The quintessential collector understands passion. It permeates every act of assembling, using, preserving, and displaying whatever may be the focus of one’s interest. The aforementioned undertaking can convey a tremendous sense of satisfaction. The activities of the collector should not, however, be confused with those of a hoarder. The collector is deliberate, focused, even if only loosely, and with a self-awareness that the hoarder lacks. Why do we collect? It seems to be a part of human nature, the motivations behind it as varied as the individuals who partake. Some of us do it as a celebration of the objects as works of art. Others use collecting in order to make sense of the world or as a means of accumulating a source of knowledge and ideas. Collecting can showcase a prowess or even be used to teach a lesson. Over the years, Pelikan has produced individual pens meant as part of a larger grouping. One such assortment began in 2001 when Pelikan released the first model in a group of pens known as the City Series. These special editions have become incredibly coveted by collectors. The pens are part of the M6xx line and officially dubbed M620. A total of twelve models in all were made and collectors have spent a considerable amount of time and energy trying to amass the entire series. Many have been successful while others continue the hunt. What follows is meant to highlight the City Series and to pay homage to the efforts of my fellow collectors. I can assure you that photos do not do these pens any justice. Their beauty needs to be seen in person in order to be truly appreciated. This particular post is dedicated to the efforts of Mike W., a fastidious collector whose years of effort and perseverance brought the pens that you see below together.
Berlin (Germany) – 2001
The Berlin and Stockholm were the first two releases in the series. The Berlin’s design consists of a marbled green pattern on the barrel and cap with the piston knob and section done in black resin. Gold-plated furniture rounds out the pen’s look. The material of the barrel and cap is translucent which allows for visualizing the remaining ink in the pen.
“Berlin – a city in renewed splendor: Berlin is the city of the 21st century: a popular center of the international bohème in the old days, then almost dried out in its function as a node in the global East-West-politics. Today once more blooming and booming: full of pulsating life – and permanently changing. Hardly any capital is as powerful as Berlin. Or – in the quiet – as relaxing: one quarter of the 890 square kilometers of Berlin are covered with woods, lakes and altogether 400,000 foliage trees. Incredible but true: The most exciting German city is also the greenest capital in Europe! Could there be a more exciting contrast for Pelikan to honor with a Special Edition?”
Stockholm (Sweden) – 2001
The Stockholm was created in a similar style as the Berlin, the only difference being blue marbling on the barrel and cap rather than green.
“Stockholm – a tribute to the swimming city: In Stockholm, nature and architecture are living together in a perfect symbiosis that could hardly be topped: Built on 14 islands, the Swedish capital is called the ‘Venice of the North.’ Not only because of the lots of water – but also because of its vital trading activities. Stockholm is the symbol of Swedish pioneers – then and now. Urban life is pulsating in the narrow lanes and streets of the old urban center as well as in the modern economic center Norrmalm. Stockholm has never been one thing: cool. Enough reason for Pelikan to honor this capital in a very special manner.”
Madrid (Spain) – 2002
Pelikan followed up their initial two models in the series with the Madrid and the San Francisco. Just like the preceding two pens, the Madrid has a translucent marbled design on the barrel and cap, this time done in red.
“Madrid – the fiery heart of Spain: According to surveys, Madrid is making its residents, the Madrilenos, happy. No wonder that every tenth Spaniard lives in this magical metropolis – on 650 m above sea the highest European capital. They keep losing their heart to Madrid. Even when in summer temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius seem to make their blood boil, the hearts of the Madrilenos keep pumping an admiration for their city close to idolization through their veins. Founded in 1561 by Felipe II as the highest European capital, the former market hamlet quickly became a metropolis that has attracted people by thousands – and still does today. The unequalled dedication of this metropolis and its citizens is enough reason for Pelikan to honor it in a very special way.”
San Francisco (U.S.A.) – 2002
The San Francisco was the first of the City Series pens to depart from the marbled motif of the prior examples. This one has a more pearlescent, swirling design composed of greens, blues, and browns. This model has black resin accents and gold-plated furniture.
