Pelikan’s M805 anthracite Stresemann has been out for a few months now and reviews have steadily been cropping up. To those other voices, I would like to add my own take on this pen. I have had the opportunity to use the Stresemann for the past three weeks as my continuous every day carry along with the companion K805 ballpoint. While my experience has generally been positive as you will read below, there were some small inconveniences that, while not deal breakers by any stretch, did hinder my full enjoyment of the pen. To be upfront, this pen was provided to me as a loan by Pelikan themselves and will be returned to them after this review (the first such occurrence for this blog). That said, this article was not subject to any censorship nor do I feel a loaned pen has had any impact on my objectivity. Still, I provide that information to you at the start in order to allow you to better draw your own conclusions. I think that the most striking thing about this M805 is how Pelikan took a somewhat drab color and really elevated it to another level. This pen stands out in the M8xx line up in a unique way and will be hard for many to pass up. Unlike so many special edition releases that disappear once the production run has ended and stock is sold off, the Stresemann is reported to be a regular production model. If you don’t have the funds for one right now, it seems as if they will be around for the foreseeable future. I know many hope that this color bleeds into the other Souverän lines and based on my experience with the M805, that would be a very welcomed occurrence. Unfortunately, only those in Hannover know whether that will ever become a reality or not. While we can only hope for now that this pattern will translate to the other lines, read on below to find out how the Stresemann does the M8xx line justice.
Where does the Stresemann moniker come from? Gustav Stresemann (1879- 1929) was the foreign minister of the Weimar Republic who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1926 for his reconciliatory efforts after World War I. As if that wasn’t enough, his other claim to fame was the invention of a new kind of suit that blended a formal appearance with extra comfort. Due to his proclivity for wearing suits with thin stripes, people started drawing parallels with Pelikan’s now well-known striped pattern. This pen serves to acknowledge and pay tribute to that legend.
Appearance & Design (9/10) – An absence of color with an abundance of character
Being that my pen was provided on loan, there was no special packaging to receive it in. That said, many will notice that packaging varies from vendor to vendor and this is completely independent of Pelikan themselves. Some vendors are packaging these pens in the large round gift boxes complete with a flacon of Edelstein ink while others are using the more traditional rectangular gift packaging. If this is a consideration for you, you should make an inquiry to the vendor ahead of time to avoid any disappointment. If you own any other M8xx series pen, the Stresemann will feel instantly familiar in your hand. It has a nice heft to it and a very polished finish. The palladium colored trim really sets off the striped anthracite pattern nicely. Like the other pens in the Souverän series, there are two trim rings at the piston knob, a trim ring at the section, and two cap bands. The cap band bears the inscription “Pelikan Souverän Germany.” If you have seen other M805 pens, the furniture will look the same with the exception of a welcomed change to the nib. Prior x05 releases still featured a two-toned nib, adding a touch of yellow gold that may or may not have seemed incongruous. With the release of the Stresemann, it appears that Pelikan has opted to transition the x05 lines to a purely rhodium plated monotone nib. My impression is that this was a smart decision and works well with the aesthetics of the pen. The anthracite pattern itself is a shade of gray but does not feel overly dull or gloomy. True to tradition, there is a translucency between the stripes allowing for easy visualization of the ink level in the barrel. I very much enjoy never having to guess when my pen may or may not run out of ink. The finish of this pen certainly has a professional look that should blend nicely with almost any workplace environment.
Construction & Quality (10/10) – Top notch in all respects
I find this to be one category where Pelikan’s piston filling pens consistently score highly. The Classic series will usually lose a point or two due to the retained seams from the injection molding process, left by design during the manufacture of these lower tier pens. You will find no such seams on the M805. The finish has a highly polished appearance that exudes quality. The barrel is made of cellulose acetate and the black parts are derived from resin. The furniture is plated in palladium. The piston knob snugs securely against the barrel and there in no play with the piston retracted. The piston itself has a very smooth travel. The cap is secure when the pen is closed and it post very confidently on the back of the pen should you so desire. Not once did I fear the cap falling off while posted, a big consideration for me since I post all of my pens. Stepping up to the M8xx series brings with it the brass piston assembly which also adds a reassuring amount of weight not found in pens of the lower models, even those of the Souverän line. With regular, loving use, I would expect this pen to last indefinitely.
