940s and possibly into the early 1950s as there was a brief point when the 13X line and 14X were sold simultaneously.
There are several variations of the 136 which I won’t cover here other than to say that my version is a later model with the shorter ink window.
The differences between the 136 and the original 146 were mostly in design. The 146 had (and still has) a streamlined cigar shape where the 136 has more of a flat top.
They both had the same telescopic piston filling mechanism but if you look at the end of the barrel on a 136 you can see two knobs…the one at the very end is the regular piston filling knob you use to draw ink into the pen and the one below that is used to remove the actual piston filling mechanism…this makes repairs slightly easier.
I am quite fond of vintage Montblancs because they were very well made and have wonderful nibs. Unfortunately, these pens are expensive today, despite being mass produced. Montblanc is now very valuable luxury brand name and this has had an effect on the prices of their vintage pens.
Like most pens, the larger the size in a given series the more expensive the price and that is certainly the case here. The oversized 138 and 139 are the most valuable and the 132 is the least. A 136 in black celluloid can range from about $400-$1,000 depending on condition. Most will be in the $600-$800 range.
All piston filler Meisterstücks that I have owned are suitable for daily use; they are reliable workhorses. With the older celluloid models, however there are a couple of things to look out for: 1) The cork piston seal. If the cork dries out there will be no seal, meaning you won’t be able to draw up ink. The best thing you can do to prevent this is to use the pen regularly. Alternatively, you can store your pen with water but be advised this method is not foolproof 2) Celluloid shrinkage. Many old Meisterstücks suffer from this and sadly there is no cure. The good news is that this rarely causes functional problems. Shrinkage on the cap can cause the cap rings to come loose and you may see subtle dips and bulges on the body and cap. On my pen there is some shrinkage on the section. You can see a little bump in the middle of it.
My 136 is fitted with a beautiful OB nib.
This nib is very soft and is wonderful to write with. These nibs were hand made and most I have come across are very soft. I have seen some Meisterstücks with flex nibs but these are considered extremely rare and generally command a small fortune.
You can see that the 136 has a larger and more shapely nib compared to what is currently used on a modern 146.
The 136 has a flat “ski-slope” ebonite feed that provides a generous amount of ink to the nib.
You will notice that unlike modern Meisterstücks the cap band is English, not German, and reads “MONTBLANC MASTERPIECE”. This signifies that my 136 was an export model. There is some debate about whether pens with “MASTERPIECE” on the cap band are more or less common than those that read “MEISTERSTÜCK”. Based on what I have seen for sale on 13X and early 14X pens the cap bands in English are the most common.
The 136 weighs approximately 24 grams and measures 13cm long (or about 1.5cm shorter than the current 146). The 136 feels nice in hand and is a very comfortable size.
If you are looking for a vintage Montblanc I highly recommend a 136.
As a general rule, I do not purchase ink while traveling. My reasoning is that if a $15 bottle of ink breaks in my luggage I would be out hundreds of dollars in ruined clothes. Yes, I broke my rule.
On my way out of Itoya in Tokyo (after buying some pens I didn’t need) I saw some well-packaged mini bottles of Iroshizuku in a lovely presentation box and that was that…I picked the three colors I wanted and here we are: The Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Budo Fountain Pen Ink Review.
Yama-Budo in Japanese means “Crimson Glory Vine” and it is a pinkish burgundy color that I really like. Like all Iroshizuku inks, it performs beautifully, well-behaved with a good flow. This ink has really nice shading to it.
This ink isn’t really appropriate for a professional setting but it is a fun color that looks great in a demonstrator.
I am not sure I could go through a full-size 50ml bottle of this one but I feel confident that I will be able to make my way through 15ml.
So first I want to start by saying that 50ml of this ink retails for $35 and can be had online for $28. In my experience Pilot Iroshizuku inks are well behaved and have a satisfactory flow. I am not certain however, that the consistent quality and beautiful bottle justify the price. I have found that other inks half the price are as good or better in some cases. My point: don’t think that for $35 you are going to get some kind of magical ink that is beyond the rest. If you fall in love with one of the Iroshizuku colors, go for it you wont be disappointed.
On to Shin-ryoku:
This ink in my opinion is very close to J. Herbin Lierre de Sauvage (I would do a comparison but my bottle had mold in it so I threw it out *harumph*). The translation of the name is “forest green” and the color is quite nice, particularly vibrant when wet. When it dries it ends up looking a bit flat which is disappointing. Shin-ryoku offers some nice shading (harder to see with the fine nib on my Cross) and like all Iroshizuku inks I have tried, no issues with feathering. Dry time is faster than most inks on Maruman Smooth-To-Write paper. The ink is not waterproof. I wont be purchasing a bottle of this one as Lierre de Sauvage is more vibrant when dried (I will be crossing my fingers that my next bottle wont have a mold problem).
Here are some great reviews of Shin-ryoku:
(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)
This month’s Goulet Pen Company Ink Drop is titled “Christmas Dreams” and includes the following inks:
De Atramentis Poppy Red (not Red Poppy as I put in the writing sample…oops)
De Atramentis Pine Green (not Aramentis…double oops)
Diamine Kelly Green
Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Ryoku
My favorites this month are the Shin-Ryoku and the Poppy Red (reviews to follow). From my quick first impressions none of these inks are a buy for me. The Shin-Ryoku looks amazing when wet but it becomes a little dull when dried; it’s very similar to J Herbin Lierre de Sauvage which I think has a little bit more character and is cheaper to buy.
Ink Drop is a subscription service through The Goulet Pen Company (no affiliation) that consists of monthly shipments of 5 ink samples. Each shipment is $10.