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Mont Blanc Meisterstück Wallet Review
Is it just a wallet?
Mont Blanc, most notable for their high-quality (and costly) writing instruments also has a high-brow catalogue of leather goods, including a very refined line of wallets. I'm an avid fan of Montblanc fountain and rollerball pens, but for some reason I couldn’t get excited about their wallets. Even with the following description from Montblanc.
“ The Meisterstuck Wallet is produced in Southern Germany from Fullgrain calfskin with subtle print and a fine, rare finish. It has chrome tanning, semi-aniline dyed throughout, Jacquard lining and a Montblanc brand. The wallet is marked by the Montblanc black and white star logo with branded ruthenium-plated ring.”
Sounds amazing doesn’t it? Or does it? What does all that mean? It’s a leather wallet right? So why all the fuss about chrome tanning and semi-aniline dyed through-out? Well, I plan on getting to the bottom of this mind-spinning description to see just how ‘amazing’ this wallet really is. And we start with fullgrain calfskin.
Meisterstuck Leather Products
Calfskin is the skin of a calf, not a cow. That’s important because the texture of calfskin is much softer and has a tighter grain than cow skin or other tanned products for that matter. But full grain? I’ve found where calfskin has been described as having a fine grain, but I can’t find anywhere that sites full-grain. I did however find out that calfskin is commonly used in traditional leather book bindings, vellum and parchment manuscripts. I like that MB is making a nod to their more popular pen line. It seems appropriate. Regardless, full-grain calfskin seems to be a different way of saying fine grain calfskin and either is high quality material. But, how is that calfskin prepared?
In order to use the hide of an animal as a durable product you have to keep it from decomposing. This is done through the process of tanning. There are three ways to tan a hide; Vegetable Tanning, Mineral Tanning and Tawing.
Vegetable tanning (using tannin –thus the name of the process) causes the hide to become less water soluble and more flexible. It’s a chemical process using natural ingredients and frankly it’s a wonder that anyone ever invented it! I would have liked to see that light-bulb go off.
Tawing is a process of tanning that uses alum and aluminum salts. From the description, tawing seems to be a hazardous process—less a natural one. Perhaps, an industrialized, streamlined process to create cheaper leather products.
The third way—mineral tanning—is Montblanc’s chosen method. Mineral tanning usually uses chromium. Once again, the process seems hazardous and I’m sure protective equipment is involved. Interestingly enough, after the initial process, chrome tanned skins are blue before being dyed. In the end, chrome tanning is faster than vegetable tanning (less than a day for this part of the process) and produces a stretchable leather which is excellent for use in many apparel items including--you guessed it – wallets.
So, you have to hand it to MB for describing what process they are using to tan their products, but chrome tanning hardly seems as exciting or extravagant when defined. In fact, the regular old fashioned tanning process of yesteryear is probably preferable in terms of handcrafted leather goods.
Best Montblanc Wallet Prices on the Net
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This aspect of the Meisterstuck Wallet proved to be truly interesting and I’ll admit, comes primarily from the Wiki bearing its name. In short, leather is dyed to hide blemishes and to make a uniform material suitable for shaping into apparel and items. Aniline dye not only colors, but it once again, helps to create soft and supple leather. There are two types of Aniline dying processes; a full and a semi. The full process uses only aniline dye whereas the semi-process uses aniline as well as other chemicals.
According to the Wiki, neither method is better or produces a higher quality product. Different chemicals are merely used to achieve different finishes. So MB uses a semi-dyed process to achieve the finish they are looking for. It’s not a finish specific to MB products, but you can’t argue with the results they get.
Meisterstuck Wallet Video Review
How else is ruthenium used?
When I first saw Jacquard lining my mind immediately went to Jean Luc Picard – tell me yours didn’t. The word is like a combination of his first and last name and reminds me that I need to start watching that series again from start to finish. In actuality, jacquard is a fabric with an intricately woven pattern. The process was invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1804. The odd thing is that Jacquard is generic and has many styles including Brocade, Damask and Matelasse. Having Jacquard lining is more impressive than having a cotton weave and adds a great deal to the detail of the wallet. I give high marks to MB for taking the time to put a nicer fabric into an already nice wallet.
The description of Ruthenium could be a Hub Page all itself. In general it is a member of the platinum family and like the other metals of the platinum group, ruthenium is inert to most other chemicals (but you already knew that right!) It was discovered in Russia by scientist Karl Klaus in 1844. Most importantly is its rare and expensive and on the Meisterstuck Wallet. Ok, MB nice job on finding a rarely heard of exotic metal and trimming out your wallets with it. You get extra points for that.
The Final Word
Fullgrain calfskin, chrome tanning, semi-aniline dyed, Jacquard lining and Ruthenium all combine in artistry to make up the Meisterstuck Wallet. Big words for something that totes around your countries legal tender so you can stop by the local pub after work for a cool one. But, in all honesty, even though most of the features mentioned above are just processes dressed up in fancy words to seem…well fancy, they are in fact actual crafting systems that need to happen in order to create a fine wallet. And while most are necessary and perhaps don’t need to be mentioned with such fervor, they all contribute to what really is a pretty amazing wallet.
But for me...I'll stick to collecting pens.
Other Great Leather Wallet Links
- Montblanc Fountain Pen Store
The ultimate store for Meisterstuck 149 knowledge and sales. Auctions and deals from the Internets best and most trusted sellers.
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