Pelikan has produced many commissioned pieces over the years. These are often models made in very limited quantities for specific vendors or other patrons. Past examples include the M150 Bols demonstrator (3000 pieces), the M200 Deutsche Telekom (5000 pieces), the M200 Citroenpers (1200 pieces), and the M800 Chronoswiss (999 pieces). There also exists a little known run of green striped M800s with 20C nibs made for the Japanese market to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Maruzen bookstore in Japan (1989). Of course, Japan also boast the better known, but still obscure, M600 Tortoiseshell brown commissioned to honor the 130th anniversary of that same company in 1999. Some of these releases are so limited in terms of quantity and scope that they can often fly under the radar and go largely unnoticed, achieving an almost mythical mystique (as in the case of the tortoise M600). Japan seems to be a particularly fertile ground for limited releases not available here in the West. One such model was recently brought to my attention by a reader from China. The pen that he introduced me to is known as the Mitsukoshi #660. This limited edition pen was released as a small run of just 400 pieces for the large retail chain Mitsukoshi of Japan circa 1995. Do I have your attention yet? Read on to learn more about this golden beauty.
The Mitsukoshi department store has a long history, reportedly tracing its roots back to 1673. Business practices of the 17th century usually saw merchants take their wares door to door, calling on well to do customers. The Lord of Echigo was forced to renounce his title and subsequently became a textile merchant. His idea was to centralize the process of purchasing by opening a storefront which would allow him to eliminate transportation costs and reduce haggling thereby enabling him to pass a portion of the savings on to his customers. In 1904, Mitsukoshi became the official name of the fruit born from those roots. The company established itself as Japan’s first modern department store. At one point, the store boasted over 80 departments and sold a great variety of wares.
For decades, there has been a well established relationship between Mitsukoshi and the fountain pen community. Over the past 18 years, the company has held the Mistukoshi World Fountain Pen Fair at the Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi storefront in Tokyo. This March event sees pen makers from Japan and all over the world gather to display their wares, offer demonstrations, and hold clinics. It is an event for which Pelikan Japan has never been absent according to their 2013 annual report. With such a seemingly close relationship to both the pen community and its manufacturers, it’s not a leap of the imagination to envision Pelikan Japan developing a fountain pen for the exclusive release through Mitsukoshi. Both Sailor and Pilot have had similar arrangements with the company in the past.
When examined closely, the Mitsukoshi #660 appears to be a mash-up of pens. The cap is taken from a pre-1997 M600 as evidenced by the two cap bands bearing the inscription “Pelikan – Germany.” The section and piston knob are done in a black resin and both lack trim rings reminiscent of the pre-1997 M400. The barrel and ink window are clearly taken from the M760 which was officially produced from 1988-1995 (built to honor Pelikan’s 150 year Jubilee). The M760 is characterized by a gold-plated barleycorn overlay on the barrel. The #660 was made in 1995 which makes sense since Pelikan would have been winding down production of the M760 by then. Perhaps the arrangement allowed Pelikan to use up left over stock. There is a serial number engraved on the barrel at the piston knob of the #660 just as there is on the M760 though the significance of the numbers is unclear. The nib is done in an 18C-750 monotone yellow gold with the “PF” stamping present, a common finding on gold nibs from the 1990s. You may be wondering why I have been using a number sign preceding the model number rather than the traditional ‘M’ designating a Mechanik-Füller or fountain pen. I have been told that ‘#’ is widely used in Japan for some of their models and that is the appropriate prefix for this pen. The details of the #660 were able to be verified by a fellow enthusiast from China who placed a phone call to Mitsukoshi thereby providing us with confirmation of the pen’s provenance firsthand.
The pen looks absolutely fantastic in person. The black cap and piston knob really add some nice contrast, breaking up the all gold appearance of the M760. I have seen a couple examples in the wild, mostly in the Chinese region, but none in the USA. Despite it now being 22 years old and largely unavailable, it’s such a striking pen that I wanted to share it with you and bring it into the light. Have you seen one like it before and what do you think about it? It certainly makes me jealous of those living in Tokyo who may have had access to a rare beauty such as this one.
Click on any of the pictures below to enlarge
*I’d like to extend a special thanks to Chengfeng and Hang Su from China for their help in making this post possible.