The Pelikan M200 belongs to what is known as the Classic line, the lower tiered alternative to their flagship Souverän series. These pens incorporate the same great piston filling mechanism but have a slightly less polished finish and come with gold plated stainless steel nibs. Don’t let that dissuade you though because the M200 is a work horse pen with a reliable nib that has the ability to be upgraded thanks to some of Pelikan’s manufacturing conventions. Is the M200 the right pen for you? Read on below to find out.
Appearance & Design (8/10)
If you search the web or go to a pen show looking for an M200, you are likely to run into two variants. Pelikan restyled their lines in 1997 which resulted in an “old-style” M200 made circa 1985-1997 and a so called “new-style” produced 1997-present. These are easily distinguished from one another as the older variant has a derby cap top, double cap bands, and is lacking a trim ring at the piston knob. In contrast, the new-style models have a crown cap top, single cap band, and a trim ring at the piston knob. Almost all of the M200 models have gold plated furniture though there are a few rare and notable exceptions. There have been many color combinations released over the years but if you’re buying new, the current production finishes are limited to just black and green marbled (re-introduced November 2015). Provided that you are buying new, your pen will likely arrive in the standard G5 gift box which offers a nice presentation, especially if giving the pen as a gift. If you are comfortable with new old stock or even used pens, there have been 33 different variations with some very neat special editions over the last 30 years of production.
Construction & Quality (8/10)
The Classic line is a more affordable alternative to the Souverän series while still offering many of the same core features. To achieve that affordability, there have to be some compromises. The M200 is well made and very durable. My collection comprises pens from 1985 that are still going strong. If you look closely, you will notice a small seam on the section that comes from the manufacturing process. It is not large or overly noticeable but does bother some. These lines get polished out on the higher end models. The finish is prone to scuffing when posting the cap but these posting marks are easily polished out and this problem is not unique to the Classic series. The M200 is very light which some people interpret as cheap and poorly constructed. While I would not want to drop one from any meaningful height, I do not have any concerns about the pen’s construction.
Weight & Dimensions (8/10)
The M200 is a smaller pen by today’s criterion though it would have once been thought of as a standard size. It is actually nearly identical in dimension to the Souverän M400. The new-style M200 is 4.92 inches when closed, 5.71 inches when posted, with a diameter of 0.46 inches, and a weight of 0.49 ounces. The total ink capacity of the pen is quoted at 1.20 mls. The pen is big enough that it can be used without posting but the beauty of the design really shines through when posted as it takes on a near perfect balance in the hand. Posted is how I personally find the pen the most comfortable to use.
Nib & Performance (8/10)
The M200 comes standard with a gold plated stainless steel nib. These nibs are generally firm though I do find a hint of spring in most examples. You won’t find any flexible nibs in this line-up. I enjoy the writing experience and particularly like the fact that the nibs are affordable enough to have a few different sizes on hand, thereby increasing the versatility of just one pen. The gold plating is a bit thin and can be rubbed off with aggressive polishing/cleaning so it is important to keep that in mind. I also find that these stainless steel nibs are frequently more true to their size designation than their gold counterparts. If you truly have to have a gold nib, M400 nibs will fit the M200 without any modification and many people do choose to go that route. Whichever way you go, the M200 will provide a reliable writing experience. The feed provides for a generous, wet flow that easily resist drying out. I have never had issues with a nib not being ready to write, even when capped for a few weeks.
Filling System & Maintenance (10/10)
Even though the M200 is of a lower tier than the Souverän series, it still incorporates that same great piston filling mechanism. These pens are bottle filled with an internalized piston actuated by the knob at the back of the barrel. The piston travels easily and provides nearly a full fill on the first stroke. Almost all M200s have an ink view window to visualize the remaining ink level. The few special editions that don’t incorporate this have a translucent barrel that serves the same purpose. The nibs on the M200 are removable by the user which helps to facilitate easy cleaning and re-lubing of the piston as needed (usually once every three years depending on usage patterns). Damaged nibs can also be removed, repaired, and replaced which can be just the thing to get a pen back into service. The piston is not easily removed (and hardly ever needs to be) and no attempt should be made to do so unless it is by a trained professional. One downside is that the modern nib options are limited to just EF, F, M, and B so if you’re into exotic nibs, you’ll have to get a custom grind or look elsewhere.
Cost & Value (9/10)
Prices will vary from vendor to vendor and it pays to shop around to find the best deal. I have seen these go for as little as $98 on the low end and upwards of $145. It has been my experience that US customers comfortable with making purchases from overseas vendors can see a fair amount of savings. Best of all, Pelikan’s warranty is being honored by Chartpak no matter where the pen is purchased provided that it is from an authorized Pelikan retailer. Speaking of warranty, you get a 30-day free nib exchange and a 3-year warranty against defects when purchasing new. I think the value in this line comes from the fact that this is a work horse pen that provides dependable service at a relatively small cost for a piston filler with such versatility backed by such an old and storied brand.
Conclusion (51/60 or 85%)
The M200 is a solid pen that can provide decades of service. It is easily maintained and the nib is very reliable. The nib sizes are pretty basic but the broad nib has enough tipping to provide for a custom grind. I think work horse is an excellent term to describe the M200. If the light weight and relatively smaller size does not turn you off, then this may be the pen for you.
As an added bonus, I have been asked to clear up some of the confusion amongst the different models of the M2xx line and how they might compare with the standard M200.
This model is the exact same size and weight as the M200 with all of the same trim. There have been 9 different variations. The biggest difference is that instead of gold plated furniture, the trim is chromium plated for those that prefer the silver color over gold. Aesthetics aside, the end user experience will be identical to that of the M200. A new Aquamarine M205 is anticipated for release later this year.
The M215 stands out a bit more than the other models in the M2xx series and is a very nice option for those that find the M200 and M205 too light. These pens have the same dimensions as the M200 but they are noticeably heavier owing to the brass sleeve around the barrel. That gives the M215 a weight of about 0.74 ounces (compared with 0.49 ounces). There have been four releases in this line which has not seen a refresh since 2008. For whatever reason, the “Rings” model can still be found new from several vendors and is worth a look. These will carry a bit of a higher price tag but can still be found very reasonably. There also has been some confusion over the existence of an ink window. To clarify, each M215 has an ink window, it is just darkly colored and easily blends in with the pen’s finish.
This line is now discontinued but several nice examples can be found on the used market. The M250 is identical to the M200, complete with gold plated furniture. The major difference here is that the M250 came with a monotone 14C-585 gold nib. These nibs are very springy and a joy to write with. There were roughly 21 different variations of the M250 which was available in many of the same finishes as the M200. If you really prefer gold over stainless steel nibs, you might want to try tracking down an M250.
(This is a guest post by Joshua Danley. Joshua is a U.S. based physician by day and blogger by night. He is the founder of The Pelikan’s Perch, a blog dedicated to the Pelikan brand of fountain pens since 2014. Born out of a love for all things Pelikan, The Perch features news, reviews, and many original and informative articles about the brand. You can find more from Joshua on his blog The Pelikan’s Perch, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.)