I’ve only started collecting fountain pens in the first week of May of this year. Being a new collector of modest means, I am quite unwilling to drop a lot of money on big brands like Pelikan and Montblanc. However, I always ask pen nerd friends of mine why such writing instruments have a huge price difference from other pens. I guess the best way to answer that question is to try one yourself. If you’re thinking of making the jump to buying more expensive brands, I believe you should write with them first (ask a friend to lend you one or go to Scribe and ask the sales ladies to let you try one of their Pelikans) and then decide for yourself.
When I saw an entry-level Pelikan being sold at a bargain price, I snapped the opportunity to own one, with the thought that it could be my first or last Pelikan, depending on my experience with this.
So yesterday, it came in the mail. I polished it up a little and boy, it cleans up nicely. I love vintage things, anything with a little age to them and shows great craftsmanship. The pen sits well within my price point, intersects with my interest on vintage items and is going to be my first Pelikan ever. I think it’s really cool that somebody took great care of this pen so that it can be enjoyed for many years more.
I did a little research on the pen and when it’s made, and since the pen doesn’t have a date code on it, I had to depend on some clues on the design (with help from the previous owner and some pen nerd buddies). I believe it’s made before the fall of Berlin Wall, between 1985-1989.
The band around the cap still says W. Germany instead of just Germany. the end of the plunger has no gold ring. The logo is gold with a black background and shows the mother pelican with her two chicks (number of chicks give a clue on when Pelikan pens are manufactured).
All design clues point to that time frame, give or take a year. I think it’s pretty cool that pen manufacture dates can be traced this way. It also reminds me that pens can be very environment friendly. Instead of using plastic ballpoint pens that you just throw away, you can keep on using one fountain pen and refill it for years and years to come without harming the environment.
Anyway, I digress.
The size of the pen is quite small compared with the Souveran series, but you can see the classic design that is definitely the signature of Pelikan.
This pen’s size is very comfortable to my hands, whether posted or unposted. It’s very light, with the body made of resin and few gold-plated trims.
I used this pen virtually the entire day yesterday for taking down notes, writing letters and journal entries, and it’s honestly my most comfortable pen so far.
Aesthetically, I think it’s really elegant. Black on gold, streamlined design, smaller size, iconic Peli clip…it’s all understated elegance, and I love it. It doesn’t scream “expensive pen alert!” at all, but writing with it is an entirely different story.
Being a piston filler, the ink capacity is also pretty cool. The pen has an almost opaque ink window near the section. You’ll definitely see when the ink is almost gone.
The nib is surprisingly simple, but that’s not to say that it’s not beautiful. It’s a very matter-of-fact kind of nib, without any of the swirls, filigrees, scrolls that other ornately designed nibs have. It’s in keeping with the simplicity of the pen’s overall design.
The former owner of this pen had the nib tuned by J.P. Pentangeli to make it a smooth writer. The tip of this pen is not very bulbous, unlike modern fountain pens with a generous iridium tipping on them. This one, even if a “boring” medium nib, offers some decent line variation. For people like me who write in uniform letters and not in cursive, this is quite a pleasant nib to write with. As the previous owner puts it, it produces lines that have more character. I have to agree with him on that.
The nib is springy but not flexible. It’s not the same experience as the bigger Souveran nibs, but it’s definitely a great pen in its own right. The pen is smooth but writes with a touch of feedback. The kind that really adds to the pleasant writing experience. Scratchy but smooth, not toothy at all. It makes that very satisfying, faint scratch-scratch sound while you write and that adds a certain charm to the writing experience.
Watch the writing sample video below:
The more modern iterations of the Pelikan Tradition M200 is still available these days and still more expensive than many modern mid-range fountain pens. This is definitely one of my best purchases, and I’m afraid i’ll wear it out with use because it’s just so pleasant to write with.
Will I be buying more Pelikans soon? Most definitely, especially vintage ones. This first Pelikan of mine exceeded my expectations in leaps and bounds. As a new collector, it’s deals like this that make collecting so much fun.