Montegrappa is undoubtedly a force in the world of fountain pens and Italian pen manufacturing. Controversial more often than not, their pen designs have sparked emotion and debate in the pen community for their sometimes, perhaps more than some times, questionable limited editions. I would venture that they hold the undesireable title for the most ostentatious fountain pen designs across all brands. I am more than pleased to say though that there are moments of sanity in Montegrappa’s repertoire when they produce something special. One such moment is this pen; the Montegrappa Extra 1930 ‘Arte Deco’ in Shiny Lines celluloid.
The Arte Deco is a special release on the popular Extra 1930 shape that is meant to pay homage to Montegrappa’s design roots in the 1930’s. Once I learned on Instagram that this was being released as a USA only limited edition of just 50 pens, I promptly snapped one up from the good people at Classic Fountain Pens (no affiliation) who also tuned the Fine nib for me absolutely perfectly.
The reason for the small edition of pens is that this has supposedly been created with the leftover celluloid material from the expensive (and therefore largely unloved) Extra Otto Shiny Lines released a couple of years back. I had personally loved the material but was waiting for it to be released in another pen with a slightly more reasonable price tag.
I’ve always admired Montegrappa’s Extra 1930 line. It executes the right blend of flair, emotion and absolutely solid build quality. The Extra line has a long history stretching back many years but for whatever reason I have never gotten around to picking one of their pens up over this time. Let’s face it, at this price point ($995 USD rrp) there is one heck of a lot of competition and choice from the likes of Montblanc, Visconti, Aurora and Nakaya et al. In my eyes, a pen asking this much dosh needs to deliver not only an excellent writing experience, but some of the features that pen lovers gravitate towards for very good reason. You could say that the Arte Deco is feature-packed, and if you imagined your dream pen I suspect the Arte Deco would have them. Let’s go through some of them: Full size but not overly large (*check*), balanced (*check*), piston filler (*check*), large and springy gold nib (*check*), ebonite feed (*check*), interesting celluloid material (*check*), beautiful design (*check*)… need I go on? On paper this pen makes a whole lot of sense, and I’m pleased to say the execution of all of these things come together nicely in reality too. Let’s have a quick look.
Full Name: Montegrappa Extra 1930 ‘Arte Deco’ Shiny Lines
Colour: Striped light grey
Materials: Celluloid shiny line barrel and cap, solid sterling silver trim, 18k gold nib
Nib Size & Material: Large Fine 18 karat 750 gold rhodium coated nib
Filling Mechanism: Piston filler with ratchet turn, no ink window
Measurements: 137mm capped, 126mm uncapped. Posts securely. Weighs 39 grams capped without ink.
Price: RRP $995USD – street price can be had for less. Strangely less expensive than the regular 1930.
Available: Just released (April 2018), Limited Edition of 50 pens. Most sold out.
What Makes It
- The material is absolutely stunning. Has to be seen to be appreciated and is the modern ‘arco’ material that Omas used in my opinion. The Arte Deco engravings on the nib and cap band are also very well done.
- Excellent proportions, balance and performance. The stubbiness of the pen with the massive #8 size nib stuffed into the barrel is delightful, a visual treat for the stilophile.
- Nib performance is sublime (my Fine nib was tuned), has great spring and flexibility that produces beautiful line variation. Just beautiful!
- Solidly built, sterling sliver will gain patina over time and only add to the character and emotion of the pen.
- It’s a proper limited edition of 50, and therefore, fairly unique and ‘special’.
What’s Not So Great
- Sterling silver / metal sections aren’t for everyone. Whilst not slippery, I would have preferred a celluloid section
- Lack of an ink window means you have no idea how much ink is left in the pen…
- …Which is compounded by the ratchet piston mechanism that winds forever and make it difficult to know if you have a full fill of ink. The capacity is not overly large to start with (0.8mL I believe), so you never know when you might run out.
- The price is more reasonable than the regular Extra 1930 ($1,495 USD rrp) and certainly the Otto ($2,465 USD rrp), but it is still up there with the most expensive pens such as the Montblanc 149.
Does the Montegrappa Extra 1930 Arte Deco execute the sum of its parts well? In short, yes.
This is a gorgeous limited edition pen that appeals to those fountain pen fans who like their pens to have a soul. I could stare for hours at the shiny lines celluloid barrel, and write many pages with the wonderfully bouncy nib. Despite some annoying shortcomings detailed above, the overall experience looking at and writing with this pen makes it an excellent buy. Snap one up if you can before this tiny limited edition sells out.
Attached are some photo’s of the pen including a size comparison and writing sample (ink is Montblanc BMW Blue) to help you decide.
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