As this is my first review, I shall adopt the FPN pen review guideline ……
First Impression (10/10)
I am excited that I finally managed to own this wonderful piece of art …. I have always wanted a Toledo.
The pen comes with a Pelikan grey color box set with the standard blue color Pelikan paper box and an external brown color box made of recycled paper. All in all, the pen comes with 3 boxes. The grey box set (which holds the pen) appears to be quite well made and quality is reasonable for a pen of this price range. There is a rectangular gold metal piece on the right bottom portion of the box which I presume is for name engraving for those who wish to give the pen as a gift to his love ones. There will not be any space available for name engraving on the pen itself.
This pen is awesome. The workmanship of the decorative motif and the overall build quality of the pen is exceptional. The attention to detail is meticulous. The weight is substantial for a pen of this size but not too heavy for my daily usage. When turning the piston knob, you could already feel the mechanical smoothness and build quality of the piston mechanism. It is much better and smoother than my other piston filler pens.
The pen comes with a certificate booklet which indicates the serial number of the pen that was engraved on the motif sleeve, for my case it is “9/AV 11 EH”.
Did I say this pen is awesome?
Appearance and Design (10/10)
99 out of 100 persons who own this pen must be because of the nice motif sleeve design that Pelikan incorporated into the Toledo. The other person probably got it as a free gift (or won it in a lucky draw) but he will soon grow to like the design anyway.
The beautiful motif decorative sleeve is actually made up of two “panel”, one with a pelican bird …… I’ll let the picture speak to you instead:
The green translucent ink window goes very well with the shiny black color pen body along with the gold plated motif and other fittings of the pen. It makes the pen looks a little more sophisticated. I like the overall color combination of this pen and the location of the sleeve, it is very well balance and not overly complicated. It is good that Pelikan did not put any motif on the cap, otherwise it would have been an overkill.
Nib – standard Pelikan 8XX series nib with some nice design engraving. More details of the nib are covered under the “Nib & Performance” section.
Clip – standard Pelikan design which resemble a pelican beak.
Logo – my pen comes with the new all metal gold plated logo on top of the pen cap which matches rather well to the overall pen color scheme and design. Some would prefer the old logo, but actually I am okay with both …
Quality & Construction (9/10)
Overall, the pen is solidly constructed, pen body and cap are made of good quality black resin materials finish with a deep gloss shine.
The pen’s decorative motif sleeve on the barrel is made of 925 sterling silver with 24K gold plating, the sleeve material is reasonably thick and appears to be very securely “bonded” onto the resin pen body which overall give a very solid feel when handling the pen.
The engraving on the motif sleeve is very nicely done by the Pelikan master craftsman who has to patiently carve out the metal to form the design using some sharp tools. It is a slow process but that is what you are paying … the man-hour spent to create the motif.
Some close up photos of the sleeve motif can also be viewed here: http://www.fountainp...e-bird-of-prey/
The piston mechanism consists of brass components and good quality piston seal which are designed for long term durability against ink leakage and against premature mechanical wear and tear. The brilliant green translucent ink window material used for this pen appears to be quite thick which will be less likely to crack when drop or subject to impact.
The pen comes with a two-tone 18K gold nib which is a standard Pelikan 800 Souveran series nib. This makes swapping the nib assembly with any other M800 series pen possible. The engraving on the nib is distinct with well define lines which form part of the nib decorative design. While the quality and construction of the nib is reasonably good to a Pelikan standard, for the price of the pen I would prefer to have something a bit more unique, perhaps something specifically made for the Toledo pen (I am willing to forgo the nib swapping flexibility with the M800 if I have to).
The pen cap is also very well constructed with good finishes but I would prefer the cap resin material to be slightly thicker or add something to the cap to make it a little heavier (perhaps something closer to the weight of the TWSBI 540 cap). Holding the cap alone does not give the “solidly” feel you have when holding the pen …. a slightly heavier cap would be a better match to the pen in my opinion (provided you don’t cap your pen when writing otherwise it would be too top heavy). Another problem of the cap is the threading, for some reasons, the Pelikan cap is like got life of its own and always wanted to break loose with the pen body. I have to often make sure the cap is tightened that extra bit harder to prevent it from self-loosening. None of my other pens has got this problem. Perhaps if Pelikan introduce a rubber o-ring on the pen section to create some friction between the cap and the pen body, it would have resolved the issue.
The gold plated clip is descent, reasonably thick and strong and the plating quality and workmanship is above average and appears to be very smoothly done without any “rough edges”. It has the same level of finishing as my Pilot 845’s clip and is slightly better than my Nakaya’s clip but loose out slightly to my Platinum 90th Anniversary’s clip. The “spring effect” of the Toledo clip is also very good and well modulated, it not overly stiff that make clipping difficult (like some of my Japanese pen) but also not overly soft that it will lose the grip.