“San Francisco – harmony of different cultures: Hardly any other city is as welcoming to foreigners as San Francisco. Rising against the unequaled sunsets of the California coast is the ruddy orange Golden Gate Bridge… a world-famous landmark as well as a symbol of tolerance and open-mindedness. Deep from their hearts, the residents of San Francisco build bridges to other people, no matter where they come from or what color their skin is. Bridges are build across language barriers, religions, and cultural roots. People’s cordiality and the unique location of the city on hills flowing into the open sea make San Francisco one of the most popular destinations in the World. Many years ago, William Saroyan wrote, ‘Every road block is a short story, every hill a novel, and every house a poem.’ Pelikan honors this cosmopolitan, colorful city its own way.”
Chicago (U.S.A.) – 2003
The third year of the series brought us the Chicago and the New York. Harkening back to the earlier models, the Chicago was created with a translucent gray marbled design on the barrel and cap. Instead of gold plating, the furniture of this model is palladium plated giving it a silver appearance. The piston knob and section are again done in a black resin.
“Chicago – An American dream: In 1871, a giant fire destroyed the original appearance – but not the soul – of Chicago, the ‘Windy City.’ Risen like Phoenix from the ashes and recovered to reach new splendor, the city today features some of the World’s highest skyscrapers and presents a very modern appearance. In every step they take, the residents of the city by the biggest lake in the USA show how proud they are of their city of superlatives.
Chicago, with the World’s second biggest airport, is the most important traffic hub in the United States. It is also a place that notwithstanding its bustling economy, its openness to the world and its cultural variety radiates an elegant calm, a certain ‘live and let live’ ambiance. This calm is not even disturbed by the wind that rages all around the city. With this Special Edition, Pelikan honors this unmistakable metropolis.”
New York (U.S.A.) – 2003
The New York brought something new to the table with black and white mottling on the barrel complimented by a piston knob and cap made from white resin. The section, however, is made from black resin. The furniture is palladium plated and I would say that this one is more semi-translucent bordering on opaque.
“New York City – Opposites in Harmony: The city that never sleeps. Day or night, no other city is like New York: full of opposites – but at the same time so much in love with harmony. New York. Taking the first step into this city with its magic attraction and unequalled charisma, you’ll feel what Frank Sinatra sang about: ‘If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.’ New York has its own beat that never stops, the beat that has been attracting people of every color and nation over the centuries. The famous ‘American Dream’ – here it seems to be easier to reach than anywhere else. New York’s development: one of a kind! First it was the point where the Pilgrim Fathers landed in 1625, then it became the symbol of liberty for millions of immigrants from all over the world who arrived full of hope. Today New York is the cultural capital of the USA and a melting pot for now 8 million people. With this Special Edition, Pelikan honors a vibrant capital that is in love with life.”
Athens (Greece) -2004
The fourth year of the series brought some new designs in the form of the Athens and Shanghai. The Athens was created with longitudinal bands of translucent blue and yellow on the barrel and cap. The material has a somewhat unique appearance. The furniture is again silver colored and the piston knob and section are black resin. Up until this point and including the Athens, all of the cap tops have depicted the two chick Pelikan logo.
“Athens – a witness of the classical time in new splendor: Hardly any other metropolis knits yesterday and today as closely together as Athens, the more than 2,500 years old city. Bridged by the seemingly endless blue sky, pampered by the warm yellow sun, and interspersed with the pale grey of its many classical buildings in the early dawn light, Athens, the World’s oldest democracy, has been the capital of Greece since 1834. Since then, the city has grown from 4,000 to roughly 4 million citizens. In 1896, the city hosted the first Olympic Games of the New Age. In 2004, Athens will again host the Olympics with the hope to inspire to all nations the values of noble emulation. The world famous Acropolis, the most popular momentum of the Greek Classical Period, is a very impressive witness of the city’s development. Pelikan dedicates its new Special Edition to this city, as Athens, situated at the feet of the Acropolis, faces the wind of change as no other European metropolis at the beginning of the 3rd millennium.”
