Tag Archives: pelikan

Pelikan 400NN Brown Tortoise (1950s)

I jumped on this one because Pelikan no longer makes anything near the range they used to have, both in terms of pen shapes as well as nib types:

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Look at the rounded cap finial and piston knob.

The 400NN was developed after the 400N was a “neu” version of the old 400, which looks like the modern M400. The finial and knob gradually got rounder, finally arriving at the rather cigar shape above. The binde of the vintage tortoise variants also varies far more in colour and evenness compared to the modern browns on the M400 and M800 pens; mine shades from dark brown to as light as yellow and green in some places — to my eyes, much closer to a tortoise’s patterns than the rather averaged-out modern colours!

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Such a beautifully uneven brown binde!

It arrived clean but definitely shows signs of age and wear: the finial is rubbed fairly smooth, not to mention the brassing on the clip and the cap band. The nib itself is in excellent condition though it has a slightly stubby quality, which is a sign of long periods of intense use.

Indeed, it was the nib that attracted me to the pen. Pelikan used to make a range of italics and obliques and “ballpoint” (Kugel) sizes with different sorts of tipping, and this dates from the era of pre-ballpoint carbon papers, when special nibs were made to withstand larger pressures without flexing. Mine is a DF (Durchschreib-Fein) nib, or a manifold fine, and comes in almost as fine as my Japanese pens — no modern Pelikan “fine” here! It is a single-tone 14k gold nib and has shorter tines. Unusually enough, it also has two breather holes. 

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Old-school cool: the DF nib.

In writing on Fabriano paper (below), the pen gives a very pleasant sort of toothy feedback — a sign of wear — and yet absolutely glides along on Tomoe River paper. As with my other Pelikan fines, it writes on the drier side, but is wet enough here to show the shading in Oku-yama. The pen itself is light to hold, as one would expect from the rather small 400 size. And while it is very firm, it does not feel like a nail…

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My most even fine nib!

A size comparison (in featured photo) places the 400NN as intermediate between my M200 and M620s, which is only to be expected. More delicious photos in better lighting here:

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 M400 Souverän Green-striped

And now for something immensely classic:

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Old but gold.

The M400 has been around in various incarnations since 1982, superseding the old 400 variants. It is also the first pen to use the M designation, with Pelikan revamping its lines over the next few years to include a range of sizes, as well as rollerballs (R), ballpoints (K), and pencils (D). There were also cartridge/converter pens (P), with one of the more recent ones being the Stola III, otherwise known as the P16.

This pen hails from the earlier period of the M400, and has a timeless colour scheme in green-black-gold. Pelikan managed to keep a little bit of green in the completely black version by including a little transparent ink window just above the section, which, when capped, is completely hidden. In this pen the gaps between the stripes is actually translucent and so the whole pen barrel functions as many tiny ink windows running down the whole length of the pen.

The cap looks different from modern M400s as well. The single trim ring from the 80s has been upgraded into a double ring for the Souverän line in general; the single ring now belongs to the M200. This cap also has a black finial instead of the 24k gold-plated one seen more recently, and it even has a two-chick logo:

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One Pelikan bill, and three pelicans on the top!

The piston also gains a trim ring in the modern versions. The nib design has been changed as well: the single-tone 14k nib has given way to a two-tone nib design now standardised across all lines. Pelikan no longer makes completely yellow nibs. And finally, a last clue in dating this pen to the 80s: the cap band says W.-GERMANY.

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Trim-less piston and W.-GERMANY on the cap band.

Now, as any Pelikan aficionado will testify, Pelikan nibs now tend to run broad. However this medium nib, from older times, writes like a true medium: definitely not too broad, and definitely not a fine — though it gives my modern M200/M205 EFs a run for their money!

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This nib definitely sings when writing…

To end off: my first 6 Pelikans in a beautiful nib circle…

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 M100 Stormtrooper

These are not the pens you’re looking for…?

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No, definitely not!

It’s a rather small pen, smaller than the M2xx series of Pelikans, though not quite as small as the pocket M3xx Souveräns. It is very light because of its size and the plastic piston, though the ink capacity is relatively huge at 1.18ml. The cap has a subtly embossed double-chick logo on the finial, and the clip is the usual pelican bill. An ink window is tucked away under the cap and can be seen when the cap is unscrewed (as in featured photo above).

