When I bought my 400NN tortoiseshell brown (perhaps one of my favorite Pelikan’s of all time), I was incredibly excited and couldn’t wait for its arrival. Imagine my utter disappointment then when it finally arrived and I found the cap threads to be stripped, or so I thought. When the cap was screwed or unscrewed, there was a very disconcerting clicking sound and resistance halfway through the turn. This was a completely foreign experience for me as this behavior was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before in my other Pelikan pens, modern or vintage. After extensive searching online, I found very little information about this phenomenon. It wasn’t until I met and spoke with Rick Propas of the PENguin at the D.C. Fountain Pen Supershow in the summer of 2013 that I realized my pen was not broken but was actually demonstrating a factory designed behavior.
What follows is what I learned from Rick as well as a small tidbit of information gleaned from a read through of the book “Pelikan Schreibgeräte.” Since I had so much trouble finding this information out for myself, I wanted to share what I learned in the hopes that it may help others.
The resistance that I described halfway through screwing or unscrewing the cap which needs to be overcome for removal or replacement of the cap is there by design. I don’t believe that it was a marketed or widely publicized feature nor do I believe it was ever officially named/trademarked. I refer to it as the secure locking cap. The mechanism is actually a safety device which was employed on the 120, 140, and 400NN circa 1958. The resistance provided a way to prevent the unintentional uncapping of the pen. One of the nice things about the Pelikan cap is that even though it is a screw-on cap, it can be removed and replaced quickly due to the threading. This has the unfortunate side effect of a pen occasionally coming undone in the pocket if the cap is not secured tightly. This secure locking cap does indeed protect against that. I guess that the feature wasn’t widely appreciated as it did not seem to expand into other models or be incorporated for very long.
Post Updated 9/23/15: Added a German notice of the secure locking cap feature.