Review: Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite

Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite on a Pelle cover
Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite on a Pelle cover

I don’t particularly like the term grail pen, at the very least it’s overused. But the Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite is the closest I’ve come to a grail pen. And not just because the long name is grail worthy and not because of the specific pen. But this pen was the result of considerable research, mostly while at pen shows.

The journey began a couple years ago when I became interested in the Pelikan M1000, the big boy of the Souverän line. I started looking at M1000s at pen shows and then started comparing it to the M800. Cutting to the end, I eventually decided that the M800 was the better pen choice as a daily writer for me. But even after that decision I didn’t come across a M800 that I considered worth the considerable expense. These pens are not cheap.

The M805 Stresemann is part of the regular M800 line, not a special or limited edition, although it is more expensive than other pens in the standard line. The 5 at the end of the model number indicates a M800 sized pen with silver trim, in this case the trim is palladium-plated and the nib is rhodium-plated.

Why I Got It

Having decided on the M800 I had begun to think I’d never find an M805 (I didn’t want gold trim) that I wanted. I had pretty much accepted that I would search pen shows until I found one I wanted. Then I saw the Stresemann and I knew it was the pen I was waiting for. I love the alternating black and grey (anthracite) stripes. The chrome trim and nib is perfect for me. It was gorgeous and I wanted it. I waited a bit to avoid an impulse purchase but I did pre-order it from Classic Fountain Pens. Due to that delay (or a delay in the extra fine nibs which was my choice) my pen shipped about a week after the pens began shipping. The anticipation was almost unbearable.

What I Got

Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite capped

The Pelikan M805 Stresemann is named after the foreign minister of the Weimar Republic who won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1926, He was famous for his striped suits.

The anthracite striped barrel is made of cellulose acetate while the solid black pieces (section and filler knob) are made of resin (plastic). The trim is plated with palladium while the nib is 18 carat gold and rhodium plated.

While it has a conservative design that’s appropriate for any business situation it’s not a boring fountain pen. And since I’m partial to black & gray it’s a perfect color combination for me. I love the aesthetics of this pen, everything goes together perfectly. Even the nib is a single-tone silver color rather than the traditional Pelikan two-tone gold/silver nib.

While the Stresemann is pricey, it feels solidly built with a excellent fit and finish which should last for years.

I bought it from Classic Fountain Pen so that the nib would be inspected and tuned if necessary before it was sent to me. I requested that the nib be tuned with a medium ink flow while using a light pressure.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.564″ (141.32 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 5.0265″ (127.67 mm)
  • Length Posted: 6.5″ (165.1 mm)
  • Section Length: 0.563″ (15.06 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 0.437″ (11.09 mm)
  • Section Diameter (below threads): 0.4555″ (11.57 mm)
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): 0.4215″ (10.70 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.5845″ (14.84 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.53″ (13.46 mm)
  • Weight: 30 grams (with ink)
  • Weight (body only):  22 grams (with ink)

Writing With The Pen

Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite extra fine nib

Since the pen was inked by John Mottishaw before it was sent I didn’t even consider washing it out before inking it up. I picked my favorite ink, Montblanc Bordeaux, for the Stresemann’s first ink. The piston worked smoothly and it was easy to get a complete fill.

The cap twists off with just under one complete turn and then the pen is ready to write. I expected more effort would be needed, so this surprised me for such a big pen and it’s one on the things I liked about the M80x. Despite the short threads the cap closes securely and I haven’t had any problems with the cap working it’s way loose while I cary the pen around.

The M805 is extremely comfortable in my hand, it’s why I picked it over the M1000. I don’t post my fountain pens but the M805 does post. When posted the pen seems a little heavy and unbalanced, but that’s the opinion of someone who doesn’t post his pens. It posts securely, but using friction, so I’d be concerned the finish would be marred over time.

There’s no ink window because the stripped barrel is translucent so it’s easy to see the ink level. Just hold the pen up so the light shines through. The stripes also shimmer a bit when they are in the light which is a nice effect.

