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.

First released circa 2003, the M200 Amber came at a time when the company was producing a rainbow of demonstrator releases for the Classic line-up (including Anthracite, Green, Red, Blue, and Clear).  At the same time, towards the end of the run of the M250 line, the Amber demonstrator was given an upgrade with the inclusion of a 14 karat nib.  For those that may have missed out on either production run, the model was resurrected eleven years later in 2014 as the M200 Cognac.  This model was just about identical to the prior M200/M250 releases with the exception of a gold crown finial rather than the plastic of the originals.  Now, in conjunction with this year’s release of  the Edelstein Smoky Quartz Ink of the Year, we have the corresponding fountain pen designed for the M200 line bearing the same name.  Like the Cognac, the gold-plated finial is present here but the trim otherwise remains identical.  This release is the most divergent of the group as it is several shades darker.

 

Release
Year
M200 Amber Demonstrator
2003
M250 Amber Demonstrator
2003
M200 Cognac Demonstrator
2014
M200 Smoky Quartz Demonstrator
2017

 

Pelikan M200 Amber, Cognac, Smoky Quartz and M250 Amber Demonstrators

One of these things is not like the rest. Left to right: M200 Amber (2003), M200 Cognac (2014), M200 Smoky Quartz (2017), and M250 Amber (2003)

 

Pelikan M200 Amber, Cognac, Smoky Quartz and M250 Amber Demonstrators

Gold-plated stainless steel nibs (first three from the left) characteristic of the M200 line and a 14C-585 gold nib found on the upgraded M250 series

 

Pelikan M200 Amber, Cognac, Smoky Quartz and M250 Amber Demonstrators

Cap tops depicting the single chick logo employed after 2003 and the two chick logo (as seen on the M250) employed prior to 2003

 

Pelikan M200 Amber, Cognac, Smoky Quartz and M250 Amber Demonstrators

Note the plastic crown finials seen on the Amber models versus the gold-plated ones seen on the Cognac and Smoky Quartz. The Cognac also has a darker inner cap compared with its predecessors. You may notice that the Amber cap of this copy of the 2003 release has yellowed somewhat over time

 

If I had to pick only one, and I’m fortunate enough to not have to, I would personally go with the Smoky Quartz.  I like the darker, richer tone of brown utilized for this model.  Do you have a favorite amongst this quartet of fountain pens?

23 responses

    • I’m actually using the Smoky Quartz ink now in my M800 Renaissance Brown. I’m not much into brown inks but can’t really say there is anything I dislike about it. It’s behaving very well on my Rhodia with decent shading. The demo pen is a nice match to the ink as far as shades go.

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  1. Josh, thanks for clearing this up! I was just recently wondering about the slightly different shades of brown-toned demonstrators I had seen lately. Couldn’t see a difference in them unless they were put side by side, as you have so conveniently done for us. Although I think they’re all pretty, I like the darker, richer tones of the Smoky Quartz best, too. I will probably be acquiring this one with an M400 nib soon.

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  2. I have, and enjoy, an Amber. I didn’t think there was much of a difference to justify the addition of the Smoky Quartz until I saw your photos. Now, it has been added to my wish list. Thanks for a great comparison. Regards, Jim.

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  3. I have both the Cognac and the Smoky Quartz, and I’m kind of torn between the two. I like the lighter tone of the Cognac, but I’m a huge fan of having a matching ink to go with the pen. This in mind, the Smoky Quartz wins out … barely!

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    • I agree that both are great but I too would pick the Smoky Quartz as the winner by a hair. I just like the color. I’m not big into matching inks with pens personally.

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  4. Hey, Joshua! Great explanation of the different models. I was wondering: do all of the M250 Amber pens have a 14K nib? Or only some of them? I saw one for sale with a 14K nib and was wondering if it was more rare than the original M200 Amber. Of course, it would have a higher value due to the 14K nib, I would think. But are the M250 pens more valuable simply because of their rarity, and not because of the 14K nib? Just curious. Thanks to anyone who can clarify this.

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    • All M250s by definition have a 14C gold nib. That is what distinguishes an M250 from an M200. I don’t know that M250s are that much more rare. I think it’s the gold nib that adds to the value. This may be particularly so because this was back when Pelikan was making more interesting sizes and expressive nibs.

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      • Ohhh, good to know! I did some more reading on the M250s, and I understand about the gold nib now. I hadn’t thought about the expressive nibs that were being made at that time; that’s a nice bonus. The pen was part of an estate sale, in the original box, and I took a chance. At the price they were asking, it was a great deal for any Pelikan with a 14K nib. They had it priced like an M200 with a gold plated nib. So, the pen is in good condition, and I’m getting a bargain on a Pelikan with a 14K gold nib. I was very happy to have your excellent research info to assist me in deciding on this pen. Of course, there are always things to watch out for, but I was careful, and I think this purchase is going to turn out pretty good. I’ll write my results after I get it.

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        • Glad to help you in your research and congrats on the newest addition to your flock. Sounds like a nice pen that you picked up. The M250 nibs are great writers. Enjoy it.

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  5. Just to update: I got my Amber M250 today, and it turned out to be a nice pen. It has a14K fine-point nib that has character; it writes smoothly, with a sweet little feedback. I can feel the nib on the paper, and it feels great. It’s in very good condition and I’m happy with my latest acquisition. This is only the second older Pelikan I’ve bought, and so far, I’m two for two. I’m still going to take it slowly; I don’t want to rush into collecting vintage pens. I could envision some disasters if I don’t proceed carefully.

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    • Glad that you’re a fan of what is a really great pen. That said, I’d be cautious with the vintage label. If that M250 is vintage, we’re all in trouble. For what it’s worth, I consider vintage as anything made 1970s and earlier.

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