Picking Up a Pelikan Souverän M600

A little while ago, I was lucky enough to add a Pelikan M200, with a fine M400 14K gold nib, to my pen case… and it has seen pretty much constant use ever since. At the time, I said it was a narrow decision between that, and the larger, but considerably more expensive M600. Also, I was interested in the M600 in Vibrant Orange; but after seeing it in the resin so to speak, I talked myself out of it on the grounds that I wasn’t that keen on the translucent barrel. Instead, I decided on the Souverän (there’s an umlaut over the a, so it’s pronounced Soo-ver-rayn) M600, in black and red stripes. My high-school German, and Pelikan’s marketing materials, tell me that Souverän is German for Sovereign. So I started some research on the best places for a Canadian buyer to pick up a Pelikan Sooverrayn.

Spoiler Alert: It didn’t turn out to be anywhere near Canada or the U.S.

The Great North American Pen Robbery

I’ve heard a number of people tell me that North America gets a poor deal on Pelikan pen prices, but I had no idea just how right they were. A Pelikan Souverän M600, in any of the striped barrel patterns (red, green, or blue), or even the solid black, can be picked up for as little as $310 CAD from Cult Pens in the UK, who don’t charge for international deliveries on orders over about $161 CAD (£100 GBP); and at the date of this post, they’ll throw in a free, Pelikan, leather, single pen case, worth another $60 CAD or thereabouts (UPDATE, 2019-08-04: Cult Pens no longer offer this as a free gift, but the pen itself is on sale with a 10% discount on the prices quoted in this post). That’s a saving of about $140–$180 USD for anybody purchasing in the United States, or a saving of $455–$540 CAD for anybody that might be purchasing that pen from a Canadian retailer. Take a look at the table below, which compares the prices I was looking at…

Think about that for a second… you can buy that same pen for between $400 to $444 USD in America ($530 to $580 CAD); a truly eye-watering $765 to $850 CAD up here in The True North strong and free; or you can pay about £192 GBP ($235 US; $309 CAD) in the United Kingdom—without any delivery charges, and the special offer of the day. But I would hurry before the UK commits economic idiocide, when they leave (or get thrown out of) the European Union.

Please don’t misunderstand, I don’t think for a minute that shops like Pen Chalet, Nibs.com, or Wonder Pens are profiteering over these pens. And as for Laywine’s, they have a store in the pricey designer belt of Toronto retailing, so I’m sure they have to meet some steep overheads, and I have good reason to believe that margins in this business are usually tight and competition is sharp. But honestly, a difference of up to $540 CAD between the UK and Canada, on a mid-range fountain pen? And Cult Pens can still afford to give me free delivery to Ontario, plus other freebies or discounts? Or a difference between the United States and Canada of $200–$300 on the same pen? I really would like to hear an explanation that fully accounts for each of those hard-earned, five-hundred and forty bucks from someone (and I suspect that would probably be Pelikan themselves).

UPDATE, 2019-08-06: The inestimable Laura of Fountain Pen Follies  fame, and from whom I always  learn something worthwhile (in fact, I should have spoken to her before posting really), had the following to say in the comments below, but I thought it was important enough to warrant a correction:

… in the US MSRP prices are set by the US distributor, Chartpak, which allows retailers to offer a maximum 20% discount off MSRP. That’s why prices here are so high. Buying from a US dealer does give you warranty service, and the satisfaction of supporting your favorite dealer. But the unfortunate price increase means most US collectors I know buy at least some of their new Pelikans abroad, as you did. Where there’s a distributor, you have to build in another layer of cost/profit, and that’s not anyone’s fault, but just the reality. Who knows whether any of this will be sustainable, economically, in the future.

Indeed, who knows what the future’s going to bring? And that model would—I surmise—explain the even higher prices in Canada, where the market would be significantly smaller than that of the US, and overheads possibly greater. As a result, costs and prices rise, and distributors would likely be looking for higher margins to make the whole arrangement worthwhile from a business perspective.

I do like to support Canadian businesses, as I’ve said before, but not at a premium of five-hundred-and-fifty bucks per pen!

Anyway, the Pen Came

Delivery was a dream, no hold-ups, and the pen arrived a day earlier than estimated. That always makes me very happy—I am about as patient as a pride of lions at feeding time; and I have been there on that one, trust me.