Weight & Dimension (10/10)
For comparison purpose, this is what I found on the web on the weight of the Pelikan:
- M700 = 23g
- M800 = 28.2g
- M900 = 40.0g
- M1000 = 32.6g
No doubt this pen is the heaviest compares with other Pelikan pens (contributed largely by the motif sleeves and the piston brass components), the weight has never been an issue for me when writing with it. I normally write without capping unless the pen is really short (eg: Sailor Sapporo). With the Toledo (without capping), the weight distribution is just right for me. It is not top heavy at all and I actually like the “substantial” weight feel very much.
I also realized when writing with this pen, I could use the weight of the pen to let the nib glide onto the surface of the paper via gravity alone to give a continuous line without me needing to exert much forces (using tripod grip). Other pens could also do this but is not as effective (with occasional skipping). With the effortless writing style this pen could offer, I find it is very relaxing and not tiring at all even after many pages of writing.
One minor drawback of heavy pen is that it will not sit very well in your shirt pocket and this Toledo is no exception. Guess you can’t always have the best of both world, can we? But it still gets my full 10 points on this.
Nib & Performance (8/10)
Since the nib is mass produced in Pelikan factory, one cannot assume you will always get a perfect nib 100% to your liking out of the box. Influencing factors would be:
How thin or broad that particular size nib should be?
How dry or wet it should have been?
How much nib feedback it should have (your scratchy nib could be my perfect nib with the right amount of feedback)?
How effective is the factory’s QA/QC team to reject the “out of tolerance” nibs?
Lastly, your expectations of the nib vs my expectations vs factory’s assumptions of our expectations when determining the acceptable tolerance of the nib performance are all different. In another word, as far as the nib performance is concerned, for the same brand and type of nib, your mileage will vary and certainly an element of luck plays a part here.
The good news to all of the above is that you’ll always have a good nibmaster to tune your nibs if you really cannot stand the new nibs out of the box (to the extent that you actually prefer to write with a ballpoint pen or scribble with a pointed knife).
Case in point: Sailor’s nibmaster Mr Yukio Nagahara in action …..
I have had a few pens custom tuned by Mr Nagahara in accordance with my writing style, the way I hold my pen and with the exact amount of nib feedback, smoothness and wetness I so desired. His tuning skill is legendary and all my nibs after tuning by him is perfect, it write so beautifully, so effortlessly, so nice to use and never feel tired page after page (because you are enjoying so much), it’s like ……
Now before I lost myself in the self-induced nib nirvana, I better come back to the real world, okay to the pen review.
Below are close up views of the EF nib that comes with my M900:
From the above pictures, it appears that the nib is in an acceptable condition out from the factory. However, the feed is not perfectly centered from nib (a little towards the right side). The slit on the tip is cut quite perfectly in the center but the left portion of the tip appears to have a larger surface area then the right portion. The right portion of the tip also appears to be very slightly “taller” than the left which probably explained why the nib is not 100% smooth. A nibmaster could easily grind the tip to perfection but after the nib is properly “run in” I am sure it will only gets smoother. After more than 2 weeks of usage, I can confirm that the nib is smoother than before.
Below are some more close up shots of my nib.
Again, from the close-up pictures above, it is not difficult to spot out the imperfection on my nib. The tines are not perfectly aligned.
Subjective Nib Performance (relative to my other out of the box pen nibs):
- Better than my Lamy 2000 (EF), Maki Platinum (F), Sailor Sapporo (F)
- Not as smooth as my Nakaya Portable Writer (MF), Sailor Ebonite (F), Platinum 90th Anniversary (M) and Pilot 845 (M).
Okay, I know it’s not fair to compare (Japanese M) to (Japanese F / West EF) nibs …
[In fact the performance of my Nakaya and Sailor Ebonite nib is so good out of the box that they are very close to my Mr Nagahara’s tuned Parker Sonnet, the Pilot Silver Grance and the Sailor Realo nibs.]
On the scale of 0 (Japanese F) to 10 (Japanese M), I would grade the width of the line put down by this EF nib to be somewhat between 3 to 5 depending on the paper and ink used. So my nib actually does not put down a very wide line compare with a typical western EF nib.
The copy that I have is not wet at all if use with Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue ink. I would actual prefer my nib to be slightly on the wet side and if use with my Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki or Noodler’s Eel Blue ink, I could achieve the wetness I wanted. So no, this nib that I have is definitely not the typical ultra wet Pelikan nibs others have experienced and reported on this forum. It is only moderately wet at best.
Except for the Nakaya and the Parker Sonnet, all the modern nibs that I have belong to the “stiff” category and so this Pelikan nib is no different. I am therefore every keen to try out the more “flexible” M1000 nib ….
Overall, the nib that comes with my Toledo is acceptable, not the best in term of smoothness but not the worst either. It certainly writes with some feedback and the amount of ink it put out is moderate but can be a little wet with the right ink and paper. There is no skipping and the pen writes without any hesitation whenever I pick it up to use.
