Pelikan’s recently released M205 Star Ruby fountain pen is a trail blazer worthy of review. It is not the form factor or the nib that stands out nor is it the filling system. All of those bits faithfully follow the company’s time tested formula that Pelikan fans and longtime readers of this blog are accustomed to. What really shines here is, well, the shine. The M205 Star Ruby has a sparkle to its finish, the likes of which we have not seen before. As Dorothy Gale says in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” (you couldn’t expect me to review a sparkly ruby colored pen without at least one Wizard of Oz quote). That is perhaps due in large part to typically reserved German sensibilities. When you think of pens that sparkle, Japanese and Chinese brands such as Sailor and Jinhao are more likely to spring to the forefront of your mind than anything out of Germany. The Star Ruby marks the fifth consecutive time that Pelikan has released a matching pen for the Edelstein Ink of the Year collection. This year’s iteration joins the likes of the M205 Amethyst (2015), M205 Aquamarine (2016), M200 Smoky Quartz (2017), and M205 Olivine (2018). While each of those pens have a deep, rich color that compliments their namesake nicely, none have had occasion to sparkle. Perhaps Pelikan wanted to honor the asterism of its namesake. For those that don’t know, star rubies are a special class of gemstone that display a sharp, shimmering six-rayed star on their surface. True to form, however, nothing feels gratuitous here. The coloring of the pen is a deep burgundy and the sparkles are hardly overblown as some had feared. This may be one of the best looking models of the quintet but certainly won’t appeal to everyone. Read on to find out whether or not this is one you should consider adding to your flock.
Appearance & Design (10/10) – A pen that shimmers in an unobtrusive way
If purchased on its own, the Star Ruby comes in Pelikan’s standard G5 gift box which includes a faux leather sleeve. Like past iterations, it can also be purchased as a gift set which includes the pen and matching ink along with some more unique packaging. It is easy to dismiss a pen like this out of hand but that would be a mistake. The rich burgundy hue is not at all pinkish and looks great. That by itself probably would have made for a very nice finish had Pelikan stopped there. Hannover took it one step further though and, in the right light, the pen absolutely shimmers. It is hard to describe and harder to photograph but the design is well executed. The sparkles never feel intrusive or scream “look at me” making this pen equally suitable for journaling in the park or jotting notes at work. The Star Ruby is a demonstrator at heart meaning that there is translucency to the material which is best appreciated when held up to a light source. Sparkles aside, it may not be your cup of tea if seeing imperfections left behind by staining isn’t your thing. Once you get past the appearance of the resin, the standard trappings of the M205 line can otherwise be found here. Those would include a single trim ring at the piston knob as well as a cap sporting a painted one chick logo, a single cap band, and a beak clip. The nib is made of stainless steel and lacks any plating, allowing its appearance to match the silver colored chromium plated trim. All of these features combine to make the Star Ruby one of the nicest additions to the Classic line in some time.
Construction & Quality (9/10) – Being a lower tier pen doesn’t mean Pelikan skimped on quality
As mentioned above, the M205 falls under Pelikan’s Classic line which is, by nature, not as polished or refined as their Souverän series of pens. That doesn’t mean the M205 is lacking in terms of quality or craftsmanship. The pen feels solid in the hand with all of its components fitting nicely together giving the impression of a more upmarket model. The piston knob is snug to the barrel when retracted and the piston travels smoothly. The cap secures nicely when the pen is closed and does not threaten to inadvertently come undone. When you do need to write, it can be quickly removed with just 3/4 of a turn. When not in use, the cap posts securely to the back of the pen. The chromium plating is without defect and the beak clip securely holds the pen in place when engaged. There are some mold lines visible on the section which is common on the Classic series of pens but these don’t detract from the overall appearance and are hardly noticed with day to day use.
Weight & Dimensions (9/10) – A smaller pen that “shines” when posted
The M2xx line of pens are small by today’s standards, dwarfed by the likes of the M6xx and up. They are actually the same size as the M4xx Souverän line. Don’t let the small size fool you though. This is a pen that was made to be posted. When doing so, the Star Ruby takes on a balance and size that is superb and very comfortable for writing. At no point have I experienced any fatigue with use. That isn’t to say that it is uncomfortable to use without posting, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that the form factor really shines when doing so. The Star Ruby is approximately 4.92 inches when capped, 5.71 inches posted, and has a diameter of 0.46 inches. It weighs in at 0.49 ounces making it a lighter pen for sure. If this one proves to be too small for your liking, I would not hold out hope for a finish like this gracing any of the larger models anytime soon.
