As we embark on a new year, I thought it would be fitting to look back and reminisce about the products that Pelikan brought to market in 2016. Many of those releases were rumored late in 2015 and most turned out to be true. That doesn’t mean Pelikan didn’t show up with a few surprises along the way. Pelikan, like most companies, is not a fan of pre-release spoilers so I doubt we’ll see the treasure trove of leaked models that became available at the end of 2015. I suspect that the company has since reminded their vendors of their contractual obligation to not leak info of upcoming releases. While we may not know what the future holds, we can look back and see that the last few years have witnessed a lot of interesting new designs as well as re-releases of fan favorites. I think Pelikan has overall struck a good balance though the M600 and M1000 lines continue to see the least amount of attention of any of the Souverän models. While there was a lot to like this past year, not all news was good news. 2016 saw significant price increases in the United States market, well above and beyond the rest of the world and pricing for UK customers rose due to Brexit and the weakening pound against the Dollar and Euro. The U.S. distributor, Chartpak, reversed previously stated policy and began refusing warranty services to US owners of Pelikan fountain pens purchased from overseas retailers despite those vendors being authorized by Pelikan. This was most likely done in an attempt to deter people from shopping overseas where Pelikan fountain pens can be purchased at a steep discount. Read on to get caught up on anything you may have missed this past year.
Pelikan’s 24 pen Collectors’ box was announced last year but issues with manufacturing resulted in a significant delay bringing the product to market. Vendors are finally starting to get stock and I thought that it would be worthwhile to share my impressions for those that may be interested in picking one up. Finding an adequate storage solution becomes a problem every collector faces at some point. I have seen no shortage of creative solutions during my time with this hobby and I’ve even employed a few of my own. Many people take to retrofitting objects made for other purposes to the task of fountain pen storage. I presume Pelikan hopes to change that with their own branded pen chest. The chest that I review here was purchased from Appelboom in the Netherlands and I cannot recommend them enough for their excellent customer service and communication (no personal or professional affiliation, just a satisfied customer). Read on to find out how this chest stacks up as a storage solution for your flock.
On June 23rd of this year, a referendum was held to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union (EU). With a turnout of 71.8% of eligible voters, leave won by 52% to 48%. The reasons behind the vote were multifaceted with those voting to leave citing a lack of sovereignty and an overly controlling EU that imposed far too many rules in addition to a large fee for membership. The issues run much deeper than this oversimplification and the full ramifications of Brexit itself are well beyond the scope of this post. I suggest anyone even remotely interested in this topic seek out reliable outlets for additional information on this historic and world changing vote. While it will be many years before all of the consequences of this motion are realized, one of the more immediate results has been a significant decrease in the value of the British Pound. The Pound has dropped by 18% against the US dollar and Euro compared with one year ago and hovers near a 30 year low. What this means is that British buying power is reduced and the costs of imported goods inevitably must go up. Inflation is also a real concern though this has relatively been kept in check to date. Many experts don’t expect the full economic weight of the vote to come to bear until 2017.
First released to the luxury market in 1931, the Pelikan T111 featured a steel binde (BIN-duh) hand engraved in the Damascene style, a technique imported to Toledo, Spain by the Arabs. Damascene artists traditionally decorate steel with threads of gold and silver to create beautiful, painstakingly crafted pieces. The Toledo models of today use a sterling silver binde rather than steel to which a thin layer of gold is applied. The technique that is used to produce the Toledo has changed very little over the past 85 years. Pelikan re-introduced the Toledo in 1986 with the M700, an M4xx sized pen depicting the classic Pelikan Toledo motif. Production has always been limited by the unique, hand crafted nature of each pen that rolls off of the line (Pelikan cites a quantity of just 200 pens produced per month). In 1991, Pelikan introduced the M900 Toledo, a pen with a similar design and motif but in the larger and heavier M8xx form factor and meant as a limited edition. The M900 was billed as “The Collectors’ Edition Toledo” in the United States and released as a run of just 500 pens earmarked specifically for the North American market (some accounts report an additional 500 pens made for sale overseas). Each North American pen came with a certificate declaring the rarity of the release. This exquisite model sold out quickly with many collectors being spurred into action by the limited and distinctive nature of such a release. The story might have ended there if it were not for Pelikan’s decision to re-release the M900 as a standard issue pen which has since enjoyed a lengthy production run.
