Back in 2009 I was trying to decide on a birthday fountain pen. I’m a Pelikan piston-filler fan, and so I decided that I would save up for a Pelikan M400 White Tortoise with an F nib. It had just been reintroduced as a regular (and no longer limited production) pen. Prior to this my Pelikan flock was limited to M200s and M215s. It’s the same size as an M200, only with a 14k two-tone nib. I got it for a good price brand new from a Singapore-based seller, and was delighted to see how pretty it was. Of course, since it was white, I read up on what inks I could safely use it with. For this I use low-maintenance blues, greens, browns and blacks (nothing red or purple, to avoid possible staining). To date it is my prettiest, blingy-est pen.
Last year my friend Hazel was streamlining her collection and put up her Pelikan 400NN Brown Tortoise for sale. I took a deep breath and immediately went for it. It’s a 1950s model with a brown cap and piston knob. The tortoise stripes are mostly green, with a few brown glints here and there. The nib is a soft M, which I had gently stubbed by my friend J. P. so it would write with a bit more character. At the base of the pen there is an almost invisible imprint “Pelikan 400 Gunther Wagner Germany”. The cap clip is a little brassed, but it is a pre-loved pen after all. I wasn’t too worried about maintenance, since the 400NN pretty much had modern parts (no cork to replace on the piston). All it needed was for me to lubricate it, and that was easily done with a bit of silicone grease.
Top: Pelikan 400NN Brown Tortoise Middle: M400 White Tortoise Bottom: M250 Brown Tortoise
Now all I needed was a newer M400/M415 Brown Tortoise. The chances of finding one at a price I could afford were slim, until my friend Onggie showed me one of his eBay scores. “Hey, if you get tired of that, will you think of selling it to me?” I joked. Little did I know that a few months later I’d actually get to own it, at its eBay acquisition price! Of course when I saw it again, I realized that it was not the M400/M415 I thought it was, but the simpler and equally attractive M250 Brown Tortoise, a pen briefly issued by Levenger in 1997. I identified it by the cap, which is domed with an engraved logo filled in gold, and has a double cap ring that says “Pelikan Germany”. The M400/M415 should have a double cap ring that says “Pelikan Souveran Germany”. Also, the M250’s piston knob does not have a ring, while that of the M400/M415 has a double ring. As with the 400NN, the M250 Brown Tortoise has a brown cap and piston knob. My pen sports an old-style monochrome F nib.
Writing sample. (Click photo to enlarge.)
There is a special edition M600 version of the White Tortoise. I love the size, but not the price. The M415 Brown Tortoise, also a special edition, is out of my budget, as is the much-rumored M800 version. The M101N Tortoise is lovely and is, alas, out of my reach. That won’t stop me from admiring them, though.
I’m quite happy with my Three Tortoises.