A lot of emphasis gets placed upon just how much flex can be derived from a fountain pen these days. Go to any pen show and you will invariably hear attendees asking after pens equipped with flexible nibs. If you frequent any of the popular pen auction/sales sites, a lot of Pelikan’s vintage offerings get put forward as fitting the bill. The principle of caveat emptor should be utilized in those scenarios since applying excessive pressure to a semi-flexible nib can result in great line variation but at the cost of significant stress that could ultimately lead to nib failure. While the company’s nibs from the 1930s through the 60s are excellent and considerably better than today’s offerings, they are not what I would call true flex nibs. It has been my experience that the more accurate descriptor applied to these nibs would be semi-flex with a springiness that imparts a tremendous amount of character to some to these vintage pieces. Of course, there is an exception to that rule. Pelikan produced a nib stamped ‘ST’ which could be found equipped as a specialty nib on various models. First introduced with the 100N in 1938, these nib were particularly elastic and came in EF or EEF. The 140s and 400s had gold versions produced from 1954 – 1965 and the 120s came with stainless steel variants made from 1957 – 1965. These stenographic nibs are truly flexible, putting down a line ranging from EEF/EF to B/BB. It should be pointed out that not all ST nibs are created equal and your mileage may vary. Pelikan also made specific pens dedicated to stenography in the 1970s and 80s which should be held apart from the nibs discussed here. Those models comprise the P11, P16, and P470 lines which are all nice writers but the nibs are certainly not what I would call flexible. I can only surmise that the differences might owe to the various stenographic systems that have been used over the years. Pitman relies on line variation where Gregg and Teeline do not. Read on to learn about how these flexible nibs were meant to be employed.
Pelikan launched the M800, their first oversized pen, at the Frankfurt Fair in 1987. The new pen was initially available in the company’s classic green striped Stresemann pattern with an all-black model to follow shortly thereafter. We know that around this time a third model was released, the fabled Tortoiseshell Brown. For over twenty years, this was the only tortoise variant available from Pelikan in a larger sized model. Why this was the case, we can only speculate. While the brown tortoise M800 has achieved a cult status amongst collectors, some have posited that sales at the time of the initial release may have been somewhat lackluster. Nonetheless, in 2013 Pelikan re-introduced the M800 Tortoiseshell Brown to great fanfare. The company must have realized the pent up demand as their sales literature kicked off with the line; “Finally, it is back! The much coveted model Souverän 800 tortoiseshell brown….” Both models are now scarce in the secondary market and command a hefty sum when found. The provenance of that original tortoise has always been shrouded in a touch of uncertainty. The issue is compounded by the fact that German law only requires companies to preserve records for a period of 15 years so the historic archive is often times fragmented and lacking in primary supporting documents. That said, Pelikan has done a better job than many at preserving the company’s rich history. I thought that it might be interesting to explore the available evidence as well as the past statements of some subject matter experts in an attempt to find the truth. It also provides a good opportunity to take a closer look at each of the two M800 tortoises side by side. While we may never know the definitive answer as to original pen’s origins, the mystery only enhances its intrigue as a collector’s model.
After a hiatus of nearly two months, we again have fresh news about the next release out of Hannover. March looks to be a big month for Pelikan with the previously announced M200 Pastel Green and the Edelstein IOTY Moonstone already due. Those releases will now be joined by a new Souverän, the M1000 Raden Green Ray. The last Raden model to be released was the M805 Raden Royal Platinum back in 2018. The M1000 line hasn’t seen a pen in this style since 2016’s Raden Sunrise. To make a pen with this traditional Japanese technique, a special Japanese Urushi lacquer is first applied to the barrel and cap. The stripes are then constructed with particles of Australian abalone. For the Green Ray, these colorful pieces of pearlescent shell appear to reflect hues of green, blue, and purple. Finally, another layer of lacquer is applied to seal everything in place. The artist then hand numbers and signs each piece in the Maki-e technique. Other notable past Raden releases built off of the M1xxx chassis are the Moonlight (2011), Sunlight (2013), Starlight (2014), and Sunrise (2016). This will be a limited edition of just 400 pieces worldwide and is due out in March 2020.
In 2007, Pelikan introduced the Majesty series of fountain pens. Production would run through 2012 and include the M7000 and M7005. They are hefty pens that incorporate a piston mechanism hidden by a sterling silver sleeve. The M7000 is characterized by a sterling silver cap with gold plated accents and a two-tone nib. A limited edition of this model made up of just 170 pens was released in 2008 in honor of the company’s 170th anniversary. That version is entirely gold plated with three diamonds embedded in the nest on the cap top. The M7005 eschews the gold plating and includes a highly polished black resin cap. Each model line had a matching ballpoint and rollerball available. The cap top features a Jugendstil frieze, the design of which was taken directly from the facade of Pelikan’s original offices in Hannover, Germany. This horizontally, engraved band depicts a motif of pelicans, originally crafted by a stonemason at the turn of the century sometime between 1900 and 1906. Jugendstil was the German counterpart to Art Nouveau, an artistic movement that was active from 1895 to 1910. The movement developed as a reaction to the historicism and neo-classicism of the official art and architecture academies and was most active in the fields of graphic arts and interior design. That original frieze remains in place to this day. The Majesty’s launch was met with mixed emotion and, like its contemporary the Ductus, opinion was split down the middle. Hampered by an undersized nib and a supersized price tag, the pen certainly had its detractors. Read on to find out if the Majesty holds up to royal scrutiny.
