Review: Pelikan M101N Lizard Special Edition

photo of the uncapped Pelikan M101N Lizard uncapped

I first saw pictures of the Pelikan M101N Lizard Special Edition when it was announced back in October 2012. Even though I thought the pen was stunning and liked Pelikan nibs  it didn’t quit make my wish list at the time due to its small size and large price. But it stayed on my radar. I finally pulled the trigger last December when I noticed the price had dropped.

According to Pelikan the pen is “based on a historical model that dates back to 1937.” I have to admit to ignorance on vintage Pelikans so I can’t comment on exactly what “based on” means. Still, I do think it has a bit of a classic design look to it.

In Pelikan terms, a “Special Edition” is produced for a limited time but there’s no limit on the quantity so there will be multiple runs if there’s demand. It doesn’t seem like there’s been a lot of demand for the Lizard, unlike the previous Tortoise Special Edition. Prices vary widely with some places (like nibs.com) selling for a deep discount off list. Prices on eBay also vary widely so if you decide to buy one be sure to shop around.

Why I Got It

I like black and grey and this pen has both. I love the design pattern. The clip and rings are palladium plated and the nib is rhodium plated which complements the design nicely. Did I mention I like the look of this pen?

I also expected the 14K gold nib to be a solid performer. I purchased the pen from Classic Fountain Pens (nibs.com) so the nib would be tuned before be shipped to me.

What I Got

As mentioned, I ordered the pen from Classic Fountain Pens (John Mottishaw) so the nib would be adjusted for me prior to shipping. I asked for the nib to tuned for light pressure and a light to medium flow. I’d say the flow is good so much closer to a medium flow.

Despite appearances. the pen has completely smooth surface made from cellulose acetate. The Pelikan logo is on the top of the cap and Pelikan is engraved on the clip.

photo of the Pelikan M101N with its leather wrap

The pen arrived with a leather (or maybe faux-leather) wrap which was a nice touch although it doesn’t really make the pen any better. I have to admit, while I don’t remember throwing it away I couldn’t find the box or wrap when I was doing photos for this review. I’m not heartbroken about its loss, while a nice presentation for the new pen it wasn’t something I’d use regularly.

The ink window is shaded grey so the ink color is masked, but the level is easily visible. The ink windows is just over 1/2″ tall (13.8 mm). It fits in nicely with the design of the pen. A completely clear ink window of that size would have ruined the look of the pen in my opinion.

My only complaint? While I get the idea that the design looks like scales, I don’t think “Lizard” when I see the pen.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped:  4.84″  (122.93 mm)
  • Length Uncapped:  4.5955″  (116.72 mm)
  • Length Posted:  6.2165″  (157.89 mm)
  • Section Length:  0.5935″  (15.07 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib):  0.3620″  (9.20 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near threads):  0.3925″  (9.97 mm)
  • Cap Diameter:  0.5280″  (13.40 mm)
  • Weight:  0.5 oz  (14g)

Using the Pen

The pen is a piston filler, common to most Pelikan fountain pens. The piston worked smoothly and easily gave me a complete fill of ink.

The pen is shorter than the pens I typically use but it’s still long enough for me to comfortably use unposted. But I find I like the balance better when it’s posted. So if I’m writing anything more than a short note I post the pen. The pen is still light and it’s easy to use the pen for a long writing session. The cap is held in place with friction when it’s posted. It does post securely although I do have a phobia about pushing down too hard and eventual cracking the cap. (It’s well built and there are rings to help prevent cracking when posted, it’s just my personal fear.)

the clean Pelikan EF nib

The 14K gold nib is amazingly smooth. The pen has never skipped and hasn’t had any hard starts. The pen rarely sits for more than a couple days without being used so it doesn’t have much chance to dry out. I did purposely leave it stored for six days, nib up, and it wrote immediately when I picked it up. I can’t say if this is the out-of-the-box experience from Pelikan or because of John Mottishaw’s adjustments before sending the pen. While it’s an extra-fine nib, since it’s a Pelikan it’s on the wide side of extra-fine, unlike my Asian nibs. Pelikan does make their own nibs.

The pen is an ideal size as a shirt pocket pen, even for shirts with shallower pockets.  The clip holds the pen security in my pocket for both thin and thicker material.

