Noodler’s pens and Pelikans 12


I know that Bleistift is a pencil blog, so I usually try to keep fountain pen blog posts to a minimum, but today I can’t resist.

In December 2011 I bought a Noodler’s Ahab fountain pen1 and I didn’t use it a lot. Why? Because I was disappointed.

Why was I disappointed? That was actually down to my unrealistic expectations and wasn’t Noodler’s fault at all. When I read that it’s supposed to come with a flexible nib I expected some wonderpen that would be the fountain pen equivalent of my Brause 361 nib, i.e. I thought even relatively few pressure would make it possible to create a lot of nib variation. That wasn’t the case. The nib wasn’t much more flexible than M200 steel nibs from Pelikan in F or my Lamy 2000 M nib. My initial impression of the Ahab’s nib was probably also made worse by the fact that I often write on poor quality paper2 and because I used an ink that tends to be absorbed into the paper instead of staying on the paper to form a crisp line once dry.

Left to right: M215 Orthogons, Konrad Galapagos Tortoise, M215 Lozenges, M215 Blue Barrel and Stripes

Enter the Konrad. The text from the leaflet that comes with the Konrad reminds me very much of the Citroën C5 adverts3. I bought it because I like the look of it – no wonder: I like the look of Pelikan pens. I prefer the look of the round cap Pelikans to the crown cap Pelikans – and the Konrad has the round cap look I like. Unfortunately, the celluloid derivative used for the Konrad4 doesn’t look as good as the one on my Ahab, probably because it’s more translucent. This is however completely subjective and someone else will prefer the material used for the Konrad5.

In terms of nib flex the Konrad and Ahab are great, I just have to accept that I need more pressure to make it flex compared to my dip pen nibs. On the maximum flex end of the scale they don’t really produce a wider line than a Pelikan M200 steel nib in F6, but they can produce a slightly thinner line on the minimum flex end of the scale. If you now think a Pelikan steel nib in EF will produce similar results you might be disappointed. On good paper (steel) EF nibs produce a finer line than F nibs, but on poor quality paper the difference can be hardly noticeable. The EF nibs do however tend to be very hard and there’s hardly any line variation, i.e. they are much less flexible than the F nibs.

M205 De Atramentis Schwarzriesling ink, Konrad Pelikan Blue ink, Ahab Noodler’s Baystate Blue ink — Please excuse the shape of the letters, I usually don’t try to vary pressure on purpose when writing

Pricewise the Konrad is amazing. I paid about £23 including shipping (~$35; €27), bought on eBay. That’s about half of what I paid for my last Pelikan M215, about £56 including shipping (~$87; €66), bought from Amazon Germany. There are similar offers for different versions of the M215 on Amazon UK, but just to spell it out, one reason why the Pelikan pens are cheap on Amazon is because they don’t come in the Pelikan gift box, they come in a cardboard box, similar to the one the Konrad came in. The body of the Konrad does not seem to be as carefully handled as the Pelikan, mine came with some scratches on the body, but nothing too obvious or bad. The Pelikan has some advantages, too. It comes with a metal sleeve on the body, the body and cap have a higher quality feel to them and ink flow is more controlled and there less spilling  of ink when transporting the pen – but hey, the Konrad is only half as expensive, plus it can take all sorts of nibs.


Prices: January 2013.

Exchange rates: February 2013

Sbrebrown reviewed the Konrad on YouTube.

You can find reviews of the M215 at OfficeSupplyGeek and Goldspot pens.

  1. The Ivory Darkness version. Mine ended up being extra dark. []
  2. Simply because many of the documents I get are printed on that kind of paper. []
  3. “Not a single component of the Konrad pen is German made. Yet, its design is extremely German…” []
  4. In my case the Galapagos Tortoise. []
  5. I don’t and am thinking about getting the Ebonite Konrad once it’s available again. The Goulet Pen Company will have it back in stock again soon, but I’m undecided whether I should order because I might have to pay Customs Duty, Excise Duty and import VAT. []
  6. There is quite some variation though when it comes to Pelikan’s steel nibs in F, depending on when they were produced. []

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12 thoughts on “Noodler’s pens and Pelikans

  • doc snooze

    I don’t get your opinion on the Noodler’s pens respectively the nibs. At first you say Ahab’s nib is not that flexible and in the next section you declare the flexible nibs on both the Ahab and the Konrad as great.
    Can you clarify things?

