A Pelikan Hub round-up, London 2019

I was excited in the summer, when online registration opened for the Pelikan Hub. The date of 20 September 2019 was entered in the diary and the event was eagerly anticipated.

This was my third time attending, although this year we had a new Hubmaster and venue. I gather that around 40 registered for the London hub and that finding a suitable venue to accommodate that number of people, in London on a Friday night, for no charge, was challenging.

Signing in.

We were to meet in The Euston Flyer, a pub and restaurant on the Euston Road not far from King’s Cross station, who could have us from 7.30pm to allow time for the after-work crowd to disperse.

I still arrived well before the allotted time. I was pleased to find a friend from last year’s hub, Roger, who had travelled from Leicester. He had grown up around Pelikan products, as his father had been an importer of their pens. Last year he brought along some unusual vintage memorabilia, including Pelikan tape measures to show us. This year he brought along his impressive collection of vintage pens from The Wyvern Pen Company, a former pen manufacturer from his home city of Leicester. We sat at a table outside, enjoying the last of the daylight before darkness descended and the air grew cool.

The pens out, amidst the condiments.

It is always a joy to talk to people who are passionate about their subject. Perhaps we who attend a regular pen club meet up, may take this for granted but having conversations with other pen enthusiasts about each other’s pens and sharing knowledge, opinions and experiences is very enjoyable. For many who attend the Pelikan Hub, the event might be the only such opportunity in the year.

For anyone whose brain was frazzled from a week of work stresses and in need of a calm and soothing place, The Euston Flyer at 7.30pm on a Friday night is not that place. The din of countless rowdy conversations in large echoey surroundings, was a bit too much for some. However, I enjoyed a plate of fish and chips and a beer and began to feel human again.

More pen talk. The gentleman on the far left had a huge number of pens in his shirt pocket.

As the regulars thinned out, conversation became easier and we were able to spread to other tables. Of the 40 or so registered, I can now recall talking to almost half of them during the evening, several of whom were our pen club members. The consequence of this is that I took very few photographs.

The pub interior, now quieter as it grew late.

In preparation for the evening, it seemed appropriate to gather up my entire flock of eight Pelikan pens which conveniently filled a pen wrap. I had surprised myself in finding that I had this many. These include my blue stripe M800, a vintage tortoise 400 bought at auction and a blue demonstrator 205 which has known only Waterman Serenity blue and has one of the smoothest steel broad nibs I have ever encountered.

I have never owned an M1000 although I am always impressed when I try one. Heather from our pen club had her pen case of Pelikan pens, inviting us to try any. She had the classic green stripe M1000, inked with a Jade green ink and a supposedly “Fine” nib which for the M1000, typically writes like a bouncy medium or even a broad. Once again I was very enamoured with the comfort of the M1000 and could easily see one of these in my future, (perhaps to thank Pelikan for the free Pelikan Edelstein Star Ruby ink, the pad of writing paper and in-house magazine that all participants reeceived).

Philip, whom I had met at a previous hub and at the London pen show and once or twice at our pen club, had quite a few high-end Pelikans including the Renaissance Brown and Stone Garden M800 and the vibrant orange M600.

Sharing a meal and a common interest in fountain pens.

As well as bringing my Pelikans, I had also gathered up a second pen wrap of currently inked pens to show off. I enjoyed showing people my Montblanc Heritage 1912 and seeing their surprise on uncapping the pen to find it apparently nib-less. The German engineering, on twisting out the retractable nib, never fails to impress. Its soft broad stubby nib is also unlike any other pen that I own.

I always enjoy seeing my pens in other people’s hands. The Montblanc Heritage 1912.

My other current pride and joy is my Aurora 88, in black resin with a gold plated cap which I also flaunted shamelessly to very favourable reactions.

Now it is almost over for another year. Thank you, to Pelikan for facilitating this unique event for fountain pen enthusiasts all over the world and for your generous gifts. Thank you to Daniel our hubmaster, assisted by Dylan. Now it remains only to enjoy all the photographs from hub events in other cities and countries that appear on Instagram and other social media.

A few of the London Pelikan Hub class of 2019

Some early thoughts on the Staedtler TRX fountain pen

This was a recent impulse buy, prompted by the pen being half price in Rymans, my not yet having a Staedtler fountain pen in my accumulation and curiosity to try the triangular body.

Construction and Appearance.