The M100 Tradition (to give the proper name) comes in several colours, the most sought-after one of which is the one in white. The black model in rhodium trim was released first, followed by ones in red, blue and green, but unlike the others, the white pen has its trim painted black — very unusual for Pelikan! Even better, the nib is black chromed steel as well. Truly stunning when seen up close, my pictures hardly do it justice.

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So sexy.

The white model was released beginning 1987 and the entire M100 line was discontinued in 1997. Mine, being a slightly earlier version, has W.-GERMANY on the cap lip, which features a black trim ring.

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It’s very subtle and depends on lighting.

What a nib! Laying down a juicy line, there is no flex at all, and while not quite a nail, it is very firm indeed. It feels almost as hard as my carbon-paper manifold Pelikan from the 1950s. And even with all that, it writes so smoothly… it almost makes me wish the modern nibs went all the way with their firmness.

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Really comfortable, too.

Below: a size comparison of all the Pelikans I own (at end of 2016)!

Update, 10th February 2017: Have since sold the M nib and bought an EF… and it simply glides over paper like a dream!

Kuretake Maki-e Brush: Story Edition Rabbits

Carrying on with some more maki-e, this came in the same shipment as last week’s Platinum Standard: my very first brush pen!

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Pretty! Also, I like rabbits.

It came packaged in a beautiful light wooden case with some rice paper and 3 cartridges of sumi ink, and had a little booklet which explained how to care for the brush. The bristles are made of weasel hair and are really soft and smooth. 

The maki-e on this is done in the same way as in the previous review: a screen-printed design that is slightly raised. That does not detract at all from how beautiful it is: everything has a slight pearlescent shine to it, especially pronounced in the silver rabbit and the clouds, and the rabbit-and-moon motif is a familiar from Eastern mythology.

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Very tasteful trim rings, too.

The pen itself is far lighter than any fountain pen, and rather slim, which I like. It definitely reminds me of Chinese bamboo calligraphy brushes, weighing this close to nothing. The snap cap is also very tight compared to fountain pens, presumably for an airtight seal. I think there is a slip-and-seal inner cap in the Platinum style as well, because I have never experienced any drying out.

Ink is supplied with Platinum proprietary cartridges, and you can use a Platinum converter as well. For the purposes of this review, I loaded the brush with Pelikan 4001 Violet, which was a freshly-bought bottle.

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Close-up of the design: everything is so shiny!

However, I think I jumped in a little too deep with this one: I didn’t have any experience writing with brush pens, and wanted to learn, but a brush this soft is hard to control. I would definitely recommend firmer brushes for brush writing, at least at any speed that is faster than very slow, but that also depends on the user’s skill level. On the other hand, it is excellent for Eastern scripts, and I’ve had lots of fun writing in tiny sizes using the very tip of the brush. You’ll get loads of variation on this one: it exceeds 5mm easily, while still allowing for lines down to 0.3mm or less.

I’m not entirely convinced even now (almost a year later) that I’m good enough at Western brush calligraphy for it to work on this pen; as you’ll see in the writing sample, there’s still tons of unevenness. 

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Yes, I admit this looks a little messy…

To finish, I would like to point out something strange I discovered in the course of writing this review: the Pelikan ink would come out of the brush as a light bluish-purple, then change colour over a few hours to settle at the purple seen above in the writing sample. The ink dried quickly but the colours kept changing…

 

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…

Pelikan Stola III (P16)

The newest contender to the budget everyday-carry fountain pen battle, I bought one when I was in Verona in December 2015, shortly after it had been released. After going back to the hotel and to the sweet embrace of free wifi again, I realised that there weren’t any reviews then available…

That didn’t stop me from enjoying the pen itself though. And here it is:

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Sleek, modern, and understated.

Made of brass, it weighs just a little more than the Pilot Metro, though the straighter pen barrel makes for a very different experience when actually holding it. It definitely feels more expensive than it actually is, which is something the Lamy Safari/Al-Star can’t boast about. It also came with a long international cartridge in Pelikan Royal Blue.

