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.
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 F, 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.
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 and the body and cap have a higher quality feel to them – 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.
- The Ivory Darkness version. Mine ended up being extra dark. [↩]
- Simply because many of the documents I get are printed on that kind of paper. [↩]
- “Not a single component of the Konrad pen is German made. Yet, its design is extremely German…” [↩]
- In my case the Galapagos Tortoise. [↩]
- 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. [↩]