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Thread: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

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    Default Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    So, as a still-somewhat-new fountain pen lover, I've been taking-in a lot of information, and developing a sense of what I like. Initially, my preferences have steered me toward Pilot pens and, particularly, really fine nibs. I have Custom 74 pens in F and EF, and love them both. I would like, however, to begin branching-out into other territories, and I think the next pen for me is going to be a Pelikan.

    I'm having a bit of trouble, however, in deciphering the various Pelikan models. It seems to me that there is a pretty significant price gap between the M200/M205 pens, versus (what appears to me to be) the next level, the Souveran/M405. I can pick-up an M200 or M205 for around $130 to $170, while an M405 costs closer to $400.

    My experience so far tells me that it usually makes more sense to spend as much as one can reasonably afford -- to a point. I.e., more is gained by getting the one pen that is maybe slightly a reach, rather than being somewhat less than satisfied with the pen that's more budget-minded. In some cases, though, it also seems that much of the price of the pen lies in "luxury" elements that are not altogether important to me. I'm mostly interested in the writing experience, and I prefer a simple/straight-forward aesthetic.

    So, my question, I suppose, is what does the price difference between the M20x pens and the Souveran get me? I mean, besides a steel vs. gold nib, that is? Speaking of which, given that the M20x is a steel-nib pen, why does it command such a seemingly high price? Is it just because it's a Pelikan? It seems to me that similar quality steel-nibbed pens are priced in the $50 to $100 range. I mean, given that my Pilot 74 pens were $105 for a 14k gold nib, I'm wondering why I'd pay more than that for steel-nibbed pen...

    I'm hoping someone can shed light on this issue for me, particularly with respect to whether or not it's truly worth (what to me is) the high price-point for the M405.

    One of the main reasons I am thinking about a Pelikan, BTW, is that I really want a high-end piston-filler. After getting a couple TWSBI piston-fillers, I've decided I really like them over a cartridge/converter pen.

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    Apart from the nuances of Pelikan gold M4xx nibs as opposed to M2xx steel nibs, the differences are cosmetic. It depends on how fussy a collector you are, because you can use the M4xx nib in the M2xx pen, and it works the same.

    Seconhand pen prices are often lower for pens that look pristine.

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    The 200/205 and 400/405 are also the same the size -- 4.9 inches capped and 5.8 inches posted.
    Quid rides? Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur. — Horace
    (What are you laughing at? Just change the name and the joke’s on you.)

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    You should be able to find a new M400 for much less than $400 (you can generally find an M800 for $350-400).

    Steal nib pen prices can range from cheap entry level to ~$500 (and probably more if you look hard). The M200 is definitely not cheap but I wouldn't consider it super high end. Part of the premium for an M200 over cheaper pens come from it being a Pelikan, which are generally known for quality and have great pistons (among other things).

    The main differences between the M200 and M400 are the nib, color options, and finishing quality (i.e., the M400 is more polished and more metal trim). The size and piston mechanism are identical and you can even use a 14k M400 nib in an M200. In fact, you should be able to buy an M200 and an M400 nib combined for less than $200.

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens


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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    Appreciate the helpful comments -- this is all exactly the kind of information I needed. This forum is great!

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    To me, and partly because I am a vintage pen guy, the interesting Pelikan pen are their vintage ones.

    For a lot less than $400 you can get a Pelikan 400 from the 1950's which has gold nib and some of them are flexible.
    If you want a real bargain with excellent gold nibs, read up on Pelikan 140.
    - Will
    A new place to shop for restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    To me, and partly because I am a vintage pen guy, the interesting Pelikan pen are their vintage ones.

    For a lot less than $400 you can get a Pelikan 400 from the 1950's which has gold nib and some of them are flexible.
    If you want a real bargain with excellent gold nibs, read up on Pelikan 140.
    The 140 can be a great intro to Pelikan and vintage pens in general. That said, I found the 140 to be sliiiightly too small both length-wise and diameter-wise for me. I much prefer the 400 size Pelikans (this goes for modern M2xx and M4xx pens as well).

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    I figured I would let myself explore modern, currently-produced pens before I started to go down the vintage rabbit hole... :-) Since I know it's inevitable, however, I have indeed started to take a look at a few examples of the Pelikan 140, on eBay. Looks nice, and also looks like a nice example can be gotten for a little less than $100. That may well be my first vintage acquisition.

