Friday, April 10, 2009

Pelikan Tradition-Series 200 Fountain Pen Review

I recently purchased a Pelikan Tradition Series 200 Fountain Pen from Goldspot Pens. The pen normally retails for a little over $100, but I was able to purchase it for $80 on sale.

I've wanted a Pelikan pen for a long time - the German company has a long and storied history of producing quality writing instruments. The 200 series seemed like a good place to start - a quality pen at a reasonable price.

My pen arrived quickly from Goldspot, packed in a very nice presentation box with instructions in several languages. The pen itself has a black acrylic resin barrel with gold plated accents. The nib (I ordered a fine point) is stainless steel with gold plating. Medium and broad point nibs are also available. Of course, the iconic Pelican bill clip is present.

These pens come equipped with a built-in plunger mechanism, precluding the use of cartridges. That suited me fine, as I like to try different brands of ink in different colors. This time, I decided to try Noodler's Nakahama Whaleman's Sepia, based on an excellent review on Unposted. Filling the pen was simple - simply submerge the nib completely and slowly twist the end of the barrel. You should see bubbles in the ink as the plunger forces air from the chamber. Then, slowly twist the end in the opposite direction to fill the pen. The lower part of the pen is translucent, allowing you to see the ink level in the barrel. The pen wrote smoothly enough after a brief break-in period. The fine nib produced a steady flow of the Noodler's ink, though it was just a bit scratchy - even on the excellent Doane Paper I used. I imagine it will smooth out more with continued use.

The Pelikan is very light and compact. It is considerably shorter than a Lamy Safari but not so small as to be unwieldy for writing. Some might find the pen almost too light. The compact size allows it to fit easily in a shirt pocket - the cap screws on for a very secure fit.

All in all I really enjoy this Pelikan. It writes well, looks classy and has a built-in plunger mechanism. This is a pen suitable for casual or dress attire. If you're looking for a classic fountain pen at a very reasonable price, I can highly recommend the Pelikan Tradition-Series 200.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fooled

It's April 1st - you know what THAT means.

Yep, it's a license for people to pull inane practical jokes that tend to get stale by, oh, say 8:30 AM. (Hey - your shoe's untied. MADE YOU LOOK! April FOOL! Bwahahahahaha!)

Oh boy, you got me. Whoo-ha. Good one.

To be fair, I have engaged in this national (global?) nonsense too. My favorite was the annual scare-the-wife-with-a-bug gag. (Hey, is that a spider on you? . . .) Yeah, it wore thin with her, too.

I must confess, I gave consideration to at an April Fool's post for Coffee-Stained Memos. I even made an attempt - sort of. To say the effort was a dismal failure would be, well, accurate.

My plan was to do a "retro-writing tools" post with an homage to President Lincoln. Why? You may ask. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I got out a shovel from the shop with the intent of reviewing it as a notebook. (Surely you remember that old Abe did his homework on the back of a shovel? And George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and threw it across the Potomac? Or paid someone a silver dollar to do it for him - my memory fails me.) Anyway, back to the shovel. Lacking any handy coal, I tried a piece of charcoal and attempted to write, "Abe was here," on said shovel. I quickly learned that charcoal may be an acceptable writing medium on paper, but it's a total FAIL when it comes to a grime-covered digging implement.

Not to be deterred, I tried burning the end of a stick to create a rustic writing implement. Unfortunately, the stick was either too green, too wet or some combination that rendered it nonflammable. By this point, I was providing entertainment for our Border Collie but accomplishing little else. I considered and rejected the notion of trying a fountain pen, and finally decided on a Sharpie. So . . . with all this preliminary stuff out of the way, here are my findings:

Shovels are not the best available writing materials. They have the upside of being durable and weatherproof, but these small advantages wane compared to the overwhelming downsides.

Shovels do not lie flat when writing, they are difficult to fold and nigh impossible to fit in a pocket. They are cumbersome, do not take ink well (even a Sharpie proved only minimally legible) and lack an elastic closure. Writing space is limited as a shovel only offers the equivalent of four pages (okay, maybe eight if you're used to a pocket-size notebook.) In short, if you need something on which to collect your thoughts, keep a to-do list or do your homework, the shovel is probably the last option you should seek. Okay, rakes may be worse, but you get my point.

I'm beginning to think someone was pulling my leg about this whole Abe Lincoln homework on a shovel story.