Frequently Asked Questions


1. How do I fill a Pelikan fountain pen?
2. What filling systems are available in Pelikan fountain pens?
3. Where can I send my pen to be repaired?
4. How old is my pen?
5. How do I clean my fountain pen?
6. How do I remove the nib of my fountain pen?
7. How much ink does my fountain pen hold?
8. What materials are my fountain pen made from?
9. Which nibs are compatible with my pen?
10. Do I have to watch out for counterfeit Pelikan pens?
11. What if the polystyrene collar on my nib/feed is cracked?
12. Is it safe to fly with a Pelikan fountain pen?
13. Should I save the box and paperwork that came with my pen?
14. I just bought a new pen, how do I exchange the nib?
15. Can I use the M205 DUO highlighter ink on top of other fountain pen ink?
16. Help me identify this Pelikan?
17. What inks are safe for my Pelikan pen?
18. How can I tell if the tines on my nib are misaligned?
19. What is the best way to remove a vintage Pelikan nib and feed?
20. What is a frankenpen?
21. I’m going to my first pen show! What can I expect?
22. Where can I get Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black in the USA?
23. How do I remove the piston assembly from my pen?
24. Should I flush my pen before changing inks?
25. I just bought a used Pelikan. What do I have to watch out for?
26. Do Pelikan’s model numbers tell you anything about the pen?
27. How should I prepare my pen for shipping?
28. Who or what is a nib meister?
29. Are all M series pens part of the Souveran series?



How do I fill a Pelikan fountain pen?

Pelikan pens are easy to fill.  You simply remove the cap and immerse the nib into the ink of your choice.  You only need to immerse the pen up to the beginning of the section.  Work the piston knob to advance the piston until it won’t go any further (do not force past this point).  Next, return the knob to it’s seated position.  This will draw ink into the reservoir.  Repeat the process if the first attempt does not result in a full fill (I usually do it twice as a standing practice to get the best fill but this is not always necessary).

What filling systems are available in Pelikan fountain pens?

Pelikan fountain pens began as piston fillers and that design is at the core of their roots.  All Souverän series pens are piston fillers.  Over the years, Pelikan has introduced many cartridge pens as well, usually compatible with the long international cartridge standard.  The tradition line has always been piston driven until 2014 when Pelikan introduced the P200/P205.  In short, any pen model preceded by an ‘M’ should be a piston filler and any pen with a ‘P’ should be a cartridge/converter pen.

Where can I send my pen to be repaired?

Warranty repairs or repairs by an official representative of Pelikan are carried out by Chartpak in the USA and by Pelikan themselves elsewhere.  Chartpak only repairs pens purchased within the United States, otherwise, items have to be shipped to Germany.  Pelikan can be contacted for repairs via this form.  Chartpak can be found here.


Pelikan Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG
Werftstraße 9
30163 Hanover
Tel.: +49 (0)511 6969-0, Fax: +49 (0)511 6969-212


Chartpak, Inc.
One River Road
Leeds, MA 01053

Tele: (413) 584-5446 or (800) 628-1910, x240
Fax: (413) 587-0499 (ATTN: Pen Repair/Abi)

How old is my pen?

It seems enthusiast always want to know the provenance of their pens.  There have been several changes/conventions over time that allow for an approximate dating of Pelikan fountain pens.  See HERE for a timeline of pen introduction dates and HERE for a discussion about dating a pen.

How do I clean my fountain pen?

A Pelikan piston filling pen is very easy to clean and there are a few methods that you can employ.  One way is to take a cup of cool water (not hot or cold) and run the piston up and down flushing ink from the reservoir and feed.  You should exchange the dirty water for fresh water periodically and continue until the water runs clear.  I favor this method for vintage pens that I’m leery of removing the nib from.  If there is no contraindication to removing the nib, I will remove the nib and run the section under the faucet until the water runs clear.  Next, I will run the nib and feed under the water.  This method gets the job done more quickly and easily.  If I have a concern for old/dried ink clogging the feed, I will cycle the piston a few times in an ammonia solution.  I use pre-made J.B.’s Pen Flush which is widely available but this can also be accomplished with a 10% solution that you make yourself.  Simply mix 1 part ammonia to 9 parts water.  Remember to flush the pen with water after the ammonia to prevent problems in the future.

