This is not only my first review here, but also my first pen review. As a slightly waffling prologue, I’ve used fountain pens most my life, since my school days at about the age of 12. In more recent years I’ve found myself writing more (I actually work in IT – go figure) and started buying more pens. This is my first Pelikan and part came about due to a vague friend insisting I try one, especially after I mentioned getting a Graf Von Faber Castell for my 50th in a few years time (I really like my Faber Castell Pearwood Ambition). I suspect he meant a M800 Souverän (that M805 Vibrant Blue does look good), however in the mean time I found myself looking at a M2X demonstrator type. I like the Cognac, except for the price and the fact I could no longer get one from a reputable reseller in the UK. The Amethyst looks nice in pictures, but nothing special in video reviews, and I get the feeling the new shimmering blue would be the same. It was, however, by accident that I stumbled across the Café Crème. There’s something very 1920s, almost art deco, about its colour combination. I was sold, and also very lucky that I could still find a trustworthy online store with one in stock, so £99 later I had ordered said pen.
So what was I expecting. Owning Lamy and Faber Castell pens I was considering it to be suitably Germanic, so very good fit and finish, a feeling of solidity, and working out of the box.
I knew it was small, but I didn’t realise just how short it would be. I’ve not got large hands, but this is the first pen where I’ve had to post the cap (normally I dislike doing so). It is also very light, and dare I say it, initially felt like it was made of cheap plastic. Not good for a £100 pen. However it very quickly became apparent the shell is not cheaply made, not that I’d want to risk dropping it. Post rinsing out (at work about 9 hours before filling with ink) I found a suitable colour in my collection and filled it with J. Herbin Lies de Tea. Interestingly, in comparing it with a number of the pens I carry round with me, it’s not that much shorter capped, and uncapped it might be its light weight that makes it feel so small.
So I start writing. It was scratchy and the ink flow was inconsistent, it was almost as if the ink needed the nib to be moving before it would start to flow. I left the pen a while and now it is completely transformed. The nib is smooth, a little feedback, the ink flows nice and evenly. I suspect it just needed to be written in briefly, however I’d expect any pen over £40/50 to work out of the box.
Size and Weight
The pen is small and light, but that’s not a bad thing. It does however feel a little small for me, so I’d certainly not recommend a M200/205 for anyone with larger hands. With the cap posted it feels a better length and very balanced. While I normally do not like capping, it works well with this pen.
The pen looks good, there’s no two ways around it. The brown and cream are a classic combination, and the gold trim works well. The fill window also looks natural in the pen.
Fit and Finish
There is the old saying you get what you pay for, so with a £100 pen I’d expect everything to be perfect, in an almost Germanic manner. The ink view window feels as if it’s part of the same piece of raw material as the rest of the barrel as there’s no noticeable seem or ridge between the two parts. The piston feels effective, a slight resistance at first then smoothly pushed in, and smoothly pulled out with the ink fill in the other direction. Stopping there you’d think I was really happy with the pen, however, first as mentioned on the nib, it needed working in – something I’d not expect(1). The nib is not the part that really disappointed me though. On the grip section there is a moulding seem both on the top and under sides. I would not expect moulding flash on a £20 pen, and neither my TSWBI Eco nor my Lamy Safari All Star display any (and none can be felt either). I certainly do not expect to have actual visible flash on what is, after all, a relatively expensive pen. Fortunately I touch neither when holding the pen.
Initially the writing experience was mixed. It was not poor, but the nib was slightly scratchy and the ink flow was odd, however the pen now works well and is a pleasure to use. It is not my smoothest pen (that’s still my Faber Castell), but it is very good. I do not really have a rotation as I just carry about 8 pens around, each with different inks, however this will be one I will go towards by choice, but not my main choice.
If I’d been given this pen as a gift then I think I would have been very happy, again if it was about half the price I’d overlook the manufacturing defects, however for a pen that cost me £99 and has/had a MRP of £135 I am actually slightly disappointed. It is a keeper and should last a life time, but then the same could be said for many fountain pens that cost a lot less. I may have just been unlucky, but at the same time I’m not convinced by the QA of Pelikan pens. Certainly if I decide to consider one for my 50th birthday treat I’d have to find a pen shop with one in for me to try there and then before considering. I don’t think I’d buy one online again.
1) I know there are plenty of you who feel it is normal to have to tune your nib on purchase, but to use an analogy, I do not expect to buy a car and then, on it arrivng, have to go under the bonnet/hood to tune in the fuel injectors.