Review: M815 Metal Striped (2018)

Pelikan M815 Metal Striped Fountain PenThe M815 Metal Striped special edition was announced in May and began shipping in late June of this year.  It is the first M8xx release during the company’s 180th anniversary which makes the stakes seem just a little bit higher.  This is not the first Pelikan pen to be labeled an M815 though.  That honor fell to the Wall Street limited edition from 1995.  While the two pens share little in common, it is nice to see Pelikan taking a new approach in tackling what is by now a familiar theme.  The current M815 marries Pelikan’s high quality resin with palladium-plated stripes made from brass.  The overall effect is a sophisticated elevation of their typical striped “Stresemann” design which enjoys a long and prestigious heritage.  The brass added to this model gives it more heft than your typical M8xx, a boon for those who like a heavier pen.  While not an exact analogy, you can think of it in terms of cramming an M1000’s weight into an M800’s body.  One thing that detractors will likely be quick to point out, and rightly so, is that this model seems to have a lot in common with the M805 Stresemann from 2015.  Let’s take a closer look and see if the M815 has enough going for it to stand on its own merits and separate itself from the pack.

 

Pelikan M815 Wall Street from 1995

Pelikan M815 Wall Street limited edition of 4500 pieces from 1995

Pelikan M805 Anthracite Stresemann from 2015

Pelikan M805 Anthracite Stresemann from 2015

Pelikan M815 Metal Striped special edition from 2018

 

  1. Appearance & Design (9/10) – A fresh take that elevates a long familiar design

With the release of the M815 also comes a unique packaging designed just for this model.  The box is black with silver stripes in an offset pattern with the words “Pelikan Special Edition” located at the top right hand corner.  When you open the flap, you find the pen held in the box at an angle making for a simple but effective presentation that ties in well thematically with the pen’s design.  With the packaging out of the way, you’re left with a very handsome fountain pen that, despite being adorned in palladium plated stripes, does not come off as overly flashy.  The black cap and barrel provide a nice contrast that really sets off the palladium.  The finish of the barrel is smooth to the touch thanks to several coats of lacquer applied to the outer surface.  The furniture is consistent with the standard trappings of an M8xx model.   We have a cap top that depicts the one chick logo, two cap bands inscribed “Pelikan Souverän Germany”, two trim rings at the piston knob, and a single trim ring at the section, all plated in palladium.  There is a dark gray ink window above the section which serves to break up the design.  I suspect that this will by a point of contention for those who do not like an ink view window disturbing a pen’s good looks.  Personally, I appreciate having a reliable and easy way to gauge the remaining ink such that I never have to worry about running out.  A rhodium plated nib and Pelikan’s traditional beak clip completes the pen’s appearance.  The barrel and ink window are the only things that deviate from the M805 Stresemann but they serve to give the M815 a more bold look to my eye while still not being at all flashy.

M815 Metal Striped outer packaging

M815 Metal Striped packaging designed especially for this edition

 

M815 Metal Striped packaging

Open the lid of the box to find the M815 presented at an angle

 

Pelikan M805 Stresemann and M815 Metal Striped

A closer look at the M805 Stresemann (left) beside the M815 Metal Striped (right)

 


  1. Construction & Quality (9/10) – Typical high quality Pelikan craftsmanship

The construction of the M815 is just what you’d expect from Pelikan.  It has a substantial feel in the hand thanks to the added weight of the brass stripes.  Upon close inspection, I could not find any visible seams or other signs of the manufacturing process.  This model does include a trim ring at the section which, as I’ve pointed out in the past, can be prone to plating loss and rusting with long-term use.  This is usually only an issue with pens that are not well maintained and where inks are allowed to sit for a prolonged period on the trim. Certainly not a deal breaker by any stretch provided you exercise basic fountain pen care.  The nib on my example wrote smoothly out of the box and did not require any adjustment which is always appreciated at this price point.  The cap is quick to unscrew when you want to get writing and I have yet to have it come undone unintentionally in my pocket which means that you can carry it around with little worry about ruining something.