It also is often asked whether a pen needs to be flushed before a first fill and there is debate on both sides of this issue.  I do not personally and have not had any trouble but many people do.  Because oils and grit can be retained from the manufacturing process which will impair ink flow, several people have had success utilizing a mixture of water and a minuscule amount of Dawn dish detergent to breakdown and remove these oils.  The pen should then be flushed with plain water afterwards to remove the soap residue.

How do I remove the nib of my fountain pen?

One of the great things about Pelikan pens is the ability for the user to be able to swap and replace nibs.  In a modern pen, this is simply accomplished by grasping the feed and nib between the thumb and forefinger and gently turning counter-clockwise.  If the nib does not want to unscrew, it can be because of built up dried ink which will act like cement.  In that case, soak the nib and section in water and repeat.  Several soakings may be required.  I would discourage the use of applied heat (can warp the barrel) or prolonged exposure to an ultrasonic cleaner (can mar finishes).  Please see this link for a How-To article.

How much ink does my fountain pen hold?

There can be a lot of variability amongst differing methods of ascertaining ink volume as well as variability between the people making the measurement.  Below are common values reported in terms of ink capacity for a variety of models.  For reference, a short international cartridge holds 0.75ml and a large holds 1.50ml.

Ink Capacity (ml)*
Ink Capacity (ml)**

*As determined by Francis Goossens (fountainbel) based on measuring piston bore/stroke.

**As reported by Pelikan in their official catalogs from 2013 & 2014.

What materials are my fountain pen made from?

Modern Pelikan pens of the Souverän series are generally made of resin for the body and cap with the striped or marbling effect being accomplished with cellulose acetate.

Which nibs are compatible with my pen?

This will be the topic of a future post.  For now I will refer you to the excellent chart hosted by Richard Binder.  This nib interchangeability chart can be found at the bottom of his site’s section on Pelikan pens.

Do I have to watch out for counterfeit Pelikan pens?

If one is familiar with fountain pens, it quickly becomes apparent that certain high end brands lend themselves to counterfeiting.  The range of fakes can be anywhere from obvious to incredibly subtle.  While this has plagued certain other high end manufacturers, it has not been an issue with Pelikans.  I have seen thousands of Pelikans on the used market and have never come across anything that I would deem to be a fake.  That doesn’t excluded the possibility of there being counterfeit pens but I would buy with confidence at this point in time as the likelihood of finding a fake is very small.

What if the polystyrene collar on my nib/feed is cracked?

It is my understanding that Pelikan in Germany will replace these for a nominal fee.  If you don’t want to send your pen in for repairs and are interested in fixing this yourself, it is relatively simple to do if you’re part adventurous and mostly careful.  Richard Binder hosts an excellent tutorial on his site that I will refer you to.

Is it safe to fly with a Pelikan fountain pen?

Pelikans do very well with air travel in my experience.  While individual results will vary and also be somewhat dependent on the ink in question, there is minimal burping of ink from the feed.  Steps to minimize issues would be storing the pen nib up during take-off and landing as well as leaving a small amount of air in the ink reservoir to allow for expansion.

Should I save the box and paperwork that came with my pen?

While it is a personal decision to save such things as the box and paperwork, I would encourage anyone to do so.  While you may have no intention of ever selling the pen now, should you choose to do so in the future, you will more than likely get more out of it in resale as collectors such as myself put a premium on those extras.

I just bought a new pen, how do I exchange the nib?

Pelikan will allow you to exchange the nib on a newly purchased pen within the first four weeks of purchase, free of charge.  Pelikan recommends that you contact your authorized retailer for an exchange or send the pen into the local Pelikan distributor.

Can I use the M205 DUO highlighter ink on top of other fountain pen ink?

