Pen Review: Laban Mento

The pen for this review and subsequent giveaway was provided to me by a generous Pen Habit viewer who wished to remain anonymous. All opinions expressed are my own.

Material: Acrylic
Nib: Steel
Appointments: Silver-colored
Filling System: Standard International Converter Cartridge
Length (Capped): 151mm
Length (Uncapped): 131.7mm
Length (Posted): 168.6mm
Section Diameter: 12.5mm
Barrel Max Diameter: 16mm
Cap Max Diameter: 17.9mm
Weight, Uncapped (with ink and/or converter): 20g
Weight, Capped (with ink and/or converter): 30g

Laban is a fountain pen brand that I’ve seen around a bit, but it’s a brand I don’t have a lot of experience with. I took the opportunity to visit the Laban table at the DC Pen show this year, and my father purchased one of their offerings at that time. (A pen, I might add, that he really enjoys.) At around the same time, a wonderfully generous Pen Habit viewer approached me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing this Laban Mento and then hosting a giveaway to help find it a new home. I am always excited to learn the opportunity to investigate a new pen brand, so of course, I agreed.


The Laban Mento is a large, cigar-shaped pen that fits into the same size category as the Montblanc 149 or Sailor King of Pen. There’s no doubt about this pen: it’s huge. Larger than either of the aforementioned pens, actually. I generally like larger pens, so I find the size of this Mento to be right up my alley. I will say that the profile of this pen feels just a touch clumsy to me. It lacks some of the grace and “refinement of line” of those aforementioned comparisons. (Of course, it also lacks about 90% of the cost of those aforementioned comparisons, so a minor lack of aesthetic refinement can be forgiven.)


The pen is made from an Autumn Flake acrylic. The orange-brown acrylic is interspersed with flakes of brown, orange-red, and black. The color combination attractive, but much like the pen’s profile, feels just a touch clumsy to my eyes, as though all the colors don’t play together quite perfectly. Yet, I have heard from several folks who really love this material, so I think it boils down to personal preference. As I mention in my video review, this is a pen that just SCREAMS to be inked with Diamine Autumn Oak.

The chunky cap is made of a solid piece of acrylic and comes to a rounded point. The chromed clip is marked with the Laban “L,” but aside from that is relatively generic in shape. The clip uses my least favorite style of attaching a clip to a cap: a few metal prongs bent around a couple of small cuts in the cap wall. It feels like the kind of clip that could be popped off the pen with a little bit of force. The cap is finished off with a metal cap band on which the Laban logo has been engraved.


The rest of the pen body is nicely shaped. The finish on the acrylic is superb. It is perfectly smooth, sanded, and polished to a high gloss.


Removing the cap exposes a black acrylic section that tapers down to a slight, rounded flare. The transition from the section to the barrel is minor, allowing a fair bit of latitude for a grip on the pen. The section unscrews to expose a standard international cartridge/converter filling system. (The pen I received had the converter already installed, but I don’t know if the pen comes with an ink cartridge or not.) The tenon of the section is made of metal which, unfortunately, also renders this pen unsuitable for eyedropper conversion. Even had the section been entirely made of acrylic, the tip of the acrylic barrel has a hole in it, making eyedropper filling even more difficult.

I have also noticed over time that the section tends to come loose from the barrel pretty frequently–especially when I cap and uncap the pen often. I can’t help but wonder if there is a friction point between the nib or section and the cap, which causes the section to rotate slightly when uncapping the pen. It’s a minor issue, but I find myself occasionally having to tighten down the section after removing the cap. This tendency for the section and barrel to loosen is yet another superb reason not to try to do an eyedropper conversion on this one.


The Laban Mento uses a standard #6-sized steel nib with a bi-color plating. This Mento came with a Fine nib. The nib was smooth, but not too much so, still providing a bit of pleasant feedback. The nib’s line was a little narrower than a standard western fine, but if I had to guess, I’d say that is because the nib ran slightly on the dry side. The nib is also quite rigid, providing essentially no line variation. Were this my pen to keep, I would probably increase the wetness a decent a bit and then smooth the nib a bit further to help reduce the feedback even more.


In the hand, this is clearly a pen for people who like big pens. The nearly 13mm section is on par with the section on the Montblanc 149, although the tapered shape feels more comfortable than the more cylindrical shape of the MB. As one might expect, the mostly-acrylic construction combined with the oversized nature of this pen results in a weight that is pretty well-balanced: not too heavy, not too light. At 131mm unposted, I find the pen quite comfortable to use without posting, although posting is possible. I do find that the posted version of the pen balances pretty well, especially if you’ve got a slightly higher grip like mine. Holding the pen too close to the nib can result in a slightly back-heavy feeling. With longer writing sessions, I didn’t experience any cramping or discomfort from using the pen; it was quite enjoyable to use. 

Another minor nit-pick I had with this Laban Mento is that the pen has a tendency to dry out when not used for a few days. Every time I set the pen down for more than a day, I found I would have to prime the feed with the converter in order to start writing again. So, this is a pen that prefers slightly more regular use. If you’re like me and ink 15-20 pens at a time, this may not be the best option for you.

