Latest Update: Added a bit about the clip – the plastic isn’t plastic – it is metal after all, so I’ve done a bit of fingernail scraping. Added a little bit about getting your own, too.
Pelikan are best known for their Souveran range of quality fountain pens. They do make a range of cheaper pens, including very cheap school pens, but the US very rarely sees any of these, and they’re not commonly seen here in the UK.
The Souveran range starts at the M400, and extends up in price and size to the M1000. Underneath those are models down through the M300, M200, and M150 – similar pens, but not part of the Souveran range. When it was in production, in the 90s, the Go! was also referred to as the M75.
It’s broadly similar in construction to the more expensive pens, but not made of the same quality materials.
I picked up my Pelikan Go! through eBay from Ray, who also supplies Noodler’s Ink in the UK. Quite a while before, I had decided that some day I wanted a Souveran, and added “Pelikan piston filler” to my wish list. When I spotted this one, I realised that whilst it wasn’t what I’d been thinking of when I wrote that, technically it counted.
It doesn’t look like they’re too sought after – nobody else bid at all, so I got it for a price I was very happy with. Ray got it sent straight away, and it was with me a couple of days later.
I’d already read that the box has the excellent spelling mistake on the front – “Pistin-operated”…
…and on the back were instructions for filling the pen…
The side has a picture of the contents…
I opened the box, and the pen was sitting inside, held in place slightly by folds in the cardboard – they obviously didn’t want to waste too much money on the packaging with this one…
The three ‘stripes’ on each side are a bit odd. The longest one is an ink viewing window, so you can check how much ink is left. The other two are just views onto a bit of turquoise plastic. Personally, I think it would look much better if all three were ink windows, but Pelikan seem to have liked the idea of turquoise plastic. I’m sure they had their reasons…
…though no good ones occur to me right now. Maybe they thought that if they made this actually look good, it would take sales from their more expensive pens.
It definitely has the look of a pen where the designers were told “Make a fountain pen that will appeal to the youth market – make it cool and funky, so all the kids will want one. Make sure they outgrow it soon, though, so they’ll buy M600s.” It’s tempting to think that a design brief like that is doomed, but it can be done – Lamy manged it.
Although it’s not a current model, this wasn’t bought to sit somewhere and look pretty. It had been inked before, and although no ink was visible through the barrel, it hadn’t been flushed, and wrote a bit straight away. Before doing too much, though, I took it through to the bathroom for a good cleaning. Lots of flushes in and out, and I certainly knew the filler mechanism was working well – it’s a good quality “Pistin” in there.
I decided to give it some Noodler’s Eternal Black to drink. Filling was easy, and the nib wiped clean fairly easily apart from right next to the slit. I tested it on my usual index cards, and all was good – it writes well. It seemed a little on the dry side, but reasonably smooth, and with a bit more flex than you’d usually expect for a cheap steel nib of that style.
I gave the nib a bit of a polish (see our article on fountain pen maintenance and repair) and it was even better. Smoother, and wetter. This may have been all due to the polishing, but it may have been that the feed was still clearing itself out of water, and flowing better as it got the hit of pure Noodler’s Ink.
The nib is gold plated steel…
…fairly modern in design, unlike the ‘real’ Pelikans, but still quite pretty…
For filling, I realised later, you don’t need to dunk the whole nib and part of the section in the ink – just the lower half or so of the nib. The cut-away part towards the tip of the feed in this picture…
…is actually a hole for sucking up the ink, to make filling a bit less messy.
The nib from the side…
I really do like the Go! – I’m not quite taken with the looks, but it writes so well that I can forgive it (probably). It seems like a pen that will be easy to live with. The ink window means you know if you’re about to run out, and the piston mechanism makes filling very easy.
I’m not quite sure if it’s a pen I’ll keep using or not yet. I’m liking it enough at the moment that it’s my main ‘user’ – displacing the Saratoga Snorkel for now. Practicality is pushing out style and the fun factor of the Snorkel. I’m not sure if that will last, but this really is a good pen. Imagine a Safari with a bigger ink capacity and easier filling, and a nicer nib with a touch more flex to it – unfortunately with some of the good looks gone. It’s a good combination. I think now I should use it to write “Pelikan Souveran Fountain Pen” on my wish list.
Later – The Clip
One of the main things that bugged me with this pen was the plastic clip. It just seemed so cheap, when the rest of the pen, whilst still being plastic, felt pretty good.
Then, last night, I was sitting up in bed, admiring my new pen (yeah, I know) when I noticed the clip had a little chip in it. There is a raised section, narrowing down near the top to a thin raised line down the middle of the clip. On the edge of this section was a tiny little chip, with either white or metal showing underneath.
Little chips like that are like scabs to me – I can’t resist picking at them. So, I picked away, until all the paint was gone from the raised part of the clip, with metal showing through from underneath – either steel or aluminium, I think. Now, it looks like this…
…and I think it’s a bit of an improvement. It draws attention to a design feature I actually like, and the clip doesn’t look like cheap plastic any more, because you can see the metal. I’m still not quite keen on that turquoise, though, so I’m tempted to scrape the rest of the paint away too, and leave the whole clip as bare metal.
If I do that, I may want to find a way to modify the turquoise bits behind the smaller of the two ‘windows’ in the barrel too.
Either way, I’m happier just knowing that the clip isn’t the cheap plastic thing I thought it was.
Getting Your Own
The Go! isn’t in production any more, and I’m not aware of anything similar. The Lamy Safari is not so different, but if you actually want a piston filler, you need to spend quite a bit more money now.
If you’re willing to spend more, the Pelikan M200 looks like a good buy to me, and is available in some interesting finishes.
If not, there are still a fair few Go! pens around. I picked mine up on eBay in the UK, and I gather that although they were never actually available in the US at the time they were made, lots of new old stock ones have made their way over there now. Pelikan usually put their pens together pretty well, so a second hand one is likely to work just fine.
- Penspotters – a bit of info about the Go! on their ‘Miscellaneous Pelikans’ page – where I learned most of what (little) I know about it.
- When Ninth Wave Designs asked about fountain pens, a couple of people in the comments suggested the Go! as a good option – scroll down for the comments. If you like Moleskines, or just fancy admiring some really beautiful art, keep clicking around there too – NWD is a great site, and also sells Moleskines in the US. Look out for her ‘Alchemy’ notebook – the best art I’ve seen in a Moleskine.