The Perch may have been quiet recently but I assure you that it has not been idle. Almost a year’s worth of research on a very interesting topic is coming to a close and I hope to get it out into the wild in the coming weeks. For today’s post, I wanted to bring you something a little more timely because I know that a lot of people remain on the fence about this one. I’m referring to Pelikan’s recently released M800 Stone Garden. Pelikan’s pre-release photos continue to cause consternation amongst potential customers. In this case, the official marketing photos look more like a computer rendered image than an actual photograph. With so much of the decision to purchase a fountain pen relying on its visual appeal, inaccurate photos can result in significant buyer’s remorse. Sadly, that is just how many products are advertised today. Pelikan’s literature describes the pen as follows;
“Stone gardens are known for their serenity and peaceful effect. The new Special Edition Souverän 800 Stone Garden was created to be symbolic of this special place and the calming influence from life’s hectic everyday pace. The combination of opaque dark blue and the sophisticated marbled structure with blue and brown colors give a noble and elegant look to this series.”
While dark blues and browns are not the palette of most of the stone gardens that I have ever encountered, I’m willing to allow Pelikan some artistic license provided that the pen is able to bring something new to the table. It has been a very conservative and dichromatic year thus far for the bigger birds as seen with the M815 Metal Striped and the M805 Raden Royal Platinum. Read on to find out whether or not the Stone Garden can bring some much needed color to this year’s line up.
Appearance & Design (8/10) – An interesting marbled effect notable for some inherent depth
The Stone Garden comes in Pelikan’s standard G15 gift box (depending on your retailer) measuring 19.8 x 8.8 x 5.5 cm. This makes for a clean presentation without their being anything particularly outstanding about it. Once you remove the lid, a faux leather pouch housing the Stone Garden awaits. With the pen in hand, the beautiful blue cap and piston knob are the first things that jump out at me. The blue strikes a nice balance of being neither too dark nor too light. It blends well with the barrel which consists of slightly pearlescent stripes of blues and browns. Unlike the usual striped Stresemann pattern that we have come to know from the company, it appears the stripes of the Stone Garden are rotated around the barrel thereby creating a marbled effect. There is definitely some depth to it and the pattern on each pen varies due to the nature of the construction. In addition to the aforementioned, all of the usual trappings of the Souverän line are found here. That means the pen has two trim rings at the piston knob, two cap bands, a trim ring at the section, a plated cap top, and a pelican beak clip. The cap top depicts Pelikan’s single chick logo and the cap band is engraved “Pelikan Souverän Germany.” All of the furniture is gold-plated. The barrel lacks a discrete ink window which will be a detractor for some though it does display some transparency when held against a strong light source (such as a cell phone flash light).
Construction & Quality (9/10) – Top notch quality and construction
The Stone Garden continues to exude the type of quality craftsmanship that has been a hallmark of Pelikan’s manufacturing. The pen has a polished appearance and is without visible seams. The fit and finish of all of the pieces is beyond reproach. The barrel of the fountain pen is made of cellulose-acetate and the dark blue components of the cap and piston knob are made from a high quality resin. The nib on my example came with tines which were aligned properly and wrote smoothly out of the box. The gold-plated trim ring at the section can be at risk for corrosion with prolonged exposure to caustic inks, a well known trade-off between style and functionality. While this is something that should only be a small consideration, it still bears noting. Since I post almost all of my pens, it is important to me that the cap posts securely which the Stone Garden does quite well.
Weight & Dimensions (9/10) – A big pen that is comfortable to write with and not at all fatiguing
If you’re familiar with just about any M8xx model, the Stone Garden should feel familiar to you. Its approximate measurements are 5.59 inches capped, 6.57 inches posted, 0.52 inches in diameter, with a weight of 0.99 ounces. The extra weight is due to the brass piston assembly not found on Pelikan’s lower tier Souverän models. The M800 remains a comfortable instrument for prolonged writing sessions though the size is admittedly not ideal for everyone. Thankfully, Pelikan has a model to suit most people’s taste though the Special Edition finishes are usually limited to just a single model (the Stresemann and Brown Tortoise being the notable exceptions that spring to mind). One thing that I continue to struggle with is that these larger pens do not always fit comfortably in my shirt pockets, something to consider if that is your preferred method of carry.
