The Venerable Pelikan 140

Pelikan 140 Fountain PensMy recent exploration of the less commonly encountered Pelikan 300 gave me occasion to pull my 140 and 400 out of the pen cabinet.   Looking over those two models made me realize that both were equally deserving of their own post so consider this the second installment of a three-part series looking at some of Pelikan’s finest work from the 1950s and 60s.  Today we will focus on the 140, the direct successor to the Ibis 130 (1949-54).  First introduced in 1952, the 140 came in a plethora of colors, many of which are not often seen today.  The 140 was also a platform adapted to unique purposes and sold by other manufacturers without Pelikan’s branding so there is a lot of variety to be found out there.  Production officially ran from April of 1952 through July of 1965 and many small changes occurred to the line over that time, particularly early on in the run.  These changes can help to date earlier pens and I will endeavor to highlight most of them below.  Read on to learn all about this iconic model.

 

Pelikan 140 fountain pen and 350 pencil from price list 80A

Excerpt from Pelikan’s price list 80A dated February 1953. The photo depicts the 140 and its companion pencil, the 350.

 

In its most basic form, the 140 is a smaller pen with a capped length of 4.87 inches, a posted length of 5.72 inches, a diameter of 0.47 inches, and a weight of 0.42 ounces.  It is a piston filled fountain pen with a synthetic seal and the ink capacity is probably somewhere around 1.5 mL.  Rather understated in its styling, the 140 sports a characteristic domed cap top and an elongated piston knob.  The furniture is generally gold-plated and consists of a beak clip and a single cap band.  The plating is not quite as good as what was employed on the 400, likely coinciding with its lower price point and position in the market.  Consequently, you’ll see the trim on the 140 more prone to brassing over time.  The Green/Black striped models are the most frequently seen on the secondary market by far but there are many others out there including Black, Gray, Dark Blue, Dark Green, and Burgundy to name just a few.  The Gray may be one of the rarest as it was only produced for a three month stretch in 1952.  There was even a “reverse trim” variant that employed nickel furniture with a silver color and sported a CN nib for domestically sold models and a 14C-585 gold nib for export.

Green/black Pelikan 140 fountain pen

Green/Black striped Pelikan 140

 

A variety of colorful Pelikan 140 fountain pens

A variety of colorful 140s.  From left to right: Dark Blue, Dark Green, Burgundy, Gray, Black, Black w/ nickel trim. See below for the approximate dates of production

 

The nibs of the 140 are generally found in a monotone 14C-585 yellow gold though chromium-nickel (CN) variants are known as well.  Both the nib and ebonite feed of the 140 are somewhat smaller than what you’ll find on a 400 but on par with the 120.  Some of the collars employed on these were made from polystyrene which becomes fragile over time and is prone to cracking.  The characteristics of the 140’s nib deserve some special mention.  Despite their smaller size, they retain the same features of Pelikan’s other nibs from this era.  In general, they are soft and springy and can range from quite flexible to as immovable as steel with many grades in between.  The available nib widths at the time of production included a much larger variety than what is available today.

The profile of a typical Pelikan 140 nib

The profile of a typical Pelikan 140 nib

 

The ebonite feed and collar of a 140 nib

The ebonite feed and collar of a 140 nib

 

As previously alluded to, the 140 did see a transition over time that consisted of relatively small design changes.  Knowing what these were can help to more narrowly identify a production period, particularly for pens made early on.  Of course, there is always some overlap of features as old parts were used up so there might be some odd combinations out there which are totally legitimate and defy a specific time line.  It is important to note that these changes are based on observation rather than any specific documentation available from Pelikan and should be used as a guide only.  What follows is in no way meant to be the definitive word on variations in production.

1952-1953:  

Like the 400 models produced over the same time period, the early 140s were made without any engraving on the cap band during the first two years of production.  From 1954 onwards, the cap band is found with the inscription “Pelikan 140 Germany.”

