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Pelikan 620 vs. Pelikan 625


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16 replies to this topic

#1 Mike S.

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 23:37

This is my first review, so I thought I would start with a bit of background about what brought me to this hobby. I have been hooked on fountain pens for about 8 years. It all started when I bought my first-ever fountain pen -- a black Sailor 1911 with a 21k medium nib -- and a bottle of Aurora Blue ink from Roy at Fountain Pen Hospital as a reward to myself for passing the bar exam. Today I have approximately 50 pens (30 modern, 20 vintage), and though I've tried many different kinds of ink, I still use Aurora Blue almost exclusively (I love its rich blue color and silky feel on paper. Nothing else compares, in my experience). I am an avid user of fountain pens, which I use mostly at work. I particularly enjoy smooth nibs -- mostly mediums and broads -- and I also enjoy custom-ground nibs, purchased mainly from the websites of John Mottishaw (www.nibs.com) and Richard Binder (www.richardspens.com).

Because I use my pens, writing performance is generally more important to me than looks. My favorite modern pens are my tried-and-true Sailor, of course, but also Omas, Pilot, and Pelikan.

Some pens are real lookers but suffer from quirky performance issues (my Visconti Wall Street falls into this category), while others are great writers but are not particularly interesting to look at (my trusty Sailor 1911 comes to mind, as well as the Aurora 88 and the Pilot Custom 823). Then there are pens that are both attractive looking and good writers. These are the ones that seem to achieve legend status. Among vintage pens, examples include the Parker Vacumatic and (one of my personal favorites) the mottled red hard rubber Waterman 7. Among modern pens, the classic Omas Bronze Arco would have to be at the top of my list. Close behind, however, would be the two Pelikans discussed here: the Pelikan 620 "Stockholm" from the Cities Series and the dark blue and sterling silver Pelikan 625. (I may be drawn to these pens because blue is my favorite color. The performance of the Stockholm would be similar to any of the pens in the Cities series, some of which have been reviewed here already.)

Check out picture of the Stockholm on John Mottishaw's website: http://www.nibs.com/...tckPage.htm#STK

Although these pens are the same basic size and shape (based on the Souverän 600), they are very different in many key ways.

My Pelikan 620 "Stockholm" was the first pen I ever purchased from John Mottishaw. As with all of the 620-series pens, the Stockholm comes with a two-tone 18k nib (as opposed to the 14k nibs that come in the standard Souverän 600). I ordered mine with a broad stub nib (my first customized nib -- for me, this Pelikan broad stub was a "gateway drug" to the highly addictive world of customized nibs). The pen is a fantastic writer, with extremely consistent inkflow, a superb piston-filling system, and decent ink capacity. Of course, the custom-ground broad stub nib in my pen plays a big role in this pen's writing performance. However, in my experience, even standard Pelikan nib units, if properly set up and adjusted, are smooth writers with consistent inkflow, immediate start, and no skipping.

The 620's size and weight, however, may not be to everyone's liking. Although I do not have particularly large hands, I generally do not like smaller pens. In the Pelikan line, I find the 200/400 size to be just a shade too small, the 1000 size a shade too large, and the 800 size to be "just right." The 600 falls between the 200/400 and the 800 in size, making it big enough not to be "too small" but small enough that it is almost, but not quite, "just right." With the cap posted, the length of the Stockholm is OK, although it's clearly not a big pen. It is also fairly light-weight, especially compared with the 800, whose brass innards contribute to its substantial heft in the hand. The 620-series pens do not have the usual Pelikan ink window. Instead, their bodies are slightly translucent, so that, if you hold the pen up to the light and squint, you can kinda-sorta see how much ink you've got left. At between $250 and $350, depending on where you get it and whether you get a standard or customized nib, the 620 is by no means cheap, but I can't say that I think it's overpriced for the build quality and performance of the pen.

When Pelikan announced the new 625 late last year, I was immediately intrigued. First, I loved the look of the pen. The translucent blue body is beautiful, allowing a clear view of how much ink is remaining in the barrel. Particularly interesting to me, however, were the sterling silver body parts (grip section and blind cap) as well as the silver cap with blue enamel stripes of varying lengths all around. (Pelikan has made a number of pens with sterling silver or vermeil caps -- the 420, 425, 450, and 730 come to mind -- but this is the first modern Pelikan I'm aware of that has a metal grip section.) I ordered one from John Mottishaw with a broad cursive oblique nib. With customization, the cost of this pen was pushing $500, which is at the high end of what I am willing to spend on a pen. Given my good experiences with other Pelikan pens, I knew the pen would perform well, and it was also a looker. I decided it was worth the risk. Check out pictures of the pen at John Mottishaw's website:

