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The Montegrappa Fortuna Saga

Posted in Fountain Pens

With one exception, my experiences with fountain pens have been fantastic. Today I’m going to tell you about that exception. Before I do, however, I want you to keep something in mind. I vacillated for weeks between sharing this story and keeping it to myself. I don’t want it to read as a smear on Motegrappa. What I want you to take away from this story is the amazing customer service offered by Cary Yeager of Kenro Industries.

Montegrappa Fortuna Heartwood Pear

I bought my Montegrappa Fortuna Heartwood Pear (FHP) on November 11 at Bertram’s Inkwell‘s yearly trunk show. I’d been eyeing the pen for a while. It’s beautiful. Cary had one at his table with the nib size I wanted, so I bought it. And so began the FHP saga.

A couple days after my purchase, Cary tracked me down on Instagram and requested my address to send me the limited edition notebook he’d forgotten to give me with my purchase.Bonus points to him, because I have no idea how he found me, and I didn’t even know I was supposed to get a notebook.

A couple weeks on, I was getting annoyed by my new purchase. My FHP suffered from hard starts. As in, if I didn’t write with it every day, I had to scribble quite a bit or twist up the converter. At the time, I had less pens than I do now, so I wrote with my FHP almost every day. Mondays, though, when I hadn’t used it over the weekend, I had troubles with it. It was also a very dry writer, although I knew that was an easy fix.

I sat on the problem until the Baltimore Pen Show. While there, I dropped by Kenro’s table and spoke to Cary about the problem I was having. He adjusted the tines a bit to increase the flow, and gave me his card with the request that I contact him if I had any further problems.

Hopeful, I went back home that day and refilled my pen. It worked well at first. It was a wetter writer. But I had more pens by that point, so each one was getting less writing time. That decrease in use didn’t aid my FHP. It was suffering from hard starts with each use.

So approximately a month after BWIPS, I emailed Cary and let him know I was still having problems. He was very kind and apologetic about my issues. Without any questions, he sent me a new nib unit as well as a pre-paid mailing label to send the existing unit back.

Again, it worked well at first. The first day was lovely. The new nib was a wet writer, so I got some great shading. But it didn’t last. Each time I used it, I’d have to scribble for a while, or twist up the converter, even if I used it every day.

So after a couple of weeks, I emailed Cary again. This time, I included suggestions some of my pen friends had made as to the possible problems. Once again, Cary was lovely, and offered me a new cap for the pen, which would address a couple of the suggestions I had received. Since the Montegrappa visit to Fahrney’s was only a a few days away, we agreed to make the exchange there.

Montegrappa DC Meet-Up
While I didn’t find the solution to my FHP woes at the Montegrappa meet-up, it was still a fun evening.

Sadly, the cap didn’t help, so I emailed Cary again. I’m fairly certain the pen was becoming as much of a bane tho him as it was to me, but he was consistently courteous and helpful. He offered me a brand new pen, and we agreed I’d pick it up at the Fahrney’s show in a couple weeks.

When I picked up the pen, because of my experiences with the model so far, I asked what the next step was if this one didn’t work. My request was to return the pen and put the purchase cost toward a different pen. His instantaneous answer was yes. He could accommodate that for any Montegrappa or Aurora pen. (For those unfamiliar with Kenro, those are the two brands they distribute).

Satisfied, I took the new pen home. As before, the first 12+ hours were lovely. But by the next morning, it was suffering from hard starts again.

Resigned to a pen that wouldn’t work, I cleaned it out and put it away, planning to speak to Cary at the DC pen show.

But, to my surprise, in talking about the issues at Bertram’s Inkwell, Bert declared that a pen purchased in his shop was a pen purchased from him. He was perfectly willing to take the pen back and put the value toward any pen he carried. That turn of events floored me. I assumed that I’d purchased the pen from Kenro, and would need to get this taken care of through them. I have nothing against Aurora. Everyone I know who has one, loves it. But they aren’t my favorite looking pens in the world. And I wasn’t ready to jump back on the Montegrappa wagon just yet. To discover I could now put the money to any pen was fabulous.

And that’s precisely what I did. I accepted Bert’s offer and reserved a Kumpoo. With the extra money left over, I picked up a vintage Sheaffer Valiant Triumph from 1945 or 1946. So the story has a happy ending. Instead of one pretty, but cranky pen, I get two beautiful, fabulous writers. Win for me!

Platinum #3776 Kumpoo and Vintage Sheaffer Valiant Triumph

I’d like to remind you that I’m one person, and I had an experience with a single pen model, so keep that in mind as you digest my story. But make sure you process the excellent customer service I experienced from Cary — and, by extension Kenro — and Bertram’s Inkwell. I can’t thank them enough for their patience, understanding, and time.

Have you had any disappointing pen purchases? Let me know in the comments.


    • I think I tried between 6 and 10 total, all different brands.

      May 30, 2020
  1. Wilfred

    I had the same problem with the Montegrappa Heartwood Pear model.
    Hard start.
    Also, that was a Broad nib but wrote very fine lines unless I pressed it hard.
    This happened while I was testing the pen in the shop, so no purchase.
    I like wood pens, and I hope that won’t happen to all other Montegrappa wood pens.

    September 2, 2019
  2. snapdragon

    I have been in Bertram’s Inkwell several times over the years. Customer service there is always top-notch.

    August 15, 2018
  3. Cary is a rock star, as is Bert. But you knew that already. 😊
    I’ve yet to get a Montegrappa mainly because of the issues I’ve heard about with their pens. An Aurora, though…yes, please!
    Glad everything worked out for you and that once again great customer service wins the day.

    August 14, 2018

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