Tag Archives: limited edition

Pilot Décimo Mitsukoshi LE: Kira Karacho 1624 (2016)

It seems that every other fountain pen user has some variation of a Pilot Capless, be it the full-size Vanishing Point or the slimmer Décimo. I knew I wanted something special, since I’d gone this far without buying a basic model, and had been eyeing the Namiki-branded Raden VPs for months, trying to convince myself to stump up the cash for one. But then this came along:

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Clicky clicky.

…Japanese second-hand sites are incredible.

Though the website I scored this off claims that this pen is out of a production run of 75, the 2017 Mitsukoshi limited editions are made in a run of 100. As the pen itself is unnumbered, I can only assume that the seller made an error. There is also another version in ivory/white design and gold trim that causes really painful pen envy in me when I see a photo pop up online. This year’s versions are superb as well.

Much ink has been spilled (ha!) over the clip position on both types of Capless, and I have only this to say: for anyone considering buying one, it is a must to try before you buy. I had the fortune of trying the VP, to check if the clip would sit properly in my grip. At any rate, a standard triangle grip should have no problems with the clip, and I have also found it possible to hold the pen such that the clip sits beneath the index finger.

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No problem with me!

The nib comes in three different trims (gold, rhodium, and black) and mine is a fine nib in 18k gold. They’re also available in “special alloy” which are significantly cheaper, though if you’re shelling out for the technology that goes into the Capless, you might as well go the whole hog and get a gold nib. The best thing about them? They’re swappable!

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Nib assembly (with Pilot Metro converter).

The pen takes CON-50 converters (and thus CON-40) but I like to use it with the Metro’s squeezy converter. I’m not a stickler for being able to view the ink level, but if that’s important to you, in addition to a large ink capacity, the only way is to syringe-fill a Pilot cartridge. There’s a metal cap that comes included with the pen, to add some weight when using a cartridge. 

All the Pilot nibs I’ve come across have been uniformly excellent, and this is no exception: even with its tiny size, there’s a nice amount of bounce, and though the line is slightly thicker one would expect from a Japanese fine, there is a very clear and precise sensation when writing, even on smooth papers like Tomoe River. Here is a writing sample on slightly more textured Fabriano EcoQua:

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A flawless writing experience!

And as for the little cloud design on the body, that’s the hallmark of Kira Karacho 1624, a Japanese department store which teamed with Pilot to release the 2016 pen show exclusives:

Pelikan M320 Ruby Red

Uninked and new in box for less than $200 is a ridiculous price for this, and how could I resist?

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Chunky celluloids are amazing to look at!

This is a seriously tiny pen by modern standards. The smallest of the five Souverän sizes, this is Pelikan’s pocket-pen offering, though it’ll never inhabit one of my pockets. It’s far too precious for that!

The M300 is regularly available but the five different M320s were produced as special editions from 2008–10. To my eyes,the Ruby Red has the finest colours, and the translucent cellulose acetate is really quite something to behold…

How small is that nib?

A larger version of this exists as the M600 Ruby Red special edition, though the cap on that has the newer all-gold finial design. The gold-on-black finial was phased out a few years ago and for a pen that looks like the M320’s older, bigger brother you’ll have to look up the far rarer M620 Madrid from the Cities series, which has a noticeably deeper red in its material.

The black/gold finial is exquisite.

The nib on mine originally came in a very Pelikan medium — practically a broad — though the tiny 14k two-tone nib had a surprising amount of bounce! The modern nibs I have used on the M4xx/6xx/8xx sizes have all been fairly firm, but the M320 M nib I got was almost as soft as the one that was on the M1000 I tried out once.

It writes absolutely beautifully; I had the nib ground into an extra-fine by John Sorowka. The amount of spring on the nib is great!

With normal pressure, a subtle variation is pleasantly achieved.

Because of its small size and how much tipping it has, it almost functions like a Sailor Naginata-togi nib now! But a comparison with its original incarnation as a medium nib is quite something to behold

Montblanc Johannes Brahms Donation Pen (2012)

Disclaimer: I didn’t buy this pen. It was given to me…

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Relevant to my interests.

And that makes two Montblancs that I didn’t have to pay for, since I also inherited my father’s (and will be writing about that soon). I guess the reasoning behind the decision was that Montblanc is a “prestige brand” — you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know the white star — and I make music for a living. Anyway.

I don’t normally say good things about modern Montblanc design, because so much of it is either completely plain/classic and thus boring or downright garish (like the £6900 Steinway) and Italian-looking. But with this particular musician pen Montblanc has done something rather special: a very tasteful design with topical references and (unlike earlier attempts) not loud at all. In fact, I quite like the five bands, alluding to the music staff, and the tuning fork clip is a very cute idea.