http://www.nibs.com/...625Sterling.htm

Like the 620 series, the 625 comes with an 18k nib -- rhodium plated, in this case. There are not as many sizes of the rhodium-plated nibs available -- just your basic F, M, and B -- so if you want something different, custom is the only way to go. (Of course, because it's a Pelikan, you can screw in whatever 400/600 size nib unit you'd like, but if it's a two-tone nib, it will not be a perfect match with the silver-and-blue-bodied 625.) And like most other Pelikan pens, the 625 has Pelikan's efficient and smooth piston filling mechanism, with a similar ink capacity to the other pens in the 600 series.

Right out of the box, the difference between the 620 and 625 in the hand was obvious: although physically the same size as the 620, the 625 is much, much heavier. With the cap posted, I find the balance of the pen to be too top-heavy. Also, because the cap is made of metal, you can't really press it onto the pen so that it will really stay put. I'm always afraid it will fall off. As a result, although I almost always post the caps on my pens when writing, I generally don't post the cap when I'm using the 625. As I noted above, the 620 is just about the right size in my hand with the cap posted. Without the cap posted, the 625 is just that much smaller. The blind cap sits right on the web of skin between my thumb and index finger. However, although it's a bit shorter than I usually prefer my pens to be, the balance and weight of the pen is nearly perfect. It has the substantial heft that I like in the 800, and the cool metal grip section is pleasant in the hand. The threads are nicely rounded so they don't cut into my fingers when I'm writing. Also, the metalwork on this pen is fantastic. While it doesn't really affect the performance of the pen, the quality craftsmanship evident in this pen clearly affects my level of owner-satisfaction with the quality of the pen and (almost) allows me to justify the pen's high price.

I haven't quite figured out what to do with the cap when I'm writing with the pen. If I hold it in my left hand, I get fingerprints all over the shiny silver metal. If I set it on my desk, it always seems to be in the way - that, or it gets buried under a book and I can't find it. I'm sure I will get used to it with time.

The other thing I've noticed about the 625 is that, because both the cap and the section are made of metal, there is no flex to the cap or body material, which means that you can only screw the cap on so far and it's impossible to get it really tight. When you pick up the pen, the cap starts to rotate on the threads, and I'm always afraid it's going to fall off and get dinged up.

The final nit I will pick with the pen is this: because the nib is made of gold with rhodium plating, if you have it custom ground, as I did, you can see the gold color peeking through where the material was ground away.

The performance of the custom broad cursive oblique nib that came in my pen is nothing short of spectacular. As with all left-footed obliques, it makes the broadest strokes on a 45° angle from upper-left to lower-right, the narrowest strokes from upper-right to lower-left, and what I would call medium-broad strokes up-and-down and left-and-right. (By contrast, the broad stub nib in my Stockholm makes broad strokes up-and-down, narrow strokes left-and-right, and medium-broad strokes on the diagonals). Also, as with all italic nibs (oblique or otherwise), it is somewhat more position-sensitive than a standard ball-tipped nib or a well-made stub. Once I got it figured out, however, I found that the oblique nib adds a wonderful shapeliness to my handwriting that is somehow more appealing to me than a straight-across stub or italic.

If you haven't ever tried an oblique italic nib but want to see what it would be like to write with one, the cheapest way to do it would be to get an oblique cut highlighter pen from an office supply store (or your company's supply room) and hold it with the tip rotated so that it draws the broadest line from upper left to lower right, if you're right handed, and the thinnest line from upper right to lower left, and write your name. It may take a few lines to get the hang of it, but it should give you some idea whether it's worth springing for a custom-ground oblique. When you're ready, the next cheapest way I can think of to get your hands on one is to buy a Pelikan or Vanishing Point nib unit from Richard Binder's website (www.richardspens.com). Assuming you've got a Pelikan 200/400/600 or a Vanishing Point pen body to put the nib into, this is a relatively low-risk way to get your feet wet with an oblique-cut nib (if you don't like it, you can just take the nib unit out and put the old one back in). If stubs are "gateway drugs" to the highly addictive world of customized nibs, I'm sure Richard would be happy to be your junkie. Last time I checked, I believe Richard carries the 625, as well, and would no doubt create a customized nib unit for you if you asked him nicely.

