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Pen Pit Stop : Pelikan M400 White Tortoise


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Pen Pit Stop : Pelikan Souverän M400 White Tortoise
Welcome to the Pen Pit Stop. Here you will find reviews of pens that already have some mileage on them. More specifically, these reviews are of pens that are in my personal collection, and that have been in use for at least a year. I thought it would be fun to do it this way - no new & shiny pens here, but battered vehicles that have been put to work for at least a year. Let's find out how they have withstood the ravages of time.
The fountain pen that enters the pit stop today is the "Pelikan M400 White Tortoise". Pelikan is one of the best-known European pen-makers, with a long history dating all the way back to 1832 when the company was founded in Hanover, Germany. The brand offers a broad range of fountain pens, from the semi-entry-level M200 series all the way up to their flagship M1000 model. All Pelikan pens adhere to the same classical style, and as such are immediately recognizable.
I bought this pen in January 2017, and it was my first "expensive" pen (after the Lamy Safari and AL-star). This pen simply enthralled me with its beauty, and I had been oogling it for some time. I finally caved, and decided to get it as a New Year's gift to myself ;-)
Pen Look & Feel
The M400 White Tortoise is simply a beautiful pen, with gold accents that nicely complement the white body. But the true beauty of this pen comes from the "binde", which is just stunning with breathtaking yellow-gold-orange-honey stripes. The whole fountain pen radiates class and elegance, from the detailed engraving of a mother pelican & chick on the cap's finial, to the beautiful two-toned golden nib. True pen-candy !
I had some initial fears that the white resin of the pen would acquire ink-stains - after all, this is a piston-filler that you stick into the ink bottle. But that doesn't seem to be a problem. Of course, I respect my pens and make sure to wipe them clean after filling them from the bottle. After more than two years of use, my M400 looks good as new - and I intend to keep it that way.
Like all Pelikans, the cap unscrews with about three quarters rotation, so it's quickly ready for action. The M400 is a smaller pen, but posts easily and securely, giving it a substantial size that is very comfortable to write with, even if you have larger hands. I've got smaller hands myself, and typically use the pen unposted. For me, the M400 is just the right size and weight (i.e. featherweight). If you like larger and heavier pens, this model will not be for you - in that case you should probably look at the M800 pens (which are larger and also heavier due to the metal used for their piston construction).
The gold nib on my pen is an M-size, which writes really wet, and looks more like a broad. This is typical for Pelikan nibs, which tend to be a size larger than their designation. The modern nibs are often referred to as nails, but that doesn't really bother me. Having no hands-on experience with vintage flex & semi-flex nibs, I just don't know better ;-)
The pictures above illustrate the size of the M400 White Tortoise in comparison with a standard Lamy AL-star. The pen is definitely smaller than a Lamy, but still reasonable in size - not so small that it gets uncomfortable (and if you find it too small uncapped, you can simply post it).
Pen Characteristics
  • Build Quality : build quality is excellent. The pen looks really polished and refined. The pen also withstands the passing of time without any problem. After two years of use, it looks good as new. Of course - because of the white colour - you should take extra care, and wipe off excess ink after filling.
  • Weight & Dimensions : about 125 mm when capped - and as such a rather small pen. It's also definitely a featherweight. If you prefer pens with some heft to them, the M400 model will not be your thing. Posted - the pen becomes about 150 mm long, and fits even larger hands.
  • Filling System : this is a piston-filler, that holds quite some ink. The piston is made from plastic, but works really well. Pelikan are generally known for their excellent piston mechanism.
  • Nib & Performance : the M400 Souverän pens have gold nibs. The one on my White Tortoise is a beautiful two-toned M-nib, that is a wet writer. You should be aware that Pelikan nibs are typically a size larger than their designation. My M-nib definitely writes like a broad. I quite like that you can buy the Pelikan nibs separately. If you accidentally damage your nib, you can simply buy a new one. I also like that the nib units are interchangeable between the M120/M200/M400/M101N models.
  • Price : about 280 EUR, including taxes. Not cheap, but also not too expensive for a gold-nibbed pen. In my opinion you get value for money.

My Pelikan Souverän M400 White Tortoise is a true beauty with tons of elegance. I can still stare for minutes at the reflection of light in the binde. Truly amazing. I truly loved the pen the day I unboxed it, and it's still one of my favourites today.
So the answer to the question "would I buy this pen again?" is easy: of course I would! Without hesitation!
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  • Misfit


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I agree, this is one of the prettiest Pelikans, wish I had it in the M600 size but....

"It's funny; in this era of email and voice mail and all those things that I did not even grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy."  Elizabeth Kostova





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Yeah, it's a beauty! I did buy it again and am not ashamed to admit. Now I have one with a DIY architecty F-grind and one with an Italic Broad nib which equals a 1.5 mm line width.


Thank you for your re-review and the mouth-watering photos!

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Thank you for the wonderful review of that beauty, have mostly concentrated on vintage Pelikans but have also had this on my radar for a number of years now... might have to finally pull the trigger on this one. :D Will look forward to your following reviews.

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A nice idea for reviews and they are great pens. I don't use mine nearly as much as I should.

The Good Captain

"Meddler's 'Salamander' - almost as good as the real thing!"

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You have come up with a nice concept for reviews.


One of these is traveling to me right now. I have not seen one in person, and am eager for its arrival. It comes from an amazon.com Global Seller UK.


@JulieParadise: Good for you to have a pen you obviously enjoy with different nibs.

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I got mine last October with a luxurious broad nib from The Writing Desk in the UK. Shipped to the US about $225 USD. Far and away my most expensive pen. It has been inked continuously since it arrived. And when I have it is in my shirt pocket.


Currently inked with Edelstein Aventurine although one of my favorite inks in it is KWZI El Dorado, which is a beautiful golden color that complements the color of the binde nicely.


"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling
"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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Great review, thank you!

Agree with all :)


I currently inked my white tortoise with Edelstein Amber, using M nib.


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I have a Lamy Safari. I am in process of buying Pelikan Souveran range maybe M1000 or M800.


Nice pens you have with you. Happy writing.

Knowledge Power

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My 400 in green stripe with a M nib is one of my favorites. Wonderful pen. Great review and photography, I look forward to seeing more of your reviews!

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