As mentioned earlier, the nib you are getting is a hit or miss affair and hopefully my next Pelikan nib can be a little smoother than this one. I know I am greedy on this …..
Filling System & Maintenance (10/10)
The proven Pelikan differential piston fill mechanism is relatively simple, effective, reliable and is able to fill a large ink capacity compared with a typical cartridge converter pen. The piston mechanism assembly is made of brass components and good quality synthetic rubber like material piston which technically should give many years of good reliability without any leakage or mechanical problems whatsoever. Being a good quality and well-designed piston fill, it also gives added comfort and confident that the pen will not leak when traveling on a plane (or climbing Mount Everest).
The differential piston mechanism patent was registered by Pelikan back in 1929. Two threads with varying pitches ensure that when turning, the piston knob moves only very slightly backwards while the piston rod push forward the piston all the way down to the bottom end of the ink window (just before the top part of the nib assembly/section). Without this design, the piston knob would have to move back the same distance the piston rod move forward making the whole filling process flimsy and quite inconvenient.
The pen was also given additional protection against ink leakage. When fully screwed in, the seat of the piston seal pressed against the mechanism's retainer while the piston knob mechanism sealed in the retainer from above. With this “2 way” seal, it is unlikely for any ink to leak out from the piston knob in the course of normal usage or when carrying the pen in your shirt pocket. (Hint: you would probably have to break the pen for the ink to leak other than through the nib)
There is some play in the piston knob which prevents movement of the piston to release the ink when the knob is accidentally turned for half a round or so. This is a rather nice feature.
The piston fill mechanism invented by Pelikan was considered by many as an elegant pen filling solution with innovative mechanical design ever to be incorporated into a fountain pen. Certainly a major technical achievement back in the 1930s.
Maintenance of piston filled pen is easy and I see no much different than standard cartridge/converter pens. Since the Pelikan nib assembly can be removed by carefully screwing it out from the pen section, the cleaning process can be more thorough and easier than other piston-fillers.
I typically clean my fountain pens every second or third filling or whenever I changed to a different type/color of ink with warm water to flush out the ink until when the nib expels clean colorless water. Occasionally, I may also clean it with soap water. Compare with cold water, I believe warm water (especially with soap solution) would do a better job of cleaning out the ink residue left inside the nib assembly. I know that enzymes in the soap solution typically work best in the 37 C to 40 C range to breakdown stain and I am assuming the same is true for pen cleaning, I could be wrong but what the hack it is only a pen cleaning.
If my fountain pen is excessively dirty or I had accidentally left it filled with ink for a prolonged period of time, I’ll do the standard flushing before putting the nib assembly along with other dirty parts into my little ultrasonic cleaner for a thorough clean.
Cost & Value (9/10)
I bought this pen from a well-known German based e-bay seller at less than USD 1,000. The MSRP from brick and mortar shops as well as other internet sellers ranges from USD 1,100 to as high as USD 1,800.
The question would be: Is this pen worth a thousand buck?
You could get a nice M8XX Pelikan pen with the same piston mechanism, the same nib, the same cap, the almost same pen body (less the decorative motif sleeves) for around USD 300. So is the motif sleeve on the Toledo worth the cost difference?
In my opinion, yes. Well, when I look at the Toledo, I see the overall design of the pen, which is very nicely executed with the motif sleeve installed and is very elegant and makes the pen quite different from the other fountain pens.
When I wrote with this pen, I knew the master craftsman had spent many hours working on it and that the final engraving will be unique and slightly different from the other, I knew I am holding a pen with a rich tradition that goes back to 1931 where the first Toledo T111 was created, I knew that this pen will be durable and I also knew a pen of such magnificent workmanship and quality will not come cheap especially now that it is still made in Germany.
However, by giving a full 10 points under this category would have encouraged the manufacturer to increase the price won’t it? So I‘ll give a 9 (my little contribution to help maintaining the price of already a very expensive Toledo pen).
Conclusion (66/7 = 9.43)
For me, the most impressive feature of this pen other than the nicely engraved motif sleeve would have to be the design and careful material selection that are put into this pen to make it last a long time. This pen has met all my expectations of a high quality writing instrument.
If there is ever a pen in my current collection that deserves a “heirloom” status, this has to be it. I believe with proper care and regular maintenance (occasionally applying a thin layer of Renaissance Wax (or equivalent) for added protection), you will not be actually owning a M900 Toledo but merely keeping it for the next generation …. (as what PP said ). Oh well, now that my son has it, I would need to order another red M910 Toledo for my daughter …
For those that manage to come this far (and is still awake), it means you are really interested in the Toledo. Here is my advice: Don’t stare at your monitor any more, get off your chair and quickly go and get one for yourself!
I am sure you will not be disappointed with this breathtaking “Bird of Prey”…
That’s all for now (good grief it’s finally over) and thanks for reading.
Edited by Triodeman, 25 October 2011 - 03:25.