I had extremely high expectations for this fountain pen. The first inking didn’t meet these expectations. There were a few skips, mainly when I inadvertently rotated the nib off the sweet spot. The nib seemed to have a small sweet spot. The nib was also drier than I expected. None of this was terribly bad. The requested medium flow is wetter than my typical request, yet the flow seemed dry. And the nib was smooth, just finicky about position. I wrote the pen dry in about three weeks which is fast for me, especially since this pen holds about twice as much ink as my typical pen. So I obviously liked the pen. Still, the nib felt just a little off, not quit right. The tines were perfectly aligned, so it wasn’t a problem with the nib tuning.

The great news, at least from my point of view, is that the first ink load seems to be an anomaly. I cover the inks with more detail in the next section but the short story is that the pen improved with the second (and future) fills. The skipping stopped, even with my inadvertent nib rotation. The nib also felt right and the flow was good. I suspect it was the cleaning after the first fill. It’s not like the pen had improved over time. It was a sudden change that coincided with the second fill.

Montblanc Bordeaux is back in the pen and I used it to write the draft of this review. It was no longer finicky and performed as I had originally expected.

As I said, the M805 is a perfect size for my hand so it’s extremely comfortable to write with, even for long periods of time. I never experienced and fatigue with the pen, even during long writing sessions. While the anthracite stripes are a bit boring when the pen is just sitting on my desk, they do shimmer a bit when I’m writing with the pen if the light hits it right.

It’s a wide extra fine nib, wider than I prefer in my extra fine nibs. This makes the pen more suitable for what I’d call long-form writing. Those times where I sit down at a desk or table and my primary task is writing. I also tend to write slower during these sessions which means my writing can be bigger.

The 18kt nib has a little spring to it, not anything approaching flex, but it’s not a nail. Overall, a nice feel.

Cleaning The Pen

So far, since I’ve been immediately re-inking the pen, I’ve cleaned it out by just filling and flushing the pen with water. All the inks flushed out easily. Like all Souveräns the nib can be unscrewed and removed in order to clean out the inside of the barrel. Repeated flushes takes longer than disassembly, but unless there’s a reason other than speed, I dislike taking apart a pen just to clean it. I’m paranoid I’ll break something.

Inks Used

As I mentioned, Montblanc Bordeaux was the first ink for the M805. I already mentioned the problems I had with the first fill. I gave it a second fill of Montblanc Bordeaux before writing this review. The second time around the performance of my favorite ink was as good as I expected, good flow without any skipping or hard starts.

Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwärz LE was the second load for the pen. Like the Bordeaux, it’s a favorite and number two on my list. The performance was great. The ink is wetter than the bordeaux but not too wet for me overall. It’s got a good consistent flow. I like it. A lot.

Montblanc Toffee Brown was up next, another favorite 5 ink. This was the wettest of all. I liked the ink, a nice brown, and it had good saturation thanks to the quantity. When I thought about it, I’d consider the ink too wet for my tastes in this pen. Yet, the ink went through the pen faster than the R&K Blau-Schwarz which I really liked, so I obviously liked writing with the Toffee Brown.

Wrapping Up

After a less than perfect start the Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite grew to be the pen I anticipated. Still, the nib is the most disappointing part of the pen. Yet it has grown on me. The extra fine is more like a fine in width, even a western fine. Initially I was disappointed in this but I now appreciate the nib for the fine writer it is. I just don’t think of it as a extra fine nib. The flow is great and the line is solid, I just expected thinner. (Also remember, the nib was tuned when I bought it, so I can’t vouch for the out-of-the-box experience.) I can’t speak to the other nib sizes, but based on my experience and what I’ve read, all the nib sizes run a little big.

For me the nib is too wide and wet to be an all around user. Although the ink can reduce the wetness, it’s still a wide line. But it is an excellent pen for those writing sessions where I don’t need an really thin nib.

The Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite has been inked since I got it in mid-March. It’s been in use over four months and it’s solidly in the keeper category.

