*Edit May 2015.
As pointed out in the comments, the M200 is in fact NOT the Cognac, as I keep calling it. It's the M200 Amber which came out much earlier. Thanks to Ben for correcting me! I've decided to not edit the full piece, as it's a tangential piece of information at best. But did want to make sure I clarified.
This is most definitely not a review, just by way of intro. I was looking for pens to use while cleaning and started thinking about how I ended up with these two pens and the difference between the two purchases. They’re both Pelikans, M150 and M200 respectively, but the circumstances and drive behind them made me reflect on my path through the pen world.
I got into fountain pens during my Master’s program. I was struggling with full time work, a relationship, finances and a full time graduate program. I was desperate for a way to make sense of all the things I needed to do. Cut to a few months later when I now had a really fun way to procrastinate on my thesis… browsing fountain pens online! My first pen was a Lamy Safari, and that sated me for awhile, but at some point I decided I really wanted something I could consider a “grown-up” fountain pen. That’s how I ended up with my first Pelikan. The M150.
I bought this from Fountain Pen Hospital, and at the time it was far more money than I’d ever expected to spend on a pen. It was also a great story of how NOT to buy a pen. I liked the looks of it, but did no research on it. I knew Pelikan was a good name in the fountain pen world, but had no idea about nib width, pen size, weight, etc. Just no idea at all!
So when I first opened it my reaction wasn’t that positive. Of course, to my girlfriend at the time I was raving. But I had no idea it’d be so small, and had buyer’s remorse for exactly as long as it took me to ink it up. I only had one ink back then (imagine!) so Noodler’s Black it was. Within a few seconds my regrets were sliding away. Yes it’s small, but when posted it’s so perfectly balanced, and the nib was so different from the Lamy that I knew I’d made an okay choice.
And then, well, I beat this little guy up pretty well. I’ve never been a person precious about my possessions in general, but the Pelikan took some hard knocks. It’s a sign though of how committed I was to using this thing. I took it everywhere, and learned quickly just how silly it can be to try and use fountain pens without regard for paper or context. At some point I took a break from using it, and it sat… and sat… and sat… for probably six months, with ink in it! I obviously didn’t know how to take care of this pen.
Now it’s a few years later and I’ve rediscovered my love of pens and ink and analog writing. So I was excited to go to the SF Pen Show last year. I walked in knowing I wanted to get a few things, and definitely walked away with some surprises, but the final purchase of the day came out of nowhere. A second little bird.
I think in part it was due to me having just inked up my old M200 and remembering how nice it felt in the hand, but it was also that it’s such a beautiful little pen. The M200 Cognac demonstrator. I tried it out and remember saying “I don’t really want to try this because I’ll probably end up buying it” to which the vendor replied with a smile “That’s the plan!”. It comes with an EF nib, and it was love at first stroke. The older M200 has a M nib, and it’s a good nib, but wider than I like. This EF is incredibly smooth.
There’s so many places to read the specs on these pens, and I'm not really reviewing them per se, so I’ll just say this, they’re both solid pens, and if you can find them on sale I wouldn’t hesitate. Small and light, but well-built with great nibs.
My favorite part about them though is the through-line they give from my first steps into this hobby combined with where I am now. For a hobby that is so much about buying, it’s really nice when I feel like a purchase is driven not jut by a desire for a new pen, but is also by the love of these tools and what we do with them. This second little bird was a reminder of how much I’ve learned in the last few years. Both about the pens themselves and the community around it. I don’t hesitate if I want to make a big purchase, not because money is no object (money is very definitely an object!) but because I can think through why I want things and know what I want to try vs what I know I don’t like. If I make a big purchase, it’s to use the pen, not just to own it. I’m glad I have these two little birds and I’m looking forward to using the Cognac M200 just as much as I used it's slightly smaller cousin.