Pen Review: Pelikan Souverän M400 Black-Red

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When it comes to the Pelikan Souverän series of fountain pen, often the versions with the green or blue stripes appear. These colours can be found in many different pen sizes. Particularly, the Black-Green model is available in M300, M400, M600, M800, and M1000, which essentially is the entire regular production line of the Souverän series. There are also other coloured models that have a solid presence in Pelikan’s regular lineup. The Black-Red is one such model.


Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Pelikan Souverän M400 Black-Red
Nib: 14K gold fine nib
Filling System: Piston
Production: Regular edition

1. Packaging (9/10):

The Pelikan Souverän M400 Black-Red is a regular edition pen. And it comes with the standard packaging for the Pelikan Souverän line. It’s a fairly large box that can be opened by lifting the top cover. The fountain pen itself is well protected in a white Pelikan pen pouch. The design and the materials used for the packaging is adequate for a pen of its price range. I always wish that for different pen models and colours, there can be a bit of variety. But I don’t have much to complain here considering the high build quality.

2. Pen Design (8/10):
The Pelikan Souverän M400 Black-Red has the same dimensions and weight as the two other ones that I have reviewed in the past, the M405 Black-Blue-Silver and the M400 Black-Green. The pen is of small to medium size, and the light weight makes it easy to handle, no matter whether it’s posted or not. The threads on the pen are smooth and they are not sharp. The cap posts securely, and the pen body is well polished. It is not difficult to tell that this is a well built fountain pen.

What’s different for this version of the M400 fountain pen is the colour scheme. The pen is decorated with red stripes on the barrel. Considering that I already had two M400/M405 at that time, the red stripes was pretty much the main reason why I bought this pen. The stripes are not monotone; with different angles, there are a variety of shades of red reflecting on the barrel. Combined with the gold-plated clip and trim rings, this pen offers a warm feeling. And the contrast between the red stripes and the black resin really makes this pen stand out.

The Black-Red design is currently available on the M400 and the M600 model. Unfortunately the M800 Black-Red seems to be already discontinued. However if that pen ever gets reintroduced, it will be an easy purchase decision.

3. Filling System (10/10):
Pelikan makes a lot of piston filling fountain pens, and the brand knows how to make it well. This M400 Black-Red has the same high quality piston filling mechanism that can be found in the other M400/M405 pens that I have reviewed. It’s smooth. It’s efficient. It has a fairly high ink capacity. The transparent caps between the stripes serve as the ink windows. I find no other pen model that also has such a great filling system within its price range.

4. Nib Performance (9/10):

The 14K gold fine nib on this pen writes very well. I did not have a very great experience with the fine nib on the M400 Black-Green that I reviewed, but this one writes without any of the issues that I had before. It writes very smoothly without any nib adjustment. My only concern about the nib is that it writes more like a medium nib. I find that Pelikan’s nibs tend to be on the wider side of the nib size designation.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
I do not find any issue that makes this M400 Black-Red difficult to be taken care of. The materials used to construct the pen is durable, and the pen design ensures that cleaning this fountain pen can be quick and easy. With a piston unit that runs smoothly and a removable nib unit, any fountain pen ink can be effectively flushed out of this pen.


Packaging: 10/10
Pen Design: 8/10
Filling System: 10/10
Nib Performance: 9/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 10/10

Total: 46/50

Perhaps the most iconic design of the Pelikan Souverän fountain pens is the green stripes. But the red stripes here can be equally as beautiful, if not more. Personally, I enjoy the writing performance of the Pelikan Souverän M400/M405 fountain pens, and recommend them as excellent daily writers. This M400 Black-Red adds a great colour scheme to the lineup and I really hope that this option can be available on the larger M800 and M1000 sizes.

Pen Review: Pelikan Souverän M400 Black-Green

Since I added the Pelikan Souverän M405 Black-Blue-Silver to my pen collection, I had been thinking about getting one more. Since I got a medium nib the last time (I purchased the pen with a medium nib, and later switched to an extra fine nib), I was planning to try a fine nib. Therefore, I settled with the Pelikan Souverän M400 Black-Green.


Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Pelikan Souverän M400 Black-Green
Nib: 14K gold fine nib
Filling System: Piston
Production: Regular edition

1. Packaging (9/10):

The Pelikan Souverän line regular edition pens share a common packaging. This pen is no exception. This packaging is a bit more refined than the one for the Classic line: the box opens by lifting the top instead of pulling sideways. The white Pelikan pouch has an elastic band to help with the closure. This mechanism looks a bit more thoughtful and makes the pouch more practical to use, since the ones that come from the Classic line only have thin ribbons to help tighten the pouch. In addition, on the elastic band, there is a Pelikan seal, which I think is a great decoration for the pouch. Overall, the box is just a bit larger than the Classic line packaging. The box may look a bit plain, but serves the purpose very well. Since the pen is a regular production model, I don’t have much to complain here.

