As you likely know by now, 2018 marks Pelikan’s officially recognized 180th anniversary. It is no surprise that such a significant event in the company’s history brought about a limited edition release to mark the occasion, the Spirit of 1838. Love it or hate it, the Spirit of 1838 continues a tradition of limited edition anniversary pens. In the past, we’ve seen commemorative releases for Pelikan’s 150th, 170th, and 175th anniversaries. The year 1988 marked Pelikan’s sesquicentennial or 150 year anniversary. That occasion was commemorated with the release of the M750 and M760 Jubilee pens. These two models, now 30 years old, are done in a silver or gold electroplated barleycorn pattern with 24 carat gold-plated accents. The production run was not limited to the anniversary year and reportedly ran from 1988-1995. Earlier pieces were engraved with “Pelikan W.-Germany 1838-1988” on their cap bands whereas models from later on in the production run had the dates omitted. I’ve written about these two pieces previously in my post Pelikan’s M700 Series where you can find more information about the entire M7xx series. What you may not realize is that these two pens weren’t the only contenders for the job of the Jubilee model. Today I will introduce you to the two M730 prototypes and their matching ballpoints which were considered but ultimately never put into production.
M730 you may ask? Wasn’t there an official M730 in the mid 1990s? Indeed there was. The M730 has a standard black barrel and green ink window with sterling silver accents. It was produced from 1993-1997 and is notable for the guilloche pattern on its silver piston knob and cap. Interestingly, this is the only model of the entire M7xx series that has a matching ballpoint and rollerball. In the late 1980s, the M730 moniker was the working title for a prototype run of what is rumored to have been just 50 pens. Similar in concept as the official model that followed several years later, the Jubilee prototype M730s were never officially produced for sale. Of course, that hasn’t stopped more than a few of these sets from escaping into the wild.
The Jubilee M730 prototype fountain pens came in two different variants. The first has a black barrel and green ink window with a single trim ring at the section which was done in a silver colored metal such as palladium. The piston knob and cap are exactly the same silver electroplated barleycorn pattern as what we saw later employed with the M750. The cap sports a gold-plated pelican’s beak clip and crown surrounding a metal cap top which depicts Pelikan’s older two chick logo. Like the official releases, the cap band bears the inscription “Pelikan W.-Germany 1838-1988″ and the nib is Pelikan’s standard, two-toned 18C-750 gold. Unlike the officially released M750, this model was designed with an accompanying ballpoint pen in a matching finish. The prototypes also differ from the final versions in that there is no serial numbers but that may simply be due to their prototypical nature. Our second prototype is a variation of the M760. This one has a black barrel and smoke colored ink window. It has a gold electroplated cap and piston knob and the trim is the same as what was described for the silver colored version except it is all 24 carat gold-plated. The remainder of the details are the same as the silver variant.
I was very fortunate to come across both sets at a great price since these are rare finds indeed. Gary Lehrer recently sold a silver M730 prototype set for $750 suggesting that there are a few collectors out there who’d love to own one of these. Given that they are prototypes which were made in very limited quantities and not released to the general public for sale, finding one, let alone both sets, is quite the challenge. Even though these were never released to the masses, I think that they are great looking pens. They certainly compliment the exotic #660 Mitsukoshi (1995) well which also took its design queues from the Jubilee models. What are your thoughts on the design? Do you think the prototypes look better than the officially chosen releases or was the full metal look the way to go? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Special tanks to Gary Lehrer, Tom Baley, Jürgen Dittmer, and Wilfried Leuthold for their corroboration of the few available details surrounding these pens.