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 Pelikan M120 special edition, green and black fountain pen.

Within the last few weeks, I have been on the receiving end of three wonderful, unexpected, unconnected and very generous gifts.

First, a Methodist minister retiring from her post at a city church in London, and moving from the manse to smaller accommodation, offered me an old camera that she no longer used. This turned out to be a Nikon F, the very first of Nikon’s line of single lens reflex cameras introduced in 1959. Well travelled but well looked after, the camera was in good working order and I have enjoyed taking it out and about, remembering the way that we used to take photographs: winding on, setting speed, aperture and focus and then hearing the shutter release and the mirror returning. Before the fountain pen hobby grew and took over, I had built up an accumulation of classic cameras (particularly Voigtlander and Zeiss) but had never owned a Nikon 35mm film camera. I am now thrilled to have this classic model.

Then, a reader of my blog, whom I met up with for the first time in London recently, kindly passed on to me a bunch of his fabulous pens as mentioned in my post Inky Pursuits: a recent round-up. I am greatly enjoying the Pilot Custom 74 and Custom Heritage 92, the nibs and comfort of which give a writing experience amongst the best I have ever known.

And then on returning from holiday recently, I had a parcel waiting for collection. This was the size of a small pillow, and contained a very well wrapped, new and unused Pelikan M120, in classic green and black, complete with presentation gift box, a bottle of Pelikan 4001 royal blue ink, and the guarantee and guide to the Pelikan range.

This generous gift was from another reader of my blog and a fellow blogger, but from another country and whom I have never met. I am most grateful but also humbled that people can be so generous even to a total stranger. Events like this make the world seem a friendlier place and help to redress the balance when so much world news is so troubling. Indeed, in the last few years, I have found the online fountain pen community, to be a wonderful bunch, from all over the world and from all walks of life, united by a common passion for fountain pens, inks and stationery.

Returning to work after a week away, (into a tumultuous week including World Cup football, Wimbledon tennis, and President Trump’s visit to the UK) it has taken me a little while to adjust and get back into my routine. However, I have now had a closer look at this pen and have been using it with the lovely Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz (which I did not pay for either, as it came from last year’s Pelikan Hub).

I understand that this model, in green and black, is a 2016 re-issue of a classic Pelikan from 1955 but with a few improvements.

Appearance and design

This is a vintagey-looking cigar shaped pen, with a green body and black grip section and piston knob and rounded ends. There is a good sized ink window with a green tint. The black cap screws on securely, needing only half a rotation. The gold plated pocket clip features the Pelikan bill. A gold plated cap band reads “PELIKAN GERMANY”. But one feature that is not so obvious is the logo of pelikan and chick on the finial, very subtle in black with no colouring so that you would hardly notice it.

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Pelikan M120, special edition (2016) in green and black.

Construction and quality

Being a resin pen it is lightweight but looks and feels to be of good quality, not plasticky. I cannot find any fault in the construction.

Weight and dimensions

With ink, the pen weighs only 16g capped or posted, or 10g for the body only, and 6g for the cap. Capped, it measures 130mm (not too long for a shirt pocket), whilst open it is 120mm (a bit short; I prefer 130mm plus, to use un-posted); with cap posted it is a very comfortable 155mm and this is how I like to use it. The cap grips quite deeply and securely on the back of the pen without upsetting balance. Also the clip will then stop the pen from rolling if put down on a sloping surface.

Nib and performance

Ah! Thanks for asking! This is a steel nib, (mine is a Fine) with gold plating to match the cap furniture (or vice versa). A special feature of the pen is that the scroll work on the nib is based upon a Pelikan price-list from 1889 and looks very attractive under a loupe (although, like the logo on the finial, it is not noticeable in ordinary use but it is nice just to know it is there). The nib wrote beautifully out of the box and has a pleasant bit of springiness or softness to it (although not a flex nib). It has a very pleasant touch on the paper, a little feedback but no scratchiness. I would say that the line is more towards the Medium side, than a true Fine and is perfect for me. Also, the nib and feed unit can be easily unscrewed for rinsing or swapping with any nib from the M200 or M400 pens, should you wish to do so.

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Curlicues borrowed from an 1889 Pelikan price list.

Filling system and maintenance

This is a piston filler and is very smooth and effective and holds a good supply of ink although I have not measured it. For cleaning I would just fill and empty the pen a few times in clean water until all traces of ink are gone from the water. It is good to be able to unscrew the nib and feed units to wash them or soak overnight if need be, if changing ink colours. I am not sure whether or how you can remove the piston mechanism but it should be good for many years yet.