The bottom line: I love the look as well as the writing performance of my Stockholm, but its slightly-too-small size and weight have always kept it one step below the ranks of my all-time favorite pens. My 625 is, in my view, an equally good-looking pen, with equally good writing performance, and a much more substantial weight in the hand. However, because I don't feel comfortable posting the cap, the size problem remains (and, in fact, is a bit worse than with the 620). Also, this is a very expensive pen for a non-limited edition. If you are considering buying a 620 series pen (and the new Pelikan Grand Place that just came out is a real looker, as far as I'm concerned) or a 625 based on looks and Pelikan's reputation for performance, and if you are willing to spend the money to get one, I would suggest trying one out in person before you buy. If you have small hands (or just prefer smaller pens) and you don't generally post your cap when you write, you may find the size to be "just right" for you. If you already know that the 600 size is your perfect size, the quality of the 625 makes it a stand-out.

As a woman at a table near me once said to her 5-year-old daughter, who was reluctant to taste something being offered to her, "You never know, it might be your favorite."

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#2 Maja

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 08:21

Super review, Mike! :D
Thanks so much for taking the time to write out your thoughts about these two fine pens.
Customized nibs are a slippery slope indeed---it's very hard to go back once you've tried one :) I am glad that you explained the differences between the cursive italic and oblique nibs for folks that may not be familiar with them. I have a factory OB (oblique broad) Pelikan nib on the M200 that got me back into the world of fountain pens, and an equally great factory OM nib on a vintage Pelikan 140.... Don't you wish Pelikan made factory stub nibs?? :rolleyes:

Thanks again for the review. I hope you post some more in the future :)
~Maja
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#3 L&R

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 09:27

If you haven't ever tried an oblique italic nib but want to see what it would be like to write with one, the cheapest way to do it would be to get an oblique cut highlighter pen from an office supply store (or your company's supply room) and hold it with the tip rotated so that it draws the broadest line from upper left to lower right, if you're right handed, and the thinnest line from upper right to lower left, and write your name.  It may take a few lines to get the hang of it, but it should give you some idea whether it's worth springing for a custom-ground oblique.

Hey, thanks for the tip (no pun intended ;)). I just tried, and my next purchase might be indeed a pen with an oblique nib.

#4 L&R

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 09:36

I have a factory OB (oblique broad) Pelikan nib on the M200 that got me back into the world of fountain pens, and an equally great factory OM nib on a vintage Pelikan 140

Since you have both an OM and an OB nib, I assume the oblique effect is more pronounced in the OB nib, i.e., the narrow strokes are similar in the two nibs, while the broad strokes are (obviously) broader in the OB; is that correct? If you had to choose between the two, which one would you pick?

Thanks in advance.

#5 Bill

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 12:13

...There are not as many sizes of the rhodium-plated nibs available -- just your basic F, M, and B...

Good review. I agree about the quality workmanship.

The M625 is not limited to factory F/M/B nibs. It is also available in an Extra Fine nib. Below is a photo of mine (BTW, only $330 from Pam Braun).

Regarding inexpensive ways to experience oblique/italic nibs--don't forget Esterbrooks. I buy them at a vintage pen shop for $4 apiece. Of course, the pens themselves are inexpensive and you can swap nibs in a few seconds. The 9314/2314 series gives you a variety of widths for oblique stubs. One of the Esterbrook oblique mediums is as smooth or smoother than any modern factory or customized stub or italic I have.

Bill

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#6 Inkanthropist

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 13:44

Thanks for this wonderful, detailed comparison, Mike.

Neil
[FPN ACCOUNT ABANDONED. I AM NO LONGER ACTIVE HERE, BUT AM SADLY UNABLE TO CLOSE MY ACCOUNT AND DELETE MY POSTS.]

#7 bobioden

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 14:02

Great review. I think the 625 is a beautiful pen.


Bob

#8 Dr.Grace

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 16:49

I have a factory OB (oblique broad) Pelikan nib on the M200 that got me back into the world of fountain pens, and an equally great factory OM nib on a vintage Pelikan 140

Since you have both an OM and an OB nib, I assume the oblique effect is more pronounced in the OB nib, i.e., the narrow strokes are similar in the two nibs, while the broad strokes are (obviously) broader in the OB; is that correct? If you had to choose between the two, which one would you pick?

Thanks in advance.

Contrary to what you might imagine, the Pelikan oblique nibs do not give much of a variation in stroke width beyond what the straight nibs offer. If you want an italic nib, it's best to have a stock nib reground or buy one already modified from someone like Richard Binder (richardspens.com).
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#9 L&R

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 18:05

Contrary to what you might imagine, the Pelikan oblique nibs do not give much of a variation in stroke width beyond what the straight nibs offer. If you want an italic nib, it's best to have a stock nib reground or buy one already modified from someone like Richard Binder (richardspens.com).

