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Frustration At Current Pelikan Nibs

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Christopher Godfrey

<...most of my pelikans are vintage these days. Vintage pelikan nibs might be the best I've ever used. my BB italic semiflex 14k italic 400 is one of my top three best nibs. Glassy smooth, forgiving, crisp and consistent, flexible, and abjectly perfect flow for everyday use>

Ssssh, Honeybadgers! You know it; I know it; Bo Bo definitely knows it -- you're going to cause a rush for vintage Pelikans and those prices are going to start rising...!!

He's right, of course: vintage nibs from Pelikan are as good as they get (along with those from several other "golden era" manufacturers!), so that when some of you write about poor quality control, I am amazed that all my precious vintage nibs from the same factory are...so perfect! (Mind you, my new M1000 with F nib is pretty wonderful)

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I think it's something more common in modern nibs of many pen makers today, at least based on my experience. I don't think Pelikan is unique in this regard. In an effort to create ultra-smooth nibs, over-polishing seems to take place. The trend seems to be to try to get a very wet nib with limited or no feedback for many makers.

This has been my experience as well. Pelikan’s vintage nibs are second to none. The pre-1997 nibs are pretty darn good. Their modern nibs continue to struggle. The biggest issue for me is the lack of character and that’s only because I’m well aware of how it used to be. I wish we could go back to those nib characteristics. I guess though they cater to the largest market segment and produce nibs that are less likely to be returned. Writing has changed since the introduction of the ballpoint and I think that’s been a driver of some of this. I have been very fortunate in that most of my modern nibs have been well aligned out of the box and without significant baby’s bottom though I know others have not been as fortunate. It’s not a situation I see being remedied anytime soon. For what it’s worth, Pelikan seems to be more on point with their stainless steel nibs than their gold based on my experience.

PELIKAN - Too many birds in the flock to count. My pen chest has proven to be a most fertile breeding ground.


THE PELIKAN'S PERCH - A growing reference site for all things Pelikan

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For what it’s worth, Pelikan seems to be more on point with their stainless steel nibs than their gold based on my experience.


That being the case, perhaps they could be encouraged to produce these nibs as an option for the full range of pens.


"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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  • 4 weeks later...

Following on from my 3/3 bad Pelikan nibs my fourth has arrived, before I offer my critique of the nib I shall simply post photos and leave it there for feedback as there seems to be some scepticism of my experience.


I certainly do not want to drag the Pelikan brand to the gutter, on the contrary I like the company, the history and the pens. The pens, sans the gold nibs are excellent quality and highly consistent.


To answer the question of why I didn't return them, from an earlier post -


"I've been asked why I didn't return them in another thread, there are a few reasons, the logistics of distance and time, I'm in New Zealand and the outlets are UK and Germany.

I also happen to have fallen recently for the Pelikan aesthetic following my venture into vintage Pelikan and wanted to experience the contemporary pens, I didn't want the issue to continue (together with my frustration) with the potential months of waiting and wanted to get to using them asap. Also my intention was to grind them to CI, it was the condition of these nibs given the price point that surprised me."

These are photos of an M1005 Stresemann which arrived on the weekend.







Note the dip down from the breather hole.



Note the left hand tine tipping and inner edge of the slit.




Note the 'wings' on the photo below.


Edited by jaytaylor
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~ Reading through this thread was an education, as I'd been unaware of contemporary Pelikan nib issues.

Nearly all of my fountain pen nibs have been made in Germany, by other manufacturers.

There are presently but half a dozen Pelikan nibs on my writing desk, all of which write very well at all times.

One of those nibs is an EF, which wrote well out of the box, without any tinkering required.

An IB, and two Bs arrived from Tübingen, Germany with Fritz Schimpf Italic Grinds.

All three are outstanding writers which never skip, start immediately, and aren't at all wet writers.

A 1960s M was the first Pelikan. Its reliability and character highly impressed me from the first inking.

The sixth and final current Pelikan is a 1950s OF. I've been charmed by that nib from the day it arrived.

The feedback is superb, the ink flow is ideal, the responsiveness to nearly imperceptible pressure shifts is exemplary.


It's cautionary to read of the issues others have experienced with contemporary Pelikan nibs.

My writing desk veers towards rather needle-like nibs, including an assortment of EEFs and especially narrow EFs, as well as a number of fairly broad nibs.

I remain fully satisfied with the nibs regularly used in sketching and writing which have been crafted by other German fountain pen manufacturers.

However, in part due to the supportive members posting the the FPN Pelikan Forum, I've gradually been expanding towards Pelikan, with positive results.