This is an aluminium pen with a brown barrel and contrasting silver coloured section and snap-on cap. The matte finish is attractive and tactile and there are blue, green and black versions available. The distinguishing feature is that the cap and barrel are of a rounded triangular cross section, vaguely like an Omas 360.

Staedtler TRX fountain pen.

It is also quite lengthy and stands tall in a pen cup and may be too long for some pockets. The pocket clip is reasonably firm and functional.

The cap, which is about a centimetre longer than it needs to be, bears the Staedtler Roman centurion logo on the top but otherwise no brand name, which instead appears along with “Germany”, on a silver coloured triangular band towards the end of the barrel.

Nice branding in an unusual place.

Being a sturdy metal cap, there is no need of a cap ring, but the rim is left rather sharp like a cookie cutter and this is another reason to avoid carrying it in a jacket pocket.

The section unscrews on metal threads. The ridge of the triangular barrel aligns with the centre of the nib, so that you grip the pen on the flat sides of the barrel. If you want to rebel and write with the nib rotated slightly, you will instead have to grip the barrel at its angular edges which is insecure and uncomfortable and so plainly not intended.

Nib and filling system.

The steel nib is a nicely rounded medium, with a small amount of spring to it if pressure is applied on the downstrokes. Mine was set up perfectly out of the box, and wrote smoothly and with good flow, starting immediately when I first inserted the cartridge, which makes for a good first impression.

Writing sample. Blue ink cartridge and a Paperchase notebook.

The pen takes standard international cartridges, with room for a spare. No converter was included.

A particularly good steel nib.

Size and Weight.

Capped, the pen is long, at around 149mm, whilst uncapped it is still a good 130mm. The whole pen with two cartridges inside weighs 27g, or 15g if unposted. The cap alone weighs around 12g.

Likes and Dislikes.

First the good news. This seems a durable pen, unusual and interesting for its triangular body and which has a very enjoyable medium steel nib which in my example, wrote perfectly. Fine and broad nibs are also available. I like the brown colour and texture. The description on the packaging, in several languages, reads “Staedtler TRX – pure understatement. A matt aluminium surface like velvet and a clever, striking design in ergonomic triangular shape meet quality MADE IN GERMANY.” The snap-on cap is quick and easy, not too tight and seems to prevent hard starts so far (although I have not yet had mine for very long).

The package also includes a triangular plastic pen case with foam grips and wrap around sides secured by a magnet. It feels a bit like a phone or tablet cover. And the price I paid of 29.99 GBP down from 59.99 GBP was very appealing.

Wrap-around triangular pen case.

On the down side however, there are a few major things I do not like. My main issue is the triangular shape which means that not only are you prevented from adjusting your grip to find a sweet spot but worse still, the grip at the lower end of the barrel is narrower because of the flattened sides. I soon began to find this uncomfortable when writing a few pages.

The triangular design also has other consequences. If capping the pen with the pocket clip in line with the face of the nib, (as I normally would), the cap alignment will clash with that of the barrel leaving sharp corners protruding over the barrel. The pen rotates freely inside the cap and so you can easily align the triangular cap and barrel but there is still a sharp step. This is the opposite of a cap which is flush with the barrel.

Sharp edged rim protrudes high above the barrel, although the inner cap seals off the nib well.

Posting the cap is not advisable because, although it will post securely, (a) it does not post very deeply and the sharp rim will rub your hand as you write; (b) the pocket clip will not align with the nib and has to be one side or another and (c) the pen becomes too long. However the pen should be long enough for most people to use unposted.


Whilst the nib performs very well, I am put off by the narrowness of the grip. For me this is uncomfortable although others may not mind it. Perhaps with time I would get used to it but for now it is a relief to pick up another pen with a broader grip.

As the triangular design is the main feature of the TRX, if you do not like this, or find it uncomfortable, then the pen may not be for you.

Fortunately there is a larger option, in the Staedtler Initium in resin, wood or metal finish (Resina, Lignum or Metallum – which sounds like you are talking to the Staedtler logo Centurion). These I suppose have all the benefits of the Staedtler nib and German quality but without some of the downsides of the TRX. In hindsight, I think it would have been better to spend more and go for one of those models. Mind you, I took it along to our pen club meet today and reactions were generally favourable, so perhaps it is just me.

Packaging also includes a plastic single pen case.

Edit. I have since learned that the Staedtler logo represents Mars, the Roman God of war.