Thanks for the heads-up.

#10 Maja

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 18:07

I have a factory OB (oblique broad) Pelikan nib on the M200 that got me back into the world of fountain pens, and an equally great factory OM nib on a vintage Pelikan 140

Since you have both an OM and an OB nib, I assume the oblique effect is more pronounced in the OB nib, i.e., the narrow strokes are similar in the two nibs, while the broad strokes are (obviously) broader in the OB; is that correct? If you had to choose between the two, which one would you pick?

Thanks in advance.

Contrary to what you might imagine, the Pelikan oblique nibs do not give much of a variation in stroke width beyond what the straight nibs offer. If you want an italic nib, it's best to have a stock nib reground or buy one already modified from someone like Richard Binder (richardspens.com).

Dr. Grace, you are absolutely correct...except my stock OM nib was on my Pelikan '140' which was made in the 1950s or 1960s. I agree with your assessment of the modern Pelikan Oblique nibs. The OB I have on my M200 looks a lot more like a round nib than an oblique :o. My vintage OM looks like a real left-footed oblique...
(edit: I should say the vintage OM looks *and* writes like a real left-footed oblique; the modern OB doesn't give as much line variation)

L&R,
The modern OB nib writes very well, but for springiness of nib and overall smoothness, I would have to chose the vintage OM on the '140. The downstroke widths are pretty similar on both pens, but again, we are comparing nibs made a few decades apart (and probably made by different companies; Pelikan nibs are now made by Bock, I belive) so that may explain the similarity. Possibly I am getting more width on the OM because it is springy (not truly flexy but springy). Hope that answers your question :)

Edited by Maja, 24 September 2006 - 18:19.

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#11 DilettanteG

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 18:15

Thanks so much for the excellent review Mike. It answered a question which has been plaguing me for awhile: if the M800 fits my hand perfectly, will the M600 feel too small? Since the M600 keeps luring me with its beautiful colors and appointments, this question seems to recur fairly frequently. Your opinion really helped.

If you get a chance, would you post a writing sample of these pens? I've looked at always look at the nibmeisters' websites, but for me, the more information the better.

Also thanks for suggesting some cheap ways to try an oblique stub. It's much appreciated.

-Kate, who so doesn't need another pen, but can't seem to help herself.

#12 L&R

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 21:35

The modern OB nib writes very well, but for springiness of nib and overall smoothness, I would have to chose the vintage OM on the '140. The downstroke widths are pretty similar on both pens, but again, we are comparing nibs made a few decades apart (and probably made by different companies; Pelikan nibs are now made by Bock, I belive) so that may explain the similarity. Possibly I am getting more width on the OM because it is springy (not truly flexy but springy). Hope that answers your question :)

Yep, thanks a lot.

#13 CharlieB

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 23:24

Great review! Like you, I use the M800 and find the M600 to be a bit too small. On several different occasions I have "almost" purchased an M625, thinking that the added weight would compensate for the lack of girth, and the smaller nib. I've resisted the urge each time, however, hoping that Pelikan will release an M825. Does anyone know if an M825 is in Pelikan's plans?

CharlieB
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#14 Mike S.

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 14:23

I am attaching a photo showing my two pens along with writing samples made with each pen. The ink is Aurora Blue, and the paper is Hammermill Laser Print paper.

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#15 Mike S.

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 14:30

Here's a photo of the two nibs side-by-side.

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#16 Maja

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 20:36

Thanks for posting the writing samples, Mike; they are good examples of the subtle differences in handwriting produced by a stub vs. a cursive italic.
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#17 Pen2009

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 11:36

After reading this review, I decided to get an M625 with an EF nib.  I picked up a red barrel instead of black.  


My collection: 149 EF/F/B/OBB, Collodi B/Twain F/Mann F, 146 M, Silver Barley F, M1000/M800 B'o'B/M800 Tortoise/Sahara/415 BT/215/205 Blue Demo, Optima Demo Red M/88 EF & Italic/Europa, Emotica, 2K/Safaris/Al-Stars/Vista, Edson DB/Carene BS, Pilot 845/823/742/743/Silvern/M90/Makies, Sailor Profit Realo M/KOP Makies/Profit Makies/Profit 21 Naginata MF&M/KOP/KOP Mosaiques/Sterling Silvers,Platinum #3776 Celluloids/Izumos/Wood pens/Sterling Silvers,YoL Grand Victorian, and more (I lost counting)






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