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
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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.