What I've read in the many posts here reinforces the need to be cautious when adding to the small flock on my writing desk.

I hope that most Pelikan writers will eventually be as satisfied with their pens as I've been.

Tom K.

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Bo Bo will tell you that the old nibs were the best and I agree, the vintage nibs from both Pelikan and MB are excellent. He will also tell you they got blobby and stiff because of ballpen users. Could be so. And if that is true, may I propose that the modern nibs are fat and wet and too smooth in response to users who think everything should feel like their rollerballs?


If you want an exceptional EF buy Japanese. I even have a couple Platinum UEF nibs that are a marvel. No, they aren't as smooth as a rollerball ;) But not even my 1970's and 1980's EFs will come close to the fine line they will put down.


And I've said it before on the forums, my personal experience with late model Pelikans has been very satisfactory (including 26 M80x size and 25 M60x size pens). Not a "meh" in the bunch so I'll continue buying both Pelikan and Montblanc pens in the future. When I've wanted a nib to be very specific I've sent it out for custom work.


For everything else there's Sharpies and rollerballs...

Edited by BillH

"Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." -Pablo Picasso

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I now have 3/3 modern Pelikan pens with crisp cursive italic grinds and finally could not be happier with my pens. Stock nibs were underwhelming or problematic in my case (small sample size), customized nibs are perfect--as is the case with most pens. In general I'm convinced that custom grinds by professional nibmeisters are best for most modern nibs in 80% of the cases, except possibly for Sailor gold nibs and some others (I read good things about Aurora nibs, for instance). After many of us graduate from blobby ballpoint-pen-like, wide round tipping to something more nuanced, it's not easy to find modern fountain pens that are made to provide thin and crisp lines or natural line variation beyond the typical very broad ones, like 1mm+ stubs. And some factory nibs do have issues with overpolishing or other defects (for many brands, not just Pelikan).


A good custom grind is worth its price in gold [nibs] :D It can make even a "lowly" budget steel-nibbed pen become a fantastic writer. My advice is to budget for custom nib work and get pens that you like to use in terms of size/weight/appearance/feel.

Edited by Intensity

“I admit it, I'm surprised that fountain pens are a hobby. ... it's a bit like stumbling into a fork convention - when you've used a fork all your life.” 

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If one started out in Japanese nibs...all western pens will be 'fat' to size marked. They are designed for a tiny printed Japanese script.

A Pelikan 200's EF is a cursive nib and well with in the semi-vintage and vintage sizing. Yes it writes EF .... not Japanese EF which is an XXF for western size.

My Pelikan 200 EF.

I like them in M....have a 215 and the Amethyst. Have a W.Germany OM also.

I had found I had less M's than needed. :)


I do like the 200's and semi-vintage '82-97 nice springy regular flex nibs............the old gold nibs are not as fancy or pretty much less two toned.........they just write with a clean line and a comfortable ride.


As to semi-flex.....for the last 9 1/2 years I've been :drool: :notworthy1: :thumbup: :puddle: 19,000 times....semi-flex is a flare nib that gives you that old fashioned fountain pen script with out you doing anything extra at all.


There is nothing mystical about them................it does help not to be Jack Hammer Fisted.

Ham Fisted can work..................was Ham Fisted my self when I got my first semi-flex a 140 OB.

Took me some three months to lighten my Hand...............so I could Demand line variation, with out maxing the nib all the time.


They are Not Flex Pens. :angry:

Semi=almost and almost is block and a half from a superflex.........rant a lot about that too, lately, after I found out so many abuse the nib and force it to 4&5 X when it's a 3X nib.

No wonder they write slow, doing calligraphy with a flair nib. I often wondered why folks said they wrote so slow with semi-flex.........when I didn't.

:crybaby: Then I found out why......they were nib abusers!!! :headsmack: :gaah: :wallbash: Using the wrong nib for Calligraphy lettering, instead of regular writing.

Edited by Bo Bo Olson

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,


The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.



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Note the dip down from the breather hole.

Note the left hand tine tipping and inner edge of the slit.


Note the 'wings' on the photo below.


Slit not cut to the center... This is actually very common these days. I have a Montblanc $1800 pen with off center cut. And many special editions, such as Miles Davis. Pelikan is actually better than Montblanc.

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Slit not cut to the center... This is actually very common these days. I have a Montblanc $1800 pen with off center cut. And many special editions, such as Miles Davis. Pelikan is actually better than Montblanc.



I noticed the slit, this one isn't as bad as a couple of my M805 nibs. It appears the stamping and breather hole have been applied to the nib blank askew and the slit is a compromise between the breather hole and centring through the tipping.