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It also comes bundled with an actual A=440 tuning fork.

The ink window is reminiscent of Pelikan because of the slits, but is a surprising blue in colour, which also somehow seems to work. More power to the design team: the main cap band has the autograph of Johannes Brahms just under the tuning fork, and the nib features a dove, common to earlier models of the Donation Pen series and later changed to include further musical references.

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The nib creep is downright lovely on this one.

Size-wise, it sits in between the 146 and 149. It is nowhere near as fat as the 149 but is longer than the 146 and is very comfortable to hold, though the piston assembly is metal and thus the pen is a little back-weighted.

The nib itself is my main beef with modern Montblancs: it is completely anonymous, and other than the fact that it is a good nib, has nothing else to recommend it. It doesn’t spring; it doesn’t feel like a nail either. In fact it sits right in the middle: not dry, not wet. It does run very broad, however, which is the one thing that distinguishes it. Strangely enough, I went to a shop to try out their fine, and it was no worse than a Pelikan fine…

It writes well, and I guess it thus does its job. But I don’t find myself reaching for this pen very often. I’d much rather use my Pilots or Pelikans, or even some of my really finicky vintage flex pens. This pen ends up sitting in my case for as long as a fortnight without getting use…

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Ticks all the boxes.

Instead of an Instagram post, here’s an unboxing album!

Pelikan M805 Stresemann

Sometimes an eBay trawl can bring up surprising things…

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With no banana to scale, this almost looks like the M405 version.

This guy had forgotten to state the model of the Pelikan in his auction, and his photos had no other object to compare the size against. However, buried deep down in the wall-of-text description was “18-carat nib”, and Pelikan does not make M400-sized 18k nibs, so… I jumped. For £206 including shipping this beauty was mine.

The pen arrived in wonderful condition, as promised, and I was struck by how grey it was: it was not warm and not cool, just grey. To me this is the definition of neutral grey, sitting right in the middle, and so in the ensuing months I have only ever used greyscale inks in it.

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Silver furniture, black body, grey barrel…

The single-chick Pelikan logo on the cap finial is nicely done in a glossy/matt texture, and the clip looks incredibly sleek compared to its gold-coloured M800 counterparts, simply because of the colour (or lack thereof). The silver furniture gives the pen the -5 last digit.

Similarly, the nib is a beautifully monochrome piece of art. The M8xx is the largest-sized Pelikan nib with single-line scrollwork, clearly seen in the picture below. It almost seems like it’s more reflective than other pens, again due to the sheer desaturation of the pen. 

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Grey grey grey grey grey: what a beauty of a nib!

It’s quite a large pen, and the brass piston adds a lot of weight compared to the M6xx pens, which have plastic piston assemblies. This causes pens of this size and upward (especially the flagship M10xx) to be end-weighted, though in my case, the piston rests wonderfully in between thumb and index knuckles. Compared to the M620s I have, this pen requires much less pressure — and the M620s already don’t need much at all! Writing under its own weight, I can get very fine lines with the Stresemann, maybe even finer than a Western extra-fine. 

Despite its larger size and higher gold content, it is a firmer nib than the M4xx/6xx nibs. Mine writes like a real fine (instead of a “Pelikan fine”) and has a smooth response, though you can definitely feel it on less-smooth paper, like the Fabriano EcoQua I do my reviews on. That said, here we go: 

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Limited edition Tokyo Iroshizuku grey though!

To round off this review, here is a size comparison of the Pelikans I own…

Pelikan M620 Piccadilly Circus

This was almost an impulse purchase. I say almost because I kind of really wanted another of the Cities series…

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 And here it is!

Having lived in London for five years, Piccadilly Circus is a frequent haunt. Pelikan released this pen as the 11th of the Cities series, with the Grand Place rounding off the dozen. And Pelikan absolutely got it right: the famous colours of the Underground roundel, splashed all over the pen in swirly resin!

Think of the grey as being dirty white text.

The one strange thing about this pen is the purple cap colour, which can be seen in the picture above; the inside of the cap is the same colour. While not very obvious at first sight, it sticks out a little upon closer inspection. Furthermore, despite the rhodium trim, the pen ships with a two-tone 18k nib, which I got in fine. It is beautiful — I tried swapping nibs with my rhodium-plated nib on the Grand Place, but liked the colours the way they are. The gold is a very welcome accent.

Nib and nib creep!

Of course, being a Pelikan, the pen is solidly built and feels like it is more expensive than it (already) is. The resin catches the light beautifully and the sparkle is astonishing in its depth and brightness of colour. More than once I’ve caught myself getting distracted while writing…

As for the nib, what is there to say?

I’m hooked on Pelikan’s nibs, okay?

