||The Montblanc 149 Masterpiece must be one of the most widely
recognized fountain pens around. Produced continuously since 1952 and likely to remain in
production as long as Montblanc exists, the 149 has changed little in external appearance
over the years. Nonetheless, there are significant differences between new and old
examples, with pre-1962 pens being the most desirable.
|The most obvious external difference is the wide gold-filled central cap band
flanked by narrow bands in sterling silver (see detail right) instead of the three
gold-plated bands used later. Internally, the earlier 149s have a heavy brass two-stage
filling mechanism of the type used in Montblancs of the '30s and '40s.
The overall heft of the earlier pens is also much greater than the injection-molded plastic models of more
recent years; from all reports, the older celluloid material is also stronger and tougher.
For many years vintage 149s weren't terribly expensive --
probably because of their superficial resemblance to their modern descendents, which have
become so ubiquitous as to have lost their cachet among diehard pen enthusiasts.
In the last few years, prices have gone up and availability down; nonetheless, early 149s still sell for significantly less than their mechanically-identical flat-topped predecessors.
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