Friday, 15 July 2011

Pick-a-Pen Series: My favourite pen by Martin Wilson

Martin P. Wilson talks about his Montblanc companions to Palimpsest:

It may be an anachronism but I use a fountain pen for all handwriting. I rediscovered the pleasure of writing with a nib on fine paper when my sister bought me a Parker fountain pen. After a year or two I felt it was not as smooth as it could be. Therefore, it did not become a constant companion but inspired me to try others. I bought a mid-range Scheaffer that was a step up in quality. I used it routinely for several years.

Originally, I avoided Montblanc because of “yuppie” overtones. All my pens are mementoes of major assignments and my first Montblanc was a large black with gold trim Meisterstuck (149 for the pen geeks). With a broad nib, it is ideal for handwritten letters and signatures on typed documents.

For everyday use, the nib was too broad so I bought a small black and silver Meisterstuck (146) with a medium nib. I used that frequently but being bottle filled it was not convenient when I was spending my time on client sites. Somehow, the nib just did not provide the same writing pleasure as the broader nib. Using a good fountain pen with a nib that matches one’s writing style brings a tactile, even sensual pleasure, to the act of writing, especially on a fine, smooth paper. I increasingly reverted to a quality ballpoint pen, but it was not satisfying.

Eventually, I bought a stainless steel Montblanc with a fine nib; it is cartridge filled with one in use and a spare in the barrel. It is much more convenient and cleaner to use. It has been in constant use; pretty well all day every working day for seven or eight years. It has acquired a patina from constant use; its dents and scratches are testament to the work it has done. It must have covered hundreds of miles.  It is my workhorse and when it starts to protest it is serviced by Montblanc and then works as new.

Now I spend less time on client sites so my original broad nib pen is my first choice for making notes, sketching out articles and other ideas. Of course, it has always remained my first choice for formal and personal letters. It is just so smooth. The medium nib pen may seem neglected but it sits on my desk, always available for making quick notes.

I know that as soon as I start spending time away on business I will go back to the fine nib stainless steel bodied pen. Without doubt, it is the pen of which I am fondest; we have done a huge amount of good work together with more to come. It is not pristine, none have been mollycoddled, all are working tools but the marks and dents are well earned battle scars which tell of a long and interesting journey.

 Writing this article has sparked some wider thoughts so I will be writing a longer article about How I Write for my own web site: Martin’s Miscellany Magazine

Palimpsest thanks Martin for sharing this and invites more pen aficionados to write about their writing instrument companions. Send your piece to blogpalimpsest at gmail dot com.


  1. Martin, thanks for this write-up! You're right, MB is regarded by some as a poseur's or bounder's fountain pen. I'm not sure why. I saw an MB displayed in a Columbus, Ohio store back in the 1980s, and all I thought then was, "Uh, nice pen". Jack/Youngstown

  2. I really enjoyed reading that. It's fun to hear about someone's favorite pen. Thanks for sharing.