Here's a pen that you've probably seen around. The Montegrappa Fortuna has taken many forms, but this Copper Mule is the one that has gotten the most play on blogs and social media. Ryan at Kenro was kind enough to send this one out to me for review, and I'm going to hate sending it back. I've come to like it quite a lot.
The pen comes in a leathery box inside of a cardboard box inside of a paper sleeve. It's a lot of packaging, but the inner box is really nice. The elastic band in mine came loose while I was filming the video for this post, but I'm sure that's an easy thing to fix and it's not something that I care about much.
Were I given to fancy-talk, I'd say that the Montegrappa Mule is a study in contrasts.
The copper finish on the cap and barrel is beautifully smooth and shiny when you get the pen, but you may see some marks and smudges on the pen right away. I can't tell if these are tool marks or just blemishes in the copper, but they don't have a texture so I'm thinking they're blemishes of some kind. In any case, the pen won't look pristine for very long, so if you're a person who is obsessed with avoiding fingerprints and smudges this won't be the pen for you.
At first glance, the brushed stainless silver plate on the cap ring and the section look out of place. They have striations and lines that look rough against the mirror-polished copper of the cap and barrel. As you let the pen collect a patina (and I suggest that you do so), the brushed silver starts to look better and better.
The first impressions of this pen are great. It's polished and shiny. there are imperfections, though. Blemishes on the cap and barrel. Those disappear once there is a bit of tarnish on the pen. Some tool-marks on the section that don't show up until the silver starts to tarnish a bit. (These actually bother me a little bit. I know I didn't make them, and I can't see them in the original photos, but they must have been there just waiting to be tarnished.)
It's a pen that looks fancy and refined, but it's meant to be used. As you use it, the patterns of tarnish and wear become more apparent and unique to you. It's a pen that add to. One that you make your own. I think that's pretty darn cool.
It's a stainless steel nib, and that has put some people off of a pen at this price. I'm not an issue for me, though. A good nib is a good nib, and I think this is quite a good nib. It was a little bit too dry, right out of the box, but after I flushed it well it has improved quite a lot.
The design on the nib is called a "filigree Montegrappa pattern" but it looks more like diamonds to me.
The brushed silver of the clip stands out against the copper of the cap. It actually looks like brushed stainless steel to me, but there's a small amount of tarnish that will appear over time.
It's a fairly stiff clip without much give, but the roller at the end of the clip makes it easy enough to clip onto jeans or other thick fabrics. I think this is a very "jeans" sort of pen.
And interesting thing about the clip is that it creates an area on the cap that is protected from skin oils and tarnish. I haven't done anything to clean or prevent tarnish on my pen, and you can clearly see the bright copper under the clip. It's a nice reminder of the history that you're putting on the pen. (Or, if you're more fastidious, it could be a constant reminder of how clean your pen could be. That's not me, though.)
How's it feel?
I thought this was going to be a really heavy pen. It's a bit bigger than the only other full-metal pen that I have to compare it to: The Karas Kustoms Fountain K in brass. Compared to that pen, the Mule is longer and thicker. It must be a good bit thinner, though, because the Fountain K is about 50% heavier than the Mule.
For my hands, the Mule is pretty perfect. The weight of the pen seems to be in the grip section, and that really helps with the balance of the pen.
The threads are big and flat. The cap feels solid when you screw it on, and I haven't had it come open in my pocket yet. The nib also stays wet for days even when I don't use it.
These two pens are actually almost exactly the same length from end to nib and the sections are very close. The Mule's section is slightly larger, and the nib is longer, but the overall length is identical and they are both very comfortable. The Mule is heavier, though, so if you like the feel of the Custom 74 but you'd like something more substantial, this is a great pen for you.
So, I really like this pen. It's not going to be for everyone, though. It's pretty heavy, it smells like pennies, and the copper will drive you mad if you hate fingerprints and smudges. If you're like me, though, you'll love the weight. You'll like it when people ask to check it out. You'll probably spend too much time looking at the patina when you should be writing words. You'll like the nib. There's a lot to like about this pen.
The biggest issue with the pen is the price point. The MSRP of $375 is going to put it outside of many people's budgets. The dealer-price of around $300 is still pretty high. That puts it above a lot of Sailor pens, most Pilot pens, and into the higher range of bespoke pens like the ones from Shawn Newton and Jonathon Brooks. It's still fairly low for a Montegrappa, though, and that's a brand with some caché. It's been around for over 100 years, and they make some really interesting pens.
Find it online at your favorite dealers:
Disclaimer: This pen was loaned out to me for review, free of charge, with the expectation of an honest review. That's what I've given. No money has changed hands, and no guarantees were given.