My 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Originally, the pen’s nib width was engraved on the piston knob. After 1954, this was no longer the case.
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.
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.
Production Dates & Notes For Pelikan Branded 140s
|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. $$|
|Mother of Pearl||???||Low volume of production/not widely released. $$$|
|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.
Recommended additional reading:
- Dittmer, Jürgen & Lehmann, Martin. “Pelikan Schreibgeräte 1929 – 1997.” 1998.
- Dittmer, Jürgen & Lehmann, Martin. “Pelikan Schreibgeräte 1929 – 2004.” 2004.
- Rothemel, Dominic. Pelikan Collectibles. “Pelikan 140 Fountain Pens.” Last accessed 2/9/19.
- Rothemel, Dominic. Pelikan Collectibles. “Nib units since 1929.” Last accessed 2/14/19.
- Ruettinger, Werner. Werner’s Info Page Pelikan Pens. “Pelikan Model 120/140/300.” Last accessed 1/28/19.
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!
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I definitely don’t think that you’d be disappointed and the nice thing about the 140 is that they don’t break the bank, at least not for the green/black striped version.
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Terrific details, Joshua.
Thank Tom. Next stop will be the 400. Looking forwards to drafting that one as well.
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.
Glad to hear that you are happy with yours. I recommend the 140 and 400 the most to anyone looking to experience vintage Pelikan.
Wonderful article for a great vintage pen line. I like/use my 400NNs slightly more, but still usually have at least one 140 inked.
I too give the 400NN a slight edge but that takes nothing away from how great the 140 performs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hello, and thank you for this great article about a great pen. Were all the post ’54 caps with the logo colored green?
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.
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?
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.
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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.
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.
Thanks for the information. I really appreciate it! Looking to get my first vintage pen and your site has been a huge help!
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Twelve years ago when I got mine, they were worth E-40 (as noobie a lot of money. I’d done a fleamarket horse trade for a fancy pocket knife). I put it to my thumb and suddenly knew what the fuss was all about. Then they went up E-60, which was still ‘fair’. Then came E-80 which I saw as high. Then the price stagnated at E-100!!!!
Looked just now and there was here in Germany a big, big price drop. Hip hip hurray!!! E40-60!!! (There is the virus recession.)
Most, can’t say all, are semi-flex. OB is a writing nib, 1/2 a width narrower than modern…like a fat M. The cap is longer than other medium-small pens so popular in that era, so it posts to the same length as a 400 and has great balance……great for small shirt pockets.
Do buy your pens from Germany. He must take PayPal (or it costs you $35 for a bank wire if out of the EU) and ship out of Germany. Many amateurs don’t.
A neighbor I hooked into fountain pens some three months ago, has a birthday next week, and his wife got him what he needed, in he has a regular EF & M, a semi-flex F. He needed a B and only the ’50-65 era oblique, is worth buying in if one really wants line variation in they are semi-flex. A green striped 140 OB.
Prices in general had been on a steady upwards march. My overseas purchases are generally made with PayPal. It’s the easiest and most convenient. The bank wires are too costly.
I’m curious about the size difference of the 140 vs the Ibis.
I seem to understand there are length differences but what about width, is the width the same?
btw, did the Ibis always have an ink window?
There are pre-war and post-war Ibis models with some variation. The post war Ibis is 4.73″ long with a diameter of 0.44″. The 140 is 4.87″ long with a diameter of 0.47″. The 140 is bigger but not by very much. Both are equally comfortable in the hand. Most that you see have green ink windows. The older ones had more of an amber colored window. I don’t recall any having black windows aside from the ones that I’ve seen stained by years to ink.
Wonderful article, it’s helped me pin down approximate age of my 140. I inherited it, but it seems to be a different version yet again from what has been mentioned above. I would be grateful to find out more about my own if anyone is willing to strike up a conversation with pictures exchange?
I’m glad that my article has been of some assistance to you. If you would like to talk about your specific pen in more detail, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
i just ran into some 140’s from my grandfathers old things, they have two lines of metal on the bottom of the cap, does that mean anything? or help with a timeframe?
Hello. I’m not sure that I’m visualizing what you’re describing too well. Is it possible to send me a few photos to better illustrate what you describe. You can send them to me at email@example.com. Thanks.
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