Review: P16 Stola III (2015)

Pelikan P16 Stola III Fountain PenThere have been many excellent reviews of Pelikan’s P16 Stola III published since it was released back in 2015.  I did not acquire one of these when they became available because I tend to favor Pelikan’s long revered piston filling mechanism over most cartridge/converter models.  That said, an opportunity arose during the recent Pelikan Hubs event in Philadelphia, thanks to Frank from Federalist Pens, which allowed me to add a P16 to the flock.  After using the pen for the past several weeks, I felt the need to add my voice to the reviews out there, largely because of how pleased I have been with this model.  I am a piston user by preference and generally have a bit of disdain for the cartridge pen.  I was softened to the cause of the cartridge pen after reviewing the P200 but was not won over.  Despite my bias, the Stola III quickly had me forgetting about any misgivings and allowed me to enjoy the writing experience.  It is a sharp looking pen with a surprisingly high end feel due to its metal barrel construction.  It’s also priced quite reasonably for what you get.  If you’re in the market for a cartridge pen, then I would have no qualms recommending the P16.  Read on to find out why. 

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Varying Shades of Brown – The M2xx Demonstrators

Pelikan M200 Amber, Cognac, Smoky Quartz and M250 Amber DemonstratorsA demonstrator is a very polarizing type of fountain pen amongst enthusiasts.  Some love them for the ability to see the inner workings of the piston mechanism.  Nothing is left to the imagination and new shades of ink can effect a chameleonic transformation upon the pen’s appearance.  Others hate them for the very same reason since every errant blob of ink may become glaringly evident and stains aren’t so well hidden.  Pelikan has released many demonstrators over the course of its history including several amongst their Classic series.  This is Pelikan’s lower tier line with a somewhat less ostentatious trim than the Souverän series, stainless steel nibs in place of gold ones, and a slightly less polished finish.  Don’t let those differences fool you though as these are excellent fountain pens for substantially less money than what the Souverän line commands.  One production theme that has often been repeated across the M2xx series is that of the brown transparent demonstrator.  Since 2003, Pelikan has released four models done in a shade of brown, three of which are so similar that only a few tell tale details set them apart.  The newest model to that line is several shades darker and I thought that it would be interesting to see these four distinct but related releases together so that you might see just how they stack up with one another and how much darker the Smoky Quartz actually is.

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News: A Shifting Pricing Strategy in the U.S. Market?

Pelikan logo cap topsOver the last month, I have been repeatedly asked by fellow pen lovers as to why U.S. prices for Pelikan’s fine writing instruments far exceed that which is available elsewhere.  It’s no secret that over the last few years, an increasingly growing number of U.S. consumers have awakened to the realization that Pelikan fountain pens can often be had for significant savings when purchased from overseas vendors.  The U.S. market has seen a steady increase in the price of Pelikan’s fine writing instruments, the last swell coming in February of 2016.  Consequently, authorized United States’ retailers have historically had to offer their Pelikan wares at significantly higher prices than competing international merchants.  Regardless of what factors may have contributed to that discrepancy, the end result was a tilted playing field that made it incredibly hard for US vendors to compete in what is clearly a global economy.  I have always questioned the disparity in pricing and wondered why U.S. customers are dealt with so differently?  It’s a passionate issue for me because I have a deep affection for the brand but their marketing strategy has prevented me from recommending even an entry level Pelikan pen to anyone starting out in this hobby since these too are often priced higher than competing brands.  

For the last month, I have done extensive research into the economics of why Pelikan’s U.S. pricing might be the way that it is and that is what I intended to present to you today.  Just as I was preparing to publish that article, Pelikan/Chartpak called an audible on me and therefore I have scrapped that entire post in favor of this one.  What I present to you now is evidence that there may be a major shift in U.S. pricing silently occurring and our domestic vendors and their customers are likely to reap the benefits. 

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Pelikan’s Maki-e Koi and the Story of the Dragon

Pelikan M1000 Maki-e Koi Fountain PenKoi fish are a domesticated variant of the common carp and have been around for thousands of years.  Carp are a cold water fish that can survive and adapt to many climates and water conditions which facilitates their propagation to new locations.  With proper habitat, they can grow up to three feet in length and easily live 25-30 years or more.  They were originally found in Central Europe and Asia but are most frequently associated with Japan.  This may be because they were largely unknown to the outside world until a Tokyo exposition in 1914.  Carp were first bred for food but color morphs were later selectively bred resulting in the beautiful diversity that we see today.  There are currently over 20 different varieties of Koi fish.  The carp has been revered for thousands of years, often represented in stories as a symbol of perseverance.  In Japanese culture, they symbolize wealth, prosperity, love, a successful career, and good fortune.  One ancient legend of the Koi stands out and Pelikan highlights it in the promotional materials for their 2015 Maki-e release, simply titled Koi.

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