Shanghai (China) – 2004
Similar to the Athens, the Shanghai was created with translucent bands of red and orange running along the barrel and cap. Rather than palladium, the trim is again done in gold plating with a black section and piston knob. This is the first model of the series to have the one chick logo on the cap top, a change that would be carried forward to all of the models that came after.
“Shanghai – China’s entrance to the future: No other Chinese town represents the opening of a new chapter in the national history as strongly as this city does: Shanghai. China’s most glamorous and complex metropolis at the banks of the Huangpu with its 14 million inhabitants took off for the 21st century with breathtaking speed. Called ‘city without night’ by the Chinese, Shanghai – which means ‘at the Sea’ before the first Opium war (1840-1842) was a flourishing, but not very important little town of weavers and fishermen. The economic upswing begun afterwards. In the Twenties and Fourties of the 20th century, Shanghai already had the highest buildings in Asia. With its geographically attractive location and unlimited trade permits the city attracted international investors to invest a lot of money. Today, fresh international capital flows into the city. Pelikan dedicates this Special Edition to a metropolis that is heading for the future.”
Piazza Navona (Rome, Italy) – 2005
The penultimate year brought the Piazza Navona and Place de la Concorde. Unlike the previous models highlighting major cities of renown, the designs from here on focus on grand spaces and places. The Piazza Navona was designed with a light brown marbling effect on the barrel and cap, black resin accents, and gold-plated furniture. The barrel is semi-translucent when held to the light.
“Piazza Navona – Gateway to the history of Rome: Rome’s historical square in the valley of the Tiber at the foot of the Quirinal Hill is impressive in a number of ways: the Piazza Navona. Built by the Emperor Domitian in AD 86 as a stadium for Greek athletes in competition, even today the foundations of the neighboring houses there follow the course of the grandstands of antiquity. Architectural masterpieces have repeatedly been created on their ruins in the past two thousand years. Alongside the family palace built by Pope Innozenz X. Pamphilj in the Baroque era and the house church bordering it, one of the most beautiful of Baroque fountains, the ‘Fontana dei Fiumi’ – (Fountain of the rivers) was built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1648-51. Into the 1800s, Piazza Navona was used as the stage for many imposing spectacles, for which it was even flooded to recreate historical sea battles. Whether antiquity, middle-ages or modern times, renaissance or Baroque – there is hardly a more fascinating collection of impressive witnesses to the epochs. Pelikan devotes its beautiful Special Edition to this magical Piazza”
Place de la Concorde (Paris, France) -2005
The Place de la Concorde was created with light blue and gray rings running along the barrel and cap. The section and piston knob are done in a complimentary light blue resin and the furniture is palladium plated. From here on, none of the models display any transparency nor do they utilize a discrete ink window in their design.
“Place de la Concorde – the scene of the revolution for freedom: By the river Seine in the 8th arrondissement of the French capital is Place de la Concorde, the last and largest of the Parisian royal squares. Built from 1755 and originally named ‘Place Louis XV’ it created a worthy setting for the imposing equestrian statue of this monarch. In classical style, and following the shape of an octagon, the square separates the magnificent gardens of Tuileries from the start of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. As the citizens of Paris moved to bring about the abolition of the monarchy and the introduction of first French Republic, the square was renamed “Place de la Révolution’ in 1792. One year later a guillotine was erected where King Ludwig XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were beheaded. After the July revolution of 1830 the city of love entered a period of somewhat more peaceful times – and the square of harmony became known as the impressively sounding ‘Place de la Concorde.’ Surrounded by two elaborately designed fountains and eight female statues, the center of the square is dominated by a huge granite monolith that was erected in 1836. Known as the Obelisk of Luxor, it rises up 23 meters, weights around 230 metric tonnes and originally stood in front of the temple of the same name in Egypt. It was given to France by King Muhammad Ali in appreciation of the work by Jean-François Champollion who invented a system to read hieroglyphics in 1822.”