Weight & Dimensions (8.5/10) – Substantial in the hand without being heavy
One of Pelikan’s strengths is catering to a wide audience. They have a campaign at present with the tag line, “You can buy suits in different sizes…so why not fountain pens?” I think this is fitting as pens are not a one size fits all proposition. If the M805 were a suit, it would definitely be a large (but not oversized) and that won’t be the right fit for everybody. That said, the sizing of a pen is a very individual thing. I have medium-sized hands and the M8xx line feels very comfortable to me but I understand that it can be a tad much for some. In terms of dimensions, the Stresemann is 5.59 inches closed, 6.57 inches posted, 0.52 inches in diameter, and weighs 0.99 ounces. The ink capacity is 1.35 mL. Despite the added weight of the brass piston, I find the M805 to be comfortable for long writing sessions, without inducing fatigue.
Where I pause when reaching for the M805, indeed any M8xx pen, is in the length. I work in an office environment that requires me to wear collared, button down shirts daily. I always have a Pelikan fountain pen in my breast pocket but, for many shirts, the M805 is just a touch too long to be a comfortable fit. My wardrobe is split about 50/50 in terms of comfortably accommodating its size so that is something to consider. Again, how we prefer to carry our pens is a personal thing. The pen easily fits into any case that I have tried and can be carried quite comfortably that way. The pen is made to be large and so I will not hold that against it. My final thought about the weight and dimensions is regarding balance. I am an habitual poster and one of the reasons that I favor Pelikan pens is that they balance tremendously well when posted. When stepping up to the M8xx series, however, I’m 70/30 on posting. The M8xx remains comfortable posted but is the first in the Souverän series that I can also comfortably use unposted. Given that the pen’s weight is towards the back of the barrel (brass piston assembly), posting doesn’t feel quite as well-balanced as the models below it, but only just slightly so. These are all small considerations but they are the ones that matter to me. I’ll leave it to you to make your own judgements.
Nib & Performance (7/10) – Wet and wide with a finish that suits the pen well
The M805 comes equipped with a rhodium plated 18C- 750 monotone nib and the choice of an all rhodium plated nib really goes nicely with the pen’s aesthetic. It has the typical scroll work and Pelikan logo that has been commonplace for so many years now. Unfortunately, in recent years we have lost a lot of excitement when it comes to the available nib sizes and offerings at present are only in the standard EF, F, M, and B. While disappointing, the generous amount of tipping on these nibs does lend them to easy manipulation and customization by qualified nibmeisters. Like most modern nibs from Pelikan, these tend to write about a size wider than their actual designation. If you are truly looking for a fine line, for instance, I’d suggest looking at an EF nib. This is partly due to the large amount of tipping present today but also is influenced by the wet nature of the feed. There is some spring to the nib but no one should be looking for any flex as that is not what these were designed for. With that said, this category in my review is where this pen takes the biggest hit.
If you like a wet and wide line, this nib was made for you. What I faced for the last three weeks was a hesitation that proved disappointing. The first stroke of the pen would not write. Once the stroke was repeated, the pen would write smooth and pretty as you please until recapped and put away with a recurrence of the hesitation at the next uncapping. It only occurred on the first stroke but I could not remedy it with repeated flushing and I found that the tines themselves appeared to be aligned when viewed through a 20x loupe. The situation did get a little better as time went on and so there may be a break in period with this particular nib. The frustration was small but constantly present with each uncapping which makes it hard to forget. My personal take is that quality control is not infallible and that nibs of pens across manufacturers may occasionally have issues out of the box. That said, I understand at this price point, you want the pen to just work. Nothing is more disappointing than unwrapping that high-tech Christmas present only to find out there are no batteries in the house. I do not feel that my nib issues are endemic or an indictment of Pelikan’s quality. I would not recommend against purchasing the M805 because of my experience but you should be aware that issues may arise. Pelikan does offer a free 30 days nib exchange on new purchases and of course there are many retailers who check nibs prior to shipping or can fix one that arrives with poor performance. I will include a writing sample of the medium nib that I was provided at the end of this post.