This Just In: Kaweco Brass Sport

Kaweco Brass Sport in pen loop

The Kaweco Brass Sport may be my last new fountain pen this year as it was the last one on my wanted list. I ordered it from JetPens about the same time as I ordered the Sailor Pro Gear, the day before I think. While JetPens shipped it promptly, the USPS gave it a tour of the US, including leaving the continent to tour Puerto Rico, and returning to the continent for delivery to me, so it didn’t arrive until last Thursday.

It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I’d be getting one as soon as it was available. I considered taking advantage of the exchange rate and ordering from overseas. It would have been about the same cost, even with shipping, but I decided to be patient and wait for it to come to the US. JetPens had it in stock first, at least from what I could see. It was slightly cheaper than I expected, so I probably would have paid a bit more if I ordered from overseas. These metal versions are the same design as the plastic Classic Sport and have the same nibs so the additional cost, four times the cost in some cases, is not insignificant. But I find it nearly impossible to resist raw metal or machined fountain pens.

The brass is significantly heavier than the raw aluminum. According to the JetPens website it’s twice as heavy, 1.6 oz. for the brass compared to 0.8 ounces for the raw aluminum. The plastic Classic Sports are 25% the weight, at 0.4 oz. The weight is obvious and since the pen body is so short I’ll be posting it for everything except a quick note. This does make the Brass Sport one of the heaviest pens in my hand. I don’t post my KarasKustoms ink so even the heaviest of those pens is less than 1.3 oz.

Upon arrival I inked it up with the included blue cartridge. I didn’t flush it out first. I was anxious and I’m not a fan of blue ink so flushing it out for a cleaning wouldn’t have bothered me. It wrote well. I didn’t do a lot of writing with it, maybe a little over a page spread across several sessions. The extra fine nib felt smooth and the flow was good.

This was the third Kaweco Sport I had inked up which was at least one too many. I decided to move the red cartridge from my Black Stonewashed. I didn’t flush out the pen fist so I got a blue-red mix for the first few pages. It’s still not a pure red yet.

I did some longer writing sessions with this new ink. Such as the drafts for the previous ink & pen notes (Black Stonewash Sport) and this article. I did feel some fatigue after 15 minutes or so. I don’t typically use a Kaweco Sport for long writing sessions because the pen isn’t the most comfortable for me. It’s not what I’d call uncomfortable, but it’s not perfect for my hand such as the Pilot Custom 823 or Pelikan M805. Another problem is that it’s been slightly humid and I dislike air conditioning so my hand is sweating a bit, which means I have to grip the brass section tighter than usual. The weight may contribute to the fatigue but I do typically prefer more weight in a smaller pen.

In these longer sessions I began to have the vary occasional skip. I took a close look at the nib and the tines are misaligned just a bit. I’ll get around to straightening them out since this is a pen I want to keep and will probably have it inked more often than not. But it’s not so annoying than it frustrates me. Yet.

There is a converter available, and some other possible options. It’s a small converter (not standard) and I decided not to deal with the hassle. I’ve been sticking to cartridges in all my Kaweco Sports. Any short international cartridge will fit. I also don’t bother to refill cartridges either. I have plenty of cartridges to chose from at this point and I pretty much stick with a couple color families in them.

I’ve only had the pen a few days and it’s already begun to develop a patina. Plus, it’s shiny so it shows off oils from my hand. The photos were taken right after using the pen without bothering to wipe it down. So if a little grime bothers you this isn’t the pen for you.

The Desk of Lori has real review of this pen which includes many more photos and writing samples (for a fine nib).

My first impression of the Kaweco Brass Sport is positive and I don’t regret the purchase. I will need to smooth the nib which is a bummer for a pen of this price. My nib wasn’t as bad as Lori’s and it’s useable. I would have hoped (but know better) that the increased cost wasn’t just because of the material.

Kaweco Brass Sport on leather

Ink & Pen Notes: Kaweco AL Sport Black Stonewashed and Kaweco Red Cartridge

Kaweco Stonewashed AL Sport with red cartridges

I inked up the Kaweco AL Sport Black Stonewashed back in early June. I had intended to test it prior to offering it for sale. Instead I decided to keep the pen inked up and in my accumulation.

