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As of writing, an Oscar Wilde Writers Edition is now in the bag, the fabled pen should be in my hands sometime during the Christmas Holidays if not Christmas day itself. Yes Sir! While I probably sip a mug of eggnog (from a carton) on one hand, I’ll be writing on the other hand with a pen I thought that was out of my reach.

This is my first attempt at reviewing a fountain pen, something that I always looked at as a tool and not a prized possession. The Writers Edition is the most popular line of Montblanc, choosing one can be very interesting. They say it can be broken down to the collector and user. I would like to include the user/collector, this is the guy who has 2 of each, a user pen and the brand new one in a vault. I know one who buys a WEs based on it’s year of introduction and having the same birth year of his children, with plans of giving it to them eventually. Others choosing, based on their favorite writer. Others buying what is within budget and because it is after all a Montblanc. Others buy them as an investment. I personally own a modern 149 and a vintage 149. The modern is the user pen and the vintage kept in a safe place.

My choice came to the older WE pens so as to push it in to the category of vintage the soonest and to my favorite writer among the three. The three WE pens that are labeled as “Early” or “The Classics” are the Hemingway (first WE MB) introduced in 92, Agatha in 93 and the Wilde in 94. My personal choice would have been the Hemingway. To mesh his writing, persona and life would just be difficult to describe in words by me. I also could sorta identify with him as I myself am an angler, I would be lying if I said that I did not lose myself day dreaming while trolling, that I was fishing in the Sea of Cortez. But unfortunately the Hemingway, that is based on the MB 139, is just too much out of my reach, if even available in the market. A mint, inked pre-owned can be anywhere from the very high 5 figures pushing 6 to at least 6 figures (depending on PHP USD exchange rates). An Agatha slipped through my hands just recently, very good condition and fairly priced at 1155.00 USD, but still an amount that just didn’t work with my sensibilities. An Agatha has a strong buy me factor when you see it. I guess the snake clip has that same effect as that infamous snake and that infamous apple. Scuttlebutt however is that it can shatter like a modern 149 when dropped, yeah I know, sour graping. Doing the math and doing the justifications took so long that eventually the Agatha ended up in someone else’s hands. Oh well.

Now Oscar Wilde…yes the Oscar Wilde. My favorite author among the three, and the best priced early WE pen as well. One of the earliest authors introduced to me and my brothers was Oscar Wilde. The Happy Prince and The Selfish Giant was a regular to be read to us. When I got to middle school, a classmate introduced me to Dorian Gray. The transformation from children story writer to the author of Dorian Gray amazed me. Here was a story of immortality, written years before fellow Irish writer Stoker wrote his own series about immortality. A sudden popularity of Oscar Wilde came in the late 90’s. There was a sudden interest in all things Wilde. He hit Broadway, made it to the silver screen, new books about him were written, his death centenary was widely celebrated and most of all the church made an official statement that OW died a Catholic and more (Spadaro and Sapienza, both excellent articles). Legend has it that he requested a 6 month retreat (Spiritual Exercises?) from the Jesuits right after his imprisonment (refused by the Jesuits). His popularity even earned Dorian Gray a place in Marvel. I know it sounds sacrilegious but that’s how popular OW and his character got. Dorian Gray also got a role in the movie “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”.

Now the pen, introduced in 1994 with mine being number 16,424 of 20,000 (including those from a set) pieces released. Production numbers are slightly less as compared to the Hemingway and Agatha. The OW is now 20 years old. I’ve wondered if Montblanc knew that there would be a surge in interest in him in the late 90’s. Let’s set the numbers aside first. The OW is one of the longer pens in the WE line. The cap has a length of 59mm with a diameter of 15mm. The total length capped-145mm, length uncapped-134mm, and length posted-169mm. Diameter of the barrel-13mm. Total weight 33.6 gms, weight uncapped 23.9gr.

Design: I’ve always wondered about Montblanc designs. You can’t find any information on their designers, chief designer, nada! It seems that they just have a merry band of elves that come out with designs that makes everyday Christmas. I presume that very early designs were probably a corroboration between Voss the stationer and Eberstein the Engineer. In fact early designs seemed to be influenced by Parker with the popular 149 influenced by the Sheaffer Balance. We know about Geoff Hollington and the Sonnet and the 100. Bauhaus and the 2K. Simoni of Omas pens as well as Syunchi Nakata of Platinum. These are men who actually designed and or made pens themselves. But with Montblanc…secrecy.

