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Pelikan New Classic P381 - A Review


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11 replies to this topic

#1 jslallar

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 15:45

INTRODUCTION:
I bought two new P381s last year, one from Singapore and the other from Malaysia, and paid about $50 each, plus postage to Pakistan for these pens. At that time my fixation was with Broad nibs only, and both were advertised to have B nibs. $50 for a Pelikan with a 14C gold nib seemed reasonable to me. The prices have since gome up. Both pens arrived a month apart in similar light grey out cardboard outer boxes and inner silver colored metal very light weight cases, which were thin and ovoid in shape rather than square. Taking out the pens they were what I had imagined they would be - thin, good finish, and solid feeling pens The only other thin pen I had was a MB Noblesse Oblige at that time in blue plastic and that felt cheaper in comaprison despite the famed MB logo on the cap top. Interestingly a very cheap Inoxcrom Oxford that I came by, by accident, felt the same as these Pelikans.

HISTORY:
Peliakn produced these thin pens from 1992 to 1995. It tried to ride on the band wagon too late I guess. The earlier thin pens of the eighties (the Aurora Hastils, MB Slimlines and Noblesse series, and Parker 75 etc) were just about going out of fashion. So the series was not a success, and was teminated quickly. Also there were some issue with ink flow reported. All this I came to know after buying the pens, and later researching about them, while I was also improving my knowledge on pens and related matters in general, having recently joined the FPN.

Pelikan had made the following finishes for the New Classic series:
P370 - Steel, with GP nib.
P371 - Colored with GP nibs.
P380 - Steel with 14C nib.
P381 - Lacquered with 14C nib.
P390 - Silver pen with 18C nib.
P395 - Gold plated pen with 18C nib.

APPEARANCE AND DESIGN: (7/10).
My pens are the P381s Cigara Blau (Navy Blue) and Vintara Green. The pens as mentioned are thin, with gold accents, typical Pelikan shaped clip.
The section has horizontal lines on them for better grip, and that is a plus, as it is thin. Also the section tapers down and then flares a bit toward the bottom, not creating a step but widening a bit that is all. Having said that the design is noithing to write home about, utilitarian yes, for those who like thin pens, but not an outright and eye catching beauty. I would rate it as conservative, but with quality showing itself.

CONSTRUCTION AND QUALITY: (8.5/10)
The clip works well to hold the pen and is easily applied and taken off a shirt pocket. The barrel and cap are metal and give a sold feel to the pen. Both my pens are lacquered, with a good sheen, and quality of construction is obvious. Barrel screws on smoothly over the section and the cap snaps easily neither loose nor too tight, and holds the pen firmly without letting it wriggle inside the cap. The practical grip has already been alluded to. The cap posts well and securely with a click, as it does on capping the pen.

WEIGHT AND DIMENSION: (7.5/10)
Lengths:
Pen closed = 14.1 cm
Without cap = 13.0 cm
Cap = 5.9 cm
Posted = 16.1cm

Widths:
Barrel = 1.0
Section = 9mm at base, tapers to 7.5mm, and then flares in the last few mm to 8mm
Cap = 1.1cm
I have no way of weighing the pen.
Despite the thinnes of design the pen rests comfortably in my big hands, but the grip section literally disappears in my fingers. It is long enough for me to use it unposted which is more than I can say for many a pen, and posted does become a bit top heavy, but that is no problem for me. I am a habitual poster (even with Cross Townsend and MB149) and importantly the pen did not become unbalanced when posted.

NIB AND PERFORMANCE: (7.5/10)
The nib in my pens are 14C 585 gold, monotone, with a Pelikan logo, and gold content marked. The nib is friction fit, and does not twist off like the Souverans. The size of the nibs is medium to small a bit smaller than MB144. Both are B and the green out of the box was smooth and worked fine. The one in blue pen had a baby bottom which had to be polished a bit to make it work. As mentioned above other material choices for nibs (steel and 18C gold) with price differences of course were available, as were choices in point sizes, but I have seen only M and B nibs. I have used these pens in my regular work days during which I have to write upon all sorts of paper in the hospital, from poor to good quality, and they worked well on all, giving me a consistent line. The B nib writes with a line which to my eye is thinner side of a B.

