Pelikan M205 - Adding a Gold Nib; I Must Be Insane

I seriously must be out of my mind.  With as much grief as the Pelikan M205 seems to have caused me in the past, I'm still sinking money into them in hopes that some day I will buy one that knocks my socks off as sufficiently as it does other people.

I think we might finally be there...

What did it take?  Buying a gold nib to switch into it.  Desperate times...

I'll have to pass the credit for the prompting over to Mr. Myke Hurley of Relay FM, co-host of one of our favorite podcasts, The Pen Addict.  Over a year ago I imagine it has been now, Myke bought an M205 and swapped in a gold nib.  He raved and raved about it, but from what everyone else seemed to be saying was that the steel nib was still good.  I decided to give the steel a try.

After going through a couple of M205s to try, they never really grabbed hold of me.  Actually, three M205s to be exact.  One I had sent off for repair which came back writing well, one I sold which was "ok" in my opinion, and another recent purchase I got from Pen Chalet with an italic nib which is fun.  Still, buttons not really being pushed like crazy; until this gold nib.

I was perusing another pen retailer, Cult Pens, out of the UK as they stock Pelikan gold nibs ranging from the 400 to 1000 series.  The M400 14k nib came in at £60 (after excluding VAT), and I had a 10% off coupon code at the time.  So £64 shipped (at the time a little less than $100) got me a new nib on the way from the UK which I thought was cheap.

So, couple a Pelikan M205 from Pen Chalet with one of the coupon codes floating around for less than $90 with about $100 nib from Cult Pens, you can set yourself up with a gold Pelikan that probably rivals the M400 or M405 for about $100 or so less.  Hey, I'm open to saving $100 where I can...

What this gold nib has done has actually made me really, really enjoy the Pelikan.  Honestly, it is probably one of the most fantastic nibs I own.  Super smooth, just enough flex, great flow; excellent.  This swap, if in your budget, is something I would highly recommend.

I went with a medium which puts down a pretty wide line, but can't argue with the smoothness.  Eventually I may end up purchasing another in a fine, but we'll see.  Honestly, I don't want it to seem like I was throwing the M400 or M405 under the bus as I don't own one, but for the sake of giving the experience a fair shake one of those may pop up sometime in the future.  A little side-by-side comparison would be nice rather than me making potentially outrageous claims.

With all of the praise I am now giving the pen, I am still a bit irked if I'm being honest.  I know a lot of people have good experiences with the standard, out of the box M205, but mine were mediocre at best.  I mentioned in a previous review that there is probably a lot of "it's not you, M205, it's me" going on which I'm certain clouds my willingness to move on.  A $200 (retail) pen should write like a $200 pen, case closed.  Compared to others in this price range like the Pilot Custom 74 or Vanishing Point (both come with gold nibs), the standard experience of the M205 doesn't stand up.  I hate feeling like a am paying a premium for a "brand" if that makes sense.  

Still, I know now the the M205 will be more frequent in the rotation due to the swap.  This pen feels like it is finally worth its salt.  


Pilot Blue Custom 74 Fountain Pen - M Nib

Whew!  The past month has been absolutely crazy.  With the holidays, orders for Dudek Modern Goods go up in November which puts most of my free time into production mode.  This has prevented me from sitting down to write a full-on pen review for a couple of weeks now, but I knew the Pilot Custom 74 fountain pen was the next on the list to review as it has surprised me as an overwhelming favorite.

I acquired this blue Custom 74 fountain pen about a month or so ago from Pen Chalet and have been so pleased with it.  The honest truth is, I almost didn't buy one.  I have two or three other 14k Pilot fountain pens (Stargazer and CH 92 to name a couple) and I thought, "do I really need to try another one?"  The more and more I kept looking at them, the more I found that I appreciated its design and aesthetic.  

There were three things that really made me want to buy one: looks, size, and that it was a cartridge/converter style.  I really like the Pilot Custom Heritage 92, but I honestly feel that piston fillers probably aren't my favorite.  There are pens where I make an exception as there is no other option like the LAMY 2000, but I prefer to go the cartridge/converter route due to convenience and cleaning.  I find that with piston fillers that it is nearly impossible to get all remnants of the previous ink out and in the CH 92 which is a clear demonstrator, you see it.

From a size perspective, the 74 comes in just a hair longer than the 92, but isn't big at all.  Again, going back to the cartridge/converter thing, I have the Stargazer, but feel I prefer the more full sized pen for everyday writing and use.

I think the Pilot Custom 74 is a handsome, yet sporty looking pen.  It comes in a range of colors from orange to purple, but still maintains a sense of class.  There is just enough chrome trim to dress it up a little.  

Both ends of the pen have a domed piece which softens the looks in comparison to most other Pilot fountain pens I own.  The Falcon, CH 92, Stargazer, and even my vintage Customs, all have flat ends.  Pilot also chose to make the clip a bit different than the others by adding a small round ball to the end of a tapering piece.  I'm sure this allows for easier pocketability if you really think about it, but I presume it is to fit the overall, softer looks they chose to give the pen.  

The nib, to be expected, is fantastic.  Wet and smooth, and haven't had a skip to speak of.  The medium runs, well, medium, but if you are used to a fine nib on a Pilot then prepare to be about double the line width.  The jump from <F> to <M> (Pilot nib language) is pretty big.  At first I wasn't so sure about mediums, but they are very enjoyable due to how smooth the experience is.  When I say "smooth", not like glass smooth, but not scratchy and just enough feedback.

As usual, I've been using my large Rhodia dotPads which are excellent for fountain pens.  I'm also writing with a black ink which is pretty rare for me as I'm usually a blue guy, but a friend of mine let me fill it up with some Noodler's Borealis Black (which is awesome by the way and super saturated). 

Final point on the board for the 74: the CON-70 converter.  This is the first pen I've bought that takes the CON-70 which is the largest of the Pilot converters.  The CON-20 is a sort of squeeze filler, the CON-50 is more of your traditional piston filler, while the CON-70 is a button filler that you have to pump a few times to fill up.  Sort of strange, but surprisingly effective.  Bigger reservoir for longer writing stints...

If my opinion isn't fairly clear, I really like the Custom 74 and I think it will be a pen in the rotation a lot.  It looks good, but isn't a lot of fuss and I like that.  Kind of the "old reliable" type if you know what I mean.  Does it have the same technically sophisticated look of my clear Custom Heritage 92?  No, but is probably a pen I'll use excessively more.

Again, I picked this one up from Pen Chalet where they have it listed for a good price and you can get an extra 10% off using the promo CLICKYPOST.

The Divide Review and Giveaway at From the Pen Cup

One of my favorite bloggers, Mary Collis, posted a review today of her new Divide over at From the Pen Cup.  Mary has a way of making you laugh, making you cry... you get the picture; she is great.  She has a witty humor that just makes me smile.

Mary's Divide all decked out...

Mary's Divide all decked out...

In addition to her review, we've arranged to do a giveaway of The Divide to one of Mary's readers, so make sure to head over and check it out.

Thanks Mary!