Cleaning

Like my other Pelikan piston fillers the pen was easy enough to clean. Just repeated fills and flushes with water to flush the ink out with the occasional “thermometer shake” to get the most stubborn ink drops out. While the nib is removable I’ve yet to remove it for cleaning. I hate to tempt fate and accidentally damage the pen so I prefer a little extra time and labor to flush it out.

Inks Used

I used three different inks in the nearly three months I used the pen. I wrote the pen dry with all the inks because they wrote flawlessly. Being a piston filler only bottled inks can be used.

Sailor Kiwo Guro Nano Black was the first ink chosen. It’s a “nano-particle” ink, essentially a pigment ink. The ink has always smooth flowing putting down a nice dark line. It was no different in this pen. My only complaint, a minor one, is that this ink took longer to clean from the pen than the other inks used. It’s the one ink I considered removing the nib to get the last bits of ink out. The ink spent nearly 6 weeks in the pen before I finally used it all. This included a week of non-use for testing purposes.

Graf von Faber-Castell Stone Grey was the next ink in the pen and performed just as well. I just gave it about a half fill so I could change inks sooner. This was the easiest of the three inks to flush from the pen.

The last ink used before this review was Iroshizuku Yu-yake and the broken record continues – it performed as well as the other inks and was easy to clean after two weeks in the pen.

All the inks performed well in the pen. There was no significant shading with the thin nib but since the flow is good there was some line variation due to the subtle difference in the amount of ink put down when the angle of the nib was varied.

Wrapping Up

The Pelikan M101N Lizard Special Edition is a keeper. Despite it’s small size it’s very comfortable to write with, even for long sessions. While short, it’s girth is comparable to my larger pens. It is a pricey pen, but I have no regrets about getting the pen. I love the look of the pen and it’s a great writer. What more could I ask for?

Additional Reading

The Lizard seems to get less love than the previous reissue – the Tortoise so I couldn’t find many reviews. Personally I prefer the look of the Lizard.

Short overview at FPN

Long Island Pen Show This Weekend

Photo of my pen show haul
2013 Long Island Pen Show haul

The Long Island Pen show is just hours aways, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. Last year’s LI pen show was my first ever and I recapped it here.

I’m still debating whether to attend Saturday or Sunday. It’ll probably be Saturday morning.

I don’t really have a list for this year’s show although I’m sure I won’t walk away empty. I don’t need ink, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get any. I’ll look to see if I can add any Esterbrook nibs missing from my collection.  I just realized my first Esterbrook at last year’s LI show (from Anderson Pens) so I’ve only known of them for a year. Seems longer.

I went through my pens to see if there’s any that I’d want to visit Richard Binder so they could get some nib work, but haven’t come across any. I want to see the Visconti Wall Streets but they’re way above my current budget so I’ll just be window shopping.

If I remember right, last year was slightly more vintage than modern so there will be plenty for me to browse.

You going to the show?

Nib Notes: Esterbrook #2048 Flexible Fine

Next up on my Esterbrook nib list is the Esterbrook #2048 Flexible Fine. At least that’s what is says on the box along with “Flexible Writing”. I’ve seen the nib referred to as an extra fine. The nib is clearly thinner than other Esterbrook fine nibs so calling it an extra fine seems accurate , even if the box and Esterbrook literature I’ve seen disagrees.

photo of the Esterbrook #2048 nib

I’ve also seen the nib referred to as a “falcon” and a “falcon stub”. I can’t say my nib looks or writes like a stub so I think any reference to this being a stub nib is wrong. As for the “falcon” this has to do with the appearance of the nib and is based on their dip pen heritage. There’s the Omega like shape around “Made in the USA” and the curved profile of the nib. Personally, I like the design.

The Esterbrook book by Paul Hoban refers to it as “shaded writing from a 1955 re-new point list which calls out the flex. The Hoban book also identifies the feed (on my particular nib) as the “final design” from between 1950 – 1971. A catalog reproduction from 1938 or 1939 (or later) in the same book lists the nib as “Flexible, Fine, Falcon shape. For general clerical and office use.”