2. Pen Design (8/10):

The Pelikan Souverän M400 Black-Green is the entry level model of the Souverän line, with a small-to-medium footprint (the M300/M320 line is an exception. It is smaller but more like a pocket sized pen. Also it is generally more expensive). But it has pretty much everything that one should expect from a Pelikan Souverän fountain pen. Just like the previously reviewed Pelikan Souverän M405 Black-Blue-Silver, the cap top is metallic, but this time in the gold colour. The rings on the piston knob, cap end, and the grip section are also gold plated.
The 14K gold nib installed here is two-tone. It doesn’t exactly match with the other entirely gold coloured trimmings. But I personally don’t like nibs that are completely in the gold colour anyway, so I’m happy with the design here.

Pelikan is famous for its green-striped design on the pen. The design is iconic and hasn’t changed much for decades. Even though green may not be my favourite colour choice for the stripes, it’s hard to deny that this implementation works well. The shade of green is not very vibrant, making the pen pretty appropriately looking for formal occasions.
In addition, if you are already familiar with Pelikan’s striped design for the pen barrel, you probably also know that the gaps between any two stripes serve as the ink window. This approach ensures that the appearance of the pen is still great, because it won’t have a large chunk of the barrel being transparent. Meanwhile, how much ink is left in this piston filler still can be seen easily.

3. Filling System (10/10):
The piston filling mechanism installed in the Pelikan Souverän M400 Black-Green is exactly the same as the one in the previously reviewed M405 Black-Blue-Silver. Pelikan’s piston filling system works flawlessly. The ink capacity is great and the striped design on the barrel serve as the ink window. The users can easily check if the ink level is running low.

4. Nib Performance (6/10):

I chose a fine nib to go with this pen, because I find the 14K gold Pelikan medium nib is too broad for my daily writings. While this nib certainly writes with a line width that I’m much happier with, I find that the nib has a strange and inconsistent ink flow. When the nib is only pressed lightly, ink barely flows onto the paper. However, with much more pressure, ink flows generously, and at the same time, this nib has a lot more flexibility than the medium nib I own. There isn’t any hard start or skipping issue, and the nib at least writes right out of the box. But the strange ink flow issue confuses me. Later when I had more Pelikan Souverän M400 pens with more fine nibs, I never see this problem again.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
This pen is well made. The smooth piston operation and the easily removable nib unit guarantee that cleaning the pen will be a simple task.
The trims and finishes on the Pelikan Souverän line are more refined than the Classic line, and are always well finished. What you receive is a quality pen that is durable and reliable. There should be no issue with the pen as long as it is used and stored properly.


Packaging: 9/10
Pen Design: 8/10
Filling System: 7/10
Nib Performance: 6/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 10/10

Total: 40/50

My second pen of the Pelikan Souverän line offered an interesting writing experience. While the pen is very similar to the first one, the Pelikan Souverän M405 Black-Blue-Silver, the 14K gold fine nib here seems to be a strange one. It gives an unexpected amount of flexibility, but suffers from the inconsistent ink flow.
The green stripes is one of the most recognized design elements from Pelikan. Regardless of the size, the Black-Green finish is such a classic model. In my opinion, any serious Pelikan collector should have a Black-Green model in the collection.
Overall, I think this pen is a good addition to my Pelikan collection. Even though this nib’s performance is not something to be expected from Pelikan, since later on I acquired more M400 pens, I find that this seems to be only a fairly rare case. Therefore I still recommend anyone looking for a decent medium size piston filler to take a look at this pen. It’s one of the classic fountain pens that every fountain pen user should at least have some experiences with.

2016 Favourites – Part 1

Here it goes for another year. I had a wonderful year of 2016, when it comes to building a better collection of fountain pens and fountain pen inks.

In general, my preference for any pen or ink did not change much. Compared to 2015, I did not aggressively expand my collection by trying a variety of models from different brands. Instead, I was mainly focusing on adding the ones that mostly meet what I prefer already, and exploring whether the other new features are worth the investment.