I’ve yet to write the pen dry, the Kaweco Red Ink cartridge is about half empty. So why flush it? I recently acquired the Kaweco Brass AL Sport and immediately inked it up with the included blue cartridge. My Raw Aluminum Sport is also inked (black ink) and having three Sports inked is more than I need. And my newest pen had my least favorite ink color. So I decided to move the red cartridge to the Brass Sport and flush out this Black Stonewashed AL Sport.

I like black pens and I really like the look of this black stonewashed finish. The nib in it is very nice and the combination made me reconsider my decision to sell. While I don’t envision needing three Sports inked at once, it’s different enough from my brass and aluminum Sports for me to consider keeping it. If it remains unused for several months I reconsider my decision to keep it.

As I mentioned, the nib, an extra fine steel nib, is very nice. It’s smooth with a good flow and doesn’t skip. The Kaweco Red ink, in a cartridge flowed well. No skipping of hard starts, even when unused for several days. Despite being a pocket pen I rarely carried it in my pocket since my Raw Aluminum Sport already had that role. I did carry it in the pen loop of my Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter organizer which I did not expect at all. (I considering requesting the pen loop be removed But it was nice having red ink available when I needed it (I always had full size fountain pens with me too).

The Kaweco Red ink flushed out easily, just a couple squirts with the bulb syringe.

I’ll miss the Black Stonewashed Sport but look forward to watching the Brass Sport develop its patina as I use it.

Sunday Notes and Links

I didn’t do much writing this week so this week’s favorite fountain pen and ink combination wouldn’t really mean much, especially since it would also be the fountain pen that still has that new pen glow. So I won’t pick it as a repeat favorite, but the Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe was my most used fountain pen this week.

Some links of interest…

“It’s just a pen….” — The Clicky Post // I agree with the sentiment of this post, especially the lines “Do new things still excite me? Sure! But is the compulsion to go buy everything the same? Not as much. What I’ve found is I feel a bit more connected and appreciate what I am using more.”

Pilot Capless – 1984 – FCN–500R and variations – Crónicas Estilográficas // I often add the older Capless to my want list, then I see them at a pen show and there’s always something that keeps me from pulling the trigger and buying one. Then it gets dropped from my want list

Guide to Fountain Pen Nibs: Troubleshooting Tips and Tricks – JetPens.com // Good article with lots of tips. I do take exception to one, although it’s commonly recommended. The idea of using a paper bag (of unknown grit) to try and smooth down a nib makes me cringe.

Choosing My Tier 1 Pens — The Pen Addict // Brad picked his Tier 1 pens. They were also discussed on the Pen Addict Podcast episode #164. It’s heavy with pens that have an emotional attachment and not his choice of “the best” pens.

Review: Pilot Myu 701 — Alt. Haven // Another older, but not vintage, Pilot pen style that’s recently popular. A nice pen but I’m not drawn to buy one.

Another DIY Notebook For Fountain Pens – An Inkophile’s Blog // I’m not ambitious enough to try this, but I like to see the unique solutions others put together.

Dip Pen Modification – Calligraphy Nut // Another DIY project that’s interesting, even if not for me.

The TWSBI Eco has been released. I fear the quality of this pen based on TWSBI history and that this is an even lower cost pen. I won’t be getting one, but if you’re interested Ed Jelley has his first impressions and Dan Smith has a video review. Brian Goulet (of Goulet Pens) has a great post that answers a lot of questions about the TWSBI Eco.

Making a Silver Platinum Converter – I Laike Pens // Platinum does sell a silver converter, but if you’ve got a demonstrator Platinum and want to save a few bucks this may be worth your time.

Jinhao X750 Fountain Pen Review – My Pen Needs Ink

Check out all of this week’s links at Fountain Pen Links. If you’re looking for information about a specific pen or ink be sure to visit Pennquod.

What I Use: Pocket Notebooks

Pelle Journal Cover Side View
Pelle Journal Cover Side View

Field Notes & fountain pens have been the subject of some recent internet discussion and some recent Pen Addict podcasts. I have to admit I can’t get worked up one way or the other on the topic. But it did get me thinking about what I like in my pocket notebooks. Especially since some of what other people mentioned as a negative I consider a feature.