Flexible nibs are almost entirely lost on me, but the 2048 does have some flex to it. It’s a steel nib so there is some limits to its flexibility.

The nib is a bit more expensive than the 1xxx nibs I’ve reviewed so far. Anderson Pens has it listed as in stock for $25. I only found one on eBay. It was new old stock (NOS) and had a buy it now price of $75. The nib seems to be rather scarce at the moment. (The price discrepancy is why I always check Anderson Pens first since they have the widest selection all at a fair price.)

The nib is extremely nice to write with, even if I don’t fully appreciate the flex. The flex gives it a a little bit of spring even if I don’t try to do actual flex writing. It doesn’t feel like a nail. There’s a good flow, even with a light touch. The light touch also puts down a consistently thin line. I also just like the look of the nib’s long taper to a point. It’s unexpectedly smooth for such a thin nib without any added tipping material. I do have a bias towards thin nibs like this so take that into account.

It’s a nice nib which will be a regular in my Esterbrook rotation.

The photos are with Iroshizuku Yu-Yake ink in the pen. It’s been carried and used so there’s ink on the pen. The lightness of the color makes it look like staining or corrosion but the nib is quit clean and shiny.

This Week’s Ink: March 9, 2014

I ran through several more pens this past week. I’m down from 13 to 10 inked pens, and some of those are pens that went dry and were re-inked with a different ink.

Pardon the interruption – the Long Island Pen Show is next weekend (March 15 & 16th). I’m not sure exactly when, but it’s close enough to me that I should be there sometime that weekend.

My Balance Junior went dry. While I really want some vintage pens inked up, it was cut from the rotation and the Esterbrook is the only vintage inked up.

My Omas 360 Vintage (vintage in name only) still had dry nib syndrome with the new ink so I flushed it out. My Platinum 3776 Ribbed also suffered from dry nib syndrome with the Salix ink so it got flushed too. In this case I replaced it with a Platinum Black ink cartridge so it’s still in the rotation.

The Pelikan M101N Lizard wrote itself dry. In addition to being an enjoyable pen to use it will be my next pen review. So it was inked with a different color and stays in the rotation. I did really like the way the GvFC Stone Grey wrote in the pen and it may be the standard ink for this pen.

I flushed two of my “always inked” Kaweco Sports. Both were almost empty but I did flush out some remaining ink. The Kaweco AC Sport was refilled with Kaweco Black ink and will live in my computer bag. The Kaweco Classic Sport was put back on the shelf after flushing it out. I’m changing up my daily carry and the six pen case no longer fits in the bag, so there’s no place for the Classic.

I keep expecting the Lamy 2000 to go dry so I can ink up the Franklin-Christoph Model 66 again. The Lamy 2000 has the R&K Blau-Schwarz ink so it’s been my desk pen while the Model 66 rests. I just didn’t expect it to last this long. The pen must be manufacturing its own ink. There hasn’t been any visible ink for pages, yet it keeps on writing.

So here are the inked pens…

As usual, the samples are in the same order as the picture. Also as usual there’s a small mistake. This post will appear earlier than I expected. Despite the date on them, the samples aren’t from the future.

photo of pens inked for the week ahead
writing samples of the pens inked for the week ahead

Nib Notes: Esterbrook 1554 Firm Fine

photo of the Esterbrook #1554 nib

Next on the Esterbrook nib parade is the Esterbrook #1554 Firm Fine nib. Like the earlier 15xx nibs it’s a common, low cost nib. It’s $6 from Anderson Pens and about $10 on eBay. The nib is labeled both “Firm Fine” and “Clerical” on the box.

This particular nib is one of two #1554 nibs that I have and is new old stock (NOS) in a well-worn box. The second nib arrived on a pen and the performance is comparable to this one. Esterbrook refers to this nib as a “DuroCrome” nib like the other 1xxx series nibs,  The metal at the end is rolled into a ball to make the tip, there’s no tipping material.

The nib is fairly smooth but there is some feedback. It’s also rougher to write with on paper that has some texture (or fiber). The thin nib tends to dig in, even with a light touch. The ink flow.

The flow is good and it puts down a consistent line that’s true to the size of the nib. The nib is true to its “firm” name and exhibits the properties of a nail, which I like.

(Click any photo for full size)