2016 was also an amazing year for me to get more experiences from the pen shows. The Toronto pen show was as great as usual. But last summer, the DC Supershow was a brand new experience, and a really good one. Being one of the largest pen shows in the world, the DC Supershow opened the door to a whole new world for me. The scale of the pen show and the huge varieties of pens and inks really were outstanding. I had a great time there meeting people across the globe that share the same hobby. Pen shows give the unique environment that all the pen lovers can come together to talk about what the current trend is, express their opinions on certain pens or inks, and have the chance to try out a few pens from other people’s collections.

My top 10 fountain pens for 2016:

  1. Montblanc Meisterstück Solitaire Tribute to the Mont Blanc Classique (18K, F)
  2. Montblanc Bohème Blanche (18K, F)
  3. Pelikan Souverän M805 Vibrant Blue (18K, F)
  4. Pelikan Souverän M1000 Black-Green (18K, F)
  5. Graf von Faber-Castell Intuition Platino Grenadilla (18K, F)
  6. Montblanc Meisterstück 149 (18K, M)
  7. Omas Ogiva Alba Violet (14K, F extra flessibile)
  8. Aurora Optima Mare (18K, M)
  9. Pelikan Souverän M400 Tortoiseshell-White (14K, F)
  10. Lamy 2000 Stainless Steel (14K, M)

From this list, you may be able to tell the certain characteristics of a pen that I enjoy. In general, I love piston filling fountain pens that have springy nibs. In addition, while it’s not absolutely necessary, I do appreciate it when the pen has a decent weight and size. Therefore you can see that these pens have most of the preferences matched. These are the pens that I pick up the most often. I find them not only outstanding when it comes to the writing performance, but also very appealing to the eyes. In most cases, they are quite easy to be cleaned and maintained as well.

Compared to the list from 2015, you may find that most of the pens from that list no longer show up here. It’s not that my preferences had changed significantly; it’s because during the last year, I acquired new pens that are often similar models, compared to what I had already owned, but quite improved in many areas.

The best example is the number one on the list, the Montblanc Meisterstück Solitaire Tribute to the Mont Blanc Classique. The resin version Classique Platinum Line was on the previous list, but this new one is better in almost all aspects. Perhaps the only thing I don’t like about this pen is that it accepts standard international ink cartridges only. But everything else is perfect. The 18K gold fine nib writes super smoothly without lacquered finish and the detailed engravings on the grip section make it a really beautiful pen. The extra weight from the metal construction lets the pen sit extremely comfortably in the hand.

The second place goes to the Montblanc Bohème Blanche. I love this pen pretty much for the same reason as the last one. The smooth and springy 18K gold fine nib, the beautiful white lacquered barrel and cap, and the decent weight all make this pen so wonderful. What’s also interesting is its retractable nib design. It’s not just simply a fountain pen, but also a piece of art.

The Pelikan Souverän M805 fountain pen gets the third place. For any particular pen model, I only allow one entry into the top 10. While I love all my Pelikan Souverän M800/M805 pens, the M805 Vibrant Blue is the favourite for this year. It’s hard to make a pen that will have an even prettier material. The balance between the transparency and the vibrancy is perfect.

Honourable Mentions:

These pens did not reach the top 10 of 2016. However, all of them are frequently included in my pen rotation, and each pen has very unique writing characteristics that I love.

My most favourite fountain pen releases in 2016:

  • Pelikan Souverän M805 Vibrant Blue
  • Pelikan Souverän M800 Grand Place
  • Lamy Safari Dark Lilac

My least favourite fountain pen releases in 2016:

  • Pelikan M120N Green-Black
  • Lamy Al-star Charged Green
  • Pelikan Classic M205 Blue-Marbled

This is going to be a very subjective topic, but the pens above are the ones that I consider as the best or the worst releases of 2016.

The Lamy Safari finally has a special edition in purple. The matte finish makes it even more attractive. I personally think the matte finish makes the Lamy Safari look much more refined and well made.

Both the Pelikan Souverän M805 Vibrant Blue and the M800 Grand Place were released earlier in 2016, with the Grand Place being only available in certain regions. I knew that I had to add them to my collection as soon as they were announced. Both pens do not carry the iconic design of the barrel with stripes. However, the special edition materials are very attractive. Being translucent means that I don’t have to guess how much ink is left in these piston fillers.

On the other hand, there are new release that I personally don’t enjoy too much. Interestingly, these pens also come from the same manufacturers, Lamy and Pelikan. Last year, the special edition for the Lamy Al-star was the Charged Green. It’s certainly a colour that is not commonly seen on pens and is quite special. However in my opinion it’s not an attractive colour. But perhaps for me the most disappointing releases are the Pelikan M120 Green-Black and the Pelikan Classic M205 Blue-Marbled.