Nib & Performance (8/10) – Standard fare with a touch of spring
Pelikan recently announced the re-introduction of its double broad and italic broad nibs but those aren’t available for this series. The Star Ruby can be purchased with nibs in the standard widths of EF, F, M, and B . The nib is stainless steel and lacks any plating. My example came in a fine width which is my usual preference. The nib was well aligned out of the box and presented no issues with hard starts or skipping (admittedly your mileage might vary). It puts down a generous line of ink that is fairly true to its ascribed designation. The nib does not have any flex but definitely has a touch of spring which makes it enjoyable to write with. While it may not inspire, it is reliable and the feed does a great job of resisting drying out. At the end of the day, the nib performs admirably which is probably all we can ask of it.
Filling System & Maintenance (9/10) – An entry level pen with the heart of a Souverän
Despite belonging to Pelikan’s entry level tier of pens, the piston assembly is little different than what we find in some of the higher end models. That means you get a great piston filling system at a fraction of the cost of a Souverän. The piston travels the length of the barrel with ease and gives nearly a full fill with just a single actuation. The assembly is not user removable but don’t count that as a major downside as there is next to no reason to ever remove it from the pen. The nibs however can be removed to facilitate lubrication of the piston as well as to allow for easy cleaning and nib exchanges. That makes these pens very low maintenance and easy to look after. One downside specific to Pelikan’s demonstrators is that there is an inner sleeve in the section behind which ink can become trapped. This can usually be flushed with a syringe but can be annoying, particularly if you aren’t aware of it. Aside from that, there is little to not like here.
Cost & Value (8/10) – Costly, no doubt, but worth the price of admission
The M205 Star Ruby comes with a U.S. MSRP of $210 which translates to an average U.S. retail price of $168. The EU MSRP is €125 which means that U.S. customers can pick these up for as little as €84.03 ($91.94) excluding the VAT. Within that savings, you have to factor in the lack of domestic warranty support as well as any shipping cost from overseas which tend to make the discount a bit less substantial than when buying the pricier Souveräns abroad. Be that as it may, it continues to highlight the stark differences in regional pricing. Also, attaching such a price tag to a pen with a stainless steel nib feels a bit hollow. That same money could buy a nice 140 on the secondary market equipped with a gold nib that has infinitely more character. Nevertheless, the Star Ruby is a beautiful pen and in a unique finish that we may not see again for some time. I think that, while pricier than I would like to see for an entry level piston filling pen with a stainless steel nib, there is value to this one. If the Star Ruby at all piques your interest, it may well be worth the price of ownership.
Conclusion – A unique and beautiful pen with a finish not before seen on a Pelikan
M205 Star Ruby: 53/60 or 88.3%
The M205 Star Ruby is a unique entry in Pelikan’s Classic line. Never before have we seen a pen of this caliber released with a sparkling finish and it may be some time before we see it again. If it is an experiment on Pelikan’s part, my sense is that it has been well received. Of course, the pen’s appearance will not suit everyone. The rich burgundy color alone is very well done and the sparkles themselves never come off as grandiose. This is a pen that I think will be sought after and perhaps very hard to come by when they are gone, much like the Amethyst is today. When reviewing the M201 Bayou from four years ago, I said that pen was “fun to look at and a joy to write with.” I think that I would give the very same description to this one. Of the five Ink of the Year editions to date, this one has dethroned my previous favorite, the Aquamarine, for the top spot.
“There’s no place like home.”
- One of the more interesting and unique finishes to grace an M2xx in over 30 years
- The nib is reliable, sized appropriately, and is excellent at resisting drying out
- The pen has a very comfortable length and is superbly balanced when posted
- The Star Ruby is a demonstrator and therefore prone to staining
- Ink can become trapped in the section which can be annoying
- The price of the pen does not reflect the fact that it is equipped with a stainless steel nib
A Look At The Pelikan M205 Star Ruby
Pelikan M205 Star Ruby 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.