by Mike Shea on 31 March 2006
Let me get this out of the way quickly. There is no justification for a $300 pen. Even if it's a $500 list pen you got from Malaysia for $300, it's still a $300 pen and $300 for a pen in the days where a Sakura Gelly Roll can be had for a buck is pure madness.
Yet knowing this, I risked hard earned cash with a moderately risky purchase on Ebay for a Pelikan M-1000 fountain pen.
$300 is a lot of money. You can buy an Xbox 360 for $300 or hire a driver in Thailand for a whole year. What would lead a sane man to spend this much money on a pen?
Two weeks ago I went to Harrod's in London and drooled over their cases of nice pens. I tried out a few after giving the patient salesman my criteria for the perfect fountain pen. A perfect fountain pen, I explained, must include three basic criteria: It has to be big, it has to have a gold nib, and it has to only take ink from a bottle. The salesman dipped a Pelikan M-800 into a crystal ink well and handed it over. I scratched a few lines, feeling the smooth nib flow over the page and quickly handed it back. Three hundred pounds is too much for a pen. I ended up going with a much more affordable but far smaller Pelikan M-200. It had a piston-only fill very similar to my Lamy 2000, but the pen is small and only has a gold plated steel nib. I cheaped out and by the time I got back to the states, I wished I hadn't.
I loved the style, however, so I researched the larger Pelikan fountain pens. I read reviews by Pen Hero and Glenn's Pen Page about the Pelikan M-800 and M-1000 fountain pens. Reviews often compared it to the elite Mont Blanc Meisterstuck 149 - a large and powerful pen of the cultural elite.
Clearly knowing that I wanted either the Pelikan M-800 or M-1000 I went to Ebay and did some searches. A couple of companies kept popping up, both selling Pelikan fountain pens for far cheaper than list and both selling from Malaysia. Warning flags went up but I did the research anyway. Both companies were legitamite pen companies with real store fronts. Both came up in searches on Google Groups with positive results. Apparently, a close proximity with a distributor or a headquarters lets them sell the pens for far under list and they have done so for many years.
So which one to choose? I tried out the feel of the Pelikan M-800 at a local Paradise Pen. It was a good size but not exactly HUGE. Rather than risk the buyers remorse of buying the smaller of the two, I decided to go all out and get the top of the line Pelikan M-1000.
The service from The Pen Gallery was excellent. It was a little tricky to pay them and inform them of the nib size but once that was out of the way it shipped in three days from Malaysia to Virginia. The total price of the pen was $292. The same pen sells for $439 from Fountain Pen Hospital.
Monday afternoon I rushed home, opened the layers of protective packing in the car and soon beheld the behemoth Pelikan M-1000 pen. It was beautiful. Some might find this pen too big, but I found it to be exactly the sort of pen I wanted. It is a large classic fountain pen with a huge 18ct two-toned gold nib. The body is shiny black plastic with a small green window near the nib to show when ink runs low.
The Pelikan M-1000 is a piston feed only. It only takes ink from a bottle, there are no cartridges or converters. While more modern pen enthusiasts might consider this a draw back, I consider it a benefit. The pen's construction is simple and elegant.
I loaded the Pelikan M-1000 with my newly purchased Visconti Traveling Ink Pot. This ink well probably deserves an entire review for itself but in short, it loaded the Pelikan M-1000 perfectly and to capacity. I hear the Pelikan M-1000 holds an enormous amount of ink but I have yet to run out of ink while writing so it is hard to say for sure.
The medium point Pelikan Nib writes a very wet and thick line. It is much closer to a broad nib than a traditional medium nib. It is slightly bigger than the Lamy 2000 medium and about the same size as a Parker Vanishing Point broad nib. It's a good thing the Pelikan M-1000 holds so much ink; with a line that wet, you go through ink quickly. Pelikan offers a free nib exchange to a different size. I can't decide yet if a fine point would be better than a medium. The medium is very broad but it is very smooth. It is also unique among my pens. I don't want something that will write the same way as my Lamy 2000 or my Pilot Vanishing Point.
Two nights ago I finished writing a 4000 word short story called "23" using just the Pelikan M-1000 and a Moleskine large lined notebook in a Renaissance Art traditional large Moleskine cover. I used Noodler's black ink in the Pelikan. I found that writing small caused small letters to turn into big blots while writing a little larger created thick bold letters that were easily read. If you write large, the medium nib is the nib for you. Any smaller and a fine point will probably be preferred.
There are times in our lives where we no longer want to compromise. There are times where we want the best product offered. Were we into cars or home audio or computers, the price we would pay for the best product offered would be into the tens or even hundreds of thousands. With a pen, however, we can have the best for $300. The Pelikan M-1000 is the best non-special-edition pen I have ever used. It is Pelikan's top of the line pen and it meets all of my criteria for a fine writing instrument. It is traditional, it writes well, the construction is simple and sturdy, it feels great, and it's big. Part of me wishes the medium nib was a tad smaller but another part likes the bold line for a bold pen.
If cost is ever a consideration in your decision to buy a Pelikan M-1000, don't buy one. There are many great pens like the Lamy 2000, the Pelikan M-400, or the Pilot Vanishing Point that write very well for about half to a third of the price of a M-1000. If you seek the pen of the Gods, however, look no further than Pelikan M-1000.