Welcome to the Pen Pit Stop. Here you will find reviews of pens that already have some mileage on them. More specifically, these reviews are of pens that are in my personal collection, and that have been in use for at least a year. I thought it would be fun to do it this way – no new & shiny pens here, but battered vehicles that have been put to work for at least a year. Let’s find out how they have withstood the ravages of time.
The fountain pen that enters the pit stop today is the “Pelikan M800 Grand Place”, a 2016 Special Edition. Pelikan is one of the best-known European pen-makers, with a long history dating all the way back to 1832 when the company was founded in Hanover, Germany. The brand offers both semi-entry-level pens (like the M200 series) all the way up to their flagship M1000 model. All Pelikan pens adhere to the same classical style, and as such are immediately recognisable.
I bought this pen in June 2017, and it remains my most expensive pen purchase ever. But I had four good reasons for buying it, which together pulled me over the line. First, I wanted to own at least one M800 pen. Second: Grand Place … Brussels … Belgium … a pen that references my country. Third: my birthday was coming up … always a perfect excuse to splurge a bit ;-). And fourth and foremost, this pen simply enthralled me with its swirling beauty.
Pen Look & Feel
The M800 Grand Place is a beautiful pen with a unique finish – the body is constructed from a swirly material with multiple shades of brown, and some blue accents. The black grip section & piston nib elegantly complement the body, giving the pen an aesthetically pleasing look. The swirly material captures the light in a dramatic way – giving the impression that light is sucked into the pen, and reflected back from the depths of the body. A stunning view – one you have to experience, and that is difficult to capture in a photograph.
In contrast with the traditional striped Pelikans, this is definitely not a pen for formal occasions. This is a pen for use at home in intimate writing sessions. With this pen, my thoughts wander to a dimly-lit New Orleans café, with a seducing sax and jazzy tunes. This lady dances like a flame, has no cares, she shakes, swirls and snakes (if you’ve got access to a streaming music service – put on “The Girl in the Yellow Dress” from the album Rattle That Lock by David Gilmour – that perfectly captures the atmosphere of writing with this pen).
In weight and dimension, this is your typical M800 pen. A big pen (almost the same size as a Lamy Safari), with a substantial weight. For me personally – this pen is a borderline case: a bit too large and heavy for my taste. I prefer the smaller M400 pens, which I find more comfortable to write with.
Like all Pelikans, the cap unscrews with a bit less than one rotation, so it’s quickly ready for action. The pen posts securely, but then becomes really large. It’s already a large pen in its own right when used unposted. This is also a rather heavy pen, due mainly to the brass piston mechanism.
The gold nib on my pen is an F-size, which writes really wet. This is an 18C two-toned gold nib, that looks beautiful and has a decent size that nicely complements the large body. The nib unit is replaceable, but quite expensive (about 189 EUR). If you like to experiment with different nib sizes, this is not a good choice of pen.
Be aware that the Grand Place lacks an ink window – in my opinion, Pelikan made the right choice here: an ink window would not look good on this pen. The body’s material is semi-transparent though, so it is still possible to judge the ink level by holding the pen up to the light. To be completely honest – you will need strong backlighting to do this (but it works, and you probably don’t need to check your ink level every 5 minutes).
If you want loads more of detailed info on this pen, there’s no better place than the Pelikan’s Perch. Be sure to take a look at Joshua’s superb review!
The pictures above illustrate the size of the M800 Grand Place compared to a standard Lamy AL-star. The pen almost exactly matches the AL-star capped & uncapped. The Pelikan posts more deeply though, and is a bit smaller than the Lamy when posted.
- Build Quality : build quality is excellent. The pen looks really polished and refined. The pen also withstands the passing of time without any problem. After two years of use, it looks good as new. Of course – I treat it like the queen it is. Also I don’t use this pen as a daily worker, but only at my home desk for personal journaling.
- Weight & Dimensions : about 140 mm when capped – and as such a rather large pen. It is also definitely a fairly heavy pen. If you prefer lighter pens, the M200/M400 model will probably suit you better.
- Filling System : this is a piston-filler, that holds quite some ink. The piston is made from brass, adding to the weight of the pen. Pelikan are known for their excellent piston mechanism.
- Nib & Performance : the M800 Souverän pens have 18C gold nibs. The one on my Grand Place is a beautiful two-toned F-nib, that is a fairly wet writer. You should be aware that Pelikan nibs are typically a size larger than their designation. My F-nib definitely writes more like an M. I quite like that you can buy the Pelikan nibs separately. If you accidentally damage your nib, you can simply buy a new one. The M800 nib units are rather expensive though and cost about 189 EUR.
- Price : the Grand Place is a Special Edition pen, and as such substantially more expensive than the regular M800. It set me back 599 EUR, including taxes (a regular M800 is 440 EUR). That easily makes it my most expensive pen.
My Pelikan Souverän M800 Grand Place is a jazzy beauty with tons of flair. This is a pen to admire, and to use for intimate writing sessions (just you and your pen). The Grand Place is expensive – no doubt about it. But you get a truly unique writing instrument for your money, that will serve you for years to come, and one that will probably retain its value (in the unlikely case you should be willing to part with it).
So the answer to the question “would I buy this pen again”? Well – the conditions were right, and given these circumstances, I would not hesitate to buy it again. But for me personally, the pen is a bit on the large side. I’m glad I got me this particular beauty, but it will almost certainly remain my only larger-sized Pelikan.
[Originally published on the Fountain Pen Network, on 07 May 2019]