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Thread: Montblanc 149 nibs

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    Default Montblanc 149 nibs

    Whatever name is used for them ( Hebrew, Arabic, architect) certain EF and F Montblanc nibs from a few decades ago have a distinctive wedge-shaped iridium tip. They give a wide horizontal and narrow vertical line. When I first got one, an F nib 149 purchased 1981, I didn't really like the effect. The writing appeared strange because it was the opposite of conventional nib flexibility or softness which produced the opposite effect: wide vertical and narrow horizontal. Now, these nibs are among my favorite 149 nibs.

    Pictured below are three 149 nibs which are wedge shaped. L to R, they date from early 1980s, late 1970s, mid-1980s. The writing samples shown are in the same order. Although it may not appear so clear in the samples, the nibs do produce the effect of what is currently termed architect. Also shown are my wife's two 144 nibs. They date from 1990s and have the same characteristic nib.


    By the way, does someone know the origin of the term "architect nib"? I have heard stories, but nothing definitive. I assume it is a misnomer, though catchy. The architects and civil engineers I knew years ago used Rapidograph, Rotring, an Osmiroid stylographic needle-point pens for extremely thin lines. They did not want any line variety whatsoever.

    Stay healthy.
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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    No, itís no more a misnomer than music nibs, which indeed have the correct shape and flow to keep up with composers madly scribbling their manuscript scores. Architect nibs were for lettering, not drawing the plans. Architects developed a sort of standardized all-caps font for making notations on their plans, and it was well suited to the wide horizontal/skinny vertical pattern produced by the architect grind. (Also called Hebrew or Arabic because those scripts, as well, looked better with that type of stroke emphasis.)

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    Last year I bought a MB149 with a EF/F nib with this architect nib, which I didn't like. Luckily I bought it from a trusted seller and returned the pen without a problem. Now I wish I hadn't....

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    Barry, as a result of our recent conversation, I posed the following question to an architect friend who is a fountain pen collector and with whom I correspond regularly:
    I am confused by the term "architect nib." Do architects use nibs that are fashioned intentionally for line variation? I am familiar with Hebrew/Arabic nibs, which is, I suspect, what is meant by architect nib.
    He replied,
    To be honest, I am confused as well about this term. I have never seen an architect using such a nib. Back in the days before CAD, architects and draughtsmen used graphos, then stylographs and rapidographs for drawing plans and pencils for sketching.

    I expect someone just made it up, and like sheep, others bleated it again and again until it became a mainstream belief.
    Except, of course, among architects!

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    Hello elaineb, Thanks for refreshing my memory. I remember that very cool printing architects did and their interesting numerals too. As for music nibs, I knew composers who used them 40 or more years ago. A friend who was a second-generation musician-composer used his father's Sheaffer fountain pen with a music nib from the 1940s.

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    Hi Fred, I agree, but what about elaineb's interesting observation above? It makes sense, and I remember the remarkable freehand printing architects did. As a student, I was terrible in philosophy class, believing everything I read & following contradictory opinions days apart.

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    Hi Carlos, Hope you & your family are healthy. Did the 149 have a 1970s-80s standard nib with an architect-wedge structure or was a newly ground one? Best wishes, Barry

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    By the way, my mid '70s 146 has just such a nib that appears EF from above, but leaves a broader line on paper.

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry B. Gabay View Post
    Hi Carlos, Hope you & your family are healthy. Did the 149 have a 1970s-80s standard nib with an architect-wedge structure or was a newly ground one? Best wishes, Barry
    Everything fine Barry. Just a bit stressed with the "shelter in place" and partial curfew routine. The 149 had an original architect nib, not a newly ground one.

    Drat! If I knew then what I know now I would have never returned it.

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    elaineb: "Architect nibs were for lettering, not drawing the plans. Architects developed a sort of standardized all-caps font for making notations on their plans, and it was well suited to the wide horizontal/skinny vertical pattern produced by the architect grind." elaineb, please be my teacher. I remain really curious about the origin of the term. Since reading your & FredRydr's posts, I have pored through scores of pages of old hand-drawn & hand-lettered architectural sheets covering more than 120 years of architectural plans. As you noted, all of the lettering was in capitals, but the letters were uniform in their strokes. No variation at all. This was true for titles at the top of each page and for detail renderings in the actual drawings. If there are images of line variety in architecture drawings, I am eager to see them. This isn't a challenge of your view at all, but a genuine interest in learning the origin of the term "architect nib" which continues to baffle me. Old Parker nib guides list Arabic medium and Arabic broad, but I have not found one with Architect.

    FredRydr: "I expect someone just made it up, and like sheep, others bleated it again and again until it became a mainstream belief." So far, my research leans in this direction.

    Carlos, I suspect that you will be able to find another 149 with a nib which has similar characteristics. They are not uncommon from 1970s & 80s, although I have found more from the two-tone 14C era (late-70s to early 80s) than from two-tone 14K era (1985-90/91). Good luck in your search.

