Review: Pelikan M205 Fountain Pen

Pelikan M205 comparison

First, I have to say thanks to Mr. Mike Dudek at The Clicky Post for letting me borrow his Pelikan M205. His review of the M205 suggested that the pen may not live up to its hype so I was pleased to have a chance to try it before I invested in my own. Mike had purchased two different M205s and sent me the one that worked better for him right out the box.

I was so excited to try it. I have to admit, I hoped that maybe Mike wrote with an unusual angle or pressure and that my experience with it would be perfect. I pulled it from the package like Excalibur with a magical thrum and a radiant glow. This pen is so dreamy to look at.

Pelikan M205 pen comparison

The pen itself reminds me of the classic looks of vintage Esterbrooks. The M205 is still just a plastic body fountain with chrome accents and I’d definitely describe it as understated for the over-$100 average retail price. But its a smaller, subdued pen. It doesn’t scream “expensive” or “fancy” and I like that. I love the look of the old Esterbrooks so a modern pen with these classic lines has a lot of appeal for me. The translucent ink window reminds me of some of old fountain pens as well. The simple piston filler is also a holdover from the days before cartridges and converters. It seems like Pelikan has just continued to make the same good-looking pen since the early 20th century. This makes this pen everything that would be a “holy grail” pen for me.

Pelikan M205 nib

Mike sent me the white body with a fine nib which was exactly the one I would have ordered. I inked it up with a good lubricated ink — Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku — and hoped for the best.

The nib has some spring in it which is really quite amazing for a modern steel nib. On the nib, is a beautiful swan emboss and a classic script logo as well as the nib width. How irresistible.

Several folks asked to compare the Pelikan M205 to the Pilot Prera, as well, which has a similar-sized nib and the pen, overall, is a similar size. It’s a fair comparison as they are both plastic bodied, with a small steel nib. There’s a bit more chrome detailing on the Prera and it does take Pilot cartridges or a converter. The price for the Prera is even much less, even after my Plumix modification. The Pilot nibs run much finer and stiffer than the Pelikan though.

Pelikan M205 nib comparison

And then I started writing and the whole experience started to sour.

My first experiences were on miscellaneous office paper, 3x5s and the like. And I was not getting good results. Not a good sign. My experiences, while not exactly the same as Mike’s were definitely less than stellar. The ink seemed choked. I would get flow with some strokes but not with others. I had a feeling that the M205 did not approve of my overhanded lefty writing position.

Pelikan M205 writing sample

When I switched to my “I’m doing calligraphy” below-the-line writing position, the pen behaved much better. But…. I shouldn’t have to do that. There’s shouldn’t be just one sweet spot. None of my other pens, modern or vintage, require that the pen be held in a very specific position. Modern Kawecos? They don’t care what angle I write. Lamy? It will withstand my divergent grip even while digging into my knuckle. Monteverde? Whatever angle is fine and it glides across the paper. So why should a pen made for decades be so fussy? Oh, M205? Why are you trying to ruin my dreams?!?!

I cleaned it out and refilled it hoping maybe a fiber got under the nib or something innocuous but nothing seemed to improve the performance dramatically other than being very very specific about the pen’s position on the paper. So other lefties, be warned.

To quote Mike:

Are your torches lit yet?… Has someone piled up the wood for the fire?…

I know that the Pelikan M205 is often the gateway pen to higher priced modern fountain pens. I just don’t have the capital to spend $100 or more on a pen that only “sort of” writes for me. Sadly, I think I will have to cross the M205 off my grail list and move on to some of the other candidates.

I forgot to mention that Mike purchased the Pelikan M205 from our fine sponsors, Pen Chalet at a deeply discounted price. If you’re ready to give one of these classics a whirl, be sure to use the code “wellappointeddesk” at checkout to get an extra 10% off. And also know that Pelikan/Chartpak has good customer support and will swap out your nib unit should you have an issue like Mike did initially.

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7 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I’m in the same boat despite buying mine pretuned from Richard Binder. I didn’t have specific problems with the pen it just didn’t excite me. Also I’m not a poster so unposted the pen was a bit short for my hands.

  2. Are you sure that was not just the nib? I have written with multiple m200/205s and usually with F/EF nibs and the nibs were always excellent, smooth, no skipping …. Much better than most other makers only problem I have ever had is that the nibs run a bit wider than the italians and definitely than the japanese I need for my small handwriting. I would encourage to test further nibs.

    1. Going through two M205s with “issues” unfortunately sets a bit of a precedent of quality control. I sent in my first for repair and how they fix the problem is to try a bunch of nibs until they find one that works. For an almost $200 retail pen, it would be reasonable to believe that all nibs should work out of the box.

      1. Pelikan has some issues with fine nibs. All the fine nibs from the M2XX series that I’ve tried have had similar problems to the ones you described. These problems were completely gone once I tried medium nibs.

  3. This whole nib business seams to be real tricky. I seem to have a strange hand position and while I’ve never had any problems with my Safaris, some recently aquired (more expensive) pens are giving me trouble. For me those tricky nibs seem to be on Kaweco pens. The fine nib on my Student was skippy and scratchy. A medium replacement is doing an okay job. The B nib on a Kaweco sport is horrible. Skipping all the time. Changes in hand position make it better but dont’t work for me.

    The BB nib on my Pelikan M205 Duo is a great writer though as is the steel nib on my vintage m200 and both do well with my writing style. But nib tolerances generally seem to be quite widespread. That’s what I hate about Safari nibs for example. It’s of no consequence what’s printed on the nib. I have like 5 or 6 Lamy M nibs and every single one produces a different line ranging from what I would call fine to bold. That’s kinda frustrating.

  4. If a Pelikan doesn’t meet with your friends expectations, send it back to Chartpak and they will make it right. I had a an M205 demonstrator that did the same thing yours does. Sent it back. They fixed it. No charge. They even fixed a Pelikano after I let it sit in my car overnight in subzero temps.

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