Few designs capture the imagination of the fountain pen community like a tortoise release from Pelikan. The tortoise finish goes all the way back to the earliest days of Pelikan’s foray into fountain pens. Forums can frequently be found with posts lamenting the lack of a tortoiseshell variant of one model or another. When the M800 Tortoiseshell Brown was released in 2013, it became an instant classic. Prior to that the M4xx line last saw a tortoise release in 2009 (M415) and the M600 line last had one in 2012 (Tortoiseshell White). When the M800 was made available, one of the few criticisms from the community was that such a finish was not present in a smaller sized model. Three years later and Pelikan has again resurrected the tortoise as a special edition finish in the M400 series. This is the first brown tortoise in the M400 line in seven years and is sure to make a big splash, particularly amongst those that favor a smaller/standard sized writing instrument. After a month of regular use, I’ve been very pleased by this model and felt that a review was in order. Read on to discover my thoughts on the newest special edition to join the flock.
It was nearly two years ago that Pelikan announced the M805 Stresemann. That model was very well received but many in the community lamented the fact that the finish was only available in an M8xx sized pen. Those hoping to see the anthracite binde in a different sized Souverän just got their wish. Several vendors today broke the news of a forthcoming Souverän M405 Stresemann. Similar in appearance to its bigger brother, the M405 will bring the anthracite finish to a whole new group of consumers. For those of you not familiar with the Stresemann moniker, it is a term that has been used to describe the Pelikan pen’s classic pinstripe appearance. It is the nickname of the Souverän series and was derived from the Secretary of State of the Weimar Republic, Gustav Stresemann. He was well-known for wearing black/grey striped trousers and a jacket in black or anthracite.
Following the recent news of the upcoming Statue of Zeus, Iguana Sell, a purveyor of luxury goods out of Spain, gave us a preview of an upcoming Maki-e limited edition fountain pen today in a post on The Fountain Pen Network. The new model has been named Spring & Autumn. This appears to be an ambitious Maki-e release, encompassing both traditional Maki-e and Raden techniques in a veritable patchwork of thematic motifs. The pen’s finish is designed to symbolize both of its namesake seasons. The imagery includes cherry blossoms and maple leaves, both symbolic of their respective seasons in Japanese culture. Gold leaf is employed to create three traditional Japanese designs on the cap. These include flowing water in green, a hemp leaf in brown, and a golden stripe. There is an area of blue abalone shell on the barrel of the pen, creating a Raden effect. An additional area of stripes in violet depict eternal love. Yet another area in silver is done in the Harikiri technique. Several different Maki-e techniques exists and Harikiri entails generously sprinkling gold powder over a design and then carefully removing it with a needle in selected areas so that the original design shows through the gold dust. When taken as a whole, these different panels come together to give the front of the pen, where the clip resides, an Autumn motif whereas the opposite side depicts a Spring design.
Pelikan launched their “Seven Wonders of the World” series back in 2004 with the intent of designing seven pens, each as an homage to their respective ‘Wonder.’ These models represent some of the more interesting and artistic designs ever put out by the company, even if they are not always the most practical. Many different lists of wonders have been compiled over the ages. Pelikan appears to be riffing off of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World first put forth by Philo of Byzantium. Other writers on the topic include the historian Herodotus, the scholar Callimachus of Cyrene, and Antipater of Sidon. These lists chronicled “must see” attractions for Hellenic tourists, much like our guidebooks might do today. Like all but one of the described wonders, much of their ancient writings have not survived the ages except as references in other works. Classically, the Seven Wonders were; The Great Pyramid of Giza (2004), The Colossus of Rhodes (2005), The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (2006), The Lighthouse of Alexandria (2007), The Hanging Gardens of Babylon (2009), The Statue of Zeus at Olympia (2016), and The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. In modern times, only the Great Pyramid of Giza still exists. To date, Pelikan has released five out of seven pens in the series (actual release dates noted above in parentheses) leaving us awaiting Zeus and the Mausoleum. It has been seven years since we were given the Hanging Gardens of Babylon leading some to question whether we would see the series finished. Today, several European vendors have given us a glimpse at the penultimate release in the series, The Statue of Zeus.