    Enjoy your weekend and stay healthy, everyone.

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    Somewhere or other I recall reading that it was dubbed an architect nib as it was the style of grind used by - or best suited to emulate - Frank Lloyd Wright's handwriting. No idea if this is so, but fwiw.
    In the words of Paul Simon, you can call me Al.

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    I am not an architect, but I made a study of Frank Lloyd Wright as part of designing and building my house, and I have a library of his works. I cannot believe his handwriting is the source of the term "architect" grind or nib. Form your own conclusion:



    Last edited by FredRydr; April 26th, 2020 at 11:19 AM.

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    Hereís a quick YouTube video that shows how architects used to do lettering on plans. (Watch with the sound off if you like. I just want you to see how it was done with straight edges)

    https://youtu.be/Ky5p-L_m6BQ

    That kind of work could not be done with a nib with an italic-style grind (i.e., a wide, thin horizontal with a slit in the middle.) It would scrape uncomfortably against the straight edge used for the vertical strokes and probably bleed under the plastic. An architect grind, however, is well suited to the process.

    Most architects I knew back in the dark ages (when I worked at the Univ of Michiganís architecture school) used monoline pens like rapidographs for everything. But there were a few who liked line variation and used fountain pens. I remember seeing and appreciating the lettering on their plans. I had done italic calligraphy by then, so I was aware that their nibs were cut differently than what I was used to. Itís only anecdotal evidence now, I realize, but it was definitive to me at the time.


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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    Your FLW reference reminded me of a story that is a favorite of mine, sorry not a lot to do with MBs, nibs or grinds apart from a tiny FLW signature. What makes it worse is that you probably all know the story and I am wasting your time in its telling.

    In 1956 FLW was probably at the height of his success but that didn't stop schoolboy Jim Berger from writing a letter asking FLW to design a kennel for his dog Eddie, he promised to pay Frank for his time and materials.






    Frank could have, perhaps should have, thrown the letter in the trash but instead he sent the boy a brief note saying that he was really busy right now, basically trying to dodge the whole thing




    However Jim showed some persistance and reminded Frank, some time later that he still had not delivered on the plans for the kennel,



    The good news was that Eddie got his kennel

    Last edited by Johnny_S; April 29th, 2020 at 05:39 AM.

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    Hi elaineb,

    Very interesting. Thank you for the link. I listened with sound on, and the narrator does say "uniform" when referring to his letters & numerals. The video which follows it is also worth watching. Once again, all of the letters are uniform. Your experience at U of M architecture school must have been so stimulating, as you could see work done in monoline and by those who preferred variation.

    You have stimulated my memory again. Thank you. Two brief recollections if you will indulge me. . . Once at a pen show, I saw an old Montblanc, a piston filler from 1930s or 40s with a small nib, perhaps #2 or #4. There was a triangular notch cut into one side of the nib, about 1/2 the distance from iridium tip to its widest point. I asked the seller about it, and he told me that it had been used by an architect who preferred a conventional fountain pen nib to a stylus point. The notch was to fit the nib steadily against his straightedge. The seller told me he had seen a few other nibs customized just like it. The second memory is of an architect I met while living & working in Germany 45 years ago. He used an Osmiroid fountain pen with a normal writing nib. The pen had a slanted and slightly recessed cap top. After drawing sketches of buildings, not plans, but practice sketches, he would dip the cap top in his cup of black coffee and shade his drawing with that. It dried a clean light brown.

    I still want to learn the etymology of "architect grind." Clearly there were exceptions among architects, those who preferred some line variety.

    This is fun and educational.
    Best wishes,
    Barry

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry B. Gabay View Post
    . . . Once at a pen show, I saw an old Montblanc, a piston filler from 1930s or 40s with a small nib, perhaps #2 or #4. There was a triangular notch cut into one side of the nib, about 1/2 the distance from iridium tip to its widest point. I asked the seller about it, and he told me that it had been used by an architect who preferred a conventional fountain pen nib to a stylus point. The notch was to fit the nib steadily against his straightedge. The seller told me he had seen a few other nibs customized just like it.
    I would proffer another explanation for the origin of said notch. If you use a fountain pen with a gold nib to draw lines using a metal straightedge as a guide you will gradually make this triangular notch in the soft gold.

    This way the "customization" would be the result of repeated use and not something made voluntarily.
    Last edited by carlos.q; April 29th, 2020 at 10:22 AM.

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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    I had a steel 232 from the 1930s with the same. I had read and assumed that it was caused due to repeated drawing of lines against steel rulers
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    Default Re: Montblanc 149 nibs

    Carlos.q & Zisi, That is so interesting. It certainly makes sense that repeatedly using a gold or steel nib with a steel ruler or metal straightedge would cause such a "customized" effect. Thank you, gentlemen.

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