The pen came in a leatherette (fake leather) pouch; wrapped up in an elastic band with a fake seal (plastic) in the center; inside a cardboard box with fake wood-grain patterning, and a lift-off  silver cardboard lid; all of which were inside another cardboard box. OK Pelikan or whoever, if you’d like to offer better value for money in North America, start by revising the packaging. In turn, this would cut the weight down on shipping for every unit sent over here, and help the environment too—just a thought. How many of us just throw these boxes in the recycling, or the garbage, anyway? I know I do.

Out of the box(es), the pen was just as stunning as I remembered.

Pelikan make beautiful, classically stylish fountain pens—I’m sure their other pens are just as nice, but I’ve never even looked at those, so I wouldn’t know. The lower cap band is inscribed PELIKAN SOUVERÄN GERMANY, and the clip is Pelikan’s usual, graceful bill-shaped affair, attached to the gold cap badge and logo.

Cute mama bird and chick logo? Chick, sorry, check. Sorry again, that was a bit flippant. One of the things that really appeals to me about Pelikan pens is their attention to detail, and the stylish, tasteful, design aesthetic present in all their models; the Souverän range is the epitome of that ethos.

The barrel is a lovely, deep red, which swells to a 12mm diameter in the middle, and tapers down toward the double gold bands at the finial. The M600 uses Pelikan’s beautifully smooth, differentiated piston mechanism (read about it here—I know that’s a bit of a cop-out, but frankly, I’d probably only end up plagiarizing the Pelikan web site anyway).

Having mentioned attention to detail, just take in the work on Pelikan’s nibs.

The nib is two-tone (14K gold/rhodium), with an extra-fine tip. Given a nice, free-flowing, wet ink, this could almost be the equivalent of a Japanese (e.g., Pilot or Sailor) medium. The scroll work is, as ever, a delicate, and appropriately flowing pattern, above the golden inset of the Pelikan logo, and the 14K gold, extra-fine, nib classification.

Even the free pen case was pretty cool…

The case was a soft, black leather, with a fold-over flap, which tucked into a loop bearing an embossed Pelikan logo. A single pen (and only a single pen), fits safe and snug in the padded interior. For a free gift, this was excellent value—though I don’t think I’d ever pay the normal retail price for it… and rather sadly, I don’t really think I’m ever likely to actually use it.

What Does It Write Like?

The Souverän M600 is a great size for me—although, surprisingly, I have no problems with the M200/M400 either. It’s almost exactly the same dimensions in-hand as the Montblanc Meisterstück 146, and in the same ball-park as the Sailor 1911L.

I inked the M600 from a bottle of Diamine/Cult Pens Deep Dark Red, and put nib to paper…

The Deep Dark Red turned out to be a rather dry  ink, and while it wrote with no skips or any problems, and was beautifully smooth, it wasn’t generous.

I wasn’t keen on the new ink, so I flushed the pen and gave an older favorite a try, Diamine 150th Anniversary Blood Orange…

This hardly looked like it had been written with the same nib! The line flowed smoother and faster, and was much more to my liking. But still, I wasn’t quite satisfied; enter Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses…

Now I was satisfied. I love the color of this ink, the shading, the way it flows… this and Sailor Jentle Grenade are my favorite dark reds, and I shall probably alternate them in this pen.

Summary

Regular contributor Debi Humphrey  suggested that I might be on my way to a flock of Pelikans, when I wrote about that M200; well, with product like this, nobody who uses quality fountain pens needs any encouragement to add a Pelikan to their wishlist. The quality is second to none, their gold nibs are a joy to use, and even just to watch slide across the page, and their timeless, classic styling is extremely attractive. This probably won’t be the last Pelikan that wings its way to me, but it so easily could be. The Souverän M600 is everything I want in a fountain pen—aesthetics, craftsmanship, quality, and performance—and I have others that equally fit those criteria. Future pens are going to have to reach an extremely high bar—or should that be perch?—to enter into this particular flock.

Also, Pelikan really  needs to do something about it’s North American pricing.

 

22 thoughts on “Picking Up a Pelikan Souverän M600

    1. Most circa 1986/1987:

      Baby Khali and Me…

      Adult Khali…

      Bullitt (one of the young males)…

      Lordy (one of the Old Boys, battle-scarred and proud of it)…

      A more recent friend who cheats at soccer (he bites your ankles and shoulder charges you if you go near the ball)…

      The 3:30 Lion Feed on the Lion Reserve; I think it was me in the back, doing the feeding, but can’t really be sure from this picture. It was also, a loooooong time ago…

      Like

      1. Sheba: letting me know, subtly, that I should point the camera someplace else. You could feel her irritation rumbling up through the floor, through your boots and along your spine. Wise people put their cameras away and got back into their cars.

