After tackling an affordable and fun pen battle previously (Kaweco Perkeo vs. Pilot Kakuno), we thought we might swing to the other side of the spectrum, ‘grail’ pens. What’s a grail pen? These are the fountain pens that find their way into your hearts and onto your wishlist the minute you see them. They’re exactly what you’re wanting in a fountain pen! While the price might put the dream on hold for a bit, you’re always thinking of them. But how do they stack up? Check out today’s latest pen battle of the Pelikan M805 vs. Visconti Homo Sapiens! Be sure to weigh-in with your vote at the bottom.

Pelikan M805

Hi all, It’s Lydia. I was certainly expecting to be a little envious of Colin’s pick of the Homo Sapiens but BOY, WAS I WRONG! This Pelikan M805 Ocean Swirl (this limited-edition is no longer available) is everything I look for in a pen. It has a super smooth nib, a beautifully balanced body and weight, and a GORGEOUS, jaw-dropping color scheme. The speckled resin body, designed to emulate the depth and variation of the ocean waters, is absolutely mesmerizing. It is beautifully accented by the palladium clip and rings. If you have read any of my previous blog posts or pen battles, you know I am a sucker for a good looking pen and the Pelikan Ocean Swirl does not disappoint. I fell in love with this color as soon as I saw it in person. If I weren’t already in pursuit of about a dozen other pens at the moment, I’d snatch this pen up pronto.

This stunning pen is completed with an 18kt gold nib that writes smoother than a swan gliding across calm waters. I had it inked with Diamine Marine and I had a hard time putting the pen down. It floated across the paper so effortlessly that I just wanted to keep writing and letting my ideas and thoughts flow. I tried it on a variety of papers and didn’t experience any issues with any of them, even the cheap paper of my dollar section to do lists. The ink flow is perfection.

As far as the size of the pen goes, the Pelikan M805 is similar in size to the Conklin Duragraph, Pilot Custom 74, or the Platinum #3776 Century. The 13.5mm body diameter of the M805 is similar to the 13mm diameters of the #3776 and Duragraph and it’s 11mm grip diameter is only slightly larger than the 10mm grip diameter of the Duragraph. The M805 is 166mm posted, a nicer midway point between the 155mm length of a posted Custom 74 and the 175mm Duragraph. The M805 really sets itself apart in it’s ink capacity though. This Piston filler pen can hold a solid 1.52ml of ink and will keep you writing for longer than the afore-mentioned pens, who range between 0.82ml and 1.23ml in their converter fills.

Here’s why the Pelikan M805 should be your grail pen:

  • Gorgeous resin body and stunning color
  • Smooth writing and flowing 18kt gold nib
  • Familiar size, comparable in size to popular pens
  • Impressive 1.52ml ink capacity
  • Easy-To-Use piston filling mechanism

The Pelikan M805 is available at, starting at $620 in a variety of nib sizes.

Visconti Homo Sapiens

Colin here, Community Coordinator for Twitter and YouTube, ready to convince you of the great Visconti Homo Sapiens! A grail pen for many, the Homo Sapiens certainly talks the talk. I mean, it’s made out of lava, what else do you need? There’s a lot to take in when it comes to making that big fountain pen purchase and I think the Homo Sapiens stacks up pretty well and checks a lot of the boxes. Unique material, smooth and soft nib, and a massive ink capacity; you won’t go wrong with this one.

I’ll start off by talking about something that may be underrated, the ‘Hook Safe Lock’ capping mechanism. Seriously, why doesn’t every pen have this? Can I pay more for my other pens to feature this? It’s such a smart system that keeps your cap securely on, your nib wet and safe, and it’s fun to play with! Might take a few test runs to get the hang of it, but after that it’s very easy to use for quick notes.

Now, we will focus on the showstopper, the material! The Homo Sapiens is made of hardened basaltic lava from the Mt. Etna volcano in Italy. So what’s the big deal? It’s both extremely durable and comfortable to hold for long writing sessions. I compare it similarly to ebonite where it warms to the touch adding a bit of comfort while writing. It’s also slightly hygroscopic so it absorbs moisture from your hand so it isn’t slipping around.

The capping system and the material mean nothing is the writing experience isn’t great. Fret not, the Homo Sapiens features a great 18kt gold nib. In my experience, this has a soft and smooth feel that has a bit of tooth on certain letters, enough to grab the paper and feel secure. Yet, it is so smooth that you’re gliding over Rhodia or Leuchtturm paper with ease. This nib did not disappoint.

Let’s review on why the Visconti Homo Sapiens should go on your ‘grail’ list:

  • Hook Safe Lock capping system
  • Basaltic lava body!
  • Smooth 18kt gold nib
  • Large ink capacity (1.51ml) with a power filling mechanism
  • Customize with the MyPen System

With this grail pen battle, the Visconti Homo Sapiens will still cost a pretty penny. Models like the Homo Sapiens Magma start at $620.

Leave us a comment as well letting us know the why behind your choice! Do you prefer another ‘grail’ pen? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Write on,
Lydia & Colin