Why I Can’t Review the Pelikan Griffix

6 07 2011

About a month ago, I came across and gleefully purchased what was, according to the packaging, a Pelikan Griffix Left Handed Kid’s Fountain Pen. The body of the fountain pen is indeed left-handed; the smiley-face is upright when held in the left hand, the grip indentations are leftward-oriented…but the nib is NOT a left-handed nib. I have a Pelikan Pelikano in both left- and right-handed models, so comparison was easy.

From Left to Right: Pelikan Pelikano Left-Handed Fountain Pen, Pelikan Griffix, Pelikan Pelikano Fine Right-Handed Fountain Pen

Do I even need to say anything? Look at the nibs. Which two look alike?

I tried emailing Pelikan as soon as I realized there was a problem, explaining the nib situation, asking if there was anything that could be done to rectify this egregious display of poor quality control, but I still haven’t heard back from them.

From Left to Right: Pelikan Pelikano Left-Handed Fountain Pen, Pelikan Griffix, Pelikan Pelikano Fine Right-Handed Fountain Pen

Do you see that nib? Not only is it the wrong handedness, but it is outrageously misaligned.

Were they even trying?

Sure, this is a low-end pen. But this is not the first time I’ve run into poor quality control in Pelikan’s basic pens (my left-handed Pelikano also had a misaligned nib). Why am I ever going to want to gamble my money on a more expensive Pelikan pen when I’ve had such poor experiences with their entry pens? There are plenty other brands whose inexpensive-end fountain pens are already pretty top notch; those are the brands that, down the line, I’m going to be willing to shell out the big bucks for.

Maybe one day, if I actually get a left-handed Pelikan Griffix fountain pen (doubtful, since I surely won’t be wasting my money on another one), then I’ll happily review it.

Update: Pelikan Pelikano Left-Handed – Mini Review

26 04 2011

What, match the color of this sample to the previous Pelikano sample? Gracious no. WHY WOULD I EVER MANAGE TO DO THAT?

I knew one day that all that camera fiddling and laboriously close-up picture taking would pay off. Commenters Connie and Erin noticed from the pictures in my Pelikan Pelikano left-handed fountain pen review that the tines of the nib did not seem to be properly aligned. With the judicious use of an eye loupe, some tweezers, and a red table clamp I was able to adjust the tines, and sure enough the pen writes SO much better now. Nothing but sweet spot. If any of you have problems with a Pelikano not wanting to write, I recommend you check your tines.


I’ve almost used up the entire giant ink cartridge the pen came with. There’s maybe 1/7th left; let me see approximately how many pages I’ve written…looks like about twenty 6.5×8.25″ pages, and a couple 8.5×11″ pages. By the way, most of the writing I’ve done with this pen looks far better than that terrible haphazard scrawl I’m allowing to pass for a mini-review. I’ve got many pages of fairly decent cursive in my little staplebound Clairefontaine notebook. I don’t know why my second writing sample decided to look as terrible as possible.

Thus, the pen is fixed, and much joy is felt throughout the land. I still wish the cap posted on the end differently, but other than that, I love this pen. Thanks again to Goldspot Pens for this pen!

It looks like it has a mouth. Like it is awestruck, shouting, "EVERYTHING I WRITE....IS NOW ASTOUNDING." Also, this is still probably not perfectly lined up, but it's much closer to being far better than it was.

Pelikan Pelikano Blue Left-Handed Fountain Pen at Goldspot Pens

Pelikan Pelikano Blue Left-Handed Fountain Pen

20 04 2011

Forgive this writing sample; I wrote it in the first day of having this pen, and knew not quite how to use it.

If you follow my tweets, you might recall I mentioned this pen about a week ago, and expressed great need for it to exist in my life. But!…I am currently in a pen-buying hiatus until I have my next job lined up. Quite a dilemma. Much sorrow felt across the land. But then, like Father Penmas of old, Tom, of the fantastic Goldspot Pens, offered me the opportunity to review this pen for free. I think I now owe Goldspot Pens a life-debt in gratitude, or possibly an ink cartridge containing 3 drops of my soul mixed with 2 parts blue-black ink…I digress.

I wept internet tears of desire merely over the sight of this pen. Look at it! The plastic is probably made of 53% recycled FUN.

I was first drawn to this pen based on looks—-the design is playful, but not childish. No parts to knock off or damage; the pen has a very sturdy appearance. I’m not going to worry about carrying this pen around every day. The body is thicker than most, but I like that. Pens that are too thin hurt my hands. You have something substantial to hold on to, but the pen itself is pretty light to medium weight—-most of the weight is in the brushed metal cap. Speaking of the cap, is that plastic bit that reads “Pelikano” intended in any way to be a clip? I’ve noticed I can slide a single sheet of paper up to the “i” but I’m terrified to actually use this as a clip for fear of breaking off the playful plastic. We’ll say it’s not a clip.

What an adorable logo. I hope it never wears off.

My biggest complaint about the cap is that, when posting the cap, there’s no snap-into-place intended alignment. You just push the cap on the end until it stays there. It’s pretty sturdy; you have to knock the end of the pen on a table a couple of times before the cap will come loose. It just isn’t psychologically satisfying. I prefer a cap that snaps into place when you post it. That way I know I’ve done it right.

