I guess it's time that I finally got around to reviewing this pen, seeing that I've been talking about it for nearly a year since I bought it at last year's Atlanta Pen Show. The Pelikan Souverain M800 is one of the more iconic modern pens, and certainly one of the best known and most easily recognizable modern German pens. While the (much) larger M1000 holds the title as the largest Pelikan available, I regard the M800 as Pelikan's "flagship." Over the past several years, Pelikan has issued "limited" and "special" editions of the M800 in colors and materials outside the standard lineup. The pen featured in this review, the "Burnt Orange" edition, is one of those pens.
Size and Construction
The Pelikan M800 is a well-built workhorse that will last you a lifetime. It has a brass piston mechanism, which gives the pen some heft and a nice balance in the hand. The piston turns smoothly and holds just under 1.5ml of ink, which is more than enough to get me through a week of intense writing at work.
The M800 is also a large pen. Most people will find it too big to use posted. The issue isn't necessarily weight - the cap is fairly light - but rather length. I prefer to post my pens, and even I find myself using this one unposted most of the time.
The Burnt Orange Special Edition is your typical M800 as far as size and overall construction go, but the unique color has some history behind it. This is not your "blaze orange," or "hunters orange" pen - rather, the muted "burnt orange" color is reminiscent of the red hard rubber pens from the 1920s, and made famous again by Montblanc's "Hemingway" Writer's Edition from the early 1990s (which now commands a premium price on the collector's market). Moreover, the section, cap, and piston knob are not black, but rather a very dark brown. They appear black at first glance, but in the right lighting, the brown comes out.
The Pelikan M800 offers a different writing experience than both the smaller M600, which I've previously reviewed here, and the larger M1000. The nib on the M800 is fairly stiff, whereas the nibs on the other two pens are slightly softer and offer a touch of line variation, the M1000 more so than the M600. That said, the M800 is an extremely nice writer. This pen started life as a broad nib, but I had it ground to a relatively crisp .4mm cursive italic by Mike Masuyama at the Atlanta Pen Show. This particular grind gives my handwriting exceptional line variation, but unlike a stub, isn't so wet that I can't use it on the ordinary office paper that I use daily at work.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
I love my M800, and I'm sorry that I waited so long to add one to my collection. That said, I'm not sure that I would choose this particular model of Pelikan to collect, since it's just a touch too large for me to carry around easily in a shirt pocket. I tend to break it out when I need to do lots of long-form writing at a desk, or for when I want to journal. However, for work, when I'm running between meetings and need something a bit more portable, I tend to go with my M600 or my M205.
The standard Pelikan M800 is available in black with gold furniture, or in blue, red, or green striated celluloid, and can be found at most pen retailers for $500-600. (The M805 model comes with chrome trim.) While that's far from inexpensive, the M800 is a very well-built, reliable piston-filler with a large gold nib, so the materials and construction drive the price up. I know a few attorneys who have one fountain pen (the M800) that they've owned for years and use daily, so you'll get your money's worth and the pen will hold up over time.
As you might expect, special and limited editions will run you a bit more, typically pushing into the $600-700 range, and Pelikan typically offers these models for a year or less, depending on popularity. While the standard M800 is readily available from any major pen retailer, the Burnt Orange Special Edition featured in this review will likely become unavailable soon. As of the time of this review, you can still pick one up at Pen Chalet for $676, minus whatever discount code Ron is currently offering.
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