For a long while now, I’ve been reading reviews, and watching so many videos, of some truly beautiful Pelikan pens. In particular, I’ve been sorely tempted by the M600 Vibrant Orange, and a while back, by the Classic M200 Brown Marbled. I’ve written with a few very nice, and very expensive, Pelikan pens over the years, and this limited experience has always left me feeling that they were a little like Montblancs—wayyyyyy too expensive for a plastic pen, and without even the snowflake cachet of the Montblanc brand. When I looked in detail at the two pens I really liked, my thoughts on the pricing were confirmed. The M600 Vibrant Orange was about $575 (CAD; $440 US), excluding shipping or customs charges, while the Classic M200 Brown Marbled, was—including shipping—about $186 (CAD; about $142 US), but excluding customs charges; and for that, you don’t even get a 14K gold nib.
If I was going to get one of these, then it would obviously be a Pelikan starter, rather than jumping in with almost six-hundred bucks. But I like gold fountain pen nibs; I find them softer, smoother and overall, my subjective judgement concludes, that they provide a nicer writing experience. Maybe that’s just my way of rationalizing a lot of money for a plastic pen, but there you have it. I wanted a gold nib. I know that Pelikan M200/M205 steel nibs, and M400/M405 14K gold nib units are interchangeable, and supposedly very easy to swap. So I began looking for gold Pelikan nib units as well.
These, it turns out, are more expensive than the entire M200/205 fountain pen. An M405 14K gold nib unit ranges from about $267 (CAD; $204 US) to the full manufacturer’s retail price of $334 (CAD; $255 US), excluding customs charges and delivery—which are likely to add another $60–$80 CAD. This, ultimately results in a $500 CAD fountain pen.
I did find a cheaper nib option on Amazon ($190 CAD), but this still meant that a Pelikan M200 (about the cheapest Pelikan fountain pen you can get), with a gold nib would cost about $430 CAD including shipping and maybe customs charges. Comparing the price of the Pelikan with, say the Platinum 3776 Century, or the Sailor 1911S—both similarly sized pens, with high quality 14K gold nibs—does not make a gold-nibbed Pelikan Classic M200 look like very good value for money.
But neither of those pens, despite how good they might be, look anywhere near as good as the Pelikan Classic M200 in the Brown Marbled finish. Beyond looks, I also wanted to really experience what the Pelikan-fuss is all about. So, the fairy penmother just put it all together for me, and made it happen.
Yes, really, that’s why all seven of the cats are on cheap food and litter rations this month. Sorry Alfie.
But that’s a nice looking pen though isn’t it? Pelikan send their M200s out in a fairly plain cardboard box, with a nice little leatherette pouch, tied up with a ribbon that matches the color scheme of the pen. But don’t look at the pouch, look at that marbling on the barrel. It looks even better in your hand.
The pen is not very large or heavy, as was evidenced the afternoon that Alfie started playing with the brown ribbon on the pouch, and ran off with the whole thing—pen and pouch—dangling between his front legs. In typically stubborn feline form, he completely refused to repeat the stunt for a photo. Probably because he doesn’t like the cheap cat food.
The cap bears the familiar Pelikan’s bill clip, which I’ve heard others proclaim nice things about, but doesn’t really do much for me. It’s a nice substantial clip though, and certainly does its job in firm, secure fashion.
PELIKAN GERMANY is etched around the clip band, which leads us smoothly on to the swirly patterns of the barrel, from whence the Brown Marbled model gets its name. It’s the second week in a row I’ve prattled on about a beautiful swirly barrel pattern, I must be going through a bit of a swirly brown phase. But phase or not, the patterning is exceptional, and the build quality of the pen, despite its diminutive size and weight, makes it feel comfortable, and well-balanced, even in my large hand.
The nib above was the original steel fine supplied with the Classic M200. It’s a plain nib, gold in color if not in metal, with Pelikan branding and the letter F for fine. Out of the box it wasn’t great, which made me feel even happier about picking up the M405 nib unit. The steel nib needed quite a bit of brassing and rubbing down before it was anywhere near smooth enough to write with. It was never quite as bad as my Lamy experiences, but it was bad enough that I would never have used the pen without correcting it in some way… which brings me back to my constant whine about expensive pens that just aren’t fit for purpose. Anyway, after some work, the steel nib wrote nicely, and it is a great nib, now.
But the M405, 14K gold fine? This arrived a day or so after the pen itself, and straight out of its little plastic box, it was nothing short of breathtaking. I really couldn’t be happier with it.
The two-tone finish and scroll-work combine beautifully, and compliment the golden Pelikan logo in the center. Below that is the European 14C, 585 and F for the nib classification. The original steel nib unscrewed easily from the section, and the M405 nib unit threaded just as easily into its place. I didn’t even drain the ink first, and not a drop of the Montblanc Toffee Brown was spilled.
What Does It Write Like?
When I fitted the gold nib, much of the Pelikan’s ink reservoir was still full. This pen uses Pelikan’s rather excellent piston mechanism, and contains about 1.2ml of ink, which lasts for quite a few pages of solid text. The pen’s generous ink capacity is yet more good news, because once I started writing with that nib, I didn’t really want to stop. This is another glorious writer. The pen is beautifully weighted, solidly constructed, and it’s a comfortable length and diameter for my hand, despite it being one of Pelikan’s smallest models—if not the actual smallest, I’m not certain. The gold nib was everything I like from a pen, the moment I fitted it—incredibly smooth; wet (although this Montblanc Toffee Brown is itself a very wet ink); soft but not too soft for my touch; and lightweight without feeling flimsy.
Well, now I know what-the-Pelikan-fuss is all about. If this is their bottom-of-the-range model (and maybe the original nib gives that away), it’s still a lovely pen; and the 14K gold nib unit from the M405 makes it a real joy to use, and just to watch as it glides across the page. If you’re an avid fountain pen user, with a pocket that can support a Pelikan purchase but have never purchased before, then pick up a Pelikan for your perch as soon as you possibly can. If you’ve already got one or two of these adorning your desk, then I’ve certainly joined the club.
Now, I wonder how long I can keep the cats on the cheap food and the litter rations for? That Vibrant Orange M600 looks amazing.