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Pen Pit Stop : Pelikan M101N Tortoiseshell Red


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Pen Pit Stop : Pelikan Souverän M101N Tortoiseshell Red

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 arrives at the pit stop today is the "Pelikan M101N Tortoiseshell Red". 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 both semi-entry-level pens (like the 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 particular pen in February 2018. The Red Tortoise has a playful vintage feel to it. It's usually paired with a nice red ink.




Pen Look & Feel

The M101N series are Special Edition pens that Pelikan produces for a limited time only. The design of these pens is derived from pens dating back to the 1930's. This particular Red Tortoise design is a daring one, playful & dashing - it transports me back in time to the charleston and the roaring twenties. The Tortoishell Red SE was released in September 2014 as the third of the M101N series (after the Tortoiseshell Brown and the Lizard) - I was lucky enough to still lay my hands on one in February 2018.

My M101N Tortoiseshell Red is strikingly beautiful, with a stunning design of twisted red/brown/cream stripes on the cellulose-acetate barrel. Not your typical business-style Pelikan binde, but a much more playful vintage interpretation. All this is artfully complemented by a dark burgundy-red cap, piston-knob and grip section. A matching amber ink window is built into the design, making it easy to view the ink level in the pen. Gold trimmings and a monotone 14C-585 gold nib form the finishing touches to the design.

I totally love the playful vintage look of this pen, and the joie-de-vivre that it radiates. It's such a joy to hold it and write with it. I understand that the design is not for everyone, but for me this my holy grail, and the most beautiful pen that I own.

Like all Pelikans, the cap unscrews with about three quarters rotation, so it's quickly ready for action. The M101N is a smaller pen, but can be posted, 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, this M101N is just the right size and weight (i.e. featherweight).




The pictures above illustrate the size of the M101N Red Tortoise in comparison with a standard Lamy Safari. The pen is definitely smaller than a Lamy, but still reasonable in size - not so small that it's uncomfortable (and if you find it too small uncapped, you can simply post it).

Pen Characteristics

  • Build Quality : build quality is excellent. According to the Pelikan description, the dark red parts are made of high quality resin "that polishes itself time and again during use". Myself, I use a piece of cloth from time to time to polish the pen and remove fingerprints ;-) The pen withstood the passing of time without any problem. After almost two years of use, it looks good as new. I really appreciate the amber ink window incorporated in the design, that makes it easy to judge the ink level.
  • 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 M101N model will not be your thing. Posted - the pen becomes about 155 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 known for their excellent piston mechanism.
  • Nib & Performance : the M101N Souverän pens have gold nibs. This one comes with a monotone 14C-585 gold nib, that really suits the aesthetics of the pen. The nib unit can be exchanged quite easily, and is compatible between the M120/M200/M400/M101N models. Being able to change nibs is a significant plus in my book!
  • Price : I got this pen for 489 EUR, including taxes. These are definitely more expensive than the regular M400 pens. For this, you get a limited production pen, with a vintage-inspired design.



My Pelikan Souverän M101N Tortoiseshell Red is a joyful vintage-looking pen with a daring and playful striped barrel design, that really makes this pen stand out from the crowd. My most beautiful pen, my holy grail, and always filled with a nice red ink.

So the answer to the question "would I buy this pen again?" is easy: are you kiddin' me ?!? Of course I would !!!

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Thanks for posting this, I appreciate your user reviews and great photography.

"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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The Good Captain

A great pen. I got my second one fairly recently and love the way thy behave.

The Good Captain

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

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Thank you for such a great review!

"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours. When it is gone, it is gone. Be wise, but enjoy! - anonymous today




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This pen looks quite nice, I am actually considering a tortoise shell design from Pelikan for my next pen acquisition.

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    • A Smug Dill
      Even so, you'd end up with a fragmented list, and it becomes an O(N²) process for each prospective requestor to check what is available: effectively recreate the list of currently active servers (without any reliable up-to-date info upfront about the inks and number of samples on offer in the thread) from the sequential list of posts, which may be spread over two or even more pages, and then query each server independently to check what is currently on offer.   It comes down to not hav
    • LizEF
      If one wanted to do this, one could just use the "About Me" field which appears to be unlimited in size.  And if a bunch of people wanted to cooperate, the Member Title field (or signature) could be used to this end - "Ink Giver" (or some such) could be used by those with inks to give...  No software edits required.
    • Arkanabar
      I suppose the update issue could be mitigated.  One would post a link in signature, to the particular part of your profile where you list the inks that you're willing to post samples to others, gratis.  But looking at profiles, I suspect that would require an edit to the board's software, potentially a nontrivial task.
    • A Smug Dill
      I read your idea as getting willing givers to publicly register as members of a set of heterogenous servers, in a system in which a client would explicitly select an available server from a list, to which he/she will then send a request privately and asynchronously. Request handling in the system is unmanaged, and individual requests are handled by the targeted servers completely independently on each other. I think the model is fine, although there are some operational concerns you may want to
    • Daneaxe
      First thought on the method/system of ink sharing: Think the best way, to begin with, is to follow the way of the US thread: offer up a (small) list of inks you are willing to PIF, to whoever expresses interest. Write clearly in the "mission statement" how it works, with a tiny "quid pro quo" that even a struggling student can comply with, i.e. post your opinion and a writing sample, with option of a full review if desired.   So yours truly might say: "I'm offering up samples of D
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