    I also like the idea of getting myself a new M20x, and then getting a 40x gold nib. Looks like such a combo can be gotten for far less than buying an M40x pen outright.

    I'm still not sure where I am going, with all of this. I really don't want to become anything like a "serious collector" of fountain pens. I like them, yes, but my interest sprung forth from a simple desire to improve my penmanship, and engage in hand-writing as something of a meditative activity, and sideline hobby. I've quickly come to realize that the world of fountain pens is far, far more expansive and complex than I'd originally thought. There is so much to know -- so many little details of arcana; so many avenues of specialization. I could see myself becoming overly consumed in it. I want to keep it all in perspective, and have a good, foundational, working knowledge -- just enough to make intelligent decisions about how best to use the resources I have to enjoy a few really nice pens. Pelikan seems loom rather large in the overall picture -- a brand with a big history and commensurate reputation. They are really good-looking pens, too, IMO -- understated elegance.

    Thanks again, to everyone, for all the great advice.

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    +1 for the idea of buying an m200 and adding a gold nib. That's a great way to go. In fact, Pelikan sort-of does that itself with the M250!

    For me it's not so much about choosing quality or price, but the fact that by and large the colours i want exist only in M20x or only in M400. The 20xs include those gorgeous demonstrators, Olivine, Cognac, Amethyst, Aquamarine. The M400s include tortoise and white tortoise. So that pretty much dictated my choice of those pens!

    You may not want to become a collector... but Pelikan has ways of making you hoard :-)

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by michaeldoleman View Post
    I figured I would let myself explore modern, currently-produced pens before I started to go down the vintage rabbit hole... :-) Since I know it's inevitable, however, I have indeed started to take a look at a few examples of the Pelikan 140, on eBay. Looks nice, and also looks like a nice example can be gotten for a little less than $100. That may well be my first vintage acquisition.

    I also like the idea of getting myself a new M20x, and then getting a 40x gold nib. Looks like such a combo can be gotten for far less than buying an M40x pen outright.

    I'm still not sure where I am going, with all of this. I really don't want to become anything like a "serious collector" of fountain pens. I like them, yes, but my interest sprung forth from a simple desire to improve my penmanship, and engage in hand-writing as something of a meditative activity, and sideline hobby. I've quickly come to realize that the world of fountain pens is far, far more expansive and complex than I'd originally thought. There is so much to know -- so many little details of arcana; so many avenues of specialization. I could see myself becoming overly consumed in it. I want to keep it all in perspective, and have a good, foundational, working knowledge -- just enough to make intelligent decisions about how best to use the resources I have to enjoy a few really nice pens. Pelikan seems loom rather large in the overall picture -- a brand with a big history and commensurate reputation. They are really good-looking pens, too, IMO -- understated elegance.

    Thanks again, to everyone, for all the great advice.
    So, here's what I would do, were I you. Since you want a pen to use for writing and you seem pretty set on a Pelikan: Go vintage. I say that in the context of getting a vintage Pelikan specifically. The overall build of the pen and quality has not changed in decades (arguably better in years past, but the construction is still solid modern vs. vintage) and the pens, old and new, are brilliant pens. By far my favorite pens at the moment.

    Why go vintage? Simple: the cost will be overall lower, the pen is nicer, and (the important bit) the value holds better. buy your vintage 400 for $200? You will very likely be able to sell it for the same price should you not find Pelikan to your liking (size, weight, balance, etc.). The second you buy and ink a brand new Pelikan, the value goes down (honestly, the value drops as soon as you buy it, but alas). If you're cool losing some return on your pen, then by all means go modern. Otherwise, vintage really will be your better option.

    Bonus: because the size and shape of the 400 line hasn't changed much over time, if you like a vintage 400, you will like a modern M400/M200.

    Oh, and if you go modern, assuming your are located outside UK/EU, order your Pelikan from Cultpens.com. £10 shipping, but with VAT excluded you get an M400 shipped for between $220-$230. Where domestic prices will be closer to $400 new.

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by amk View Post
    The 20xs include those gorgeous demonstrators, Olivine, Cognac, Amethyst, Aquamarine.
    That Olivine M205 is exactly the pen that I have targeted as my next acquisition. I have not yet used the EF Pilot Custom 74 that I purchased, so I think I am going to send it back as an exchange for the Pelikan :-)

    I'll try it with the steel nib, first, and if I think it warrants it, I will then get a gold nib for it.

