Fountain Pen Review: Pelikan M605 Transparent White EF “The Ghost”

Ever since I started buying fountain pens, I’ve wanted a Pelikan. I initially thought I wanted an M200 series. I liked the simplicity and classic looks but didn’t know when I began collecting what the difference was between the various lines of Pelikan.

Over time, I learned that as the numbers got bigger (for the most part) the Pelikan pens get larger and the nibs and craftsmanship get more elaborate. The 200-series features the slightly-soft, steel nibs, the 400-series introduces the gold nibs and the pens get a bit larger and then the Souveran and 600-, 800- and 1000-series get a bit larger and more elaborate with inlay and upgraded nibs, clips and so forth.

My first experiences with the soft steel nibs of the M200 series did not go as planned, As much as the Pelikan aesthetic appealed to me, the soft steel nibs did not work well out of the box with a left-handed writer. They are a nib that requires testing firsthand or working with a nibmeister to get the most out of them. This seems counter-intuitive for the lower end of the price spectrum for Pelikan pens but for lefties who tend to push their pens rather than pull, this is an unfortunate reality. So, I have been reticent to try another Pelikan for several years.

This year, though, I visited with a Pelikan collector  at a couple pen shows who was an enthusiast and showed me several beautiful, rare Pelikans and talked through some of the finer points of the pens. In educating me about the pens and nibs and letting me test out the gold nibs firsthand, I was able to realize that it was the steel nibs that had been my frustration and not Pelikan in general. Sad truth? I needed to up my game.

Then Pelikan introduced the Souverän 605 White Transparent this fall and I knew I had found my first Pelikan. I immediately pre-ordered it from Vanness Pens with an extra fine nib, having been warned that the Pelikan nibs run a bit wide and wet.

I anxiously awaited its arrival. The pen immediately became dubbed “The Ghost” online due to its translucent appearance and its white-on-white with silver tone palladium hardware. I prefer “The Ghost” to the less descriptive White Transparent name that Pelikan gave it.

The box that the pen shipped in is the same trashy, ribbon-laced box that the previous M600 Pink Special Edition came in. At least this time it didn’t have a giant bow.

Inside, the box is a simple paperboard inlay with a satin ribbon and rubber band to hold the pen in place. I can almost ignore the ridiculous corset lacing box at this point.

Once I threw the box in the closet and looked closely at the pen, all is better. The pen is stunning. The creamy white cap and end cap and the translucent barrel with iridescent stripes and palladium hardware is all perfectly angelic.

It did take me an inordinate amount of time to choose an ink though. Since the ink color can be seen through the iridescent white stripes of the transparent barrel, I wanted to pick just the right color. I’m sure any color would look good but I wanted something seasonally appropriate too. It’s cold and blustery here in the Midwest so I chose an icy blue, Montblanc Miles Davis Jazz Blue.

When the ink hits the embossed ridges of the nib? Pure magic! That’s one thing that’s hard to argue — Pelikan still makes some of the most beautiful nibs in the business. That scrollwork is gorgeous.

To give a sense of scale, I’ve photographed the Pelikan M605 alongside some other pens. From left to right: Pilot Decimo, Lamy AL-Star, Sailor Pro Gear Slim, TWSBI 580 ECO (Thanks for catching my mix-up, Subgirl!), Pilot Metropolitan, the Pelikan M605 and Kaweco Sport.

The Pelikan is between the Sailor and the Metropolitan in size overall.

Here are the same pens, posted. The grip section is very similar to the Sailor with a very subtle step between the threads and the barrel making it pretty comfortable to hold no matter your hand size or grip.

All of these pens have small nibs too, interesting side note.

Weight wise, the Pelikan M605 weighs 19gms posted/capped and 12gms unposted and filled with ink. It’s probably one of the only pens I find perfectly balanced when posted. The cap posts deeply and solidly so that the pen does not feel top heavy or precarious. If you like to post your pens, the M605 is definitely a pen that will accommodate the urge.

In writing, I was tickled to discover how much I loved writing with the pen from the moment it touched the paper. The gold nib was smooth and had just a little feedback on some papers, enough to know my pen was on the paper and not skating above it.

The M605 did make me want to write “all fancy” and not my normal chicken scratch. I suppose that’s not a bad thing. Maybe this will be the start of a year of penmanship improvement? Maybe I shouldn’t get my hopes up quite yet?

The Ghost has definitely set me on the path to other Pelikan pens. The M805 Ocean Swirl which was released just a month or so after the M605 White Transparent was equally lust-worthy and made me seriously wonder if I was on a slippery slope of Pelikan pen obsession. Luckily, my wallet intervened.