The Pelikan Classic M205 Blue-Marbled is a new regular edition introduced last year. In 2016, Pelikan also released two other M205 pens, the Demonstrator Transparent Blue and the Aquamarine. Since there are already two special edition releases, I feel that having this many M205s releases within such a short period of time is a bit strange. And considering this one is only a regular edition pen and is available at any time, it does not offer enough features or specialities to make it more attractive than the other two. The pen itself is quite beautiful and I do like it. It’s only that I think the timing of the release is not right.

In addition to the M205 releases, Pelikan also introduced a special edition M120N Green-Black, which is almost the same size as the M200/M205 model. This pen has more of a vintage look and carries a nib with unique engravings. However, it looks and feels just like a M200 fountain pen, but with a price tag that is significantly higher. I think this pen shouldn’t be put with such a high price, even if it’s a special edition that is likely more attractive to the collectors than to the average users.

What are your favourite fountain pens for the year 2016? In the next post, I will share my favourite inks of the year and what I hope to get this year.


Pen Review: Pelikan Souverän M405 Black-Blue-Silver

After adding the two Pelikan Classic M200/M205 fountain pens to my collection, I had been considering trying the Pelikan Souverän series fountain pens. Since I have great writing experiences with the lower end Classic line, I would like to see if the Souverän pens with the gold nibs offer even better writing performances. Therefore I picked up the Pelikan Souverän M405 Black-Blue-Silver as my first Souverän pen.

Basic Information:
Fountain Pen: Pelikan Souverän M405 Black-Blue-Silver
Nib: 14K gold extra fine nib
Filling System: Piston
Production: Regular edition

1. Packaging (9/10):

Compared to the Classic line, the Pelikan Souverän M405 Black-Blue-Silver comes with a similar but larger and more refined box.

Pulling the top cover off, the pen is presented in a white Pelikan pen pouch. The pen pouch is tightened by the elastic ribbon that has a plastic “seal”. Compared to the version provided by the Classic line, I think the elastic ribbon offers more practicality. Other than the pen and the pen pouch, the box also contains the warranty booklet. Overall, I think the packaging receives a small upgrade from the Classic lineup. It is a fairly elegant packaging considering the price range.

2. Pen Design (8/10):

The Pelikan Souverän M400 series pens have almost identical designs as the Classic M200 ones, with a few refinements. Starting from the cap, instead of the plastic cap top, the Pelikan Souverän M405 Black-Blue-Silver equips a metallic cap top. On the edge of the cap and on the piston knob, there are two rings respectively. In comparison, there is only one ring on the cap and the piston knob, respectively, for the Classic series.
Having the pen uncapped, there is one more difference that can be easily seen, between the Classic and the Souverän lines. On the edge of the grip section, there is also one metal ring that makes the grip section edge no longer very sharp. I really love this improvement. The barrel material is gorgeous. The sparkling blue stripes match really well with the silver coloured trims, giving the pen a classy and elegant look, while actually have more practical uses beyond just the nice appearance. Between the blue stripes, the pen barrel is translucent, so that it is not too difficult to know the ink level. Meanwhile the design of the pen is still consistent. The entire barrel can keep the striped appearance because a dedicated ink window is not required.

Being a small to medium size pen, the Pelikan Souverän M405 Black-Blue-Silver may not be the best sized pen for everyone. However when it is, the pen has an excellent weight balance. When posted, the overall length makes it a wonderful pen to hold in the hand, while the weight distribution is still perfect.

Perhaps the most significant feature that distinguishes the Souverän series from the Classic line is that the Souverän fountain pens have gold nibs installed by default. For the M400 size, a 14K gold nib is provided. The M400 model and the M200 model actually share the same nib unit design. Therefore the gold nibs and the stainless steel nibs can be installed on any pen from those two models. For this pen, since it is the M405 model, it has a single tone and rhodium plated nib, which matches perfectly with the silver coloured trims. The engravings on the gold nib are very simple but elegant. It’s one of the most beautifully designed nibs that I own.

3. Filling System (10/10):
The piston filling system is my favourite filling mechanism. Just like the previously reviewed Pelikan Classic M200 and M205 pens, this pen also has a piston that operates extremely smoothly. The pen holds a large amount of ink considering its size. Since the whole barrel can serve as the ink window because of the striped pattern on it, there is no problem to tell if the pen needs a refill.

