In this 4K video I review the Montblanc Notebook # 146. This is a luxury notebook with a leather cover and watermarked “premium” paper.
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.
Last year I purchased my first Nakaya, a Naka-ai Cigar Negoro in Shiro-tameuri. I tried using the Naka-ai at work and found that it was a complete pain to use for a number of reasons. Being a cigar model it has no clip; I would have to use the pen with a Nakaya pillow so that it wouldn’t roll off the desk. That was annoying. The second issue is the threading on the Naka-ai; because this pen is designed to be finished with complex paintings and designs there is a lot of threading so that you cannot accidentally misalign the artwork (or in the case of the Negoro model, the scars).
These two “annoyances” make the Naka-ai unusable for quick notes. To remedy this issue I purchased a Nakaya desk pen stand and now my Naka-ai is a pleasure to use at work.
I had read that Nakaya desk pen stand is compatible with a lot of other common non-Nakaya pens so I opted for the basic plain black Urushi lacquer finish with gold trim as I thought this would work well with more of my pens.
I have found that the stand works very well with my Montblanc 146, my Aurora Optima, my OMAS Paragon, my OMAS Ogiva, and my Visconti Van Gogh (original model with the K locking cap. It may not work with the smaller more recent models). Nibs.com (no affiliation) lists many more compatible pens that I have not had the chance to try with the stand. Sadly it does not fit a Montblanc 149.
The fit and finish is as good as any other Nakaya product. The lacquer is gorgeous. The stand is sturdy and will hold your pen at any angle you choose.
The base is made of wood and the bottom is not finished in lacquer as the top is; this prevents the base from sliding around.
Overall, I am really happy with the desk stand as it has made a number of my favorite pens more usable. The utility it provides makes the $140 price tag well worth it for me. I definitely recommend this stand to Nakaya Cigar owners as well as anyone that gets tried of uncapping their pens.