Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Pelikan Souverän M1000 Review

As most of you would know, Pelikan is a 180 year old maker of fountain pens and paraphernalia. It had launched its first fountain pen in 1929. Prior to that Pelikan manufactured dyes, inks and office-supplies. This Swiss-incorporated German pen maker is also credited with the genesis of piston filling mechanism with a differential spindle gear, which endeavoured to address the problem of limited ink capacity in fountain pens of that period. Here, the piston knob is also threaded so that it is able to unscrew itself automatically, while the piston is unscrewed, in an outward direction, thus delivering a greater and efficient ink-suction. Hungarian engineer Theodor Kovacs is credited with the invention of the original filling mechanism before selling off the patent to Günther Wagner (the man who established the company) in 1927. 

                      In the earlier years, Montblanc is said to have manufactured nibs (especially the one with a heart shaped breather hole in 1929/30) for Pelikan, while Pelikan made inks for MB. Pelikan had already built a brand awareness in the writer’s mind, being one of the major ink suppliers (starting with Iron Galls Inks) in Europe. They eventually launched the 4001 line (non-Iron Gall) line of inks in 1898, which is still produced today. 

        I was introduced to Pelikan with a m200 model pen long back. And yes, I am heavily biased towards two of my Pelikans - one is the M400 white tortoise, other is the blue striated M805. The M1XXX is considered to be the next step to M6XX/8XX, once most of your cerebral logic is destroyed! As with the model numbers, there is a general increase in nib size, dimensions and price of course, when you move from M4XX to M1XXX. Again, I do love the Souverän M 625 with dazzling sterling silver trims (Ag 92.5%). Having said that, the serene green-striated M1000 reflects and adorns the 1929 classical green-striped design. The green "transparent Pelikan fountain pen" was launched in 1929 by Wagner. It was named so, to reference the transparent ink window. 

The logos have changed over the years starting from a mother pelican with four chicks to a mother-single chick combination from 2003 onwards.

I have learnt something form FPNer sirach’s excellent review of the m805. Incidentally, both of us had posted reviews of our m805s the same day, around the same time on FPN :). The mother pelican and chick logo is symbolic of Christ, as when there is no food, the mother pelican is believed to pierce its own breast with its beak, to feed its young of its blood. It is symbolic of Christ sacrificing himself for Man, and is often represented in Christian art. I have taken the liberty to share the picture used by sirach in his review. 


DESIGN - THE STRIPED TRANSLUCENCY (6/6)


The M1000 comes in two standard gold-trims - Green Striped and Classic Black (Green Ink Window), across four different nib widths - EF, F, M and B. The M1005 also came in silver trims of Black/Green Ink Window design, albeit with a dual tone nib. 

There is nothing like the allure of the M1005 demonstrator, but then there are Raden Sunlight & Starlight models too.

The pen hints at a subtle piece of craftsmanship associated with building this writing instrument. Its balance somehow ensures all the necessary weight and nib leverage for comfortable writing. My hand sometimes varies from a light to moderate touch and the m1000 adapts to the change with deft, compared to a m800, partly perhaps because of a more responsive nib. The barrel is made up of highly polished pelikan famed ‘cellulose acetate’ with its diamond cut contours, which partially reveal the necessities like the piston end or ink level, while concealing the unnecessary ones. I feel that this green stripes reveal the ink levels quite well. The pinstripe pattern in the Souverän series is nicknamed Stresemann derived from Gustav Stresemann, the Chancellor of Germany for his famous striped trousers.

The green stripes innately reflect both light and dark while preserving a formal appearance of the souverän as the gold plated trims continue to stand out. The translucency is subtle but useful at the same time to note ink levels. The dazzling green stripes reflect back greens between pine & emerald with ambient light, soothingly to your eyes.. The barrel is silky smooth.

The golden gleam is matched throughout the pen starting from the famed finial and the clip, through those concentric bands in the cap, before finally converging with the dual piston rings. While the white tortoise plays with light with phenomenal efficiency, the green & blue stripes seem to have held their own conservative thoughts.

The cap feels quite substantial and unscrews with a single turn, revealing a dazzling two-tone nib. The grip reveals another knot of golden glitter, towards the section end, where the big dazzling nib unit is screwed in.

Two concentric golden bands with a gold plated crown embossed with the pelikan logo, adorn the cap with a signature pelican beak-shaped clip. The thicker bottom band carries the brand imprint of PELIKAN SOUVERÄN GERMANY. The logo on the finial is the one embraced by Pelikan post 2003, that of a mother pelican and one chick, gleaming in brushed gold. 

The staged pillars of M400, 605, 805 & 1000 glitter with light.


FILLING SYSTEM (6/6)


A piston filler with a sturdy knob is embellished with two concentric golden loops. Like any other pelikan, it’s imbibed with a system which is usually hassle-free and needs minimal maintenance. The piston end unscrews with three to four rotations and ink is drawn into the pen with remarkable efficiency without any fuss, once the piston is screwed back on. And of course, you can observe some of the live action through the striped windows. A brass spindle connector in the M1XXX provides weight and balance. Everything is glistening gold as you can see the connector nut in the picture. M1XXX fills upto 1.9-2 mL (similar to M800) of ink.