Overall, it’s clear to me that the Laban Mento is a mostly well-built pen. The polish and finish on the pen is beautiful. It writes well, with no signs of skipping, hard starting, or ink starvation. And, if you’re not in love with the Autumn Flake acrylic, Laban offers this model in a host of other finishes. 

The Mento retails for less than $100 in several online retailers—a price I find quite reasonable for this pen. It’s a solid pen, a solid writer, and very well-made. It is, perhaps, not quite as refined as the monster, flagship pens from the higher-end brands, but it’s a good writer at a reasonable price. The Laban Mento can give you the experience of using large, oversized pens like the MB149 or Sailor KOP at 1/10th the price.

  • Jsburgin

    Great review as alway. You mentioned the Franklin-Christoph folio. How are you finding that now? You didn’t seem quite sure when you first reviewed it. It would be really interesting to see a mini re-review. Thank you for all the time you put into these reviews.

    • I still have it and use it, although I mainly use it as a folder to hold my notebook and loose papers. When I start to actually write, I pull the notebook out and set the folio aside. I probably wouldn’t buy it again, but that has more to do with the space available to me when I write. I might try the A5 version at some point, though.

      • Jsburgin

        Ok, thanks that is useful to know

  • Pascal Leers

    I love cigar shaped pens. I’m thinking about getting a Nakaya long cigar. The shape is just perfect for me. But I’m a bit worried about the materials used. (Rubber covered with lacquer. ) Dus it keep well over time ?

    • Mine has. It’s probably a lot tougher than you think. Those ebonite pens are robust.

      • Pascal Leers


  • Portia Da Costa

    Wonderful review, as ever. I’m so happy you reviewed the Mento because I don’t think it gets the attention it deserves. I love Mentos and I have three in different finishes! They’re all smooth writers, and I agree, it’s a great pen to hold. Very comfortable indeed, and as you say, very good for people who have hand issues like arthritis.

    Another pen of similar dimensions that I like is the Rosetta Coronado. Have you ever tried one of those? I have three of those too.

    I just love a chubby cigar pen! 🙂

  • mhosea

    I’ve battled the delayed start after sitting idle phenomenon in many pens and found varied causes, from feed to nib to cap design to what the pen is made of. In this case, the price point and clip attachment makes me want to have a look inside the cap.

  • 57721

    “They’ve been around for almost 25 years…” For me the 90s were also just 10 years ago…. 😀
    Nice review again! I wonder how such a big pen would look and feel in my hands, considering I could hold my Pilot Prera as high as you seem to hold your pens and still use it unposted. I’m looking forward to the giveaway.
    By the way, is the nib unit screwed in? It kind of looks like it in your pictures and video.

    • I know, right? When did I get so old? (And why can’t I do math?!?)

  • Clestra

    The Laban Mento is one of those pens that will be perfect for me. I have larger than average hands & early onset of arthritis. On top of that, I find it so beautiful! Thanks for the great review, Matt. And also a big thank you to the generous person who donated this beauty of a pen <3 Happy Holidays!

  • MKR

    I share your sentiments about the look of the acrylic. It is not quite the ticket. Perhaps it is the black flecks, or perhaps it is the shade of orange, but to me there is something nauseating about it. I looked up the other colors in which the pen is offered and all of them also seemed to me off the mark in one way or another. Rather a pity, as in other respects this looks like a good pen for the money–though I think I would be more comfortable with its little brother, the Laban Meno (sic).

  • Jerred Kostashuk

    How does the Mento stack up to the Edison Collier? That seems like an obvious point of comparison in this case.

  • Pedro Hdez

    I always enjoy your videos, Matt.

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  • Tas Kyprianou

    Lovely colours. I like a nail nib.

  • TJ Zidaroff

    Great review as always. As someone who is developing arthritis in his fingers, I appreciate this review all the more. Thanks.

  • Trey Stamm

    The design on the nib is really nice, it’s not overly excessive like some pens, but it’s not just completely devoid of flare either.

  • Kyle Parsons

    Beautiful material. I’d most likely pair this up with something like MB Toffee Brown or Diamine Pumpkin. Keep up the great work!

  • Sean

    Is there any mid range Chinese
    Pens that are around 50-100 USD that are really good to write with ?

  • Sean

    Most of it are lower end pens like the jinhao

  • Daniel

    Great review. When I win it, I’ll use KWZ Iron Gall Blue #3.

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  • Graham Duncan

    Cool review, had never heard of this pen before you always turn me onto great pens, some of them I can even afford! Really like big pens, will have to follow up on this one. Thanks

  • ȣ Mark ȣ

    Wonderful review! When I first saw the thumbnail on the video I immediately thought of Autumn Oak as well. The acrylic has that same deep shade of orange you get with a wet line. I might like something like Majestic Blue to capitalize on complementary colors. Gorgeous pen!

  • Clifford Hughes

    I like the acrylic, it looks nice to me. Should look good inked up with SBRE Brown.

  • Harry

    Looks great!