Filling System & Maintenance (10/10) – A glass smooth piston
This is always the hardest section for me to critique because I feel that there isn’t much that I can say about the piston. It is about as close to perfection as you can get. The piston travels very confidently and smoothly once engaged and provides a near full fill with a single stroke. The piston knob secures snugly to the back of the barrel so there is no distracting play with day-to-day use. The pen has a generous 1.35 mL ink capacity which last for a good while before requiring a refill (depending on your writing habits). The synthetic seals used today should last for generations and when the piston begins to stiffen with time, these are easily serviced at home with just the tiniest dab of pure silicone grease. One added benefit of stepping up to the M8xx line is the threaded piston assembly which can be removed much more easily and safely than the lower models. That said, removing the piston is not something that I would routinely recommend and is really never required outside of a repair. A stiff piston can be lubed from the section after removing the nib rather than removing the assembly itself. The other maintenance advantage with Pelikan is that their nibs are removable by the user. This allows for repair/replacement of damaged nibs as well as the swapping of other M8xx nibs to facilitate different writing experiences.
Cost & Value (8/10) – An expensive pen but built to last
I’m conflicted when it comes to making a judgement on cost and value. Of course we would all like our pens to be available as cheaply as possible. Many have been upset and several have even turned away from certain brands due to what is perceived as continuous and gratuitous price increases. The Stresemann currently has an MSRP of 470 euros ($496.79 at the time of this post). At retail, I have seen these range from $475 to $640 so I would encourage you to shop around to try to locate the best price. Certainly the recent strength of the dollar has helped to increase our overseas purchasing power, at least within the United States. I enjoyed my time with this pen and would very much like to own one myself someday (it is on my short list). I do think that since the pen is reported to be a regular production model, I might wait and see where the market settles out but I realistically don’t expect much of an improvement in the standard pricing from vendors though there may be a better price had when vendors start listing these with sales/promotions. No matter what the price, this pen will still be expensive but, for the money, you are getting a high quality writing instrument that will last a lifetime. Also, Pelikans tend to hold their value well in the secondary market and so this pen should be able to be sold, should you choose, without taking too much of a loss.
Conclusion – A sophisticated and beautiful addition to the M8xx line-up
M805 Anthracite Stresemann: 52.5/60 or 87.5%
I find the M805 Anthracite Stresemann to be a very comfortable pen with a color scheme that is very pleasing to the eye. At first, I was skeptical as to how a grey pen might stand apart from the crowd of dark-colored pens, especially with Pelikan who is best known for their bright green birds. That said, the choice of palladium trim and an all rhodium plated nib really helps elevate the design. I never felt out-of-place pulling it out of my pocket and, for the most part, enjoyed the writing experience. The piston filling mechanism never fails to deliver and the finish of the pen is top-notch. My experience was hampered by a nib that was just slightly poorly performing at startup. Another disappointment, though not specific to this pen, is the lack of character in the bland nibs of today. I wouldn’t mind seeing Pelikan revive the italic nib previously offered with the M800 but with rhodium plating. Most will not have a nib issue out of the box (and the available range of nibs will suit the majority of people just fine) so I do not consider the issues that I encountered a deal breaker. At the end of the day, I look forward to acquiring my own Stresemann and would love to have feedback from those of you who have had the opportunity to use/purchase one.
As an aside, I did have occasion to use the K805 ballpoint provided as well, particularly on forms that use carbon copy technology (they do still exist). While not my focus or preference, I found the K805 enjoyable and reliable to use. It laid down a solid, consistent medium black line with Pelikan’s 337 ink cartridge. While the cartridge performs well and comes in a few different colors/sizes, it does have the downside of being somewhat expensive when a replacement is needed. The pen utilizes an easy to deploy twist mechanism that can be actuated with just one hand. The pen is a little top-heavy but not distractingly so once you get used to it. The K805 also has the attractive anthracite pattern on the top half of the pen which contrasts nicely against the black resin on the bottom half and is further accented by the palladium furniture. For those who favor purchasing their pens in sets, the K805 ballpoint has an MSRP of 330 euros and the R805 rollerball has an MSRP of 360 euros. Actual retail pricing will vary from vendor to vendor.
A Look At The Pelikan M805 Anthracite Stresemann
Pelikan M805 Anthracite Stresemann Writing Sample
*The pens utilized for this review were provided to me on loan from Pelikan for the purposes of this review. They were promptly returned once this article was published. I received no monetary compensation for this review and there was no corporate censorship of any kind. The opinions expressed in this article are my own.