Günther Wagner’s Black Horse: A History Of The Rap-Pen

Günther Wagner's Rappen Fountain Pen

Günther Wagner launched the Transparent Fountain Pen under the Pelikan marque in 1929, a brand that he had trademarked some 51 years earlier. That piston filling fountain pen subsequently underwent several small revisions in a relatively short period of time, revisions that ultimately culminated into what we know today as the model 100, so named in 1931. Following its introduction, the model 100 represented Pelikan’s flagship fountain pen product. In the business world, it is common practice for manufacturers to target different market segments with alternate versions of a product. This strategy allows companies to reach a larger number of potential customers. Market segments might be targeted based on demographics such as age, sex, and income. Alternatively, they can be based on geography or focus on consumer versus commercial variations of a product or service. Perhaps you have seen examples of businesses selling a lower-priced product targeting the less affluent with marketing that stresses cost, value, and affordability. That same company may also offer a higher-end version of the product which might have more embellishments or some particularly attractive packaging thereby raising the price. Consumers who are more well off are frequently willing to pay an extra sum for those additional features and benefits. The products don’t even have to vary that much as marketing can frequently convince those with the cash that the higher priced brand/product is of a better quality, regardless of whether or not that is truly the case. Günther Wagner was no stranger to this practice as his company owned several brands, each geared towards appealing to a different group of consumers, predominantly based on income. While the 100 was the work horse of the Pelikan line targeting a largely middle-class population, the 110, 111, T111, and 112 were manufactured as higher end variations of the same product in an effort to appeal to the more upscale market. An effort to target the opposite end of that spectrum is how we came to meet the Rappen brand of fountain pen in 1932, Günther Wagner’s lower tier offering, priced as a more affordable alternative to the Pelikan model 100. The Rappen was able to be produced with lower production cost while maintaining quality workmanship and distinguished itself significantly from the company’s flagship models. Read on to learn how the Rappen came to serve lower end markets for well over a decade.

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News: M605 Green-White Special Edition

Pelikan M605 Green-White Fountain Pen

For those that have found the M205 Petrol-Marbled to be too small and the M1000 Maki-e Seven Treasures to be too large and expensive, Pelikan now brings a third option to the table for 2021. Today broke with news of the forthcoming M605 Green-White fountain pen. This mid-size model keeps with Pelikan’s trend, predominantly over the past five years, of bringing brighter barrel colors with white resin accents to the M6xx line. Starting with the M600 Tortoiseshell White in 2012, we have since seen the M600 Pink (2015), M605 White Transparent (2017), M600 Turquoise-White (2018), and M600 Violet-White (2019). This time we get an eye-catching shade of green arranged in stripes made of cellulose acetate accented by white resin and palladium plated furniture. If we’ve learned anything recently, it is that pre-release photos can be deceiving but there appears to be a lot to like here. If this one looks like a nice addition for your flock, it is expected to be available at retailers worldwide starting in July of this year. This will be a special edition therefore will only be available while supplies last.

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Review: M205 Petrol-Marbled (2021)

Pelikan M205 Petrol Marbled Fountain Pen

The subject of today’s review is the new Pelikan M205 Petrol-Marbled, a model that has already managed to generate a bit of controversy despite its relatively brief existence. First announced in March of this year, the M205 began shipping to consumers in late April. Right around that time, Pelikan released an apology when it came to light that the pre-release photos did not properly depict the actual product being shipped. The pen was initially shown with a chromium plated cap ring (technically the clipschraube/clip screw or crown cap nut) but, as it turns out, the actual product sports an un-plated, black plastic ring. A minor detail to be sure but one that affects the overall look of the pen in a rather meaningful way. Pelikan passed this off as a simple oversight but not everyone has taken that explanation at face value. Controversy aside, the Petrol-Marbled joins an expanding line of marbled finishes, predominantly found on the company’s Classic line of pens, though this is only the second M205 to flaunt a marbled finish. The first was the M205 Blue Marbled from 2016. Other, more recent entries in that style include the re-introduced M200 Green Marbled (2015), the M200 Brown Marbled (2017), and the M200 Gold Marbled (2019). The marbling of the Petrol’s finish has a dark but lively feel to it and really plays well with the light though there are inconsistencies that will mar the pen for some. It’s also hard to look at the Petrol-Marbled and not be reminded of 2017’s M805 Ocean Swirl which sports a similar color scheme, all-be-it, in a different pattern. The M205 Petrol-Marbled may well have enough going for it in the looks department to be able to rise above any small controversy over some trim. Read on to learn if it might be a good fit for you or if this is one you should sit out for the time being.

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News: A New Book Detailing Pelikan’s Limited And Special Editions Due Out Soon

Pelikan Limited & Special Editions: Fine Writing Instruments 1993-2020

Last week brought about some unexpected news, and no, it wasn’t with regard to the hottest new pen out of Hannover. Rather, it was notice that a new book was coming to market. Authored by Michael Silbermann, the book is called Pelikan Limited & Special Editions: Fine Writing Instruments 1993-2020. This hardcover edition contains 280 full color pages and is being published by Leuenhagen & Paris, the same outfit that was responsible for publishing Pelikan – The Brand by Detmar Schäfer back in 2013. Each copy will be bilingual, containing German and English versions of the text, just as we have seen with both prior editions of Pelikan Schreibgeräte. The book’s official release date was 5/1/2021 and it is expected to hit store shelves next month, with retail pricing of $80 in the United States and 99.90€ inkl. MwSt in Germany. Read on to learn about what you might expect to find within the text as well as some background on the book’s author.

