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Thread: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

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    Senior Member azkid's Avatar
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    Default Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    Hey Pelikan afficionados, I'm contemplating buying a used Pelikan with a gold nib (EF) and wanted to get your thoughts on selecting a 140, 400NN, or M400.

    My budget is in the $200-250 range which I think is realistic? This would be the most I've been spent on a pen ($150 being the prior max) but I think it would be worth it.

    See, I like my M205 except it is a bit persnickety about ink and the nib behaves kind of oddly. I go back and forth on how I feel about it.

    But I've tried M600, M800, M1000, and some flexy/bouncy vintage 100 (or maybe it was a140?) and found each truly superb, the latter in particular. I think I would rather spend the money to get one of these 3 higher end models and sell the M205.

    Are the nibs of any of these models notably different to the others in any way? Like, flexibility, smoothness, flow, etc?

    Any known issues with filling systems on any? Are DIY repairs reasonably easy? (I've refurbished Vacumatics and button/lever fillers and Parker 21s).

    Anything else to watch out for on any of these?

    Any clear advantages to one over the others?

    Thanks in advance.

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    You canít go wrong with a 50Ďs Pelikan.
    Imho the 50Ďs Pelikans (100, 140 and 400) are some of the best pens ever made.
    Donˋt expect flexible nibs, most of them are semi-flex (some only springy).
    The building quality is awesome, if you donít have 2 left hands and have a bit experience, repairs should not be unsolvable.

    Pelikan nib units are known, and awesome.
    If they have the transparent nib unit collar the collar might become brittle and has to be replaced (replacements are available).

    Piston seals might also needs to be replaced (most have synthetic ones, early ones might still have cork seals) (replacements available)

    Choose which size and design you like.

    Also the modern pens are good.
    Personally I donˋt really like the M600 nails (own 2, writes good, no complains but they are hard nails).
    The M800 and M1000 are too big for my taste.
    Last edited by Pterodactylus; October 27th, 2020 at 06:22 PM.

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    I have loved the 400NN, especially in tortoise, for years. It just so happened that it was the first pen that caught my wife's eye, such that I had to hammer eBay hard to find and get a good deal (I did). I was jealous of her pen for many years! And last summer, at the 2019 SF Pen show, I picked one up from Miroslav Tischler. He almost always has a couple of rows of those vintage Pels, and he must have had nearly 20 of those exact pens (at the start of the show), for $200. The one I got has a F/semi-flex nib. I swear, the nibs on the pens from that era are to die for. He had even more 140s with the same great nibs for $100.



    I don't know if he sells online, his business was Penkala pens, I think. In any event, if the size of the pen is good for you, I don't think you can go wrong. There is something about that NN in tort, with the very dark brown cap/knob/section. One of the things with the tortoise models is they all are slightly different, from a very light amber color to deep browns, with differing amounts of transparency as well. I've also found the perfect ink for it: KWZ Honey.

    I wish I could help you, and I'll do some queries with the Euro pen folk on Facebook, but I give 2 thumbs up for that era Pelikan. Oh, and of the 3 pens that we have in the house from that vintage, all the nibs 'sing'. I've heard some people go bonkers with that, I actually enjoy it!
    Last edited by Jon Szanto; October 27th, 2020 at 06:30 PM.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Senior Member azkid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    Fantastic info, guys. Thanks. I really appreciate it.

    I love how the tortoise 400NNs look. I love nibs that sort of feel like "ringing" which I think is the same as singing? (My hearing is crap so if they make a faint noise I would never hear it).

    It sounds like the 50s nibs are excellent (soft/springy sounds great). I must have tried a 140 at the Pelikan hub last year. I was frankly floored by how nice it was to write with.

    Sounds like I am going to eventually end up with both.
    Last edited by azkid; October 27th, 2020 at 07:07 PM.

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    Quote Originally Posted by azkid View Post
    Fantastic info, guys. Thanks. I really appreciate it.

    I love how the tortoise 400NNs look. I love nibs that sort of feel like "ringing" which I think is the same as singing? (My hearing is crap so if they make a faint noise I would never hear it).

    It sounds like the 50s nibs are excellent (soft/springy sounds great). I must have tried a 140 at the Pelikan hub last year. I was frankly floored by how nice it was to write with.