Both of the available highlighter inks from Pelikan have been shown to dissolve other non-permanent inks to the point of illegibility.  Different inks react differently but the result is almost always unsatisfactory.  I would recommend that the highlighter inks be used for underlining and notation only of other fountain pen inks and that highlighting be reserved for printed text.

Help me identify this Pelikan?

Many Pelikans that are sold are incorrectly identified, leading to confusion.  Have a look through the pictures and descriptions of the various models listed in The Aviary to better identify your pen.  If questions still persist, feel free to contact me via the contact form.

What inks are safe for my Pelikan pen?

I find there to be very few absolutes with regards to ink do’s and don’ts.  Common sense often prevails.  Pelikans are not usually damaged by inks (unlike pens with sacs) outside of potential staining.  Highly saturated inks are more likely to stain a pen, especially demonstrators.  Inks with red dyes such as red, brown, and purple have all been implicated in staining in the past but this is often manufacturer specific.  Often times, good pen maintenance can thwart staining, even from a  highly saturated ink.  Certain permanent or bullet-proof inks can also cause problems with staining.  Finally, iron gall inks should be avoided as these are very prone to clog a feed.  If you use Pelikan’s Fount India, you should perform regular pen hygiene and flush after use.

How can I tell if the tines on my nib are misaligned?

Many nibs across multiple brands don’t work well right out of the box.  There are multiple reasons for this but the end result is usually a less than satisfactory writing experience.  Misaligned tines can cause hard starts and scratchy writing.  To check tine alignment, you need a good 10x loupe.  The naked eye is usually not able to visualize subtle misalignments and should not be relied upon.  Anyone who enjoys fountain pens is well served by investing in a relatively inexpensive loupe.

What is the best way to remove a vintage Pelikan nib and feed?

The process is similar to what I described above for the modern nibs but when it comes to vintage nibs, damage can easily occur if you’re not careful.  Over time, the longitudinal ebonite feeds become weak and fragile.  Pelikan themselves had a special tool for removing them.  There is also a high likelihood of dried ink cementing the nib into the section.  Repeated soakings of the nib, feed, and section can be helpful in freeing up old ink.  I favor protecting the fins of the feed as best as possible by wrapping them in a tissue, placing the nib in the crook of my finger, and turning the barrel, not the nib.  Please see this link for a How-To article.

What is a frankenpen?

A frankenpen is a term applied to a pen that is a mis-match of parts from multiple pens.  For example, an M400 cap applied to an old style M600 body.  These mis-matches are usually not factory and occurred sometime after purchase.

I’m going to my first pen show! What can I expect?

Attending your first pen show is very exciting and just a little bit overwhelming.  Some tips to keep in mind would be to dress comfortably and definitely wear comfortable shoes.  If you intend to make a purchase, it is always advisable to bring cash.  Walk through the show in its entirety before negotiating any prices.  A better deal could be on the next table over.  It helps if you have an idea in mind of what you might be in the market for before going or else it can get very overwhelming.  If you want to employ the services of a nib meister, get there early and get your name on their list.  Each will have a list which can fill up quite quickly.  Check back regularly as someone might not show up allowing you to move into their slot.  I always find it better to be respectful and ask before you handle a vendor’s pens.  You often won’t see all the vendors of a show set up on Friday.  Friday is more of a low key day which allows for great conversation with the vendors who do make it in.  If you only have one day to go though, pick Saturday or Sunday.  Most of all, relax and have fun!  You can find a write-up that I did with some further suggestions in this post.

Where can I get Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black in the USA?

Unfortunately, you can’t.  A chemical inside of this particular ink, while not toxic, does not meet the regulatory requirements of the U.S.A.  Since the formulation is legal in most of the rest of the world however, it is sold overseas and there is no large impetus to change the formulation.  It can be ordered from overseas vendors and delivered to the U.S.A.  I have had success through but there are many other vendors willing to ship to the U.S. as well.

How do I remove the piston assembly from my pen?