FILLLING SYSTEM AND MAINTENANCE: (8/10)
The filling system is international C / C. The pens came without any converter, and I hate to use cartridges. Luckily I had a few spare Pelikan converters lying about, and they fit beautifully and worked without a hitch. The converters are friction fit and easily removed to be cleaned.

COST AND VALUE: (8/10)
For the cost of nearly $65, including postage I got a Pelikan quality, thin metal lacquered pen with gold nib. I would rate that as fair. Neither too expensive nor too cheap.

CONCLUSION: (46.5/60 or 7.75/10)
All in all a fairl;y good pen, not a looker, but has some personality, and shows quality in appearance and performance For those who like thin pens I think they should give this pen a try.

Attached Images

  • Pelikan P381 New Classic Vintara Green 254.JPG
  • Pelikan P381 New Classic Cigara Blau 250.JPG
  • Pelikan P381 New Classic Vintara Green 255.JPG
  • Pelikan P381 New Classic Cigara Blau 253a.jpg

Edited by jslallar, 26 November 2012 - 03:29.

Enjoy your pens
Have a nice day
Junaid

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#2 hari317

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 14:56

Nice comprehensive review Junaid, enjoy the pen in good health!
In case you wish to write to me, pls use ONLY email by clicking here. I do not check PMs. Thank you.

#3 Uncle Red

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 16:27

Thanks for the nice review.

#4 lurker

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 18:54

Nice!

#5 Malcy

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 23:04

Thanks for the review. I have only rarely seen this model. A bit skinny for me though. :)
My pen photo galleries - Reorganised

#6 drgoretex

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 18:49

Great review! Highlighted very nicely the pro's and con's of this lovely pen.

I also have on of these green P381s, and while it is a thin pen - and thus not a favourite to carry - it has a truly lovely nib...beautiful, extremely smooth and the perfect wetness. I quite enjoy using this pen because of the fantastic nib.

Ken

#7 ajha1970

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 15:00

Hi,
I also purchased this pen a week back at 50 USD with convertor, and you are correct about ink flow problem, it is difficult to write vertical line upwords, numeric 3, sometimes A and J with this pen,
i would be greatful if you advise something to improve Ink flow as it is a realy thin beautiful pen
find attachment of writting sample.
regardsIMG-20121216-00116.jpg

Edited by ajha1970, 16 December 2012 - 15:20.


#8 jslallar

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 19:18

Dear ajha

Sorry to disappoint you but I have. no secret recipe for this pen. I had Two, one of which I sold and the other will be put up soon because my tastes have changed since, and now I prefer thicker piston fillers and am yearning for larger Souverans. Mine were both B nibs, one worked well out of the box, the other's baby bottom needed a bit of tweaking but I could handle that in house. It turned into a good writer too.

What I can recommend are general remedies like flushing with diluted dishwasher liquid; looking at the nib with a 10x loupe to rule out a baby bottom; using a wetter ink if by any chance you are using a dryer ink like pelikan; is the nib slot too tight to allow free ink flow and chokes the pen; if all else fails maybe dissembling tbe pen for deepening the grooves on the feed may help.

Once tuned I am sure it wlll be a fine addition to your thin pen collection.
Good luck

Edited by jslallar, 16 December 2012 - 19:29.

Enjoy your pens
Have a nice day
Junaid

#9 Vijay

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 15:16

Today I visited a leading Foutain Pen retailser in Chennai, India. He is a running this shop for more than 50 years. He belongs to the second generation.

This is what I gather from him about the Pelikan P381 (14KGP Broad Nib) Fountain pen. The Pelikan distributors clearly say that the pen has starting problem due to some design flaw. It might take some effort to start the ink to flow. But after that it can been pretty smooth. How true is it with all the Pelikan 381s? Not all who have used the pen seem to report this problem. At least in this thread. The retailer warned me that this is how it will be and that I can take it if I still wanted it.

Can I ask users of this pen to comment on the ink flow from their own personal experience of writing? Let us see how many actually face it.

