Tag Archives: kaweco

Montblanc Johannes Brahms Donation Pen (2012)

Disclaimer: I didn’t buy this pen. It was given to me…

Relevant to my interests.

And that makes two Montblancs that I didn’t have to pay for, since I also inherited my father’s (and will be writing about that soon). I guess the reasoning behind the decision was that Montblanc is a “prestige brand” — you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know the white star — and I make music for a living. Anyway.

I don’t normally say good things about modern Montblanc design, because so much of it is either completely plain/classic and thus boring or downright garish (like the £6900 Steinway) and Italian-looking. But with this particular musician pen Montblanc has done something rather special: a very tasteful design with topical references and (unlike earlier attempts) not loud at all. In fact, I quite like the five bands, alluding to the music staff, and the tuning fork clip is a very cute idea.

It also comes bundled with an actual A=440 tuning fork.

The ink window is reminiscent of Pelikan because of the slits, but is a surprising blue in colour, which also somehow seems to work. More power to the design team: the main cap band has the autograph of Johannes Brahms just under the tuning fork, and the nib features a dove, common to earlier models of the Donation Pen series and later changed to include further musical references.

The nib creep is downright lovely on this one.

Size-wise, it sits in between the 146 and 149. It is nowhere near as fat as the 149 but is longer than the 146 and is very comfortable to hold, though the piston assembly is metal and thus the pen is a little back-weighted.

The nib itself is my main beef with modern Montblancs: it is completely anonymous, and other than the fact that it is a good nib, has nothing else to recommend it. It doesn’t spring; it doesn’t feel like a nail either. In fact it sits right in the middle: not dry, not wet. It does run very broad, however, which is the one thing that distinguishes it. Strangely enough, I went to a shop to try out their fine, and it was no worse than a Pelikan fine…

It writes well, and I guess it thus does its job. But I don’t find myself reaching for this pen very often. I’d much rather use my Pilots or Pelikans, or even some of my really finicky vintage flex pens. This pen ends up sitting in my case for as long as a fortnight without getting use…

Ticks all the boxes.

Instead of an Instagram post, here’s an unboxing album!

Ohto Poche

Sometimes gems turn up on Massdrop: established brands for a steal, or things that I would not otherwise have known of. My first experience with them was for the Pilot Metro, and this was another:

This definitely qualifies as adorable.

Ohto is a Japanese brand with innovative designs and pens to fit a budget. I gave this a go because I wanted a pocket-sized pen without having to bring my Waterman around. Its distinguishing feature is the way it’s designed to post: 

It almost doubles in length.

The barrel is very slim and the rings on the end stop the cap from slipping over the whole pen. This way, the pen becomes longer than every other pen I own, while still being fairly light. Herein lies the only issue I have with this pen, though: posted this way, it is a little back-weighted, but that might also be due to the fact that I hold this pen extremely close to the nib. The centre of mass lies just behind the contact point in the crook of my hand, causing the pen to feel like it wants to tip away from the paper. (As a consequence, I actually use this pen unposted.)

An extremely compact build.

This pen comes in four parts: cap, nib+barrel, cartridge, and end cap. It will only take cartridges, and the cartridge is kept in place by the end cap. The barrel has a matte finish that stops it being slippery to the grip, and the clip on the cap is tight enough not to slip off a pocket, although I do just tend to put the whole pen in the pocket instead of using the clip. There’s even a decorative jewel as a finial, which adds a little more sparkle to an already very sleek pen (refer to the picture at the top of this post).

The unmarked nib is firm, with some very tasteful scrollwork, and it writes at a Western EF. In my pen list I have marked this down as “Japanese fine”, which is probably accurate. I have not tried to swap out the nib because of how well it works, though I imagine that would be quite easy to do. Here is a writing sample:

No flex at all, sorry!

The “OHTO Poche” in the sample above is an imitation of the little logo on the pen cap. And with a pen as small as this, one can do a few tricks with it…