Pelikan is my favourite pen manufacturer – I think that the Souverän pens are amongst the best that you could have in your collection. While I’m not a beginner (I don’t think..?) fountain pen user, I was still very curious to see how the Stola III ranked – as it seems to be Pelikan’s way of getting into the beginner fountain pen market. So how does it fair?
When people mention beginner fountain pen to me, three (I’m counting the two Lamy pens as one) pens spring mind: the Lamy Safari/AL-Star, Pilot Metropolitan & TWSBI Eco. So why isn’t the Pelikan Stola III in that line up?
Coming in at £19.95, the Pelikan Stola is cheaper than all of the models I just listed (with the exception of the Lamy Safari). However, if we’re comparing the models, it seems that on the surface, the price point is the only place where the Stola III comes out on top. Here’s why:
The Pelikan Stola III is only available in a medium nib – compare that with the EF – 1.5mm (1.9mm in the case of Lamy) nibs available from Lamy and TWSBI. And yes, I hear you – what about the Pilot Metro’? Well, while it also comes in a limited number of nib options, the nibs are Japanese grades and I think they’re far more beginner friendly than a German medium nib in allowing a user to find their perfect grade. Another thing that separates the Stola III and the Metropolitan is that the latter is available in various colours (and the Lamy Safari/AL-Star even more) which, again, makes it more beginner friendly. One of the greatest things about the pen hobby is how personal it can be from one person to the next and with different colours, you can achieve that. Unfortunately, the Pelikan doesn’t offer that.
One other thing I want to mention is about the filling mechanism because this is a huge downside to me. I wasn’t able to get a converter into this pen and I am certain this isn’t user error because I tried various converters that later fit fine into other pens. On Pelikan’s website, there’s no mention of using a converter, but it does say you can use “Pelikan’s high capacity cartridges” or “Pelikan Edelstein ink cartridges”. To be honest, I’m rather confused by this because it’s my understanding that Pelikan actually lead the movement in making the standard international cartridge/converter design. SI cartridges fit into the pen (the particular cartridge I have is a Kaweco small international) but for some reason converters don’t. Not everyone wants to use bottled ink, but I definitely think it’s useful to have the option. Why some beginner pens don’t come with a converter already I absolutely don’t know. Yes, Lamy. I’m also looking at you. We want to encourage more people into this hobby – let’s not make them think it’s a hassle or postpone their enjoyment because they have to wait for a converter to ship.
The design looks very modern and sleek. I almost want to say industrial but at the same time professional; I’m very impressed.
As per typical Pelikan, we get the mama pelican and baby pelican on the finial. Another thing that is typical for Pelikan is the bill shaped clip – something I really enjoy about the Pelikan pens. Could be seen as gimmicky, sure, but I think it’s great. It’s different from the gold/silver coloured bill of the Souverän clips also because it isn’t a solid piece of material. It looks very Lamy-esque. There’s no cap band, but at the bottom of the cap reads “PELIKAN” in a more industrial font that is found on the Souveräns. The clip snaps off to reveal the section. The cap is aluminium.
The section is larger than that found on the Souverän line (which is really small) but by no means large in comparison to other grip sections across other brands. Because the cap isn’t a screw type, there are no threads and the step up to the body isn’t noticeable and there’s nothing sharp. The body, in comparison to the cap, is brass but wrapped (which is where the name stola comes from as it means ‘wrap’ in German) in the same silver lacquer to give it the same aesthetic.
Now would be a good time to mention the difference between the Stola I, II & III pens. The former two are only available in rollerball and ballpoint, while the Stola III is available in rollerball, ballpoint and fountain pen. Stola I pens have an all black body design but with the Stola II the cap is silver while the rest of the body is black. It’s only on the Stola III that the body is silver, as well as having the Lamy-style clip.
As I said above, the nib is a medium – it’s steel and looks to be a little stubbish (though doesn’t actually write like a stub). I think the Pelikan nibs, aesthetically, are the best. The Stola III doesn’t compromise just because it’s a cheaper pen. The scrollwork isn’t as sophisticated and you don’t get two-tone designs as you do with the Mxx0 nibs, but there’s still a nice design and the Pelikan logo on the nib.
In terms of writing performance, I’m very pleased. Pelikan have a reputation for nib grades to run a little bit wider than the same size designation of another brand, but the steel nibs are an exception to this rule. This is a true medium and comparable to the Pelikan fine gold nib.
It writes a wet line and is very consistent with its flow, even during fast writing. It even offers quite a bit of line variation! It’s not advertised as a flex nib or intended for flex purposes at all. It’s a pleasant nib to use – I really do enjoy it and it gives a smooth writing experience. Perhaps a little too smooth. This is a personal preference, but I enjoy a little feedback when I’m writing.
The pen is rather heavy. Short and heavy is the best way to describe it. It isn’t a small pocket pen but definitely not M1000 size. Some might need to use the pen posted, but therein lies the problem: it doesn’t post. I think this is something to do with the inner cap inside the pen, whose purpose is to prevent the nib from drying out when it’s capped. I’d be wary of trying to force the cap onto the back to post it as you may run the risk of breaking the inner cap and that won’t be great for your nib when capped [insert witty line here about you never wanting to cap the pen “because it’s just that good.”]
Uncapped you can see really just how small the Stola III is. The only other pen that I could compare it to would be the Pelikan M100 size:
But then compare this when the M100 is posted and taking into account the Stola III doesn’t post:
I can use the pen unposted, but I think some might struggle and without being able to post securely has the real potential to put someone off.
To conclude my feelings, I need to word it very carefully to convey my thoughts exactly as it could get a bit lost. Do I think this is a good pen? Yes – It writes well, I like the weight and I enjoy the design, but I am annoyed by the fact that it a) doesn’t come with a converter and b) doesn’t even fit standard international converters. Ultimately, I don’t think that this is the best entry level pen despite its economical price because it’s very restricted in what it offers.
- Where to buy: Cult Pens (no affiliation for this review)
- Price: £19.95
- Recommend: As an entry level pen? Nope. Perhaps better for people who just want a new pen to their collection, perhaps from Pelikan but not necessarily a Souveran.
- Body – 20g
- Cap – 12g
- Total – 32g
- Capped – 13.4cm
- Uncapped- 12.2cm
- Posted – N/A
Writing Sample: Pelikan Stola III with Kaweco Palm Green ink on Fabriano 85gsm