The Big 5-0-0

In case you haven’t noticed we are approaching a huge milestone. While the site is well over a decade old, years have never been all that important to me. Instead, what has really mattered is useful content. The site is approaching 500 reviews. I think this is a big deal as the vast, vast majority of the reviews have been written by one person, me. When I started my goal was to make reviews clear enough and my opinions clear enough that people could read the review and figure out whether they would like a given item even if they disagreed with my opinion. With one person writing everything that consistency creates that “known opinion” effect in a more pronounced way. For the final two reviews (499 and 500) I have chosen two very special items to review—the Frank Clegg English Briefcase and the Mont Blanc Meisterstuck 146. Not only are these two items significantly nicer than the stuff I usually carry or review, but they both have a great story behind them, perfect for the two capstone reviews.

As some of you may know, I am lawyer. I started work at a public defender office, worked there for more than 12 years, and then I was hired by a small boutique firm. After three years there I decided to let my entrepreneurial spirt loose and go out on my own with a friend of mine. That was a big deal for me and my family. I left the comfy bosom of a well-paid job in April. My wife was diagnosed with cancer the following month. It was a trying time. But we got through it and my wife has been cancer free for a couple of years now. Throughout those trying times friends and family lent support and that is what made the difference. Two people really provided a morale boost. The first is fellow gear reviewer Nick Shabazz. The other was my uncle-in-law (who has earned the dropping of the “in-law” modifier decades ago), John. Both are amazing people and both provided a gift when the firm started and the times got tough.

Nick has reviewed a couple of bags before, but apparently Frank Clegg sent him a briefcase for review. He then sent it to me. It is a resplendent icon of craftsmanship, one of the finest things I own. The detail and materials are unsurpassably nice and while it is a bit rich for my blood, it is, unquestionably a truly superior design. Nothing says lawyer quite like a briefcase and nothing comes close to the timeless beauty of the Clegg English Briefcase. Neat as pin and sturdy as an ox, it has carried my stuff through a few trials and high stakes hearings. It has also developed its own fingerprints, wear only adds to its beauty. The note that came with it confirmed that the bag was only a minor gift compared to the friendship that it represented. I was so happy with the bag that I had the photographer use it in photos for the firm website.

John has been one of my favorite people since I first met him. He is my wife’s paternal uncle and is a really great guy. He has more than a bit of the enthusiast bug in him with a collection of pens, inks, knives, etc. He is also a very good cook. The enthusiast bug and the cooking bug (plus, if I am being honest, a bit of Italian heritage) make his holiday meals truly over-the-top spectaculars. One thing that regularly gets acclaim are his “Stuffies.” Served in shell hot from the oven, its not uncommon for my boys to eat eight or ten total even though the quahogs (Coe-hogs) are as big as their face. During the Covid year, we were pretty bummed, worried we weren’t going to see everyone and we might, coincidentally, miss the stuffies. Ever the good person he is, John and his wife drove the hour or so north and delivered premade uncooked stuffies just for our boys. He also dropped off the 146 telling me it was time for a real lawyer to have a real pen. As I unwrapped it and opened it, the beautiful snowcap logo just popped. Since then, when I need that extra boost, I carry it and the Clegg into court, as fine a legal livery as you will find.

The next two reviews will be the Clegg and the Meisterstuck. Get ready, both are a tour of super luxury items that happen to be exceptional tools.