    Sounds like I am going to eventually end up with both.
    Yes to everything you are saying. The nibs are great - "ringing" works, too! It doesn't appear that Miro does any online sales (he has a somewhat dormant site) but if I come up with any info I'll let you know. If you want to browse, and pay a little more, Rick Propas (the Penquin is the site) usually has these in his inventory, along with a lot of other vintage Pelikans.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    Thanks, Jon, much obliged! I will check out the site you mentioned, too.

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    Pelikan 400NN all the way. Itís a nice size and weight and looks good. The nibs are generally very good. The obliques are a good choice if youíre into those. They donít make íem like they used to. It doesnít have to be tortoise, though everyone seems to go for those. The green ones are cheapest.

    The 140 will be similar to the 400NN, with a slightly different form & a smaller nib. Also cheaper.

    I would not consider an M400 with such strong vintage options.

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    Quote Originally Posted by azkid View Post
    Any known issues with filling systems on any? Are DIY repairs reasonably easy? (I've refurbished Vacumatics and button/lever fillers and Parker 21s).

    Anything else to watch out for on any of these?

    Thanks in advance.
    Pelikan piston fillers are not at all easy to repair so please be careful about buying with the idea that a DIY repair will be easy. Pelikan filling systems are nothing like Vacumatics or button fillers. In the event that the piston end and internal screw with seal needs repair it's not easy to remove any of the the M400 series that are friction fit.
    The nib unit unscrews easily so it's easy enough to add a bit of silicone grease to the inside of the barrel from the nib end, but otherwise it's best to forget a possible DIY repair to the piston.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    Vintage Pelikans are awesome. Not all the nibs are flexy but all are bouncy and good writers. I have quite a few 400s, one 400NN. As Chrissy says piston fillers of any type are not all that easy to repair, but the good news on Pelikans is that they are really robust pens.

    One fault that does crop up occasionally is a broken nib collar. Fortunately, that's one of the easiest problems to fix and replacement parts are pretty easy to source.

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    I don't currently have a vintage Pelikan in my inventory, otherwise I'd offer one to you.

    Both 400 (or 400nn, depending on whether you like the "pointed dome" cap finial or not) along with 140 are awesome pens.

    If I had to choose between these, I'd go with the 140. When you hold one, you feel the quality behind the simplicity. And the nibs are so nice on these. I had one that is a stub when writing normally, and it can flex very well.

    The 100 series are to me, a very different choice than the 400 and 140. I love the older ones, but these are also difficult to repair if broken. The later production 100N series (the ones that already use silicone rather than cork for the piston seal) are more reliable for usage. Typically these are higher priced than 400 and 140.

    **Of course, the pristine or rare samples of the older version are fetching crazy high prices, so unless you double or triple your budget, it's not really an option.
    - Will
    Unique and restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    I love the 400NN. It really is, to me, one of the more perfect pens ever made. Pelikan's from the 50s and 60s also have some of the nicest semi-flex nibs around, with the EF being as fine as or finer than Platinum UEF nibs. The EF nibs I've had from 1950s Pelikans are easily .5mm or smaller. You should definitely be able to snag one for under $250.

    You have to be a little cautious of getting one with the polystyrene nib collar. They can be very fragile (or already cracked) and can sometimes expand and get stuck in the section. It is possible to remove them, but just be careful. You can order aftermarket nib collars from custompenparts.co.uk that work brilliantly.

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    I have a 400nn tortoise shell with one of the logo nibs (chevrons do not meet). The nib is a 14c OM with a nice bit of spring, even semi-flex if held conventionally as for a ball nib. The sweet spot is larger than I expected and the cant works well for me. The OM doesn't have much width so line variation is subtle, but I have tiny handwriting anyway. In modern nibs, I need a Japanese F or M. Medium on this vintage Pelikan nib seems ideal to me.

    To this point, with my modest collection I had enjoyed the Sheaffer F Lifetime nib the most followed by a Wahl 14k F Eversharp nib with lots of flex. The Shaeffer is firm but has nice blend of smoothness with feedback. The Wahl has a lot more feedback of course but is expressive. Both make me feel like I am deliberately doing the writing.

    The logo Pelikan 14c OM feels like it is writing ahead of my thoughts. It glides through slaloms with so little effort I wonder if I am being pampered. I know nibs get better but I just can't imagine. These 50s nibs are something else.
    Last edited by Baisao; November 2nd, 2020 at 11:19 PM.

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    I have quite a few of these Pelikans in my collection. Another 100 went trough my hands during the last 10 years. One thing that is for sure is: although these are brilliant nibs, no nib writes like another one. That's why I highly recommend to test a pen whenever this is possible before buying.
    C.

