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.