Call this love on first sight. The moment this year’s Writer’s Edition was announced, I got in touch with my usual MB Boutique and put in a pre-order. The only other Writer’s Edition that so moved me was 2022’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
About Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson, born on 13 November 1850, in Edinburgh, Scotland, has left an indelible mark on literature with his captivating storytelling and imaginative works. Despite struggling with tuberculosis and respiratory issues throughout his life, Stevenson’s love for exploration never wavered. He embarked on numerous journeys, which greatly influenced his writing.
His novel “Treasure Island”, published in 1883, is credited with popularizing many of the classic elements associated with pirates. It introduced iconic characters like Long John Silver, with his wooden leg and parrot, shaping the popular image of pirates in literature and popular culture. The book’s portrayal of treasure maps, buried loot, and pirate ships contributed to the enduring fascination with pirate lore. The book’s impact can also be seen in works such as J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” which references “Treasure Island” and features characters like Captain Hook, another iconic pirate figure. The book also introduced phrases into the English language that later became widely used. For example, the phrase “X marks the spot” originates from the novel’s depiction of a treasure map with an X indicating the location of buried treasure.
Another masterpiece, “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1886), delves into the depths of human duality and the battle between good and evil. The novella explores the human psyche and moral implications, and has served as a source of inspiration for various media adaptations.
What’s In The Box
First, let’s talk about the box. All of MB’s Writer’s Editions have a similarly-designed box – they are meant to look like a classic, leather-bound tome. You pull out the tome from its cover, and open it like a book.
- The pen
- Introductory booklet
The Pen In Detail
The cap top is crowned by the Montblanc emblem emblazoned with the Jolly Roger at its centre. An engraving of ‘Under the wide and starry sky’, from his poem “Requiem”, is etched on the platinum-coated cap top ring.
The poem is a reflection on life and death, and the line “Under the wide and starry sky” beautifully captures the vastness and beauty of the natural world. Interestingly, this is engraved in mirror writing, symbolizing the duality of human nature described in Stevenson’s works. The other (now very valuable) MB pen that features mirrored art is the MB Leonardo Da Vinci, for obvious reasons. Compared to the Leonardo, I do feel that this mirror writing thing on the Stevenson pen is actually quite a stretch. Perhaps, they were trying to recreate the success of the Leonardo – if they were, then this simply fell flat for me.
A compass rose is engraved behind the platinum-coated clip, and the clip itself is in the shape of a belaying pin. There are more engraved parallel lines on the cap, which are supposed to reference either wooden planks on a ship, or a traditional sea chest. The years of Robert Louis Stevenson’s life (1850–1894) are also engraved on the cap.
At the bottom of the cap, his signature is featured prominent, as are the numbers “1866” which was the publication date of his first work.
The body is made of MB’s “precious resin” – don’t be fooled, it just means nice plastic. Interestingly, it seems to be matte instead of MB’s usual glossy resin. The black body is decorated with crosses – with a large ‘X’ that probably marks the spot. It’d have been cool if they made it such that the large X really flips up to reveal something – an ink window perhaps – but that’d be too much to ask for. Overall, when capped, the entire pen is shaped to resemble an antique telescopic spyglass.
The 18K gold nib (coated to be consistent with the overall look) has the usual “4810” that is present on MB nibs. Other than that, this nib also has fine waves in the background and the word “TUSITALA”, or storyteller, which apparently is the title given to him by the Samoans.
Capping & Posting
This pen cannot be posted. In any case, the cap is seriously heavy and will tip the balance backward. Capping is a very pleasant affair. The threads are smooth, and it full caps in just under 2 turns.
As usual for most of MB’s offerings, this pen is a piston filler. I like the piston knob on this one – it tapers down and flares out at the end, which provides a much better grip than the regular cone-shaped knob on the cigar-shaped models.
I have yet to ink it up, but so far in handling the pen, it feels great in hand. It feels substantial without being too heavy, with a good balance.
It is worth noting though, that there is a step between the body and the grip section. Overall the threads are machined well enough that they do not bother me. In addition, I find. Small step beneficial in helping me keep a good grip on the pen. Could it be uncomfortable for long writing sessions? Perhaps.
I will update this page again as soon as I’ve inked it up, and have writing samples to share!
As usual, Montblanc releases a themed ink for their special edition pens. (Do read about Ink-Gate though – it is suspected within some circles that they simply re-package and rename existing inks!)
This year’s RL Stevenson ink is brown in colour. I have not opened the bottle to try the ink yet, but from what I’ve seen online, it reminds me very much of a darker version of Pilot Iroshizuku’s Ina-ho (now discontinued, alas).
Interestingly, De Atramentis has previously released an ink – the R.L. Stevenson (South Sea Blue). Their label is mighty ugly though.
- They kept it simple! The colour scheme is also classy, just 2 tones essentially.
- I totally dig the skull on the finial’s star emblem.
- I don’t quite get the mirror writing. It feels a little contrived.
Unlike some of the earlier editions, I find that this offering is actually nicer than the more limited 1883 edition this year.