Just a simple, plain, white box. So many things come in just a simple, plain, white box. But this box hides something beautiful. The Montblanc Meisterstuck Great Masters James Purdey & Sons Special Edition Fountain Pen. Inside that simple, white, cardboard box is a beautifully made Walnut presentation box. The box states simply the name of the pen within Purdey’s elegant starburst design.
Along with the box, included is a booklet with some information about the pen and a cover depicting the James Purdey & Sons workshop. The box then opens up to reveal something stunning. The pen is nestled in the center of this presentation case which also has just a plain white interior. I can only assume the interior of the box was selected as not to detract from what is instantly apparent the moment this box is opened.
I was in awe of what I saw. This is so much more than just a pen. This is truly a work of art.
So what exactly is the Great Masters collection? According to Montblanc, the Great Masters collection is a series of editions that pays “tribute to the Meisterstück’s long-standing dedication to excellence, the Great Masters Meisterstück Collections bring together Montblanc’s heritage of craftsmanship and the visionary traditions and skills from other areas of craftsmanship” Essentially, this is a collection which celebrates the legacy of companies who are amongst the finest in their craft. Companies which have stood the test of time while upholding their incredible quality of workmanship.
Now, for those of us in the pen community, Montblanc needs little introduction, but who exactly is James Purdey & Sons?
James Purdey began making firearms in 1814 in a small workshop in London. He quickly gained a reputation as one of of the finest gunmakers in London. Then in 1842, at just 14 years old, his son James Purdey Jr. began his apprenticeship. Just 16 years after, James Purdey Jr. took over the general operations of the company. James Purdey & Sons were consistently leading advances of design and rifle construction and had several important patents to their credit.
In 1868 They received their first of several Royal Warrants. They received a Warrant from the Prince of Wales who later became King Edward VII. Just one decade later, in 1878, They then received their Royal Warrant from HRH Queen Victoria after she had been so impressed by several of her firearms purchased from the company. Since then, every British Monarch has since bestowed up them a Royal Warrant.
In 1881, James Purdey & Sons moved to its current location as depicted on the Service guide and warranty booklet shown above. During WWI, they manufactured parts for the war department and during WWII, they again continued their commitment to support the allies by making precision tools and gauges. In 1956, they received their third Royal Warrant from the Duke of Edinburgh.
Throughout their entire history, James Purdey & Sons has created some of the finest, most beautifully crafted, highest quality English fowling pieces in the finest tradition of their craft, all the way from their humble beginnings through to their current ownership by the Richemont Group (1994) and every day since.
Ok, enough history, let’s talk about this pen. Immediately upon opening the box I was blown away by what I saw. The quality of the Turkish walnut is stunning. Forget about the engravings and the chequering for just a moment, the wood itself is of the utmost quality. The grain is tight and the color variations are beautiful.
Now, on top of this walnut, Purdy has added their chequering to the cap and barrel of the pen. Perfect is the only word I can think of when I examined the pattern carved into the wood. Not a single cut was out of place. The wood work on his pen is just one of the many things that highlight the craft at it’s finest.
The pen is further adorned with beautiful metal work. On both the cap and barrel there are matching sets of engravings on either side of the pen. The engravings are done in the typical Rose and Scroll pattern seen on Purdey firearms. Montblanc lists these metal engravings as being stamped. But if that is the case, I have to conclude that the stamps were hand engraved. There also must be multiple stamps if that is the case. As shown in the photos below, there are subtle variations in the engravings between the cap and barrel as well as evidence of tool marks.
Further enhancing the pen is an additional piece of metal work. On one side of the pen there is a brass plate. This plate is engraved with the same Purdey starburst design as on the lid of the box.
The rotating portion of the end cap is smooth and it actuates the piston mechanism. The fixed part of the cap, which is attached to the barrel, is engraved with a scroll pattern. This pattern ads a really nice decorative design element which complements the over all look. It is also a nice thing to grip when using the mechanism. Turning the cap to open the mechanism reveals two secret engravings. Both the serial number, as well as the word “Metal” are engraved on the fixed part of the cap.
The cap of the pen has the same hand chequering and engraved inlays as the body of the pen. The cap band has the typical wording “Montblanc Meisterstuck” engraved on it as well. The Montblanc snow cap is different than the usual one found on their pens. The snow cap is made from a combination of Onyx and Mother of Pearl. This striking combination further enhances the beautify of the pen and serves to elevate it even more.
There is one more hidden stamping that I could find. On the underside of the clip, The pen is stamped “Made in Germany – METAL”
Now, down to the business end. The nib is Medium in size and it is marked on the bottom left as AU 750 for 18 Karat gold. It is coated in the same ruthenium as the trim work. It is stamped with the year 2019 when it was released and also features Purdey’s rose and scroll design. It has a stylized M for Montblanc and the Montblanc name stamped at the bottom. The nib also has the typical 4810 engraving found on Montblanc nibs as well as Montblanc’s hallmark StOD at the bottom right. The nib comes with Montblanc’s typical modern plastic feed.
So let’s talk about using this pen. This pen uses a typical piston filling system. To fill the pen, you turn the end cap to extend the piston. Then insert the nib and part of the section into the ink bottle and turn the cap the other way to draw in the ink. When I tested this pen one of the things I noticed about the piston is just how smooth and solid it feels. There was no play of any kind in the mechanism. It felt like it was built to last. For the purpose of testing the pen, rather than using my usual Monteverde ink I filled the pen with Montblanc Permanent Black. I wanted to test this pen using an ink made by Montblanc which is more likely to be used by someone who owned this pen.
Ok, here’s the fun part: putting pen to paper. The nib lays down a juicy medium line and functions flawlessly. There is only the tiniest bit of feedback. It is just enough that you know that there is something you are writing on. To me, this amount of feedback is ideal. Even with this slight feedback I would consider the nib to be very smooth. The way the nib feels makes for a very enjoyable experience when writing. While some people have trouble with metal grip sections. I actually found it very comfortable. Even though my fingers held the pen right at the screw threads, it was not uncomfortable. The threads are not sharp and actually helped me to grip the pen.
The pen felt solid in the hand but it is heavy at 71g or about 2.5oz. This may be a bit heavy for some people to use for long writing sessions. Uncapped, I measured the pen at 127mm or 5 inches long. The cap is not postable. Montblanc gives its dimensions as 148mm capped by 17mm circumference or 5.83″ x .67″. The pen is larger than a typical Montblanc 146, but not quite as girthy as the 149.
Reflecting on my time with this pen, I can say that this pen is truly deserving in its part of the Great Masters series. I greatly enjoyed using it. The pen’s design and construction perfectly embody the two companies it represents. I consider it a privilege that I was given the opportunity spend time with this pen.
The pen is available at select Montblanc dealers and boutiques averaging around $3400.00 USD. I have only seen the fountain pen for sale with a medium nib. There is also a rollerball version available. As part of the collaboration with James Purdey & Sons, there had also been a limited edition 81 model which retailed for $35,000.00. This model is no longer available.
Rounding out the James Purdey & Sons collection, Montblanc offers a set of cufflinks, a notebook and game register as well as two scented inks in single malt whiskey and cigar scents. There is also a poker game set.
Disclaimer: This pen was provided to me on loan from the D. Durham collection for the purpose of this review. The pen has been returned to it’s owner. I have received no compensation of any kind from either the owner, Montblanc, or James Purdey & Sons.