Pelikan M815 Metal Striped

 


  1. Weight & Dimensions (9/10) – Feels substantial without being at all uncomfortable

The M815 holds a unique place in the M8xx line.  It retains the same dimensions as all of the other M800 and M805 models but it takes on additional weight thanks to the brass elements in its construction.  If an M800 is too big or heavy for you, this one will certainly be no better.  On the other hand, if the M800 is your thing, I don’t think the added heft will be a turn off for too many.  It feels substantial without being at all uncomfortable.  The M815 Metal Striped measures approximately 5.56 inches when capped, 6.44 inches when posted, and is 0.53 inches in diameter.  It weighs 1.02 ounces without the cap and 1.31 ounces with the cap.  Compare that with the standard M8xx weight of around 0.99 ounces.  That puts this one even on top of the giant M1000 as far as the scales go which weighs in at a paltry 1.14 ounces.  The pen has a nice fit in the hand when writing without posting.  Posting the cap, which is my general preference, does not throw off the balance at all and makes for a comfortable writing experience.

Pelikan M805 Stresemann and M815 Metal Striped

 


  1. Nib & Performance (8/10) – Nothing special but it gets the job done

The M815 is equipped with Pelikan’s standard monotone appearing rhodium plated 18C-750 gold nib.  Available nib widths include EF, F, M, and B though you will pay more for an EF nib from a vendor in the European Union due to Pelikan’s current policy.  The fine nib on my example has been a faithful writer.  Quick to start, slow to dry out, and nary a skip.  My example has just a slight hint of spring to it but the line lacks any character.  It also runs just a touch wide, straddling the border between what I’d consider fine and medium.  Still, it gets the job done with aplomb.  If the standard offerings aren’t to your liking, you could always have the nib custom ground to suit your preferences.

Pelikan M815 Rhodium Plated 18C-750 nib in fine

 


  1. Filling System & Maintenance (10/10) – Hard to imagine improving upon perfection

Pelikan’s piston filling system remains at the top of the heap and is beyond reproach.  The piston has a smooth travel along the length of the barrel and can fill to capacity in just one stroke.  The piston knob secures snugly to the barrel when the piston is retracted.  Pelikan quotes an ink capacity of around 1.35 mL.  The piston is easily serviced by removing the nib and applying the tiniest drop of pure silicone grease to the inside of the barrel every few years or so (depending on usage).  The piston assembly of the M815 is threaded allowing it to be removed if need be though I would caution that it is very rarely ever necessary to do so.  Of course, the removable nib means that you could always changes sizes or facilitate an easy repair without too much hassle.

Pelikan M805 Stresemann and M815 Metal Striped

 


  1. Cost & Value (7/10) – A special edition release that is priced how you’d expect from Pelikan

The M815 Metal Striped special edition has a US MSRP of $850 with domestic retailers selling it at a 20% discount for a final sale price of $680.  Pelikan seems to be back on the high end of pricing after a brief reprieve.  If we look at some past M8xx releases and their MSRPs, we see that the M805 Vibrant Blue (2015) went for $875, the M805 Stresemann (2015) for $800, and M805 Ocean Swirl (2017) for $650.  Of course this isn’t comparing apples to apples since there are unique design elements and additional materials here that likely add to the cost of production.  Still, Pelikan’s pricing feels out of touch and inflated for the US market.  United States’ customers shopping overseas can find a modest savings since this one retails for around $590-600 before shipping or other discounts are applied.  At the end of the day, it is a very nice pen and something unique in Pelikan’s line-up.  I just wish the company was more consistent in their pricing structure.  If you have the money, you could do a lot worse than landing one of these.

Pelikan M815 Metal Striped Cap Top

 

Conclusion – A unique and bold addition to the M8xx family that doesn’t suffer from being too flashy

  • M815 Metal Striped: 52/60 or 87%

The M815 Metal Striped fountain pen comes out in time to celebrate Pelikan’s 180th anniversary year and seems worthy of such an occasion.  It takes a long standing theme that represents a company icon and elevates it in a subtle and alluring way.  Some will gripe about the ink window breaking up the design but I think that, overall, Pelikan has a winner on their hands.  It does skirt awfully close to the M805 Stresemann as far as looks go but I think that this one sets itself apart a bit more than it seems, particularly when you see them side by side.  Despite my affection for the anthracite M805, in my humble opinion, I think this release is what the Stresemann should have been.  I do not have any problem recommending the M815 if you’re looking for big performance and a substantial feel from a relatively compact form factor.

 

 

A Look At The Pelikan M815 Metal Striped
Pelikan M815 Metal Striped Writing Sample

 


 

*The pen utilized for this review is my own from my personal collection and therefore the opinions expressed are also mine and free of any undue influence.

24 responses

  1. Very thorough as always, thank you.

    The stripes on the 815 certainly do ‘pop’ more than on the 805 Stresemann. They did a great job with the box as well.

