Pelikan Schreibgeräte 1929 – 2004
by Jürgen Dittmer & Martin Lehmann
A.H.F. Dunkmann GmbH & Co. KG, 2004, 188 pages (ASIN B004G8HQY0)
Pelikan Schreibgeräte is a book that was last printed 10 years ago. It is very hard to find in today’s market and when a copy is found for sale, it often commands prices upwards of $250+ dollars. Why then review it now? While many people save and search for their grail pen (a dream pen that often borders on unobtainable), my grail has always been Schreibgeräte. Don’t get me wrong, as far as pens go, a Pelikan Toledo would be my grail but, believe it or not, the Toledo is likely more obtainable than this now long out of print book.
The book detailed here is the second and last edition to be printed, covering pens from 1929-2004. The first edition was published in 1997 and covered pens produced from 1929-1997. Both editions were authored by Jürgen Dittmer and Martin Lehmann. Schreibgeräte is the German word for ‘writing instruments’ and anyone serious about collecting Pelikan writing instruments, especially those prized vintage models, should seriously consider finding a copy of this book. It would not be an exaggeration to describe it as an indispensable resource.
In the interval since the first printing, Dittmer and Lehmann undertook to provide more extensive information on the different models as well as include more pictures of the various pens described. The book itself is a survey of models from 1929 to 2o04 and, while not an encyclopedic catalogue, it often gives information on special and limited editions that is not readily available elsewhere. Not only are Pelikan’s writing instruments detailed but so is a thorough history of the company. All of this was made possible by having unlimited access to the Pelikan archives in Hannover as well as through the help of many Pelikan collectors who are well-known across the globe.
The book is essentially written in a chronological progression. It starts with the company’s history and then proceeds from the first model of pen released in 1929 to the latest limited edition release as of 2004. Not only are the Souverän and Tradition lines addressed but also many of the lesser known models as well as an extensive description of the development of the Pelikano. The last several pages detail a list of fountain pens as well as denoting their relative desirability and demand to the modern collector. Along this journey are many high quality photos which really help to illustrate the descriptions in the text. The photos were made by Claus Schüssler and are unequaled in any other text about Pelikan that I have seen.
One interesting note is that the book is written in both German and English. Each page is split into two columns with the left column written in German and the right in English. This format only takes a few pages to get used to but there are certain areas where it is noticeable that the book was written in German and then translated into English. That said, the translator Marjalien D’hose did an excellent job and it is very readable.
What I like about this book is that it screams class. It is a hardcover publication with a very high quality binding. There are two ribbon bookmarks and the pages are printed on high quality paper. Physical design aside, much of the material covered cannot be found elsewhere and the insight provided is indispensable to the dedicated Pelikan collector. The high quality photos make identifying pens easy and the guide in the back really helps with identifying and valuing vintage models. What I don’t like is the lack of an index. It takes a bit of time when searching for a specific piece of information and finding a small paragraph amongst the 188 pages can be tedious which degrades its value as a reference slightly. Also, it is not an encyclopedic listing of Pelikan’s pens. This was perhaps my biggest misconception before I obtained my copy. A great many of the pens are detailed but there are also many others that are not so this book is not the final and definitive word on all of the makes/models.
At the end of the day, Schreibgeräte is probably the most definitive and complete resource out there for the Pelikan collector. If you don’t already have a copy, finding one is not easy and, when you do, expect to pay handsomely for it. Still, it is worth the investment, especially since there is no third edition anywhere in sight. This book will hold a place of honor on my bookshelf. If you have a copy and haven’t looked at it in a while, perhaps it’s time to dust it off and take a fresh look at the beautiful photos and interesting information contained therein.