Have you ever wondered how your Pelikan fine writing instrument came to life? What technologies are involved and how does Pelikan retain the craftsmanship that only skilled human workers can provide in an otherwise automated process? For a collector or enthusiast, the chance to discover the answers to these questions can greatly enhance one’s connection with the brand. For some, such a trip would rival that of Willy Wonka’s own chocolate factory. Thankfully, you don’t have to buy any Wonka Bars or find a “Golden Ticket” to get in. As of February 2014, Pelikan has begun to offer tours of its manufacturing plant in Vöhrum, Germany which is approximately 25 miles east of Hannover (manufacturing moved in the 1970’s due to a need for more space). The tour purportedly last 90 minutes and encompasses all of the major steps in the manufacturing process of Pelikan’s high-end writing instruments. These tours are not a daily occurrence though and they do have to be booked in advance. This can be accomplished through Pelikan’s website via a simple online booking process. One Friday a month is set aside by the company and all of the tours start at 9:30am. The price for the tour is just 15 € (including the 19% Mehrwertsteuer, a German tax similar to the VAT) at the time of this post (approximately $17).
The 2015 factory tour dates are as follows;
- May 8
- July 3
- August 7
- September 4
- October 2
- November 6
Rather than a casual one-off event, it sounds like Pelikan intends you to spend the weekend in Hannover in order to get the most out of the experience. There is a hotel in Hannover that offers a special package for this very purpose, the Sheraton Hannover Pelikan Hotel. What is special about this lodging is that it is actually located right in the former manufacturing plant of Pelikan and there are signs of that heritage throughout the facility. Pelikan has also gone so far as to forge a relationship with the Hannover zoo to allow its customers to have a special encounter with the zoo’s pelicans, allowing you and your family to pet the birds. While staying at the Sheraton or visiting the zoo is not required, it’s nice to see that Pelikan is working to build an experience around its tour.
If a factory tour sounds like a dream come true, Pelikan sweetens the deal by providing an opportunity to get a custom ground nib, what they refer to as the “Make a Wish Nib.” Starting with a broad nib as the base, a nib specialist will grind the nib to your specifications while you wait. This service is only offered on site and only by way of appointment. Unfortunately, this service is not available for a nib that you might already own but only for one purchased at the time of the visit. Also, you are not allowed to observe the actual grinding of the nib itself but you are able to test the nib immediately after and the nib specialist will work on it until you are happy that it meets your requirements. While Pelikan wishes to be as accommodating as possible, they do note that they will not add flex to a nib so if that is your desire, you will have to look elsewhere. These custom ground nibs can be distinguished by an “S” in place of the traditional nib size denoting a “Special” nib.
If you wish to make an appointment for a custom ground nib, you will have to book one of five 30 minute slots (9-11:30am). In that time, you will be able to purchase the nib to be ground and get a personal consultation. Reservations must be made by the Wednesday prior to the desired Friday appointment. Payment in cash or with a European bank card is accepted but credit cards are not. You can book a custom nib grinding separately from the tour but if you wish to do both, you are encouraged to book the 9:30am tour and the nib consultation at either 9:00am, 11:00am, or 11:30am. Pricing for the Make a Wish Nib customization is 40 € added onto the price of the purchased nib (approximately $45 plus $181 – $339 based on the exchange rate at the time of this post: 1 € = $1.14). Nib prices, including the 19% tax are as follows;
If you would like to pursue either the factory tour, the Make a Wish Nib, or both, more information can be found at the following links;
For questions, reservation changes, and further information, email can be directed to email@example.com with the appropriate subject line of “make a wish nib” or “factory tour.”
First hand accounts of touring Pelikan’s factory from two well-respected Pelikan retailers/enthusiasts;
Please feel free to leave any comments that you may have below and I would especially love to hear if you have had the opportunity to take the tour and/or had a custom ground nib by Pelikan.
*Pictures taken from Pelikan.com