Piccadilly Circus (London, England) – 2006
The last year of the series brought us the Piccadilly Circus and the Grand Place. The Piccadilly Circus depicts a red, blue, and gray swirling design on the barrel and cap with black resin accents and palladium plated furniture.
“Piccadilly Circus – the ‘hub of the universe:’ London, the British capital city on the Thames with its 14 million people and a pace that is not really known elsewhere in Europe, is traditionally a centre of attraction for an array of various cultures and one of the most important financial and trade centers in the world. And it is here, since 1819 at the junction the main streets Regent Street, Piccadilly, Haymarket and Shaftsbury Avenue, that what the Londoners consider to be the ‘hub of the world’ is located: Piccadilly Circus – a synonym for the big city nightlife and a pulsating vitality. The unusual name originates from the world ‘picadil,’ a type of ruffled collar that was modern in the 17th century. The square became famous as a result of the neon light, advertisement-bombarded facades of the adjacent houses. Gigantic screens envelop the architecture, transform it into a medium for its advertising message and illuminate the square by night with a blaze of glaring light. Piccadilly Circus is a place of contrasts, a place where the future, the present and the past merge with one another. The center is graced by a famous fountain, crowned with a winged archer: known as Eros, that depicts the angel as a symbol of Christian altruism and that was erected in 1893 in remembrance of the philanthropist, the Earl of Shaftsbury.”
Grand Place (Brussels, Belgium) – 2006
The Grand Place completed the series with its reddish-brown and blue swirling design. The section and piston knob are done in a complimentary shade of reddish-brown resin and the furniture is gold-plated. A similar motif, all be it with less reddish hues, was employed with the M201 Bayou (2015) and the M800 Grand Place (2016).
“The Grand Place in Brussels – the world’s most beautiful theatre: The breathtaking Grand Place, in Flemish the ‘Grote Markt’ is situated at the heart of Brussel’s old town and is on the UNESCO world cultural heritage list. More than 30 old guild houses with wonderful renaissance and baroque gable roofs reflect its importance as a commercial center and the glorious past of the craft guilds. Together with the delicate gothic design of the seven storey town hall they form a unique ensemble, the facades of which recount the history of the city and tell of heroes, saints and real life satirical stories. The writer Jean Cocteau said: ‘The Grand Place in Brussels is the world’s most beautiful theatre!’ A stage on which people live and die, a testimonial to democracy. It was the richest of the Brussel’ guilds who built the square in the 15th Century when they took over from the aristocratic city government. And when the Sun King Louis XIV destroyed the show piece of the free citizens the guilds quickly rebuilt it in exactly the same form. The people of Brussels celebrate themselves and their history in the annual ‘Ommegang,’ originally a religious festival to display the people’s affluence. This celebration has transformed, over time, into a magnificent parade traditionally held in this famous stone theatre. Today the main headquarter of the European Union is just one of the institutions to lend international flair to the Belgian metropolis.”
*The green text has been excerpted verbatim from the English language literature accompanying each pen. All of the spelling and/or grammatical mistakes that you may identify are Pelikan’s and are likely related to errors in translation.
There you have it, a walk through of the entire City Series. Having seen them in all their glory, I hope that you can understand why they are the object of so many collector’s ambitions. For what it’s worth, my personal favorites of the group are the San Francisco (20o2), Athens (2004), Shanghai (2004), and Piazza Navona (2005). What are your favorites? Vote in the poll below and feel free to share any thoughts, feelings, or experiences that you’ve had with the series in the comments below.
My three favorites are the Piazza Navona, Grand Place, and Athens, which also happen to be the three that I own. I also like the Shanghai and Stockholm, and hope to acquire them someday. Many congratulations on your purchase of the entire set!
