Pelikan's annual release of its vintage-inspired special edition M101N fountain pen has become a bit of an event, with collectors anxiously awaiting each announcement. Pens in the series have included the M101N Tortoiseshell Red, the M101N Tortoiseshell Brown, and the M101N Lizard. All recreate the look and feel of vintage Pelikan pens from the 1930s. Many thanks to Appelboom for loaning me this year's model, the M101N Bright Red.
Appearance and First Impressions
The Pelikan M101N is larger than I originally anticipated. For some reason, I expected this to be a smaller, almost "pocket-sized" fountain pen. That's not the case - it's a decent sized pen at 4.5" unposted and 6.2" posted. Pelikan packages each pen with its customary white "penvelope," and includes a special bottle of Pelikan 4001 blue "Konigsblau" ink with a vintage-inspired label. It's very attractive packaging, and certainly complements the pen.
To me, two things make the M101N's design distinctive: the cap and the ink window. The cap features an elongated "cap head," with the clip set lower on the cap than you would ordinarily see. It's an interesting look - again, vintage-inspired - but it's not really my thing. The pen also sports 24kt gold trim, and I do appreciate the double cap band. The yellow ink window offers nice visibility, and on this particular pen it provides some variety to what would otherwise be a solid red pen.
You all know that I'm a sucker for red pens, and Pelikan did a nice job with the marbled acrylic. You can tell that they tried to mimic the look of vintage celluloid, and pull it off fairly well (at least to the casual observer). The acrylic doesn't have the camphor smell or warmth of real celluloid, but it's still visually attractive. Both the piston knob and the "cap head" (Pelikan's term) are made from synthetic resin, which supposedly "polishes itself as it is used - meaning that Bright Red continues to shine." Huh. I've never heard that one before, but the material is shiny. Take it for what it's worth.
Like nearly all Pelikan pens, the M101N is a piston-filler. And like nearly every Pelikan pen that I've written with, the piston mechanism worked smoothly without a hitch and held a fair amount of ink. The 14kt gold fine nib was moderately wet and wrote what I would characterize as a traditional medium line. Again, this is something I notice with every Pelikan pen out there, and generally recommend that readers purchase one Pelikan nib size down from the size they actually want, if they haven't had the opportunity to try the pen themselves at a pen show. To get a truly extra-fine nib, you'll likely need to have the nib ground.
The M101N is a very light pen, and would serve nicely as an everyday writing instrument. Posted or unposted, it was comfortable to use, though I found the length a bit too "in-between" for me. The pen was slightly too short unposted, and slightly too long posted. Keep in mind that this reflects my personal preferences more than anything else, but I'd say that this is a pen you'd want to "try before you buy," especially at the price point.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
The Pelikan M101N is a solid pen, and provides an outlet for those people who appreciate the style of early vintage Pelikan, but may prefer to stick to modern writing instruments as their daily users. Though I'm one of those people, this particular model doesn't really speak to me aesthetically, and if I was to purchase an M101N my personal tastes gravitate more towards the Brown or Red Tortoiseshell models than the Bright Red. If you like the look of this pen, however, it's a Pelikan, and Pelikan's are great writers that should provide you with years of reliable service.
You can purchase the Pelikan M101N from Appelboom for around $450 (excluding VAT). The M101N pens sit at a high price point, but they are special editions made in smaller production runs, and in any event the pricing is fairly consistent with Pelikan's other high-end piston fillers with a gold nib. While it's a special edition that won't be around forever, as a practical matter these M101N pens tend to remain in stock for at least a couple years.
Disclaimer: Appelboom loaned me this pen for review purposes, free of charge. Many thanks!