I'm looking for feedback on the M1005 nib, would you fellow FPN members accept this nib or am I being too fussy?

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Have you written with it? ^^^

No as I intend on returning it, even if it were the greatest nib in the world (or just a tribute).


I simply expect the quality of the nib, fit and finish to match the rest of the pen and fall into my expectation given the price point.

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I'm looking for feedback on the M1005 nib, would you fellow FPN members accept this nib or am I being too fussy?

As much as I'm a critic of Pelikan's gold nibs, I'd accept that nib if it writes the way I think it's supposed to. I'm not a technical expert on nibs who placed an order with detailed specifications that a product can be tested against, to verify whether my order was properly fulfilled. When I buy a Pelikan pen and/or nib, I'm just a consumer in the market buying a writing instrument. If the pen delivers the writing outcome I can reasonably expect, then it doesn't matter whether the nib tines and/or tipping are not exactly symmetrical. It's just that in both instances (once with an Aurora gold nib, and once with a Leonard steel nib) where there was a significant asymmetry between the tines, those nibs failed to perform and were not fit for purpose (of writing with ink).

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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I'm looking for feedback on the M1005 nib, would you fellow FPN members accept this nib or am I being too fussy?

No doubt, I will either return or at least get nib replaced. Since rhodium plated M1000 nib is quite common, I don't think this should be a problem.

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I find the M300, M400 and M600 nibs work well for me at the extra fine and fine end of the nib range. They are smooth and very fine. The pens seem kind of dowdy looking, and the appearance has led me to get rid of the bigger and more expensive pens. The EF nibs are fine for me, and the mechanicals are great. It's the looks that leave me preferring mid-century Parker 51 and Sheaffer Imperial.

"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.



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  • 3 weeks later...

First I'll start with the good news, my replacement M1005 nib has arrived. I opted for the EF following feedback from forum members, if I didn't like the size I figured it would be an easy swap.


Now for the bad news and sadly my fifth bad Pelikan nib in a row and second for the M1005 Stresemann.


I dip tested the nib with a good saturation in one of my favourite inks, Mont Blanc British Racing Green then proceeded to draw 5 strokes, up, down, left, right then the diagonal stokes, NE, SE, SW, NE.


Up was very scratchy, almost chewing the paper (Rhodia Pad). The NE stoke is where the nib took a mouthful of paper fibres. It was akin to writing with a scalpel tip.


By this point I really could not believe I have another bad nib and hoped for a simple alignment fix...alas my luck was out.


This nib has been smashed into a buffer wheel, at an angle to the top of the nib and the same angle of attack to the bottom of the nib resulting in a heavily over polished and rounded left tine at the top of the nib and the same at the bottom of the nib.


I'll try to convey the issue as below -


Views of the bottom of the nib, facing the writing surface.






Views of the top of the nib.







Face on to the tip.




Highlighting the over polished left tine whilst the right tine appears crisp and sharp at the slit with more tipping material remaining. The left tine is rounded like a pebble.





Note the stamping is also off centre, a common issue to all the nibs listed earlier in this thread.




View of the writing surface.




The next two photos are of the original Broad nib which exhibits the same issue with the left most tine only being heavily over polished.





To summarise, this is the state of the tip.




This is a typical cross section of both the EF and B nib.




This is the condition of the tines viewed from the top and bottom of the nib.






Am I experiencing incredible statistical phenomena or is this a pattern of sloppy workmanship, poor quality control and increasing customer frustration?


Remember this is the fifth nib in a row, from three different offical Pelikan dealers in the space of three months.


2x M805 nibs

1x M815 nib

2x M1005 nibs.


"My disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined" Review brah.


Edited to add - Pelikan 140......



Edited by jaytaylor
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Yikes, that nib looks terrible. My condolences. I only own one Pelikan, and it was a gift already used, etc. Steel nib, good shape. So I can't answer about larger statistics.

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Jaytailor, I also have experencied similar issues on recent Pelikan nibs. Misaligned tines (which can be easily adjusted) but also, as you report, asymmetric polishing of the tip. Either their nibs are not individually tested, as Pelikan seems to claim, or their testing procedure leaves much to be desired. Or a combination of the two.

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I am sorry about your unlucky nib streak. Can't help but be intrigued with that beautiful brown ink color. Would you mind sharing which ink you've used for those writing samples, jaytaylor?

“I admit it, I'm surprised that fountain pens are a hobby. ... it's a bit like stumbling into a fork convention - when you've used a fork all your life.” 

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