        Like

  1. A superb pen, congratulations. We are spoilt here having the likes of Cult Pens just a mouse click away. I think the red stripe looks great and is probably the least common after the green and the blue stripe versions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoy! The M600 size is my favorite.

    Here in the US MSRP prices are set by the US distributor, Chartpak, which allows retailers to offer a maximum 20% discount off MSRP. That’s why prices here are so high. Buying from a US dealer does give you warranty service, and the satisfaction of supporting your favorite dealer. But the unfortunate price increase means most US collectors I know buy at least some of their new Pelikans abroad, as you did. Where there’s a distributor, you have to build in another layer of cost/profit, and that’s not anyone’s fault, but just the reality. Who knows whether any of this will be sustainable, economically, in the future.

    Hey, I like your rainbow nib logo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!

      That was an education—I guessed at something like that, regarding dealers/distributors. Nice to have it confirmed. I do like to support our local dealers, but I’m afraid, not to the tune of five hundred bucks per pen 🤪😖

      Thanks for the info Laura!

      (Knew I should have asked you before posting 😀)

      Like

  3. Pingback: This week in faking the writing part – Writing

  4. The lion reference distracted me, too. I can hear my husband now, lamenting, “not another show about lions!” So I record them and watch them later. Love the big cat pics! Their faces really are expressive, aren’t they?

    I share your love of the beautiful Red M600. Pelikan produces so many soberly-colored pens, it’s refreshing to see that bright flash of red in my pen case. I actually have the Red M400, as I like the smaller size. But I do have three M600s – Pink, White, and Turquoise (I said I liked bright colors, right?). They’re only a tiny bit larger and so are still a good fit for my small hands (I swear, the winter gloves that fit me best are intended for a 12-year-old).

    Sometimes I read blogs where people say that Pelikans aren’t worth their high prices. Well, maybe they aren’t worth the price for them. Perhaps they have understandable budget constraints. However, even when I was not as financially “secure” (what does that really mean, anyway?) as I am now, I made the special effort to afford my first Pelikan, a Green Marble M200 (about 1999 – 2000). Even though I had never written with a Pelikan, something told me that this was going to be a very special pen. I bought it with the standard steel EF nib, and it wrote quite nicely. However, more recently, as I came to appreciate the difference between Pelikan’s steel and gold nibs, I did buy a 14K M400 B nib for that pen, and had it reground to a stub by Classic Fountain Pens. Only then did that pen seem to settle in and write the way it was intended to. By the time I got the gold nib for my first Pelikan, my flock was increasing steadily, so it was long overdue.

    As I was reading along in your review, I suddenly noticed my name, handwritten in dark red ink! I had to look at it three times to be sure. And then, there it was again, in the typed text. Well, I’m not accustomed to being referenced and quoted in articles meant for public consumption, so I must say that now I feel quite famous. Or is it infamous? Whichever, I appreciate your doing that. And you spelled it correctly, too! I must say it gave me a little ego boost to be mentioned. Thank you for that bit of fun in my day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Y’know, I have to admit to being one of the “Pelikan’s are too expensive for what you get” club for quite some time. Then I got the brown marble M200–and knew in advance that I would prefer a gold nib–and went the extra mile for an M400 fine, and I was blown away. I loved it, even though the size was a little small for me, it really wasn’t a problem. And now I seem to be eyeing up the soon-to-be-released brown M800. Yes, as you predicted, the flock seems to be coming home to roost.

      As for being infamous, I like to think of the regular commenters on a certain group of blogs, as a kind of bunch of informal friends. The sort of people that you look forward to chatting to down the pub, or a cozy coffee lounge somewhere after a Sunday morning walk. But maybe I’m just getting old and soft 🙂

      Like

      1. Hey – my husband and I have often talked about going there. I’ll let you know if we actually make it happen someday! We’d love to check out your lake house. We used to live at a lake house, too, although it wasn’t anywhere as nice as yours. Even so, we did get lots of visitors while we lived there. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: How Many Versions of the Same Pen Does Anybody Need? – Writing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s