Thanks! I like the M620 Grand Place but it’s just a little too reddish for me. I really fell in love with the M800 version though. I think the black resin really sets off the design but I like things with lots of contrast. I hope you’re able to add a few more from the series to your flock in time.
Thanks for the dedication. I was happy to sell to you knowing that you share my passion & love for them. They are all incredibly beautiful, in their own way, and I couldn’t agree more that one must see them to truly appreciate them. You’ve done an incredible article here, one that is essential for Pelikan lovers & fascinating for all Pen lovers. Keep up the fabulous work here – I don’t think that Pelikan lovers can thank you enough for what you do here.
P.S. My favourite (and hardest to find) is the San Francisco, by far, but others include Stockholm, Athens & Grand Place.
You’re most welcome. I completely agree about the San Francisco. That was my white whale for many years. Very hard to come by and even harder to find at an even modestly reasonable price.
What a great post! Thank you. A pleasure to read regardless of what I am able to collect. What dedication on Mike W’s part. And yours for this website.
Dick Swart Hood River, OR
I’m glad that you enjoyed and thank you. I’m always looking for ways to bring some of Pelikan’s wonderful past pieces back into the light.
Great post. I especially enjoy Pelikan’s nostalgic description of Chicago as having “an elegant calm, a certain ‘live and let live’ ambiance.”
I read through all of the accompanying literature that came with each pen. Some of the descriptions are a little out there and others are a touch dated. I’m chalking a lot of it up to something being lost in translation.
Terrific Roundup, Joshua. Thanks.
I have heard the M800 Wall Street as being a member of the city series. Your take on it?
Thomas, first, it’s an 800 model pen and second, it is not referred to as such in any Pelikan-source lists and other materials.
Thanks Tom. I have not heard that and wouldn’t believe it if I did. The M815 Wall Street came out 6 years earlier and is an M8xx pen. No relation to the M620 City Series.
I only recently became aware of this series and there are some beauties among them. If only they were available … Or if only Pelikan would do a second run of the series ( especially as 800s)
I think anything is possible and to see these finishes in an M800 size would be interesting but I hope that Pelikan lets it be. I would hate to diminish the value of the original series by a mass re-release. To me, it would cheapen the whole thing. Kind of like what they are doing re-releasing certain Edelstein Ink of the Year limited editions. Takes away some of that special quality.
I couldn’t agree more Joshua! If you re-release an original series, then you lose the trust of those the buy your pens because they can no longer believe you when you say that a series is limited and/or special. It cheapens past, present & future series.
And this is something that Pelikan has flirted a lot with lately in terms of re-releases. Just look at the M205 light blue, M205 clear demo, M200 clear demo, and M200 cognac to name just a few. All reproductions of past models. Seems like a cheap grab for sales and a lack of creativity. Some things are sacred though and I think a re-release of the City finishes in large scale would be sacrilegious. At least with the M800 Grand Place they changed it enough to bring something fresh to the table.
It’s so hard to choose just one favourite pen in this series. I like all of them, but if I had to choose just three, I would prioritise Madrid, Shanghai, and Piccadilly Circus. Starting my search for these pens now. 😄
That’s a nice list. Good luck in your search.
Thank you for this amazing article. I had never heard of a number of them.
You’re welcome. I guess I take it for granted how well known these are, forgetting that they are 12 – 17 years old at this point. I’m happy to hear that the post is bringing them to the attention of those who may have missed out in the past.
I had a really hard time chosing just one pen for the vote but in the end I chose Athens. It’s looks like a cool blue sea and I bet it’s amazing in person. My initial favorite was NY which seems to be the least favorite of the votes. From the photos on my monitor it looks like a light blue instead of white and I really liked that. Your description of black and white however has turned me away from that color. That being said I actually really like white pens and the pelican white translucent is on my wish list however I don’t care for white and black together. All in all these are beautiful pens and I would love to have any of them in my collection one day. Thank you for introducing me to them.