I have yet to drop this pen, so I cannot comment on the build quality with regards to picking up dings and scratches. But it is hefty and solid, and if you like to put pens in your pocket, you’ll definitely miss it when it’s not there. 

The cap has also been redesigned to fit in with the more modern aesthetic of this pen. Instead of the face-and-beak clip of the usual Pelikan offerings, there is an outline that still resembles the traditional shape but looks very minimal and utilitarian. The black accent also goes well with the flat top and the black single-chick Pelikan logo on the finial.

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Very springy clip, too.

Pelikan very helpfully explains how the cartridge system works for this pen. A standard international converter or a long cartridge may be fit in, but if one doesn’t have a converter (I don’t) or wants for whatever reason not to use one, that is easily remedied by sticking a spare in reverse in the barrel. That helps to hold the one in use in its functioning place. 

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Disassembled: the next colour I’m planning to use is Montblanc Golden Yellow!

Unfortunately — and this is a major strike against Pelikan — the nib is only available in medium and the body only available in silver. I’d like one in blue or black with an extra-fine nib, as I usually do; this medium certainly ranks as among the broadest nibs I currently own. It is firm and offers no line variation whatsoever, though it is smooth and really pleasant to write with, and can definitely earn its keep as a daily writer.

Here is a writing sample:

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Definitely pulls its weight as a heavy pen!

Sadly, the other Stola lines don’t have a fountain pen option, which is a pity, because the Stola I design is in matte-black.

To finish: instead of an Instagram post, here is the first-ever review of the Stola, which I wrote almost immediately after putting the cartridge into the pen.

Waterman 12 1/2 VS (c. 1910)

The second half of my first vintage purchase, this is the oldest pen I own; the latest date I was given for this pen was 1910! This means the pen managed to survive two world wars and the fall of the Soviet Union. It came to me in a cardboard Waterman box with papers in Hungarian, on which someone had tested out a bunch of inks and also ripped off a corner. There were some notes and dates written on it as well. The box itself has Sole European Representatives (in English) on it under the Waterman logo, so I can only assume that the pen had remained in Europe for over a hundred years, eventually making its way to me.

And here it is, in all its ebonite glory:

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Such a beautiful chased pattern. The pen is almost warm to the touch…

From left to right we see the cap (with a clip; clipless models exist), and then the pen body, which is quite short, and a little knob at the end. That knob rotates, and I’ll explain later.

For now, we can see that the earliest date is 1903, since that actually appears on the pen body.

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PAT’D.1884 | MAY 23, 1899
WATERMAN’S | IDEAL | FOUNTAIN-
PEN N.Y. USA | & AUG.4.1903
SAFETY PEN

Pretty amazing I’d say. I’m aware fountain pens can write beautifully 130 years after their production if well taken care of, but to actually hold one that’s easily 110 years old is an incredible thought. So much technology went into the construction of these pens.

The safety mechanism is one of them: a safety pen was an eyedropper pen that could be filled as usual, with one major difference – the nib sat in the ink when the pen was capped. And that was achieved by using the knob and an ingenious helix-screw system to retract the nib into the pen body:

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View when uncapped: that little white dot in the hole is the tip of the nib catching the light.

The nib rears its beautiful head with just over a complete turn of the screw. The variation in colour you see are due to a few things: the silver tip is from a retipping and the purple blob is from reddish inks (I’ve put Yama-budo and Tsutsuji inside, among others).

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Very ideal for a flex fiend!

This Waterman tends to write a little on the wet side, of course, which is expected for a feed that can keep up with flex as wide as 2.5mm. When unflexed, it lays down a medium to fine line depending on paper softness and how little pressure is being used. Again, this writing sample is done on Fabriano A5 dotpad.

Whoa. Proper flex, that is.

Only that swirly figure below VINTAGE FLEX comes anywhere close to pushing the nib hard. The rest of it was written easily, with very little pressure. Look especially at how fine the hairlines are! This is a pen that works for Spencerian and various Copperplate scripts, flexing almost like a dip nib. (In fact, it is softer than any of the G nibs I have used.) And yet, when used with a light hand, the ink flow is dry enough for small writing.

Anyway, after all that, here is a video of the nib doing its quite magical thing. So addictive…!