Cost and value

This pen, in green and black, was a special edition to be made for a limited period. I remember seeing them for sale on Cult Pens at the time. Currently there is a similar model but in blue with blue cap and blue ink window for sale at £128.00 and I think the green and black model used to be a similar price.

This puts it somewhat higher than the regular M200 models which are currently offered in the £70.00’s and £80.00’s on Cult Pens, which is lower than they used to be.

Is it worth it? This is a tough question. Several reviewers concluded that it was a great pen but let down only by being rather over-priced for what it is, when based on a school pen from the 1950’s. Personally, I would recommend the pen if you like the nostalgic style combined with modern Pelikan materials and reliability.

Certainly it is a pretty pen, with vintage looks from a bygone era, very well made and if like my other modern Pelikans, perfectly reliable and always ready. And it makes a good companion for my Nikon F.

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Nikon F with Pelikan M120.

My first Pelikan Hub, London UK, 2017.

On 22 September 2017, in cities around the world, the annual Pelikan Hub event took place. This is an occasion for fans of Pelikan fountain pens and inks to gather and meet each other. Anyone who wishes to attend, can register. A Hub Master is then nominated for each city, who books a venue and notifies those in his or her group of where it will take place. The Hub Master also receives gifts donated by Pelikan, to distribute on the night. It is a wonderful idea and I know of no other fountain pen company that does this.

Here in London, our Hub Master, Naresh had arranged for our group to meet at the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, in Portman Square, close to Oxford Street. The spacious public bar area on the ground floor was comfortable and relaxing. Naresh welcomed us and gave out the Pelikan gifts as people arrived. I was delighted to receive a bottle of Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz ink, a very useful, generous and unexpected present.

Our group spread out around a few tables around a fireplace. Then, getting straight down to business, people got out the pens that they had brought along. Soon the table was sporting an impressive array of pens, pen cases and pen rolls and journals of various sizes.

I am a newcomer to Pelikan pens, buying my first in April 2016, the M205 blue demonstrator with a broad nib, which I love. I went on to buy an M800 in blue and black in November (which I use every day) and then, earlier this year, at auction, a vintage M400 tortoise from the 1950’s. These, my modest “flock” of Pelikans, I brought to the hub.

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My flock: the M800, M400 vintage tortoise and M205 blue demonstrator.

Many at our table had brought along very impressive pens. I was able to handle an M600 (claimed by some to be the ideal size Pelikan) and some limited editions. Our table included Katherine, visiting from San Francisco and Jonathan, a member of Fountain Pen Network – Philippines. Marisa was a member of the London UK Fountain Pen Club and encouraged others to come to their monthly gatherings.

I was struck afterwards by how quickly and easily, people had started talking about their pens, passing them around, inviting others to try them. Little or no introductions were needed. We all had a common interest. It was unusual and refreshing, with the same absence of formality as a child starting a conversation in a school playground.

A few slightly guilty conversations took place on the subject of how many pens one had. Someone was asked “When did you last buy a pen?” and replied “Yesterday!”

Trying other people’s vintage pens was an education. The feel of the softer, flexy nibs gives a very different writing experience. Everyone was very knowledgeable and discerning in their choices of pens and nibs.

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The joy of trying each other’s pens.

Soon, fascinating conversations were taking place on all sides. A gentleman at our table was telling us about his gorgeous Pelikan M800 Renaissance Brown and was planning to buy only one more pen this year, the Pelikan Ocean Swirl. Another of the group had planned not to buy any pens in September. There was much to learn about pens and their interesting owners.

As well as sharing stories and experiences of their Pelikan pens, some other beautiful pens were produced and I was able to try a Nakaya Piccolo, a Pilot vanishing point (or Capless) and a Conid bulkfiller.

The time flew by and all too soon it was time to leave. I left wanting more! Before dispersing, a few group photos were taken around the Pelikan Hubs banner. Similar photos can now be seen on social media from cities all round the world and it is rather nice and special to think that fellow fountain pen enhusiasts were sharing their stories on the same day, in so many countries and cities.

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Pelikan Hubs 2017 London UK.

I picked up a lot from talking to people and had a wonderful evening. Thanks to Naresh our Hub Master for arranging the venue, to the Hyatt Regency Hotel for their hospitality and to Pelikan for instigating this marvelous event – and for the beautiful ink.

I could not wait to try the ink when I got home. I have put it in two pens. I am thrilled with the unusual colour and its attractive shading. Many of our group – me included – plan to visit the London Pen Show on 1 October 2017 and look forward to meeting again then.

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