Pelikan M205 Amethyst fountain pen review

A little bit of history  Pelikan are already famous as the pre-eminent purveyors of the smoothly-tuned piston-filler, from the small but perfectly formed M200 to the huge M1000.  We’d have to get around to reviewing one sooner or later, but Pelikan forced the issue somewhat with one of their limited editions, in a nice dark purple.  Be fair now – you couldn’t expect us to say no, could you?  Thanks to a bit of help from the very lovely Pure Pens of Pontrypidd (who sell Pelikans – have your guessed their favourite letter?), we have been playing with two fine examples with very different nibs – but we’ll come on to that in a minute.  First, the eye candy!

Amethyst M205
Amethyst M205

How it looks  The sophisticated end of purple, this is a serious amethyst shade rather than brash violet, so any chaps who feel overly protective about their masculinity have nothing to fear.  But according to our panel, it also still looks ‘fun’, which is a difficult quality to define, but if it can achieve that at the same time as exuding luxury, it‘s getting something right.  The preposterously swanky packaging doesn’t hurt, either.

Nib and section
Nib and section

How it feels  It’s a shapely pen which feels like it’s built to last a lifetime, and probably will.  Whether it’s the right size for you is quite a personal matter – this is the smallest end of the Pelikan range, of course.  The majority of our reviewers found it just perfect, but one of us found it a bit too small for longer-term comfort – but then again, he thinks Sailor’s ‘King of Pen’ is a perfectly sensible size.  There’s no accounting for taste.  What the M205 definitely doesn’t feel, however, is cheap.

Italic nib close-up
Italic nib close-up

How it fills  A piston, obviously.  Until TWSBI came along Pelikan pretty much monopolised the piston-fill market, and they do it well.  The actual ink capacity is not earth-shattering, but it still opens more options than reliance upon over-priced cartridges would do.  The piston itself is smooth and authoritative in action, and doesn’t feel like it’s going to let the user down any time soon.

Crucially, how it writes…  Very well indeed.  But exactly how depends upon your choice of nib, of course.  Ruth was most impressed with the smooth but surprisingly generous steel EF nib, and you can watch it gliding suavely over the page in her video (links below).  Scribble and Stuart opted for a ‘stub’ italic nib personally ground-down from a BB nib by Ross at pure Pens, which retains a little bit of spring and is a nib full of ‘character’.  Either way, using this brings a bit of a smile, somehow.

M205 italic writing sample
M205 italic writing sample

Pen! What is it good for?  With a ‘sensible’ nib in, you could probably just about get away with taking this to work – although in this case it may depend upon your profession!  On the whole, this one’s probably a nice one to have safely wrapped in a pocket or hand-bag for when you need to scribble a few notes while out and about.  Longer-writing sessions may be possible too, for scribblers with smaller hands.

Ruth showing off what the EF can do
Ruth showing off what the EF can do

VFM  TWSBI do a similar job as the M200 for half the price, so the unusual colour and trim of the M205 goes some way to justify the premium price of the Pelikan in this case.  It really does look better in purple and chrome!  It’s not a cheap pen, but if you are after a special nib (like that ‘Cymrucised’ italic) and you want it connected to a proper piston system, this is a good choice.

If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost…  If price is the problem, try a TWSBI; the 580, Mini or Eco are all good introductions to piston-fillers and have a decent range of nibs too.  If you’re not so partial to purple, other M200 specials come and go with the seasons, so wait for a while and something else will be along soon enough.  If you want something bigger, Pelikan have three sizes of piston-filler above this – and if you’re keen for us to review them, just let us know…

Cap detail - spot the pelican
Cap detail – spot the pelican

Our overall recommendation  This one’s ideal if you feel like treating yourself to something unusual without completely smashing the overdraft limit.  If you like to have fun with proper pens rather than only thinking about office-work and calligraphy, and if you like purple of course, get one.

Where to get hold of one  As they helped us get hold of two of these smashers to review, we’re naturally going to name-check Pure Pens here – and if you want that specially-ground italic, their pelikanpens.co.uk subsidiary is literally the only place to go.  Other specialist fountain pen retailers including Cult Pens and The Writing Desk also stock the purple M205 in the UK, and at the time of writing it’s £90 at all of the above for one of the standard steel nibs.

…and now you want one too, eh?

This meta-reviews references:

Thanks to  Pure Pens for pulling out all the stops to get a couple of review samples into our paws.  By the way, if you’d like to see what this company offers, orders over £10 will be getting a 10% discount for the next few weeks for United Inkdom readers – just use the code  “UNITED10”  (all capital letters) and enjoy!

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