Meet The Vermeil Souveräns: A Look At The Nifty Fifties

Pelikan's Vermeil Souverän fountain pensIn the late 1990s and early 2000s, Pelikan introduced a series of special editions across their Souverän lines that employed sterling silver components decorated with a gold overlay.  The gilding of silver is often referred to as vermeil, a French term that is actually pronounced “ver-may.”  By plating sterling silver in such a way, an item can be imbued with a gold appearance at a fraction of the cost of pure gold.  This should not be mistaken for simple gold plating.  There are regulations that oversee what may be called vermeil in many jurisdictions.  For the U.S. market, the base metal must be sterling silver with a gold coating of at least 10 carats or finer and with a thickness of 2.5 microns (1/10,000th of an inch).  Mere gold plating has no such industry regulations.  These upgraded Souveräns have a guilloche metal cap but otherwise maintain the same visual appearance and trim as their less gilded siblings.  Each fountain pen in the series is referred to as an Mx50 and there have been nine such models over the years in addition to several companion pieces.  Care should be taken not to confuse these with the M150 and M250 of the Classic series or the M750 anniversary edition which do not have any vermeil components.


Pelikan's Vermeil Souverän caps

Vermeil caps with a guilloche pattern and beak clip. Left to right: M350, M450, M650, M850, and M1050


These vermeil beauties are really only distinguished by their metal cap and 18 carat nibs.  They all sport the same guilloche pattern on the cap with a blank plate on the side to facilitate a personalized engraving should one desire.  The cap lip has a band around its circumference and the area above the lip is engraved “Pelikan Souverän Germany Ag925,” a stamp that denotes the underlying sterling silver.  All of the cap tops, except for the M450 Tortoise, will display the older, painted two chick company logo.  The nibs are all 18C-750 gold, even on the smaller Souveräns for which that isn’t the usual standard.  There isn’t much more to say about the series as a whole but it is worth highlighting a few anecdotes.  In general, production ran from 1997/98 until 2001.  The M450 Light Green Tortoise is the notable stand out.  It is an outlier of sorts because it came out several years later than the other models, was the only pen done in a tortoise finish, and included a vermeil piston knob.  Many of the fountain pens were available with a companion ballpoint, rollerball, and/or pencil.  Interestingly, the black K450 and K650 ballpoints were the same size/design.  The same holds true for the black D450 and D650 pencils.  Perhaps the only other thing worth pointing out is the large selection of available nib widths that would have accompanied these.  Unlike today’s offerings, Pelikan’s line of factory nibs contained a lot more variety than what we see today.  You can see the different models highlighted in the table below.


Model Color Production Years Available Nib Widths Companion Pieces
M350 Black 1998 – 2001 EF, F, M, B, BB, OM, OB, OBB K350, D350
M450 Black 1998 – 2001 EF, F, M, B, BB, OM, OB, OBB K450*, R450, D450*
M450 Light Green Tortoise 2004 – 2006 EF, F, M, B, BB, OM, OB, OBB K450, R450, D450
M650 Black 1997 – 2001 EF, F, M, B, BB, OM, OB, OBB K650*, R650, D650*
M650 Green/Black Striped 1997 – 2001 EF, F, M, B, BB, OM, OB, OBB R650
M850 Black 1997 – 2001 EF, F, M, B, BB, 3B, OM, OB, OBB, O3B K850, R850, D850
M850 Green/Black Striped 1998 – 2001 EF, F, M, B, BB, 3B, OM, OB, OBB, O3B
M1050 Black 1997 – 2001 EF, F, M, B, BB, 3B, OM, OB, OBB, O3B
M1050 Green/Black Striped 1998 – 2001 EF, F, M, B, BB, 3B, OM, OB, OBB, O3B

Kxxx = Kugelschreiber/Ballpoint pen.  Rxxx = Rollerball/Rollerball.  Dxxx = Druckbleistift/Mechanical pencil

*The black K450/650 ballpoints and D450/650 pencils were the same writing instrument with different designations.

Pelikan's Vermeil Souverän fountain pens

Pelikan’s Black/Vermeil Souverän pens. Top to bottom: M350, M450, M650, M850, and M1050


One last thing worth mentioning is just how to properly care for a piece of vermeil.  It is recommended to avoid exposure to cleaners and harsh chemicals which can damage the finish.  Buffing the cap gently with a microfiber cloth is all that is usually necessary. Doing otherwise might result in stripping off the gold finish.  When not using your pen, storing it in an airtight container can help prevent oxidation though that is not a necessity.  The outer gold layer will also protect against this but, over time, the gold layer is likely to tarnish.  A jeweler’s polishing cloth or some mild soap and water are usually all that’s needed to remedy the tarnish though you are free to leave it as it can add a unique sense of character to the pen.

Pelikan's Green Striped Vermeil Souverän fountain pens

Pelikan’s Green Striped Vermeil Souverän fountain pens. Left to right: M650, M850, and M1050


Pelikan's Light Green Tortoise M450 Vermeil Souverän fountain pen

Light Green Tortoise M450 Vermeil Souverän fountain pen


Pelikan's Black M1050 Vermeil Souverän fountain pen

A look at the large 18C-750 nib that accompanies Pelikan’s Black M1050 Vermeil Souverän fountain pen


Pelikan's Black M1050 Vermeil Souverän fountain pen

Black M1050 Vermeil Souverän fountain pen. All of the black models have the same features and vary only in size


Pelikan's Green Striped M1050 Vermeil Souverän fountain pen

While resistant due to the plating, tarnish can still develop over time as can be seen here below the word “Germany” on the cap lip

16 responses

  1. It would be time for a revival. A full Vermeil would be even MUCH better. 2001 they stopped the production, so 2021 would be a good timing.


  2. Very cool. Haven’t run across these. Very attractive looking Pelikans. If they released these today, what do you think they’d cost?


    • In 2000, the M850 had an MSRP of 1000 DM and the M1050 was listed at 1300 DM. Of course the Deutsche Mark is now obsolete. I’d say we’d be looking at substantially more than that today. I’d expect retail to be closer to $1500 if released today.


  3. A most complete discussion on the Vermiel cap Pelikans and other offsprings. Thanks for your excellent write & great photography.


    • I’m not quite sure that I understand your question. Pelikan has made a few M4xx pens with silver caps. The M450 is the only one that was done in Vermeil that I can recall off the top of my head.


  4. Pingback: Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – April 14, 2019 | Fountain Pen Quest

    • Hello Chris. Thanks for reading. It does indeed sound like a mismatch since the M850 came in only Black and Green Striped. I have seen people take the vermeil caps and put them on blue and red striped versions but they were not released from the factory that way. It’s a little bit of a frankenpen but nothing I’d be upset to own.


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