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.