    Would you say that the difference between how the two feel in the hand when writing is about the same as the difference between a M200/205 and a M215?

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    • Thanks. I think your analogy of the M205 -> M215 would be a reasonable one to apply to the M805 -> M815 though I think the M805 was already starting off as a more substantial feeling writing instrument.

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  2. I received my M815 two days ago. I have procrastinated on the ink and just ordered the Edelstein Topaz. I’m curious to see what other inks will be used for this pen. Excellent review.

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  3. Spot on review. It makes the Stresemann seem a bit dowdy. Now I would rather see the next M1000 version in metal stripe than Stresemann,, but would not like the price, I suspect.

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  4. Good pen but not suitable for long and day writing. We looking for same shape in M.405 which is very perfect size for long and day writing.

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    • I find the M815 comfortable and have no qualms with longer writing sessions. I think that is a subjective thing which boils down to personal preference. Not sure that there are any plans for an M4xx in this style but an M215 is essentially the same size and is a good approximation. Putting a rhodium plated gold nib from an M405 in one would give you the same experience.

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  5. Thanks for the review Joshua, detailed and balanced as ever.
    I agree this should have been given the moniker “Stresemann”, still what’s in a name.
    This pen has got me back into the Fountain Pen addiction that had laid dormant for Twenty Years.
    God help me and my wallet !!

    Just one thing relating to the Extra-Fine Nib Price hike in the EU.
    This is not the case in the UK, both Niche and Cult Pens have no increase when selecting an EF nib, at least not when I got mine. I would strongly recommend other EU residents to take advantage of this.
    (maybe Pelikan thinks Brexit has happened already !!)

    Regarding the Pen Design, The only things I would have liked to have seen, are that the Cap Finial has a different colour scheme, say silver on Black and the Piston knob has a silver end dot, as these currently are standard parts with nothing Special about them.
    I wonder if Pelikan can retro fit these ?

    Like

    • I can’t speak as to why the UK is not saddled with the same pricing as the rest of the EU. It does seem odd that it isn’t but I’m sure there are reasons behind it. I like your suggestions for a design change but doubt that we’ll see anything like that. It makes more financial sense for Pelikan to churn out what they are already set up for rather than to design something entirely new. The prices of these pens is already pretty high so I can’t imagine what additional design changes would add to the cost.

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  6. I’m enjoying mine. Went with one of your previous blog’s suggestion and had Dan do a “smoothed-out cursive italic” modification on a fine nib. Inked it up with some Diamine Oxblood, and my nieces and sister got a fine looking letter, at least by my standards. Great for letter writing on certain paper, but not writing multiple pages, as it takes a little more time, care, and effort to write. However, I’m more than pleased. Thanks for the post!

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  7. Nice that you posted a pic with the Stressman. My first thought was that there wasn’t much difference, but your pics clear up that misconception. While M800 series pens are too big for me, I suspect this on will be a hit,

    For me, the size plays against the pens’ appearance. While the design makes a subtle but clear statement, paired with the size it says ‘look at me’ just a little too loudly. Still, it this were offered in the M600 range I have to admit, I would be sorely tempted.

    Nice review a always.

    Like

    • Thanks Paul. I’ll be curious to see where Pelikan takes the M6xx line after their recent more colorful releases. An M615 would definitely be a different direction.

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  8. Thanks so much for a great review. I just got mine yesterday and love it. The M800 has always been the perfect size for me but I prefer heavier pens and I’m thrilled with this. Sometimes I tire of special editions that are the exact same pen except the color, but the change in weight here makes this very unique. Although pictures make it appear quite similar to the Stresemann, I find the metal stripe to be much more striking in person. Thanks again.

    Like

    • Thanks for your thoughts Richard. I can’t find much to disagree with you on. Glad to hear that you’re loving yours. Mine has been a joy to carry around and whip out to jot a note or two.

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  9. Thank you for the great website!

    I got my M815 today. One aspect that has not been noted, as far as I can tell, is that the surface of the palladium-plated brass is slightly irregular which provides some visual interest that contrasts nicely with the crisp edges of the metal strips.

    Personally, I think the Metal Striped is more striking than the Stresemann (which I was somewhat disappointed with when I first saw it). No disappointment with the Metal Striped.

    Like

    • I appreciate your kind words. I see what you’re saying about some slight irregularity and agree with the added interest it brings visually. This definitely edges out the Stresemann when competing for my affection.

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  10. Pingback: Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – July 29, 2018 | Fountain Pen Quest

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