I rarely use the notebook that’s actually in my back pocket. It’s often faster for me to use my phone for a quick note (usually using Drafts). It’s so rare for me to pull the notebook from my pocket I have considered not carrying it, but inertia and habit keeps it in my pocket. So when I say pocket notebook I mean a notebook that is about 3.5“ x 5.5” in size so it does fit in a pocket, although I don’t have to pull it from a pocket to use it.

Nock Co Fodderstack XL with two Vanishing Points

I wrote about my Nock Co. Fodderstack XL and I do carry a pocket notebook in there. Since the pen and notebook are together I’m more likely to use this instead of the notebook from my back pocket. Currently I have the Nock Co. DotDash Black Notebook in this. When the notebook is full I’ll replace it with a different type. More on why when I discuss paper later. I typically use this for quick notes so this notebook’s biggest competitor is my phone. I will occasionally pull this notebook out and carry just the notebook and a pen in my shirt pocket.

Pelle Leather Journal Cover
Pelle Leather Journal Cover with Field Notes peaking out around the edges. The pen my Pelikan M805 Stresemann

These days my pocket notebooks are mostly carried in a Pelle Leather Journal cover that I purchased years ago. The cover is slightly smaller than a pocket notebook, with a height of about 5.25″. I rather like being able to see the edges of the notebooks that are inside. I tend to pick notebooks that match up aesthetically. The Pelle holds three notebooks. I suppose more could be squeezed in with some creativity, but three is enough for me. The Pelle cover is no longer available although it is similar to the smaller Midori Traveler Notebook.

The Pelle is too bulky to be carried in my pocket, at least during the summer. There are some where it will fit, but it’s just not convenient. So I usually carry it in my bag, or just in my hand from place to place. I have gotten into the habit of just making sure it’s with me.

My use of the Pelle cover has ebbed and flowed since I got it years ago. I started using it again at the start of this year when I filled it with a set of three Field Notes Ambition notebooks. I’m in the seventh month of nearly constant use.

I use the ledger book for lists, usually that I will refer to more than once or over a long(ish) period of time. This notebook is less than a third full after nearly seven months.

The second notebook is the weekly planner. This is a 56 week planner so it’s still going. Each night I use this to record three, sometimes four tasks that I want to accomplish the next day. I don’t use it as a typical planner, only updating it at night for the next day and checking off what I accomplished.

The third notebook started off as the grid ruled ambition but has since been filled and replaced. Currently it is a Field Notes Workshop series notebook although I will probably replace it before it’s filled. (Again, the reasons will be under paper types I like.) I use this for longer notes when I’m sitting at a desk or table. It’s often things I’ll want to refer back to, at least during the next week or two. This notebook does get used a lot so it’s been filled a few times. Between the Ambition and the Workshop notebooks I used a Field Notes Pitch Black edition and a couple Doane Notebooks.

Organization

I am terrible at organizing and tracking multiple notebooks. At one time I thought it would be good to have notebooks dedicated to certain topics. This quickly devolved into a hot mess. The notebook I wanted was never handy and I had notes scattered all over the place. That’s when the Pelle Journal returned to use. My active pocket notebooks are now either in it or my Fodderstack.

I also found that keeping multiple notebooks, each dedicated to a topic, in the Pelle didn’t work for me. This is one reason I had stopped using it before this year, I just didn’t need three notebooks at once. The lists and day planner notebooks, along with the general notebook, does seem to be working for me. I could incorporate them into the same single notebook but I find that the three notebooks works well for me. The lists and planner allow me to swap out the general notebook once it’s full and not have to worry about needing it for reference or transferring information.

I don’t scan my notebooks when they are full or otherwise index them. I will occasionally scan a page or two with my phone or copy some info into a more permanent notebook or computer document. I used to save all my pocket notebooks by throwing it in a box. But after never referring back to them I now destroy them when they are full. Even the planner really only has info that’s fresh for a day. I have a full fledged electronic task list but I find the written list of top tasks helps me avoid the distraction of seeing other tasks and allows me to focus.