#10 RitchieMac

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 12:42

I have a Pelikan P381, it's an actual 14K nib rather than a 14K GP nib, which makes it really good value. I can't find any other gold nibs at this price. As the retailers are clearing stocks, probably that's why the broad nibs are available. The nib is very good - very smooth and wet, and more importantly, it has some flexibility, like the Pelikan nibs of the old. I find flexible nibs more fun to write with, even though I write with a light touch and don't really make it a point to do line variations in my writings.
There is some problem with the feed of the pen, as I experienced some starting issues, and some skipping, especially on certain papers. However, I have other pens with worse starting and skipping problems. Because of the problem with the feed, and the fact that I like a fatter pen for intensive writing, this pen will not be my daily writer.
However, I am still satisfied with the purchase as this pen plays a part in the variety of writing experience, mainly because of its excellent nib.


#11 marchbrown

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 14:50

Sorry to reinstate this forum after all this time.

 

I have two of these pens in Cirago Blue with the M gold nibs.

 

I have tried one of them and did experience a poor start in getting the ink to flow.   Once started, it seemed OK till the next time.   I never tried the other pen, and they were both just put away out of sight till now.   I understand that they were made between 1992 and 1995.   I no longer have the boxes or packaging for them and will eventually be selling them along with my other proper Pelikan pens.

 

I prefer the feel of my everyday 400 series to these.

 

Sorry again for bringing this forum up.



#12 Drone

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Posted 08 January 2016 - 17:19

Sorry to reinstate this forum after all this time.

 

I have two of these pens in Cirago Blue with the M gold nibs.

 

I have tried one of them and did experience a poor start in getting the ink to flow.   Once started, it seemed OK till the next time.   I never tried the other pen, and they were both just put away out of sight till now.   I understand that they were made between 1992 and 1995.   I no longer have the boxes or packaging for them and will eventually be selling them along with my other proper Pelikan pens.

 

I prefer the feel of my everyday 400 series to these.

 

Sorry again for bringing this forum up.

 

Hi marchbrown,.. Please don't apologize for bringing this "forum" up again (actually it is a "thread", not a forum).

 

I have one of these pens. I found it lurking (literally) in the back of a shelf in one of the Bookseller shops in Singapore's Changi Airport while I was changing planes there three or four years ago (I live in S.E. Asia). My pen is a nice marbled brown color with gold-tone furniture and a B (broad) real-gold nib. It came with one or two cartridges and a converter . It was boxed in the nice rounded aluminum  rounded-corner thing. The packaging was pretty good.

 

Total cost (at the time) for the pen was (if memory serves) around $35 USD at the current exchange rate back then. Out of the box the nib felt great and exhibited some "flex" and "springiness" for a modern gold nib. Line variation was good, even though the nib was a B (Bold). But the problem was ink-flow...

 

The pen could NOT provide enough ink to the nib (yes, I disassembled the pen and cleaned it thoroughly, I tried original Pelikan cartridges and the converter as-well, I tried different inks known to work well with flow problems).

 

The problem was the pen would not start properly, and even when ink flow-started, it would run out of ink and skip. I attribute this to the stupidity of marrying a semi-flex bold/stub gold nib with a small plastic feed (yeah, Pilot/Namiki does this evil thing too). Also, after dealing with the pen with in pieces trying to get it clean and tuned, it was apparent the pen was nothing more than made of cheap coated brass - a hall-mark of Chinese low-end quality heavy unbalnced pens. So this pen was likely a base-line cheap Chinese pen modified a bit with a decent nib. But the feed is bad. Besides the nib, the finial with the "Mother Pelikan" was done well. But that's not enough IMO.

 

That's my take on this pen from an example of ONE only (YMMV). I think this pen would be a better performer if the nib was Fine (less flow so the plastic feed can keep-up, plus a bit more flex variation likely compared with the B nib).

 

Would I buy this pen again? Maybe, at around $20-$30 USD; there's probably that much in salvage-value for the gold nib. Also the nib might be a target for a regrind if it can fit other pens.

 

But to buy this pen only for the writing performance out of the box with a B nib - an emphatic NO..

 

In the end - it just seemed to me that this pen was something Pelikan tried to push into the lower-tier market, especially in Asia - but it didn't go well (IMO). Remember: Pelikan is after-all IS a  Malaysian-owned entity these days.








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