These brass piston mechanisms can be dismantled using a 7mm wrench (a TWSBI wrench works) on the connector nut, in a clockwise direction. On finding the piston mechanism quite snug while filling ink, I did dismantle it to lubricate the piston lip/seal. Although for any other problem, it is advisable to send the pen to Pelikan Germany/Country Authorized Service Center. Pelikan International is highly responsive to facebook messages. 


NIB - ALL THAT MATTERS (5/6)


The nib/feed section is screw-fit and comes in a standard 18k two-tone design across four stock widths - EF, F, M & B. It has the standard pelikan design with the usual convenience of a screw-fit section.

Like the cousins, the tall & slender nib is efficient. With a big feed, and a spread out nib it looks forward to propel your writing imaginations and moods. The silver of two-tone finish does converge with the golden trims in terms of glitter and glimmer.

The tail end specifies the nib-width and composition (18 C, 75% Au) of the gold-alloy used. Three arabesques diverge along the shoulders of the nib with two of them converging near the circular breather hole. The third curve runs across the tines towards the shoulders ending with the tail end of the nib, outside of which a golden decor runs along the shoulders across the tines, before converging onto the iridium tip. There is of-course the dazzling golden mother-baby pelikan logo, resting above the tail. This one in the picture is a Extra Fine nib and writes smooth and is decently wet. No complaints for this piece on out of the box performance.

A big black plastic feed (earlier ones had ebonite feeds) with closely spaced fins ensures a good ink buffer and promises wet and even smoother starts. Even with a dipped nib section, it would write a page.

In my experience with Pelikan nibs (both with earlier Bock & now in-sourced), the good nibs usually after running 80 pages of my usual B5 notebook, break in to my liking. This nib being a little different with a characteristic spring and a bit of flex, did break in within a month to fit my writing style. I feel that these days these nibs have started to lay a finer line, owing to user recommendation of the Pelikan community. Fortunately some of the mylars & buff-sticks are saved, thanks to these birds. 


PHYSICS OF IT (5/6) – RELATIVELY SPEAKING


The pen has got the heft in it and I use it without posting. The overall capped length is around 14.6 cm. The total weight of M100X has slightly less than a third of contribution from the cap. The grip diameter is around 1.2 cm and the bit of tapering renders comfort to the fingers. The cap threads are higher up on the section and are non-intrusive for me, since I do not hold the pen very high. It is not a light & small pen and may not comfortable to you at first, I gradually became used to it. The motivation if not anything else, was the Kingsized #8 nib. 
  • Uncapped Length ~ 13.5 cm 
  • Posted Length ~ 17.7 cm 
  • Nib Leverage ~ 2.8 cm 
  • Overall Weight ~ 35 g (Cap ~ 10 g) 
Capped and uncapped comparisons with a few of the same flock go below for your reference. 
Top to bottom (m1000, m805, m605 & m400) 

With an MB149
And an Emperor with the Entire Flock 


ECONOMIC VALUE (4/6)


The M1000 retails these days at around GBP 380 (discounted), although it might be available at lower street prices. I strongly feel that this acquisition was a result of an impulse driven bid on the bay, since I had a low expectation of winning the bid in the first place. Even though it’s one of the phenomenally efficient pens with a high degree of nib appeal, I would still value it as a standardised-good value buy. 

                          A part of me which loves Pelikan for the great pens they make, rationally feels that the m1000 being a flagship pen, they need to build up its image akin to an Meisterstück 149, to command a high price and appeal, for it sells much below its RRP across internet/offline shops. May be Pelikan can start with a body/barrel combination solely made for m1000 with a custom designed nib. Then again, I would not be able to buy it :)


OVERALL (5.2/6)


Historically for me, I did not like the weight/balance of the M1000 pen. However, with frequent use, I found the balance acceptable and then comfortable!! These 18k nibs have a smooth and wet flow. The m1000 nib has a fair bit of flex (modern bit!) with an inherent softness, since with the bigger size of the nib, there is more room for it to move. Being nice and wet writers out of the box, the Extra-Fine nib puts down a fine line, which takes around 35 seconds to dry Visconti Blue Ink on MD Paper. The pen feels balanced for my hands both with or without pressure and given the tapered profile of the section, it has a good grip. This nib runs a tad finer than say a #3776 medium nib, and with some pressure it leaves a wider line. I have used single fills of Sailor Sky High (now Souten), Montblanc Toffee Brown, Visconti Blue, Iroshizuku Yama Budo/Tsuki Yo inks in rotation, and the pen has performed gracefully with all these inks.

Thank you for going through the review. 
You can find some more pen and paraphernalia reviews here and in the below links section. Comments & feedback are welcome.

So, what is your favourite Pelikan?

REVIEWS & LINKS


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