An interview of the late Italian designer Massimo Tamburini mentions some basic design elements, a design has to stimulate as many senses that it can. When he designed the Ducati 916 it would stimulate you visually, tactile and aurally, yup you knew a 916 was coming even if it was still around the corner. When he was tasked to design the MV Agusta F4, similarities to the 916 was evident but he made sure it had a characteristic sound. Tamburini was a firm believer in the intimate relationship of form and function.

Getting back to the OW, the pen has a strong visual effect. When the designers probably sat down for its concept, the word that probably kept on popping up was vintage, yes the OW has a strong vintage flair. The basic design is from an early model MB, the domed cap and tapered blunt end cap has a strong semblance to an MB 20 safety pen of the 30’s.

Let me deconstruct the pen from top to bottom. The simplicity of the cap simply interests you. The vermeil furniture will make you do a double take and closer look. Vermeil is an old school way of gold plating, premised that the character of gold and silver makes gold adhere better to silver. It has it’s own characteristic sheen and hue that sometimes gives the impression of tarnish. Personally it’s a high maintenance plating, too much polish and you remove the gold, nick the gold and it becomes a window for deterioration of the plating. I believe the gold Agatha is also vermeil, I prefer the silver Agatha. The wow factor is upped with the large snowflake (compared to the Hemi and Agatha) which is also found on the MB 20. The the shape of the barrel is even through its length of 59mm, having an diameter of 15mm, no weird bulbous asymmetric scalloped design. The clip has a vintage look with a teardrop end and a vintage font MB with the vintage MB Mt. range between the words Mont and blanc. 925 is also engraved at the elbow of the clip near the end cap. This means that the furniture of the pen is made of 92.5% Sterling Silver then vermeiled. The finial has the large snowflake on a dome down to a knurled edge where it presses down on the clip. The OW is the first among the WE to be crowned with the huge snowflake.

The grip sections diameter, at its narrowest measures 10mm having a comfortable concave shape that just slides into your fingers. If you are familiar with a quick and comfortable grip, fall into place of a Glock or a Beretta 92, this is the same thing. No need to fiddle, it just slides into place for you to write away. It just seems to fall into place. No vermeil furniture just a simple concave shape with a slight lip. The barrel has what has been described as some sort of tiger pattern. This is the highlight of the OW. The pattern is well distributed evenly with no seam. I wonder if aside from it’s serial number, does each OW have it’s own characteristic pattern just like a Pelikan M800 Tortoise. It is the first of it’s kind I believe, unlike previous solid color choices of MB. The end cap also has no vermeil furniture, the knurled edge of the end cap tapers to a blunt end. There is a pinhole at the bottom. I asked penmanila about this and when he checked his OW, it had the same pinhole. It’s purpose is still a question mark to me. Weight and balance is good. It is butt heavy because of the piston. It is not as heavy as an M800 but weighs just right when it is actually in your hand. This is actually hard to describe and is very subjective. It is a case of you know it when you hold it.

The knurled filial, knurled cap end and the 2 knurled cap ring vermeil furniture sort of gives you some tactile stimuli, the rest are all visual stimuli particularly from the barrels tiger design pattern, so those are the 2 senses tickled by a MB OW. The nib is a Medium 146 nib, no engravings to connect to OW. Of the first 3 WE, it was only the Agatha that had a dedicated nib, having a snake engraved on it. Some say that it would be nice if the OW had a 149 nib or if it had some engravings connecting the nib to OW, just like the Fleur De Lis of the Dumas or that of the Verne, the Mann, the Collodi, the Proust or the Twain. It writes wider, smoother and wetter than my medium 149s. I believe that the barrel pattern and the big snowflake and vermeil was all that MB wanted to up the wow factor, no need for a blingy look at me nib.

Not much aural stimulation. The nib is a quiet writer. Capping it doesn’t have that distinct sound that the 149 has. Try listening to your pens when you cap it, I find the best sound comes from the 149.

There are so many reviews and photos in the net particularly FPN. Reviews actually done by connoisseurs, pen men who know what they are talking about. This review is by a frustrated writer, MB owner but more Pelikan and Sailor lover (Sailor the Japanese pen brand not a seafarer ☺). This WE has a vintage look, it’s simple but with character. No crazy bling furniture, no crazy shape. It instantly has the right feel in your hand. This particular M nib writes wet and smooth. The OW will be right at home whether you are pulling it out from the breast pocket of your daily Oxford office shirt during your daily grind or from the pen pocket of your bespoke suit at that board of directors, principal or client meeting. It is after all a Montblanc named after Oscar Wilde.

Write away!

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