You don’t.  Many people talk about removing the piston assembly and this is rarely necessary and almost never for a casual user.  The M2xx, M3xx, M4xx, and M6xx are press-fit piston assemblies and even a single attempt at removal can damage the injection molded plastic that holds the assembly in place, necessitating possibly having to shellac the piston back into place.  The M101N, M8xx, M1xxx and a few other outliers have a threaded assembly (reverse threaded) and so can be unscrewed more safely.  Essentially though, anything that would require removal of the piston assembly is likely best done by a repair professional.  It is absolutely 100% unnecessary to remove the piston assembly to apply silicone as this can be done from the section after unscrewing the nib.

Should I flush my pen before changing inks?

It is good practice to always flush a pen (cool water) before changing ink colors and especially before changing brands of ink.  Many inks can react with one another resulting in unexpected and undesired outcomes.  If you are refilling with the same brand & color, a flush is likely unnecessary.  If you change colors within the same brand, not flushing will, at the least, cause a muddying of the new color since there will still be a good amount of ink in the feed.

I just bought a used Pelikan. What do I have to watch out for?

Congratulations!  Pelikan pens are very durable which is one of the reasons they are so appealing and a great bargain on the used market.  There are a few things to watch out for though.  If the piston knob won’t turn, don’t force it.  This can be due to a lack of lubrication or dried ink seizing the piston.  Try to unscrew the nib and fill the barrel with water and let it sit for a bit.  Silicone grease can be utilized without disassembling the pen to help improve the ease of the piston’s travel.  See the tutorial HERE.  Next, if there is ink leaking from the piston knob, it can indicate a failed piston seal which more than likely will need replacing and you should seek out a repair professional.  Be gentle with nib removal at first as described above so as not to cause any damage.  If the piston functions and the pen draws ink/water, you should be good to go.  The only other thing I would recommend is a good soak and flush of the nib to expel any old ink which might end up giving you flow problems.

Do Pelikan’s model numbers tell you anything about the pen?

They sure do, if you know the code.  Regarding the tradition and Souverän lines, The ‘M’ indicates a piston filler and a ‘P’ indicates a cartridge/converter pen.  The first number is the series number (1xx, 2xx, 3xx, 4xx, 5xx, 6xx, 8xx, or 10xx).  This denotes models of roughly the same size and style.  All pens ending in ‘0’ denote a standard model with gold trim and ‘5’ indicates a standard model with rhodium trim.  When the second digit is a ‘2,’ ‘3,’ or ‘4,’ it indicate a special edition release with some sterling silver component.  When the second digit is a ‘5,’ this generally refers to a vermeil edition with the exception of the M250.

How should I prepare my pen for shipping?

If you ever find yourself having to ship a pen, either as part of a sale or for repair, there are a few things you should do.  First, always empty the pen completely of any ink.  Never ship an inked pen as that can become very messy when the ink inevitably spills.  Next, package it securely.  It helps if you have a rigid container to house the pen for added protection against crushing.  Old cigar tubes and cut PVC pipe work very well for this.  Finally, send the package via a tracked and insured method whenever possible.  While not mandatory, it does provide significant piece of mind.

Who or what is a nib meister?

A nib meister is a pen specialist who is well equipped to deal with any issues or customizations that one may need performed on a nib.  Many also do pen repairs.  A nib meister can fix skipping, hard starts, or excessive feedback from a nib for example.  There are also customizations that can be performed such as increasing/decreasing flow, adding flex, re-tipping, or grinding the nib to make a specialty nib such as a stub or italic.  The services of just a few nib meisters can be found HERE.

Are all M series pens part of the Souverän series?

No.  The Souverän (Sovereign) series is Pelikan’s premium line and is equivalent in concept to Montblanc’s Meisterstück line.  It was introduced in 1982 with the re-introduction of the M400.  The Souverän line is comprised of the M3xx, M4xx, M6xx, M8xx, and M10xx.  The M1xx and M2xx pens are part of the tradition or classical series which has historically been Pelikan’s lower tierd lines.