Despite QC at Pelikan not being the best, I’ve never come across a nib I didn’t like. Some of them need smoothing to get rid of slight baby’s bottom (especially the stainless steel ones) but this wrote wonderfully right out of the box! If you can hunt one down, the slightly softer 18k nib is an upgrade over the standard M6xx 14k.

I’ve sold this pen, now, but there are a few more from the Cities series that I have my eye upon…

Pelikan M620 Grand Place

The pride and joy of my collection and my favourite pen:

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Drooooooooool.

I first learnt of this design when I came across the larger M800 Grand Place of 2015, which had a black piston knob and a black section. But then I saw a comparison picture with this and instantly fell in love: thus began my first pen hunt.

Curiously, an even smaller version exists: the M201 Bayou was made in a limited edition of 100 for Fountain Pen Hospital in New York. I had the forturne to see one at the 2016 Pelikan Hub in London, and was amazed to see just how translucent the barrel was. No need for an ink window when you can still see the ink sloshing around inside! Neither of the M620 or M800 models have translucent barrels, however.

Why this? Prior to this purchase I had only owned the M205 Amethyst and it has not gone uninked since I bought it. But I felt confident enough in the experience to take the plunge on a larger size, especially since the M6xx series was lighter than the brass-piston M8xx. Furthermore, the resin used in this pen is of a far warmer colour than the M800, which is slightly greyer to harmonise with the black parts. The copper colour of the M620 is incredible in photos — and even better in person!

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It practically breathes…

The Grand Place is the last of the Cities series (2002–6), and so it has the one-chick logo on the finial. Some of the earliest of the series have the two-chick logo, which was found on pens until as late as 2004. 

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Look at that sparkle!

All nibs in the Cities series are 18k gold nibs instead of the standard M6xx 14k nibs, though they are interchangeable. Unlike the M600/605 designation for two-tone/rhodium-plated nibs, however, the M620 nibs come in both, depending on the trim colour. The Grand Place was supposed to come with a two-tone nib but I opted for a rhodium-plated fine nib instead, because I liked the silver-coloured contrast with the pure warmth of the rest of the pen.

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Stunning nib, too.

When it arrived in London, a bottle of Sailor Jentle Oku-yama had just been delivered that day, and when I dipped the pen to write, I gasped. Such a smooth line, yet not without a certain feeling of precision. It was everything I had hoped for!

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Sailor makes some of the most ridiculous sheeny inks.

It matches my Massdrop Allegory leather wrap perfectly, and most of the time I’m torn between keeping it inked because it writes so beautifully and keeping it in storage because I’m worried about losing, damaging, or dropping it… But there you go. Grail pen #1 obtained!

Pelikan M205 Amethyst

I actually bought this pen before the Stola in the previous article, but reserved it for my birthday before allowing myself the luxury of opening it. It sat in its bubble-wrap envelope in my locker at university for two whole months! The seller had very kindly included a free bottle of 4001 Blue-Black, since I had stated that it was “for a birthday”. I also ordered the Edelstein Amethyst ink from a different seller, ending up with the pen & ink set for less than RRP.

It was definitely worth the wait! It came in a small cardboard box inside a flexible white pleather case, both of which are sitting in storage now. I use the pen almost daily, so it lives in my everyday pen wrap.

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What a colour.

The cap and body are made out of the same translucent deep purple resin, with rhodium-plated furniture. Pelikan’s modern M2xx series has an ink capacity of approximately 1.3ml, which is plenty, so I like to half-fill it just to watch the ink slosh around in the barrel.

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It’s really satisfying.

The black finial with the silver-coloured logo fit really well with the aesthetic of the pen, lending it a very warm luxurious feel. The pen itself looks black where there are things beneath the resin anyway, like around the nib unit and parts of the piston, so this all fits within the colour scheme. (Pity the same can’t really be said about this year’s Aquamarine edition…)

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There is a surprising amount of depth in the resin colour. Also, I love purple.

Many other reviewers have commented about the springiness of Pelikan’s M2xx steel nibs, and my experience was no different from theirs. My choice of EF was merely so I could get as close to a Japanese fine as possible, which is my favoured size, but the amount of tipping Pelikan puts on their modern nibs makes this EF a particularly fat one. Mine had a little baby’s bottom out of the box, but some smoothing with very fine micromesh solved that problem and now I have a smooth writer that isn’t lacking in feedback and control at all.

All in all, the M205 is one of my favourite pens. It does not feel cheap, even with its rather light weight and small size, and the writing experience is very pleasurable. One can, with some care, even get a little line variation out of the nib!

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I would totally bring this around all day if I didn’t feel compelled to rotate…

Strangely, Pelikan has announced the 2018 ink of the year before the 2017 one, so it’s already known that the pen will be a deep olive-green…