I have to say that I don’t disagree with New York being on the bottom of the stack. I have a hard time getting super enthused about a pen that mostly reminds me of a cow. Still, it is a bit unique which I appreciate.
I voted based off the places which I’ve visited: Stockholm, Piazza Navona, Place de la Concorde, New York. If I had to pick one, I think Piazza Navona.
Great article. Really enjoyed it. Thanks!
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I’m jealous of all of your travel. It would be something to travel the world based on the City Series. You’re already 1/3 of the way there. Glad to hear that you liked the post. Thanks for reading.
Thanks Joshua for this thorough and entertaining piece of work. It is a great source of reference as I had heard about these city series pens but did not know when they were introduced or how many there were. I agree on your comments about the city descriptions, which is of its time! I do not have any of these pens, or any M600 come to that, but nevertheless much enjoyed this article.
The M6xx to me seems to be where some of the more exciting finishes in the Souverän line can be found. I really think Pelikan uses it for the bulk of their most colorful releases. Perhaps one of these will find its way into your collection some day.
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I have only the Athens, but I hope to complete the collection some day… Maybe…
That’s a good one to start with. Good luck completing the collection.
Well… Although the fountain pens appear all in the protective custody of their owners i recently found a Madrid ballpoint that is tempting.
I do like the look of the K600s. A bit pricey in today’s market for what they are but can’t be helped I suppose. The Madrid K600 does look great.
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Unfortunately, I became a collector too late to buy these pens when they were still available. They do appear on Ebay and in pen shows at certain times, but always for prohibitive prices…
However, I have “learned my lesson” and now do not hesitate too long before purchasing new editions that catch my eye. So this year, I will certainly get the wonderful Stone Garden 800 and Vibrant Orange 600.
It is a pity that Pelikan does not occasionally re-issue these pens, of which the Athens, the Piazza Navona and Shanghai are (in my view) the prettiest.
If anyone has any of these three for sale, I need hardly say please contact me…!
I feel your pain. I look back at what Pelikan pens used to sell for and kick myself for missing out. Pennies compared with today’s prices. I agree that the cost are usually prohibitive but I do question whether or not anybody is actually paying these exorbitant prices. I do think if you get crazy with re-issuing pens you take away what was special with the original run and you risk turning people off all together if you rehash old releases too often. If I see one of these reasonably priced, I’ll let you know.
I couldn’t agree more about not re-issuing previous Special & Limited Editions. They were sold on a basis of being special or limited, and Pelikan needs to keep that promise to the buyers of those pens. If you want to issue say a Series 2 of different cities, that’s fine with me.
Series 2! Why would you wish that on my wallet? I’m game though.
Alas the City Series had just about run it’s course when I started back in on fountain pens. Having seen this very collection of pens in person can’t agree more that photos just cannot do the pens justice. Glad to see the collection has found a good home and remain together, seeing them all at once is truly an experience. My favourites are Stockholm, Chicago and Piccadilly Circus.
I too had missed the original run, not fining a love of Pelikan prior to 2012. I was very fortunate to amass the collection when I did at the price I did. It’s amazing how poorly such beautiful pens photograph.
These are such beautiful pens and I am always saddened that I was not aware of them at the time. By the year 2000 I was using my M800 blue stripe (and R800 rollerball) as daily writers but really wasn’t adding new pens. That came much later. Great review Josh, as always. I am constantly reminded by your words of what a true collector is.
Thanks Mark. I really appreciate your comment about the “true collector.”
Couldn’t resist that after reading what our esteemed Head of the Flock wrote.
I’ve only seen one in person, the Place de la Concorde, which a pen friend bought this year. Joshua is right, you need to see these pens to see the beauty. The Place de la Concorde is a lovely pen, so much prettier when you can hold it and see the colors.
Sadly, there is little opportunity to see these today. Many of them are now only infrequently found in the wild. The San Francisco is the one that inspired me to go after these. The Piazza Navona is no slouch either. Surprisingly, the one that I always hated and now love is the Shanghai. Really stands out when in the hand.