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    Oh, to add: Pelikan steel nibs are beautiful nibs. I would take the modern M2xx steel nib over the gold M4xx nib any day.

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by AzJon View Post
    Oh, to add: Pelikan steel nibs are beautiful nibs. I would take the modern M2xx steel nib over the gold M4xx nib any day.
    I would have to concur.

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by BayesianPrior View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by AzJon View Post
    Oh, to add: Pelikan steel nibs are beautiful nibs. I would take the modern M2xx steel nib over the gold M4xx nib any day.
    I would have to concur.
    .... over the modern gold M4xx nib...

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by carlos.q View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by BayesianPrior View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by AzJon View Post
    Oh, to add: Pelikan steel nibs are beautiful nibs. I would take the modern M2xx steel nib over the gold M4xx nib any day.
    I would have to concur.
    .... over the modern gold M4xx nib...
    But of course.

    Bonus to the M2xx line: no gold ring at the end of the section. I've never had an issue with corrosion, but it seems to be an anecdotal issue.

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by michaeldoleman View Post
    I figured I would let myself explore modern, currently-produced pens before I started to go down the vintage rabbit hole... :-) Since I know it's inevitable, however, I have indeed started to take a look at a few examples of the Pelikan 140, on eBay. Looks nice, and also looks like a nice example can be gotten for a little less than $100. That may well be my first vintage acquisition.

    I also like the idea of getting myself a new M20x, and then getting a 40x gold nib. Looks like such a combo can be gotten for far less than buying an M40x pen outright.

    I'm still not sure where I am going, with all of this. I really don't want to become anything like a "serious collector" of fountain pens. I like them, yes, but my interest sprung forth from a simple desire to improve my penmanship, and engage in hand-writing as something of a meditative activity, and sideline hobby. I've quickly come to realize that the world of fountain pens is far, far more expansive and complex than I'd originally thought. There is so much to know -- so many little details of arcana; so many avenues of specialization. I could see myself becoming overly consumed in it. I want to keep it all in perspective, and have a good, foundational, working knowledge -- just enough to make intelligent decisions about how best to use the resources I have to enjoy a few really nice pens. Pelikan seems loom rather large in the overall picture -- a brand with a big history and commensurate reputation. They are really good-looking pens, too, IMO -- understated elegance.

    Thanks again, to everyone, for all the great advice.
    I remember being where you are a few years ago, telling myself I would never become a collector and just wanted a pen to practice handwriting with. One pen quickly turned into two, two turned into five, five turned into… a lot. May you have better self-discipline than me.

    I think sticking with modern is a good way to go for a beginner. Vintage pens can be terrific but can require a little more effort to use and upkeep.

    And the benefit of vintage being cheaper than new can be accomplished by buying a used modern pen.

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by michaeldoleman View Post
    I'm still not sure where I am going, with all of this. I really don't want to become anything like a "serious collector" of fountain pens.
    You don't have to be a "serious collector" to enjoy this hobby. But, if those serious collectors that *I* know of were to be believed, they told me that in the beginning they also didn't plan or even want to become a collector

    For the sake of completeness, here's another of my favorite Pelikan, their first popular model from the 1930's. The Pelikan 100 (and 101 green in the photo).

    - Will
    A new place to shop for restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    If you're looking for a M400-sized pen and don't mind the lack of 'executive' trim, I think the vintage 400s are all-around the better option as some have suggested. They're just as reliable as the modern pens*, have significantly more ink capacity, much more interesting nibs, more beautiful barrels (the magic of celluloid vs acryllic) and no chance of section-end corrosion. And they're cheaper on average.
    A modern M200/205 could of course take a variety of vintage Pelikan nibs as well, although you would be sacrificing ink capacity (if that's a factor for you).

    *assuming the pen is in good working condition (most are)
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    Default Re: Deciphering Pelikan Pens

    Just to add from my experience, I found a slightly used M600 (Schwarz-Rot) on Ebay for under €200.
    Comes with a wonderful gold nib, and is a dream to write with - extremely smooth.
    I couldn't be more happy with it.

    The M600 has the added advantage of being a bit longer than the M400. Though I have learned that a M800 or even a M1000 would suit me best (size-wise), oh well...

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