Pelikan 140 cap band engravings

The pen on the left is without any engraving on the cap band.  The pen on the right has a cap band that is engraved “Pelikan 140…” (click to enlarge)

 

The beak clip that was initially used was wider than what the model would ultimately end up with.  Around 1954, the wide beak clip was exchanged for a more narrow version.

Changes to the beak clip over time on the Pelikan 140

The first two caps have the wide beak clip used on the early 140s. The last two caps show the narrower version that is more commonly seen (click to enlarge)

 

The domed cap top was originally produced without the company logo and is completely smooth.  Beginning in 1954, the two chick logo in use at the time was engraved on all of the cap tops that followed.

Cap tops of the Pelikan 140 fountain pen

The cap top on the left is smooth and without a company logo. The cap top on the right displays the typical two chick Pelikan logo (click to enlarge)

 

Early models had an engraving on the barrel just above the piston knob that read “Günther Wagner Pelikan” or “Günther Wagner Pelikan 140.”  This is also the place where export models would be identified.  After 1954, these engravings were omitted except for the “Export” designation in some instances.

Pelikan 140 barrel markings

140 barrels showing the various markings employed early on in production (click to enlarge)

 

Originally, the pen’s nib width was engraved on the piston knob.  After 1954, this was no longer the case.

Pelikan 140 piston knobs

The piston knobs on the earlier models were engraved with the nib size. The first three pens from left to right show that they were originally equipped with OF, OM, and M nibs. The last pen on the far right is a later model without any such notation (click to enlarge)

 

1954-1964:

Towards the end of 1954, the script nib was phased out in favor of the logo nib, a variant of which is still in use today.  The new nib featured two chevrons situated between the breather hole and tip.  The chevrons extended from the shoulder of the nib to the slit.  These lines met at the slit for much of the 140’s production run.  Towards the very end of the run in the mid-60s, the nib was changed so that the lines terminated just before the slit, no longer approximating one another.

Pelikan 140 script nib

Script style nib from an earlier 140. This style of nib was in use until 1954

 

Pelikan 140 nibs

The 140 nib on the left displays the lines of the chevron approximating one another at the slit which was in use from 1954-64. A later production nib used from 1964 onwards is shown on the right with lines that do not meet at the slit

 

As I stated earlier, the 140 platform was adapted and sold to other brands for resale circa the early to mid 1950s.  These specialized models were largely designed for accounting companies.  While sporting the 140’s traditional profile, the iconic beak clip was replaced with a tear drop clip similar to that of the 100N and Ibis and the single cap band lacked any engraving.  While devoid of any of Pelikan’s usual markings, the names of the respective brands for whom these were produced were engraved on the cap, barrel, and/or nib.  The nibs were generally very firm and available in smaller widths, intended for use on carbon copy paper where an increased pressure when writing was required.  Examples of the above from the Taylorix, RUF-Buchhaltung, and the LEOMA-Buchhaltung Augsburg accounting companies have been well documented.  In addition to accounting, the 140 was adapted for use with specialized inks.  The 140 E and the 140 Z were special editions designed to be used with a specially formulated electricity conducting ink.  Unlike the prior three models described, these have all of the same features of the standard 140 save for some additional engravings on the cap.  The cap of the E is engraved “Elektrographik Behördeneigentum” and was intended for use with bar-code labels.  The cap of the Z is engraved “für Zeichenlochen” which indicates that it was for use with machine readable (mark sensing) punch cards.  A few other oddities exist as well.  There is a yellow model 140 with a blue cap top and piston knob made in the early 1950s as a special order for Continental in Hannover which is an exceedingly rare find.  Finally, a 140 desk pen is known to exist as well.  This model lacks cap threads and has an extension where the piston knob would normally be found.