Nib & Performance (8/10) – A dependable writer that resists drying out
The Stone Garden comes equipped with a two toned 18C-750 gold nib. My example came with a fine nib that was without any issues out of the box. Consistent with my past experiences, the feed and nib put down a generous line that lacks any significant variation. The biggest plus here is that the feed continues to be excellent at resisting drying out. The fine nib on my model seems to be more true to its designation than some past releases though there is likely some inherent variability here.
Filling System & Maintenance (10/10) – Legendary performance that continues to impress
Pelikan’s decades old piston filling mechanism remains unchanged here which is great news for all of us. The differential piston is second to none. The pen fills to near capacity with a single cycle and the knob at the rear of the barrel secures snugly when the piston is retracted. The stated ink capacity of the Stone Garden is around 1.35 mL. Like most Pelikan pens, the Stone Garden easily lends itself to intermittent maintenance. The piston can be serviced by unscrewing the nib and applying a very tiny drop of pure silicone grease to the inside of the barrel. Depending on your usage, that type of upkeep should be an infrequent occurrence (anticipate every couple of years). The piston assembly is screwed into the barrel of the M800 and can be removed if necessary though I would caution almost anybody against doing so as this is rarely necessary. It’s a nice feature but one that hardly ever comes into play.
Cost & Value (8/10) – An expensive pen that is actually the cheapest M8xx model in 6 years
The M800 Stone Garden carries a U.S. MSRP of $775 with a U.S. retail asking price of $620. While that is expensive to be sure, it is actually the cheapest M8xx release in the past six years (Pelikan’s M800 Tortoiseshell Brown from 2012 coming in only marginally cheaper at $750/$600). Of course, the price of the very same pen from overseas vendors is much more attractive to U.S. buyers at around €393.47 retail on average or $448.50 (excluding VAT). There will be some variability in pricing but you can save around $200 when shopping overseas. The trade-off is that Chartpak will not honor Pelikan’s warranty meaning that some additional hassle might be incurred if a warranty claim is necessary. In my experience, that is rarely worth a $200 price difference. Whether you buy it at $620 or $450, only you can determine whether or not that is a good value. There are a lot of subjective things that go into that estimation. I will say that if you are looking for a larger, reliable fountain pen that is likely to go the distance, you could do a lot worse than putting your hard earned money towards this one.
Conclusion – While it may not look much like a Stone Garden, this M800 is a great pen none the less
M800 Stone Garden: 52/60 or 87%
The M800 Stone Garden brings a bit of color, all-be-it subdued, to a line that has been largely marked by black and silver releases this year. The dark blue of this M800 is a nice shade and the marbling on the barrel shows some depth with a subtle bit of pearlesence. A number of people have been wary of this one due to the pre-release photos. While this one is difficult to photograph, I think that it’s more impressive in person. It really stands out in good lighting and has a darker, brooding look when seen in poor lighting. I think whatever lighting you happen to see it in will certainly color your judgement of it. If you’re looking for more bright and bold colors, skip this one, perhaps in favor of the M600 Vibrant Orange also released this month. It is nice to have something a bit different in the line-up. Without any major flaws, if the finish appeals to you, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one. If you’re not in love with the pictures, you might be happier waiting to see what 2019 brings.
- The most affordable M800 release since 2012
- The dark blue resin nicely compliments the blues and browns that make up the barrel’s marbled pattern
- Pelikan’s piston filling mechanism is second to none
- There is no discrete ink window though there is some transparency that allows for gauging ink levels when held up to a strong light
- Factory nib options continue to be limited to EF, F, M, and B with a gratuitous surcharge for EF nibs
- The plated ring at the section can be prone to corrosion over time
A Look At The Pelikan M800 Stone Garden
Pelikan M800 Stone Garden 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.