In this 4K video I review the Pelikan Stola III fountain pen. This affordable fountain pen is made in Germany and features a high quality nib.
Pelikan Fount India ink is an oddball ink. India inks (most often) contain binding agents like shellac that provide permanent and waterproof characteristics and consequently make them unsuitable for use in fountain pens (NEVER put real India ink in a fountain pen).
By making an “India-style” ink for use in a fountain pen you have to forgo the binding agent and you are left with a non-waterproof and non-permanent ink. So, you may be asking, “what’s the point?”
Unlike regular fountain pen ink, Fount India, has a thicker consistency that affords a very smooth lubricated feel on the paper. It is not the blackest fountain pen ink out there but it has a richness to it that few black inks can match.
It should be noted that unlike real India ink, Fount India dries matte and not glossy.
Because of it’s thicker consistency it can take a little bit to get the pen going after it has sat overnight but once it starts flowing the ink performs wonderfully. I have also noticed that this ink is especially prone to “nib creep”.
I really enjoy using this ink but I only use Fount India ink in my more affordable pens that are easy to dissemble as it is a bit harder to fully clean out. I have left the ink in my pens for three weeks without any consequences but I would urge caution when using a hybrid ink like this.
In 1988 Pelikan introduced the M600, a M400 sized pen with the upgraded trim of the larger M800. The M600 was sold with a monotone 18kt gold nib for it’s first year only, switching to a bi-tone 14kt gold nib in 1989.
In my opinion, the 1988 Pelikan M600 is the most desirable model as its nib is softer than any other post 1960s fountain pen I have used.
The M600 features a classic design that Pelikan has been using since the 1950s with the introduction of the 400. The M600 differs from the modern M400 in that it has an extra gold cap band, a gold band on the piston knob and a gold band on the end of the section.
In solid black with gold trim this pen’s classic styling wont be garnering much attention but it is elegant and understated.
Is this a good quality pen? I spent a lot of time thinking about this and my honest answer is no, not really.
The fit and finish of the gold furniture is pretty good and the threaded nib assemblies are a great design that allows the user to easily swap nibs. The finish of the black plastic (or “resin”) barrel and cap is excellent but the plastic section has big nasty seams.
The M600 does not have the screw in piston assembly of the modern M800 and M1000 fountain pens; instead it snap fits into the barrel. This makes the pen much less serviceable and more prone to breakage.
When I received my M600 I noticed the piston knob was not sitting flush with the barrel and after some research I discovered that this was a side effect of the “snap-fit” design of the piston assembly.
With the palm of my hand I was able to knock the knob back into place (thank you to Francis Goossens for the tip) but there is no guarantee that it wont pop back out again with use.
I know this is an old pen (as old as I am in fact) but I have not had this problem on any of the dozens of piston fillers I have owned produced from the 1940s to present day.
Size & Weight
The pre-1997 M600 is the same size as the M200, M400 and classic 400. This was considered a standard size pen back in the 1950s but today it seems a bit small. The post-1997 M600 is larger and, as you would expect, sits in between the M400 and M800 sizes.
I find the M600 to be very comfortable. It measures 12.5 cm capped, and 12.2cm uncapped. It weighs a mere 15 grams with half a tank of ink. People with larger hands will probably want to post this pen but for me it is comfortable posted and unposted.
As mentioned above, in it’s first year of production the M600 was fitted with a single tone 18kt gold nib that was also used on the M700 Toledo at the time. This is one of the softest post 1960s nibs I have ever used. The BB point is stubbish and offers line variation without pressure.
The nib is ultra smooth and quite wet. By comparison, my Pilot music nib puts down a thinner line.
The nib sings a bit, which some people may find annoying but it has no affect on the performance of the nib. I have started looking for more of these 1988 M600s and their related nibs as I find them to be quite wonderful.
The piston filling system holds a decent amount of ink and is very easy to clean and lubricate thanks to the user removable nib units. With the juicy nib though it doesn’t take long for the ink to run out.
As I mentioned in the build quality section, the piston assembly is a weak point on these pens and as such it is wise to use the piston gently and make certain that it is properly lubricated.
I paid $165 for this M600 and to me that price is certainly worth it for the fantastic nib. I think if you can get a 1988 model for $200 or less you will have a hard time finding anything that comes close with an ultra soft nib, piston filling mechanism, and threaded nib units.
The great nib and design make this pen a winner despite mediocre build quality.
Final Score 20/30
Up until now I have been carrying my larger and more expensive pens in single pen pouches. I would carry two to three pouches at a time which was cumbersome; I finally broke down and bought a Pelikan 3 pen pouch. I have been using a Pelikan Fine Leather Black Triple Pen Pouch every day for about a month now and I quite like it. I spent a good amount of time looking for a quality case that really protects pens. I had originally wanted a Montblanc pen pouch but after looking at it, I knew that it wasn’t right. The main issue I found with the Montblanc case (apart from the $180 price tag) was the fact that the dividers stopped about halfway down the case; this in my opinion is a design flaw that would allow the bottom of the pens to knock into each other. So after doing a bit more research I found that the Pelikan case would accommodate larger pens and had dividers that run the length of the case.
The Pelikan pouch is made out of a soft leather (softer than the Montblanc case) and comes in black with a green strap or black with a black strap. Each case has the Pelikan logo embossed on the strap. The leather is of good quality, however, it is not as nice as the leather Montblanc uses but for $35 the Pelikan case is of excellent quality. I don’t know where the case is made but I cannot find any flaws in its construction; every thing is cleanly cut and sewn. It’s clear that this case was carefully made. The interior of the flap is leather and the inside of the case seems to be some sort of felt sort of felt.
Compared to the Montblanc case pens do fit a bit more snugly. I can easily fit my Montblanc 149, 146, and Aurora Optima into the case but it is a tight fit. If you want to fit three 149s the Pelikan case is not for you. Also the top of the pens that the flap covers are not protected much on the side. I carry my case in a backpack or briefcase without issue.
Overall I am really satisfied with this case and highly recommend it.