Pelikan and Taylorix 140s

The Taylorix 140 is seen at the top of this photo.  It was made by Pelikan and sports a drop clip with both the cap band engravings and the cap top logo omitted. The barrel and nib are engraved with the Taylorix branding.  The bottom photo is a standard Black Pelikan 140

 

 

Production Dates & Notes For Pelikan Branded 140s

Color Production Dates Notes
Burgundy 4/22/1952 – 1955 $$
Black 4/22/1952 – 7/28/1965 $
Dark Green 4/22/1952 – 1955 $$
Grey 4/22/1952 – 7/29/1952 Made for only 3 months and is very rare.  $$$
Dark Blue 4/22/1952 – 1955 $$
Green/Black (striped) 1955 – 1963 The most common variant encountered.  $
Black (chrome trim) 5/27/1957 – 1965 CN or 14C nibs found depending on the intended market.  $$
Clear Demonstrator ??? $$$
Mother of Pearl ??? Low volume of production/not widely released.  $$$
Light Tortoiseshell Brown ??? Low volume of production/not widely released.  $$$

**The dates listed above indicate the periods of production which were verifiable in past documentation and are derived from Pelikan Schreibgeräte.  As such, it is possible that production continued beyond what is outlined here.

 

Pelikan 140 fountain pens Pelikan 140 fountain pens

 

Recommended additional reading:

21 responses

  1. Thanks, Joshua, for another extremely useful article. I foresee a Pelikan 140 in my future. I would have picked one up at the Philly Pen Show, but I was hijacked by a burgundy M250 and there went the budget!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice to get more information about one of my favorite pens regardless of manufacturer. I have had mine about 18 months now and it is always inked and used almost daily. It was four years from the time I decided I wanted one to when I was finally able to get it. It was worth the wait.

    Like

  3. A nice article about a rather plain pen which may be very underappreciated by Pelikan fans. It was one of my first Pelikan acquisitions because it is light, affordable, fits my small hand well, and writes with the best of them, in my experience. Thanks for filling in some of the lesser known details of the model.

    Like

    • You’re welcome. When I see the comparatively cheap sales prices of the more common green striped model 140, I have often wondered just how under appreciated it may be. If that’s the case, maybe best the masses don’t catch on. Great pen at a great price.

      Like

  4. I have a couple of 140s and they really are a great pen for the price. I look forward to your 400 article as they are my favourite of all the older Pelikans, whilst I am a huge fan of the M400 series, the original 400s have the edge as far as I am concerned.

    Like

    • I like the old style M400 as it is more true to the original and lacks the extra ornamentation that we’ve had since 1997. I agree though, the 400 still wins out overall if for nothing else than it’s superior nib characteristics.

      Like

    • Glad you enjoyed it. As far as 140s go, all of the green/black striped models I’ve seen have had a green cap top logo. The colored models I’ve seen done in white. A lot of logos have lost the colored fill over time.

      Like

  5. Hi Joshua,

    thank you for all this information! I do have a question concerning the cap band: my 140 has another imprint besides the ones you mentioned. Instead of no markings, it has “PELIKAN 140” engraved
    three times around the pen, but no mention of Germany.

    Do you know anything about this cap band variation?

    Like

    • Yes. I have ones that say “Pelikan 140 Germany” and others that have “Pelikan 140” x3. The ones omitting Germany seem to date earlier than the ones that do have Germany. Hope that helps.

      Like

  6. Pingback: The Pelikan 400 And Its Many Forms « The Pelikan's Perch

  7. Pingback: It’s A Spanner! It’s A Wrench! It’s Pelikan’s Vintage Nib Removal Tool! « The Pelikan's Perch

  8. Ae there any 400’s that have the nib size on the end cap or is that just on these 140’s? I saw a pen for sale that says it’s a 400 but it has BB on the tail and no cap band engraving.

    Like

    • Yes, Ryan, there are. Early 400s such as the one you describe (based on the lack of cap band engraving) did have the nib size engraved on the piston knob. The pen you describe sounds correct for an early production 400.

      You can find some info on that here.

      Like

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