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18 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Lovely review of a gorgeous pen. I succumbed as well and even though it’s the most expensive pen (by far) that I’ve ever bought I’m absolutely delighted with it. It’s so beautiful! And it writes like a dream.

  2. I’ve been looking closely at Pelikan for a while now, and reviews of The Ghost have been really helpful… and make my wallet twitch. It no longer “intervenes”, but has reached a stage of “learned helplessness”, rather like a mouse cowering from a cat. But what has held me back is, when i’ve had the chance to try out new Pelikans in-store, some of the nibs have been pretty bad. “Scratchy” doesn’t even begin to describe how bad, and I don’t want to part with several hundred bucks for something I’ve got to send off to a nibmeister.

    I have this old-fashioned attitude that when I pay for an item, it should do what it’s supposed to from the moment I use it, and when I pay a lot for something, it should do it very well indeed. So Pelikans, like Viscontis, worry me. I long for several models in their respective ranges, but the fear of buying, waiting all those minutes for it to be delivered, then finding I have to wait MORE MINUTES to send it off and make it work… when what I really want is the pen in my hand the moment I put my credit card number on the web site… all this is too much.

    So I look at your beautiful pictures, and I read great reviews, and I buy another TWSBI 🙁

  3. Excellent review. Definitely on my list of pens to have. Personally I enjoy the M200 nib I have I like a nib with a little feedback when I write.

  4. Thanks for the review. I got this one for Christmas and I did find the nib (M) wetter than the M nib on the M200 series. Also being a “lefty” I found both wrote well.
    In both cases, the nibs wrote well “out of the box”, and there was very little feedback, of course the better the paper the better the experience.

  5. Excellent review. My Ghost is also the first Pelikan I was immediately attracted to and Dobai had it on pre-order. It wrote perfectly straight out of the box and I have had it inked none stop since it arrived. So far my favorite ink to match it has been Hisoku, though Kiri-Same was also very winter Ly appropriate. Enjoy!

  6. Ana, as always, a great review. My very first fountain pen was a Pelikan 800 series and, like you, fell in love as soon as the pen hit the paper. The price point has kept me somewhat under control although I now own 3 including the new Ocean Swirl. The sad news is that almost anything else I try feel inferior unless a nibmeister had already done some magic. I do love those Pelikan’s and see no reason to try and love something else. #penmonogamy

  7. Just clarifying, isn’t the TWSBI in the comp pics an ECO not a 580? Or am I wrong?

    I don’t yet have an ECO to verify against, but I didn’t think they did the 580 with that neon colourway?

  8. Oh, and the story of my first Pelikan. I got it from Toys in the Attic at my first Pen Show in SF. It’s a teensy wee thing, an M320 Rubinrot and I’m STILL madly in love with it. It has a delicious fat BB nib that out of the box, unfortunately, had wretched baby’s bottom that took a year for me to get fixed by a nibmeister. Now? It’s one of my top 5 pens ever. It seems some Pels just need a bi of love to work their magic.

    I also have quite an assortment of entry and school level Pelikans, as those were my first foray into “adult” fountain pens in uni. Those come in lefty nib versions, so that may be why the (pseudo) mid-range 200 steel bins aren’t so friendly for lefties. Just some speculation there.

    1. I’ve never thought to try the Pelikan lefty nibs. I’m very skeptical of the Lamy lefty nibs. I think its all hype but in the case of those soft steel nibs, there may be something to it.

  9. Thx for your review. I opted for the M605 “Green Stresseman” and believe it writes easier than any pen I’ve owned. I recommend a Pelikan to everyone.

  10. Ohh, so pretty. . . someday when I grow up, I want a Pelikan. By the way, I love the blue showing through, but I’m sure you’ve got some bright pink inks that would look really spectacular in there, too!


  11. I just got the Ocean Swirl. it is sooooooo beautiful. I find myself staring at it when I should be doing other things…

  12. I had to have this particular M600, as I believe it is the “sister” pen to my Pink M600 that I bought 2-3 years ago. They both have the same, stylized “corset” box in white and pink, etc. And when I get them together, they definitely look like family; a couple of very pretty sisters, indeed! I really like my new White M600. However, I am currently waiting while the custom stub I had ground is being tweaked; they actually made it a little too smooth, so I’m having a little feedback added back in. I really hope it works out, as these two pens do represent quite an investment. I agree; it shouldn’t require an immediate trip to a nibmeister to have every new Pelikan reground or tuned. However, I am a Pelikan addict, and will go through the expense and wait because I do love these pens so much. I am very choosy with my Pelikan purchases, as they usually do represent quite an investment.

  13. The white Pelikan is attractive. One other positive to mention about Pelikan pens is they are reliable. Neglect them, they’ll write when you come back to them.

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