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    Quote Originally Posted by christof View Post
    I have quite a few of these Pelikans in my collection. Another 100 went trough my hands during the last 10 years. One thing that is for sure is: although these are brilliant nibs, no nib writes like another one. That's why I highly recommend to test a pen whenever this is possible before buying.
    C.
    There is no better advice on choosing a fountain pen, especially vintage.

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    And I will add, test on varous paper types you normally use. That said, I've never gotten a bad nib. Even an old Parker 21 with a bent nib wrote well.

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    Echo and agree on what everyone else has said, especially christof about the nibs and testing the pen before buying. They are all great but at the same time all different. And on those pens you should really chase the nib as that is the great differentiator when it comes to writing experience.

    I am partial to post war 100N (especially if it has a BB-nib) but all of the models made between 1949 and 1964 are great options for an everyday writer.

    400NN might be the easiest to find, 400N is way more rare and kind of an odd bird, the 400 as the precursor to the M400 has the same look but feels more elegant and alive due to materials used, 140 is a great pen for smaller hands, 100N is the best balanced (IMHO) and usually has slightly better feeling earlier style nibs... then there are the 500 series pens and other ones that are variants of the ones mentioned previously.

    Vintage Pelikans made before that time used things like celluloid for barrel materials and cork for piston seals, they are way more ginger durability wise and I would not want to risk hauling one as an EDC.

    Post war 100N onwards? Carry on! Well, at least I do. The use modern synthetic materials such as acrylic for the barrels and plastic (or in some cases some rubber like polymer) for the piston seals made them way more durable... as long as you do not abuse them you are good to go. I have had one of my 100N and a cast of various support stars including 400 & 400NN form the core of my EDC kit for years now without any problems.

    Nibs... oh yeah, all of the oblique nibs and anything North of an M (B, BB & BBB) is cut sharp, not the blobby kind you see today. More worn ones are akin to stubs, nibs closer to factory fresh are more like cursive italics and even italics. They are just wonderful and even though there is room for flex it is more like suspension in a quality car. I have stopped flexing my nibs entirely and just enjoy the smooth and controlled ride those vintage Pelikan nibs offer.

    Naturally, there are the H & D (manifold) nibs meant for carbon copying etc. which are stiff. Anyway, better stop rambling now...

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    Thanks all for the great advice. It wasn't really practical to try a pen in these times but I found a deal on an EF 140 in good condition with original box and instruction/guarantee paper.



    Just inked it with a Pelikan Black. Sure feels nice in the hand and writes nicely. Looking forward to getting more acquainted with it!

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    Quote Originally Posted by azkid View Post
    Thanks all for the great advice. It wasn't really practical to try a pen in these times but I found a deal on an EF 140 in good condition with original box and instruction/guarantee paper.



    Just inked it with a Pelikan Black. Sure feels nice in the hand and writes nicely. Looking forward to getting more acquainted with it!
    Yay!!
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    Quote Originally Posted by azkid View Post
    Just inked it with a Pelikan Black. Sure feels nice in the hand and writes nicely. Looking forward to getting more acquainted with it!
    And how's it going, 10 days in? A pristine EF nib (if the pen is truly NOS) should be skinny but smooth in all directions. Sometimes an older nib will feel like there is resistance at first (there are various theories on why) but it should pass as you use the pen. It looks like you made terrific choice!

    Ralf

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    Senior Member Pterodactylus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help on picking first gold nib Pelikan?

    Quote Originally Posted by ralfstc View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by azkid View Post
    Just inked it with a Pelikan Black. Sure feels nice in the hand and writes nicely. Looking forward to getting more acquainted with it!
    And how's it going, 10 days in? A pristine EF nib (if the pen is truly NOS) should be skinny but smooth in all directions. Sometimes an older nib will feel like there is resistance at first (there are various theories on why) but it should pass as you use the pen. It looks like you made terrific choice!

    Ralf
    The smoothness of a nib is never a given thing, it is an attribute which can be easily changed.
    You can make each nib (not mattering if it is modern or vintage) gliding buttery smooth over the paper.
    Just a question of personal preferences.

    I prefer my nibs to be very smooth, others donít.

    I also donít think that used nibs get less smooth per se, unless you write on sandpaper or similar stuff.
    I think the opposite is true, regular used nibs tend to get smoother because the writing also polishes the tipping.

    When pens were not used a long time you might feel them temporarily less smooth because of micro corrosion.

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