  • Matthias Post author

    I don’t think I wrote that the nib of the Ahab isn’t flexible. I wrote that I was disappointed because the nib of the Ahab didn’t meet my unrealistic expectations, i.e. flex without too much pressure.
    I have just edited the blog post by adding a clause to the sentence where I mention the flex nib of the Konrad and the Ahab – to include this point a second time. I hope this helps to clarify things.

    I’m still looking for my perfect nib. Two options I see at the moment:
    – getting one of my nibs adjusted by a nibmeister
    – or hoping that some vintage fountain pen nibs can give me the flex I want.

  • doc snooze

    Thanks, Matthias for smoothing your review. I am currently waiting for my Konrad to be delivered. Guess, I’ll be back with my review.

  • Matthias Post author

    Which one will you get? Please let me know whether you feel yours looks plasticy, once you get it.

  • doc snooze

    Actually it will be the same as yours: Noodler’s Konrad Galapago Tortoise Brown & Gold. I will let you know when it is delivered.

  • Sola

    Matthias, I am waiting for my first Ahab to arrive and I am glad I found something about it on your blog. Do you still prefer the Konrad to the Ahab, or have you gotten used to both? I actually considered getting the Creaper but decided on the Ahab after discovering it had a larger body and nib. It seems to have a reputation for smell, let’s see how it performs 😉

  • Matthias Post author

    I use the Ahab most. It’s the one Noodler’s pen that is least likely to get my fingers dirty with ink. If I use one of my Konrad’s I get my fingers dirty 90% of the time. It might be coincidence, e.g. nib and feed just fit better, I don’t know.
    There’s one problem with my Ahab though, the O ring in the cartridge adapter / filler is too big, so it’s virtually impossible to use the filler as intended.
    It is extremely good value for money, though.
    My Ahab still has that smell, but it’s not too strong or unpleasant.
    I hope you’ll enjoy yours.

  • Henrik

    Been there – done that. And gave it up. IMHO will very few Fountain pens will be able to flex like the Brause dip pens – and they are hard to find – and expensive and fragile. Not really practical for everyday use, unless you do calligraphy. Esterbrooks are said to have some of it – but I can’t say I have never owned one. If you want to go for it – I can recommend the Sheaffer’s conical nibs from the 50 ies – but make sure it is a flex, most of them are nails. They are young enough to last you for a while …
    I can’t come up with any modern pens with real flex unless they have met a nib meister and has been transformed into a “wet noodle”

  • Sola

    Henrik, thank you for your advice. I study calligraphy and I agree with you that it’s unrealistic to expect fountain pen nibs to perform anything like dip pen nibs – if you want the feel and the result, you should just go with a dip pen. Some years ago I asked a meister to grind down my Pilot nib into an italic stub (it was a gift, a “C” nib, very impractical) and I realized then that fountain pen nibs weren’t meant to be used that way. Anyway I just hope that the Ahab will be interesting and fun in its own right, all the more because I don’t ever intend to go down the vintage “wet noodle” path 😉

  • Matthias Post author

    Henrik, some people have put dip pen nibs on Noodler’s fountain pens. Not sure whether they’d still write the same with the feed under them, but that might be a last way out…
    The problem with old pens is that if I get ones from eBay I can’t try it out, it might nit write like I want – and I have never been to a pen show where you could try them out..
    …and about nib meisters, most of them seem to be in the USA, which means that when they send the nib back I’d have to pay tax and customs on a nib I already own. Nevertheless I have considered this option often in the past. I might spoil myself one birthday or Christmas…

    Sola, did you get your Ahab yet? What do you think?

  • Sola

    I’ve been testing the pen for a few days in order to reply to your question. It behaves as expected, more or less – it still has some skipping problems in certain strokes and once that’s gone I think it will be more pleasant to write with it. What I am concerned about however is the sheer pressure required to make this pen flex – the grip shouldn’t be that strong (or is it?) and sooner or later it is bound to crack. We’ll see! I will post some pics soon 🙂