Pelikan’s first venture into the writing instrument market was heralded by the release of the Pelikan Fountain Pen in 1929. That pen would see a number of revisions over its lifespan, ultimately becoming what we know today as the model 100. A specific designation only became necessary because the company very quickly expanded their catalog to include additional models targeting a more affluent market. Built off of the 100 chassis, these pens would incorporate new colors and gilded embellishments which elevated the base model to a whole new level. The first of these came about in 1930/31 when Pelikan released the models 110 (White Rolled Gold), 111 (Gold/Black), and 112 (Gold). The T111 Toledo would also go on sale in 1931 with an initial price tag of 27 marks. While not the most expensive pen in the company’s line-up at the time, it was perhaps one of the most inspired. In 1935, the 101 model line was introduced which was characterized by caps that matched the colored bindes surrounding the barrels. Several variations were produced, often in vibrant colors, such as Jade (Green) and Lapis (Blue). Production of all of the aforementioned models was relatively short lived, ending no later than 1938 if not sooner. Perhaps it was the seemingly timeless design or a sense of nostalgia that prompted the resurrection of these classics nearly sixty years later in 1997. They would be produced as a run of limited edition pieces that would carry the moniker “Originals Of Their Time.” Not just inspired by the source material, these new pens were faithfully recreated from the original technical drawings. Taking it one step further, Pelikan eschewed modern plastics in parts of the construction in favor of the same materials employed decades earlier, chiefly celluloid and black hard rubber, adding an additional layer of authenticity. Of course, this has it’s downsides too as hard rubber can easily oxidize and turn brown. While the replicas may look spot on at first glance, some liberties were taken for the modern era. Gone are the cork seals of old; a slightly updated piston assembly incorporating a modern, synthetic seal in their place. The nib assemblies too bear only a slight cosmetic resemblance to their predecessors. Made in limited numbers and nearing two decades since production ceased, these modern pens are a treat to behold. Read on to learn more.
Some of you may recall a small post that I wrote back in 2015 titled “The (Short) Story of the M151.” If not, allow me to refresh your memory. Pelikan introduced the M150 alongside the M200 back in 1983 in order to provide a smaller alternative in the Classic series of pens. The M150 Green-Black came about in 1988 and underwent a redesign in 1997. Found predominantly in the Italian market, the M151 is nothing more than a regional variation of the standard post-1997 Green-Black M150 sold with fancier packaging. The atypical designation was once explained by one of Pelikan’s European sales & marketing representatives like so; “M151 is the company’s own ‘internal description’ for the M150 model and is the name that the pen has come to be sold under in certain export markets.” Sales literature can be found that seemingly elevates this particular model to some sort of legendary status. One such tagline reads “Everything passes…myths remain.” New for 2019, it would appear that the M151 has gotten a big brother aptly named the M251. Dressed in the exact same trim and color scheme, the M251 is distinguished from the M151 only by its larger size. Read on to find out all of the details.
It was around this time last year that we learned of the 2019 Edelstein Ink of the Year selection so it should not come as too much of a surprise that today brings news of Pelikan’s next batch of limited edition ink. In addition to learning of the M200 Pastel-Green, our second bit of product news is all about Moonstone, the forthcoming 2020 Edelstein Ink of the Year. The palette again shifts, this time to a silver-gray hue which is a significant departure from the prior Star Ruby release. This will be the seventeenth gemstone inspired color to grace the line-up. Moonstone will join Turmaline, Amber, Garnet, Amethyst, Aquamarine, Smoky Quartz, Olivine, and Star Ruby as the ninth Ink of the Year release. Some of these special editions have been resurrected to have a second life but, at least for now, we can expect this one to be a limited run for the next year. Moonstone is anticipated to grace store shelves sometime around March of 2020.
With the year winding to a close, you could certainly be excused if you thought that Pelikan was done with new product announcements. It may come as a surprise than to learn that we have not one but two new products to talk about today courtesy of the well-respected German retailer Fritz Schimpf. First up is a new M200 model set to debut in 2020, the Pastel-Green. Pelikan must have had a lot of white resin left over after their run of the Gold-Marbled because we see it again utilized here. It’s nice to see the company shift some of their attention away from the higher end Souverän range and focus more on their entry level Classic series. I also like the fact that the company seems to be experimenting with more unique materials and stepping out of their comfort zone. In this instance, we have a resin barrel with a marbled pattern of pastel green. White resin accents set off the light green, flanking the barrel just like what we saw with the recently released Gold-Marbled. This one is anticipated to be available at retail outlets sometime in mid-February 2020 and I would expect that vendors will start taking pre-orders soon.