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What The Doublé L? An Exploration Of Rolled Gold

Pelikan 520NNIf you have ever had the fortune to come across any of Pelikan’s more upscale vintage models, you’ve probably seen a golden cap with an inscription on the band that read something like; “Rolled Gold Doublé L.”  Variations of this type of engraving can be found on models such as the P1, M30, M60, 500, and 520 to name just a few.  Many of these models have held up well over their decades of service, their durability stemming from the decision to incorporate rolled gold into their construction rather than gold plating.  That resistance to wear directly follows from the fact that the layer of gold utilized with rolled gold is much thicker than what can be achieved with standard electroplating.  In addition to the added longevity, the look of rolled gold frequently has a richer, deeper appearance than what is typical of electroplated items.  The cap band inscriptions will vary, owing to changes made over time as well as model specific factors.  For instance, a 500NN may read “Pelikan Günther Wagner Germany Doublé L,” “Pelikan Germany Rolled Gold Double L+,” or some other variation of the same.  Similar scenarios play out with the other models mentioned.  Regardless of the format or the model, this stamping raises a few questions which I thought might be worth exploring.  For instance; what is rolled gold, why is there an acute é in “Doublé,” and just what does that lonesome “L” stand for?  Read on as I will explore these issues and more while trying to definitively answer some of the esoteric questions surrounding the inscriptions found on these models.

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News: Some Housekeeping Out Of Hannover

Pelikan logoIt can be quite frustrating when you finally decide upon buying a certain pen only to find that it is not just out of stock with your preferred vendor but others as well.   Such has been the case for perhaps the last six months for those in the market for a new Pelikan M800 or M1000 for instance.  Vendors have consistently been frustrated by estimated delivery schedules that seem to be constantly pushed back.  That’s not to say that some models aren’t making it out into circulation.  Special editions such as the M600 Tortoiseshell-Red and the M205 Petrol-Marbled have found their way into retail channels and consumer’s hands.  As I first reported in August of last year when discussing COVID-19’s impact on Pelikan’s operations, the global supply chain continues to feel the ramifications brought about by the coronavirus pandemic which is still infecting people across the globe.  This has hindered Pelikan from receiving certain materials necessary for their manufacturing in a timely manner while also disrupting the company’s ability to deliver its finished goods to their distribution partners effectively.  Last year, Pelikan’s Global Marketing Manager for Fine Writing Instruments, Jens Meyer, was optimistic that most issues would be hammered out by the fourth quarter of 2020.   In saying that, he also conceded that, for some select products, it might take a little bit longer to end the backlog, particularly with Pelikan’s standard assortment.  Since that backlog has now persisted through the first quarter of 2021, I reached back out to see where the company stood.  Read on to see just how he responded to that line of questioning.

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News: Maki-e Seven Treasures Limited Edition

Pelikan Maki-e Seven TreasuresWith the first quarter of 2021 done and dusted, uncertainty remains over just how extensively the pandemic may continue to disrupt Pelikan’s operations, including their timeline of new releases.  The Petrol-Marbled M205 should be landing soon for those eager to get their next Pelikan fix.  If you were hoping for something a bit bigger, just today Pelikan has given us a glimpse of the next Maki-e release coming out of Hannover.  Meet the Maki-e Seven Treasures limited edition, the successor to 2020’s very well received Kingfisher.  Pelikan has this to say of their newest model;

“Seven Treasures are listed in the Buddhist scriptures.  The typical seven treasures are gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, giant clam, coral, and agate.  The seven treasures are expressed on this Pelikan M1000 as auspicious omen motifs by drawing additional  fortunate items.  By this, the Pelikan Maki-e ‘Seven Treasures’ fountain pen is a collection of symbols which are believed to bring good fortune.”

Keeping with past trends, the Seven Treasures is once again built off of Pelikan’s flagship M1000 chassis.  Limited to just 123 pieces worldwide, this newest Maki-e release is anticipated to launch sometime in June 2021.  

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News: M205 Petrol-Marbled Special Edition Announced

Pelikan M205 Petrol-Marbled Fountain PenFor those of you that keep up with Pelikan’s usual cycle of releases, you know that by the end of March in most years, we’ve already had news of two and sometimes up to three new fountain pens.  Sadly, this year, like the one before it, is not like most years.  That unfortunate fact, made evident by the dearth of new releases out of Hannover, is almost certainly attributable to the chaos that the coronavirus pandemic has wrought upon supply chains across the globe.  The drought may be coming to an end however as Atlas Stationers out of Chicago, IL broke news of Pelikan’s next release via their website this evening.  The next pen to market will hail from the company’s Classic line and carry the moniker of M205 Petrol-Marbled.  Petrol is a color scheme that Pelikan has employed with pens from some of their other lines including the Pura, Jazz, and Twist.  Pelikan’s new marbled finish will combine blues and greens in a way that, to me, is reminiscent of the M805 Ocean Swirl from 2017.  Rather than a standard addition to the line-up, this one looks to be a special edition release, intended only as a limited run.  The Petrol-Marbled is reportedly targeted for a mid to late April 2021 ship date.  I would expect most vendors to start taking pre-orders soon.

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