4. Nib Performance (9/10):
The 14K gold nib installed on this pen gives a hugely different writing experience than the Pelikan stainless steel nibs. The gold nib is fairly springy, but barely offers any significant line variation. As an extra fine nib, it writes extremely smoothly. The ink flow is generous, giving the ink full potential to show the shading. This extra fine nib works well on all kinds of paper and rarely has any hard start or skipping issue. It’s an outstanding nib for everyday writing.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
This pen is very easy to clean. The piston mechanism operates very smoothly and flushing the ink out of the pen can be done fairly quickly. If any ink is particularly difficult to be cleaned, the removable nib unit allows the users to clean the inside of the barrel more carefully. The build quality of this pen is excellent. All of the parts are well polished and precisely assembled. It’s a pen that does not require too much additional maintenance, as long as the usual pen care is performed. Of course, it is always the best to carry the pen around with a pen pouch, in order to give it the best protection.

Packaging: 9/10
Pen Design: 8/10
Filling System: 10/10
Nib Performance: 9/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 10/10

Total: 46/50

The Pelikan Souverän M405 Black-Blue-Silver is my first fountain pen of the Pelikan Souverän series. The beautiful material, excellent design, and solid construction make it an outstanding daily carry pen. Since the first purchase, I now own many more Pelikan Souverän fountain pens in various sizes and finishes. It’s hard to find anything that is not done well on these pens.

2015 Favourites – Part 1

This is my second year coming back to use fountain pens and starting my small collection of pens and inks. It’s a year that I was able to better understand what I truly love for this hobby.

I had very limited knowledge about fountain pens before I decided to come back to the hobby. I had no idea about the huge varieties of filling systems, pen materials, nib materials, and so on. And I guess these are just the basics of any fountain pen design. At the very beginning, almost any kind of design combinations look attractive to me. As the result, I was adding pens that differ vastly into my collection. As I become more knowledgeable about fountain pens, I was able to slowly figure out what particular design directions work the best for me. Therefore I am now having a better focus on what to collect. Also as different pen companies have different designs and how their pens also do not perform in the same way, this makes my collection of pens and inks lean towards certain brands. But before talking about all those details, I think now would be a good time to start listing what my favourites are. Here are my top 10 fountain pens:

  1. Pelikan Souverän M400 Tortoiseshell-White (14K Gold, F)
  2. Pelikan Souverän M805 Stressmann (18K Gold, EF)
  3. Graf von Faber-Castell Classic Grenadilla (18K Gold, M)
  4. Pelikan Souverän M600 Pink (14K Gold, F)
  5. Delta Dolcevita Oversize (14K Gold, F)
  6. Pelikan Souverän M620 Chicago (18K Gold, F)
  7. Lamy 2000 (14K Gold, F)
  8. Waterman Carène Ombres et Lumières (18K Gold, F)
  9. Pilot Vanishing Point Twilight (18K Gold, M)
  10. Montblanc Meisterstück Classique Platinum Line (14K Gold, F)

By now you can probably see that I really love Pelikan and this brand is certainly the most favourite. My preference for the filling system is the piston filling mechanism, and I think Pelikan does the best job in this area. The pistons are always smooth and the barrels hold a lot of ink. While many other pen companies also offer piston filling pen options, Pelikan makes the basic pen maintenance super convenient by designing the nib units to be easily removable and swappable.

Each other pen has its own advantage. The Graf von Faber-Castell Classic Grenadilla has a very smooth and springy 18K gold nib. Its trip to the nib meister turned it from an average medium nib to a wet nib that writes a bit similar to an architect’s point. The pen looks classic and sits balanced in the hand. It is just so fun to use. All the other pens in the list are also good writers and the ones from Delta, Waterman and Pilot are particularly beautiful pens. Being a smooth and reliable writer, my Lamy 2000 is rarely out of rotation. Last but not least, the Montblanc Meisterstück Classique has always been one of my favourites, since it is my first fountain pen. And of course it writes equally as well as the others, if not even better.

These pens are the ones that I love the most and use the most often. There are some honourable mentions that I want to list below. While they could not make it to the top 10, these pens are either very interesting to use, or offering great values for the money:

As for inks, below is my top 5:

  1. Montblanc Lavender Purple
  2. Sailor Jentle Souten
  3. Sailor Jentle Tokiwa-Matsu
  4. Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin
  5. Montblanc Toffee Brown

I love cool colour inks in general, except for the Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin. These inks all flow well, easy for pen maintenance and offer excellent performances on many types of paper. The best part is, they all have a decent amount of shading combining with most paper types and pens.

Once again there are some honourable mentions in each colour range. Please feel free to check out this page.

That’s it for my top 10 fountain pens and top 5 inks for 2015. In the next blog I will continue to talk about other things that made this hobby wonderful, in my opinion.

Thank you for reading!