Paper Types

I hate fountain pen friendly pocket notebooks! There, I said it. Ok, hate is too strong a word, but it makes my point. The reason the Field Notes Workplace Edition and the Nock Co. DotDash black notebook will be replaced is because they are too “fountain pen friendly”. I’m using them because I decided to force myself to try to adjust to the paper. It doesn’t seem to be working although I still hate to remove the notebook before it is full.

No doubt the paper is nice to write on. So why the hate? Smudges! Being fountain pen friendly extends the ink drying time since the ink is absorbed into the paper more slowly. I don’t want to carry blotter paper and I don’t want to wait before closing the notebook or turning the page. I also don’t want to rely on ink specially formulated as fast drying. I get smudges when I carelessly put my hand on the written word when holding the notebook. Less fountain pen friendly paper absorbs the ink faster so it dries faster. I have fewer problems with the the regular paper, such as with the Field Notes Ambition series. I can concentrate on the writing, not how I hold the notebook or if I can turn the page.

Field Notes Workshop edition Writing sample
Fountain Pen friendly paper but with ink smudging from turning the page. Minor in this case because I was being careful where I put my fingers. It annoys me more than the next photo.
Field Notes Ambition grid notebook writing sample
The problem with non-fountain pen friendly paper. I embrace the show through but a ink burp soaked clear through four sheets.

I use thin nibs so the less friendly paper is not a problem for me. There is often show through but I actually like that and I can still easily read what I wrote. I am destroying the book in the end so as long as I can read what I wrote before it is destroyed I am happy with it. Smudges bug me, show through does not. I rarely encounter bleed through and it’s usually when a pen burps ink. Honestly, show-through and even some incidental bleed-through gives me the impression of a well used notebook. Smudges make me feel like I’ve been careless.

Doane Paper pocket notebook
The Doane Paper Pocket Notebook I carry in my pocket. The pen is a Kaweco Brass Sport.

Doane Paper Grids+Lines is my favorite paper ruling on any paper size, including pocket notebooks. This is interesting and was a surprise to me because the traditional grid ruling is my least favorite overall, although in a pocket notebook I would pick grid over a standard line ruled paper. A dot grid ruling is a close second to Grids+Lines and it is more readily available.

The paper type in Field Notes can vary widely although I’ve never encountered one where it’s been so bad with my fountain pens that I can’t use it. I can see where others wouldn’t like them with fountain pens but in my pocket notebook I value quick drying over everything else. Plus I like the “I’m being used” look of show through. I don’t like the “Hah! Now try to remember what you wrote” look of smudges.

Because of past Field Notes subscriptions and my hoarding of Doane pocket notebooks (from when they are on sale) I have a lot of these pocket notebooks waiting to be used. I don’t typically try other pocket notebooks and I don’t feel compelled to find a better notebook. I’m very happy with my current options. While I like the Doane Grids+Lines better than all the other options I do like the variety and design of Field Notes so I do switch between the notebooks. That said, I have to admit to buying the odd pocket notebook here and these.

Wrapping Up

The Pelle Journal cover has made my pocket notebook harder to carry since they no longer fit into a pocket with ease. This wasn’t a problem in the winter since a winter jacket always had a big enough pocket. But even know that summer is here I’ve still kept the habit of making sure the notebooks are with me. So the reality is I’ve gone through pocket notebooks faster since switching to the cumbersome three notebook Pelle Journal cover.

Knowing that the notebook will eventually be destroyed keeps me more diligent in moving those important notes to where they belong. In the past I’d procrastinate, knowing the book will always be available. Yet I’d sometimes have to go mining through old notebooks looking for something I knew I wrote down. Now I’m diligent in reviewing my notes at least at the end of the week if not sooner. Anything that was possibly important enough to exist longer than the notebook was move someplace where it could be searched from electronically. There’s actually very little that I need to copy from the pocket notebook so it’s note time consuming. Scanning entire notebooks prior to destruction would take longer and not be any more useful.

What, if any, pocket notebooks do you use?