Pelikan Souveran M800 Renaissance Brown Review
Many consider the M800 to be the darling of Pelikan’s Souveran line. With its 18K gold nib, elegant design, and comfortable dimensions, the M800 unquestionably offers a premium writing experience. This Renaissance Brown version is a 2017 special edition, and it sure is a stunner.
For those who may not be familiar with Pelikan’s Souveran series, here’s a quick breakdown:
- M200: steel nib; 126 mm, capped; 14 g
- M400: 14K gold nib; 126 mm, capped; 15 g
- M600: 14K gold nib, 133 mm, capped; 18 g
- M800: 18K gold nib; 141 mm, capped; 29 g
- M1000: 18K gold nib; 146 mm, capped; 34 g
Materials & Construction
Pelikan describes this special edition as having “pearl-like ribbons of color in the brown, acrylic material [which] reveal nuances of light and shadow.” That description is apt, and the base for this material looks like it could have been wrung out of a Caravaggio. The acrylic is truly a sight to behold: a marble-like swirl of rich browns with pearlescent flakes interspersed. The flakes have a pleasing chatoyance that adds to the pen’s chiaroscuro effect.
The bands and clip on this pen are made of 24K gold and complement the acrylic well. The cap is semi-transparent and, depending on lighting, you can sometimes see the nib’s profile through the cap. Unfortunately, the barrel of the pen is not transparent enough to allow one to gauge the ink level, and there is no ink window either.
Build quality on the M800 is impeccable. The threads on the cap are buttery smooth, and the cap itself seals well—I’ve never had the nib dry out on me when using this pen regularly.
The Renaissance Brown version of the M800 is classically handsome without being stodgy. The gold and brown motif may remind you of your grandfather’s fountain pen, but the character of the material keeps it fresh and interesting. The pen is understated enough to be office-friendly, but will definitely draw attention from even the untrained eye.
The cap features Pelikan’s signature pelican beak clip, which I’ve always found strikes the proper balance of playful, tasteful, and cheesy. The cap’s finial has a tiered design that fits the Renaissance motif, though it wasn’t designed with that in mind. The finial also features Pelikan’s trademark ‘mother-and-chick’ logo.
The section and piston knob are black and give the pen some much-appreciated contrast. In my opinion, the design would have been less interesting if Pelikan had opted to use the brown acrylic on all components of the pen.
In the Hand
When used unposted, the M800 is almost perfectly balanced for my hand. The cap does post, but doing so makes the pen feel unnaturally long and back-weighted. The acrylic retains some warmth and never feels cold or sterile, and gains some tactility after you get some fingerprints on it.
The cap threads are neither prominent enough to notice, nor are they uncomfortable. I never found myself really thinking about them; they just felt like an extension of the barrel. The flare on the section is gentle but does help keep my fingers from slipping down toward the nib. The section could be more spacious, but never feels cramped.
Pelikan’s reputation for smooth-operating pistons is well deserved. The piston knob on the M800 turns more smoothly than any other pen I own, and just feels like it was designed and manufactured with proper attention to quality. While cleaning a piston-filler will always feel like somewhat of a chore to me, it feels a little less so when using a Pelikan, especially this M800.
Material & Design
The 18K gold nib on the M800 is one of my favorites in my collection. The combination of the Pelikan logo, swooping scrollwork, and two-tone color scheme is just downright gorgeous. Pelikan’s M805 models usually feature the monotone rhodium-colored 18K nibs, but I greatly prefer the two-tone design on the M800.
The nib is slightly down-turned and came like that out of the box, but it hasn’t seemed to affect performance so I haven’t done anything to adjust it. The feed has an attractive curved design that keeps up without issue.
The M800 writes predictably, and I mean that in the best way possible. I’ve left it sitting inked for weeks and it always starts right up without a hiccup. The fine nib has a slight hint of feedback, but not at all in an unpleasant way. Ink flow is consistent, and I’ve not once had a hard start with this pen. The nib has some nice spring to it but is not a flexible nib by any means.
I was fortunate enough to snag this pen during a Black Friday sale at the end of 2017. At that time, the pen set me back just under $470 out the door. As of this writing, the cheapest price online appears to be around $499, and at that price, I still think it’s worth it, with this caveat: if you’re not absolutely in love with the material, you may be better off going with the standard M800/M805. If you’re in the United States and are willing to import one from overseas, you can get the standard black M800/M805 for around $335 right now, which is a bargain in my opinion.
It’s not often that I purchase pens in this price tier, and when I do my expectations run high. Nevertheless, the M800 is able to meet and exceed them, and I can’t do anything short of wholeheartedly recommending this pen.
Final Thoughts & Score
- stunning brown acrylic material
- gorgeous two-tone nib that performs reliably
- ample ink capacity; smooth piston operation
- it’s expensive, and significantly more than a standard M800/M805
- pelican beak clip may be off-putting for some
- section could be more spacious