At the other end, the cap snaps over the nib quite decisively to close the pen. And once it’s closed, it’s quite secure. This is not a cap that will be accidentally jostled off. You have to open the Pelikano and mean it. As I suspected from appearance, this is a pen that will doubtless travel quite well in the hodge-podge I call my daily pen arsenal. I won’t have to baby the Pelikano.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the blue, almost turquoise color of the body of this pen. Isn’t that lovely? I have a lot of notebooks this will look really nice with.

Now, enough about appearance; that speaks for itself (all of the above could be summarized as: “LOOK AT THIS PEN”). What really matters is what’s under the cap. How does this left-handed fountain pen write?

Obviously, it writes by transferring ink to the page. DUH.

The answer isn’t straightforward. One of the reasons this review took longer to get out than I intended is that I spent all weekend trying to figure out how, exactly, to use this pen. This is not a failing of the pen, per se; every right-handed person who has picked up my Pelikano has had no problems getting it to write. I think the problem is with my grip.

On the left, how I think this pen intends for me to hold it (APPROXIMATELY LIKE A NORMAL PERSON). On the right, how I normally hold pens (LIKE A WEIRD PERSON)

If I hold the pen the way I normally hold pens, then I ignore the grips explicitly put on the pen to help improve proper grip and writing position, but I have no problem getting the pen to write. If I try to hold the grips somewhat properly (or at least the closest I can manage to what I imagine is proper), I often end up having difficulty getting the pen to write.

A very particular nib (underside view)

The nib is designed specifically for left-handed writing; note how the left side of the nib is smaller/thinner than the right. In my experience, this nib has a sweet spot—-when I’ve got it lined up just right, writing feels so perfect. You can feel the nib moving along the page, smooth but making contact. This writing feels substantial. It feels like what everyone is always talking about when they go on about the experience of putting pen to paper.

Back it out a little. Zoom on out there. Everything will be okay.

But when I don’t have it lined up on that sweet spot, all bets are off. It becomes alarmingly easy to hold the pen in a way that results in no ink coming out at all, as the nib is no longer properly contacting the paper in a way that will transfer ink. And what way of holding the pen leads so often to that result? The way I think the grips are indicating I should hold the pen. Maybe it’s because I’m resting the pen on my third finger instead of my second. Perhaps it’s creating a bad angle for writing in spite of the pen being left-handed. Either way, much of my weekend was spent in mild frustration, trying to figure out how to hold this pen in a way that both utilizes the grips and makes writing happen. I’ve used up probably a third of the ink so far, writing stream-of-consciousness in a nice, orange Clairefontaine notebook as I tried to master the grip. Most of the writing was pen-existentialist, questioning reality itself, bemoaning what I might be doing wrong, where did fault lie, why is this happening, why is writing being this hard—-and so on.

I want you to look at this nib and tell me what I am doing wrong. OUR LOVE IS MEANT TO BE, PELIKANO. WHY DO YOU RESIST DESTINY?

I’ve been trying and trying to find the perfect way for me to hold this pen and extract the best writing experience from it. You’d think maybe I’d give up. But no—-I’m convinced the problem here is me, not the pen (though I do wish the nib had a greater range of angles from which it would write), as no one else who has picked up my pen has had any problem making it write. I haven’t tested it with any other left-handed people, mind you, so perhaps my data is incomplete, but I have hope that I will, at some point, crack this problem and unlock perfect medium-nib writing.

Because honestly, the pen has a lot to offer there; of my medium nib fountain pens that actually write a medium-nib line, this Pelikano is my favorite. It is generous with ink only as much as it needs to be. I’ve been using it in my large Piccadilly grid notebook with no bleedthrough and almost no fuzzing or feathering. What little fuzzing and feathering I do see is something you have to look very, very closely for. There’s no pooling of ink, no taking forever to dry. It’s not the fastest drying ink I own, but it dries fast enough that I’ve had no problems with smearing or smudging in everyday use. My typical concern with medium nibs is how messy they make my writing, and this was not a problem I had with the Pelikano.


Aside from my current inability to adapt to a one-size-may-not-fit-all grip, this is a great pen. Solid and stylish design, smooth writing (when held correctly), perfect ink flow. Many thanks again to Goldspot Pens for making this review possible!

Pelikan Pelikano Blue Left-Handed Fountain Pen at Goldspot Pens

EDIT: Many thanks to Connie and Erin for pointing out something that in hindsight seems obvious–the tines of my nib were slightly misaligned. I must have stared at those pictures I took of the nib for ten minutes or more without noticing, but I looked at the nib today through an eye loupe, and sure enough the tines look slightly off. I applied a brief fix attempt using only a red table clamp, a pair of tweezers, and when that failed to have any effect, my fingers—-and I’ve got the tines lined up much better now. Already the difference is palpable. As I wrote after realigning the tines, “These people are geniuses. whoa. ****in magic whoa whoa – – – much better. This is amazing.” I’m going to have a look at the tines under a diamond microscope this weekend to make sure they’re fully aligned, but already I’m writing, using the grips, and hitting nothing but sweet spot. This is fantastic.

SO…do you know what this means? It means I’ll have to do an updated mini review! I’ll take some new pictures of the nib, and put up a little writing/possibly drawing as well sample. Yay!