My grandfather’s writing table was tucked neatly into a corner of his study. Though I was allowed into the study, I was forbidden to even touch the writing table. But like any 4 year old, the temptation was a bit too great. Whenever my grandfather was at work – and when nobody was watching – I’d rummage through the drawers and unearth all sorts of treasures (at least from an obnoxious 4 year old boy’s point of view). Particularly engaging were the several medals he had been awarded and a stack of writing paper that seemed to replenish itself almost by magic.
But what captivated me the most was his collection of fountain pens. I can’t really recall how many he had. However, I am certain that I was responsible for the (inadvertent?) destruction of a great many of them. Among his pens, one was so beautiful and elegant that I didn’t even dare touch it. Though quite young at the time, I had some rudimentary reading skills and this allowed me to make the pen out as a PELIKAN.
As I grew older, I got interested in many other things. Naturally, this took me away from fountain pens and into other more rewarding (or so it seemed) territory. Toy robots, ‘Airfix’ kits, guitars, books, karate, ancient Okinawan weapons, opensource programming, mountain bikes, women, more women… you name it, it was likely I had a finger (or two) in it. But the older I got, almost all these interests (women included) slowly faded away. Now, with the onset of a mid-life crisis in the offing, I am left with only two great passions in life: books and fountain pens.
When I was a thirty-something, I re-discovered my fascination for pens and got myself my first ‘real’ fountain pen – a Montblanc Meisterstruck 146. This, of course, was not a very smart acquisition, since as a newbie, I had mistaken branding and marketing for technical excellence. Though this is a bit embarrassing, I’ll admit that among the strongest reasons (at that time) behind that purchase had been because a Montblanc (any Montblanc), tucked in your breast pocket would basically scream: “Look! I’ve arrived! I’ve made it in life!” (much like owing a Mercedes or a Ferrari). In effect, the Montblanc was nothing more than a penis extension: Since I own a Montblanc, therefore, my dick has to be 12 inches long. Whether or not this is so, is a different matter altogether…
Several Parkers, Sheaffers, AT Crosses and 13 years later, I re-discovered the Pelikan brand. My first Pelikan (and still my favourite) is the M250 Tradition-series Demonstrator. It is called a ‘demonstrator’ because unlike ‘normal’ pens with their opaque barrels (bodies), the barrel of a ‘demonstrator’ pen is either transparent 0r transluscent. This allows you to see the ‘innards’ of the pen. Rather cool, actually – if you’re into this sort of thing.
Finally, the Review (Phew!)
The business-end of the M250 Demonstrator is a medium 14K gold nib that is as sweet as the kisses of a woman who – unlike the many you’ve known – actually loves you. It has been well documented that the nib on an M250 is somewhat stiff (now, whether this is good or bad thing really depends on your personal preference). However, personally I find that there is a small amount of flex in the nib that I find quite delightful. Though probably not as flexible as a certain yoga instructor in Bangsar that my friends have been raving on about, the nib of my M250 provides just the right amount of ‘give’ that makes writing with it a definite pleasure indeed.
The ink-fill system on the M250 (as in all Pelikans) is handled by a piston mechanism. By twisting the end of the barrel, a piston in the ink reservoir is raised, thereby creating a vacuum that sucks the ink in. Clean, easy and simple to use. Since the piston ink-fill mechanism is my favourite system, I couldn’t be more delighted.
Now, the M250 is what I’d call a medium-sized pen. Some go as far as saying that it is a ladies’ pen. This association to being a ladies’ pen, however, isn’t entirely accurate. It merely emphasises that ladies will find this a comfortable pen to use because, generally, ladies tend to have smaller hands.
Despite the fact that ladies may find this pen very comfortable to use, the M250 is as macho a pen as any: No question about it! It is just made for smaller hands. If like me, you find your lady friends occasionally complaining about your fingers not being long enough, the M250 will prove to be just the right size for your hands. Even if the ladies do not make any such complaint, the M250 – when posted (with the cover stuck to the back of the pen) – is plenty big. Therefore, unless you hands are as big Andre the Giant’s, you probably won’t need a bigger pen.
Ultimately, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So, how does writing with the M250 stack up? First off, the lines of this medium nib M250 is nice and wet; not slippery so that your handwriting is slipping and sliding all over the place, but with just enough ‘wetness’ so that you glide along the page with ease and confidence. The M250 lays down just enough ink to make a bold statement while, at the same time, providing enough lubrication so that the nib does not scratch the paper.
The slight amount of flex that I detected in the M250’s nib is wonderful as it provides a touch of feedback when writing. Sometimes – especially when writing with a fountain pen – feedback is what differentiates a good pen from a great one. Take being with a woman, for example; the experience will prove lacking if there is too much compliance and absolutely no feedback at all. I guess its the same with pens, too. Some friction and feedback is required to make writing that much more exciting. However, too much of either will, needless to say, spoil the experience.
Currently, the M250 is my favourite pen and I use it as my daily writer. I carry it around everywhere. But when I have to attend a business meeting where I have to impress some shallow-minded bureaucrat, I’d have to whip out the Montblanc. Apart from that, especially when I have to get some serious work done, the M250 is my weapon of choice.
However, Pen Gallery at ‘The Weld’ is having a sale. Somewhere this week, I’ll be off to get me a mid-sized, medium-nibbed Sailor 1911. It’ll be interesting to see if the Sailor will be able to give my beloved M250 a run for its money.