Pelikan was officially founded in 1838 but did not produce its first fountain pen until 1929. The first pens to roll off of the assembly line came without a model number and were known only as the Pelikan fountain pen, presumably since they were the company’s only such product. It wasn’t until 1931 and after a few small revisions that it would come to be known as the model 100. Armed with a removable nib assembly and an industry leading differential piston filling mechanism, that first model would go on to set a bar of excellence for generations to come. This year marks the 90th anniversary of Pelikan’s foray into fountain pen production. There have been hundreds of different models produced in that span of time and the company has just added a new limited edition to its catalog, this time to commemorate those 90 years of pen making history. The Herzstück 1929 pays homage to the company’s first fountain pens without being a direct copy. It stands out as unique in Pelikan’s catalog, incorporating features from several historic models. Coupled with updates for the modern age, this new addition is not your great grandfather’s fountain pen. The name of this limited edition suggests just how important this design has been to the company as Herzstück can be roughly translated to mean core or heart. The last time that we saw such a commemorative model was in 2004 when the M1075 was debuted to honor 75 years of pen production. That model was ultra-limited to just 75 copies. The Herzstück has been produced as an edition of 462 pieces, a number that was derived from the last three digits of the company’s original patent, which will serve to make it somewhat more widely available than its predecessor. How does this retro inspired fountain pen stack up today? Read on to find out.
Appearance & Design (8/10) – New meets old in this retro inspired fountain pen
The Herzstück comes packaged in a special gift box with a unique design. When you open the two opposing front flaps, the contents of the box are raised on a platform, a neat piece of engineering. On display is a specially labeled bottle of Pelikan’s 4001 Royal Blue ink, an engraved plate denoting the edition number, and the pen itself. For a pen at this price point, it is nice to see such a thought out presentation. This model breaks some new ground but also incorporates many familiar elements as well. Starting with the cap, there is a conical brass cap top plated in 18 carat gold and crowned with the company’s historic four chick logo in use until 1938. Next is a drop clip engraved with a pelican motif similar to what was employed on the original T111 Toledo. The black resin cap does not have any cap bands, a nod to the original Pelikan fountain pens from 1929. In their place is gold lettering circumscribed around the cap lip that reads “Pelikan Herzstück 1929.” The section lacks any trim rings and the ink window behind the threads gets a re-design from the standard implementation. Instead of the small, circumferential window that we are accustomed to, there is instead a longitudinal window running along the length of the barrel. The company tout’s this as one of the pen’s major features as it not only displays the ink chamber but their historic differential piston assembly as well. A brass plate atop of the piston obscures the view of much of the mechanism. It is engraved “Pat. DE457462,” a nod to the piston assembly’s historic patent number from 1928. This same concept was previously seen on the M1075 fifteen years ago. The piston knob is 18 carat gold plated and done in the style of the 1930s. It includes an engraving of the edition number on the housing and an arrow to indicate which direction to turn the knob. Finally, the pen’s look is rounded out by a monotone 18C-750 gold nib with a special engraving just for this edition (more on that below). The black resin has a highly polished appearance and the gold components come together nicely to set the pen off giving this model an exclusive feel. I can see elements of the 1929 Pelikan fountain pen, the 100, the 100N, the T111, and the M1075 making this model truly a chimera. Fortunately, the disparate elements do not feel gratuitous at all. In fact, I think that these components work together in harmony, achieving the tribute that this pen is meant to represent. That said, some might find the gold accents a bit too flashy for everyday use.
Construction & Quality (10/10) – A very polished pen that that leaves no qualms about craftsmanship
The Herzstück appears to be very well constructed as you would expect from a pen of this caliber. There are no visible seams and the overall finish comes across as being very polished. All of the components marry securely. The 18 carat plating on the brass components is well done and the etchings are very clean. I’m hopeful that the 18 carat plating will be a bit more durable than 24 carats with use in the long run but only time will tell. The barrel and cap are made from a highly polished resin and the window on the side is a nice peak into the inner workings of the pen, though there isn’t much to see with the brass overlay. The cap also fits over the piston knob securely for those who like to post their pens. I have not seen any marring of the finish from doing so but that may change over time. Overall, I can find no obvious faults with the Herzstück’s construction.
Weight & Dimensions (9/10) – Brass components add a nice heft to what is already a well-balanced pen
The size of the Herzstück is interesting as its dimensions are actually most closely related to the 100N and the current line of M101Ns which were inherently larger than the original 100. Pelikan’s early models were designed to be smaller pens when capped according to the style of the time. This one comes in at 4.83 inches capped, 6.49 inches posted, and weighs in at around 0.85 ounces. That is a full 0.36 ounces heavier than the M101N thanks to the gilded components but I find the extra heft not at all uncomfortable and I have never had any issues with fatigue during prolonged writing sessions. Finally, the diameter of the barrel is approximately 0.46 inches. This pen will be a comfortable fit for anyone already accustomed to Pelikan’s vintage models or any of the M101Ns from the last several years. I find that this model works well whether posted or not but feel that the size of this pen begs to be posted which is fine by me as that is my usual operating procedure anyway. When posted, the balance is spot on and the pen becomes significantly larger. The smaller size of the Herzstück when capped allows it to fit in most shirt pockets which allows easy portability.
Nib & Performance (8/10) – A unique nib design that meets expectations but doesn’t wow
The Herzstück comes equipped with a specially engraved monotone, 18C-750 gold nib only available in a medium width. This is a unique design that Pelikan made just for this model. Below the breather hole are the words “90 years” and below that, an engraving of Pelikan’s four chick logo. I cannot recall any other edition having a four chick logo engraved on the nib and this likely explains why the company went with a medium only option. That is where the nib’s uniqueness ends. Like most of Pelikan’s other modern models, the nib puts down a healthy amount of ink thanks to a generous feed. The upside is that drying out has not been a problem in my experience thus far. The medium nib is smooth and there were no issues with skipping or hard starts out of the box. Like other modern production models that I have reviewed, the nib here is firm with just a touch of spring. Overall the nib looks good and does its job well but certainly doesn’t wow.
Filling System & Maintenance (10/10) – One of the pens highlights and for good reason
One of the Herzstück’s goals is to highlight the differential piston filling mechanism that this pen honors. The window along the barrel allows for a visualization of the assembly which continues to meet and exceed expectations. When the piston is extended, the engraved brass piece extends the length of the window, obscuring the actual piston below. The piston travels very smoothly along the barrel and you can get nearly a full fill with just one cycle. This tends to make filling the pen quick and painless. The nib does unscrew to allow for any infrequent maintenance that may become necessary and the section will accept the nibs of other models such as the M101N but there likely won’t be any additional anniversary nibs available for swapping. Overall, the pen is easily maintained and continues to employ a class leading piston filling mechanism which is beyond reproach.
Cost & Value (8/10) – A premium product that will definitely be worth the price of admission for some
The US MSRP for the Herzstück is $3000 and therefore street pricing is around $2400 with the standard discount. It is hard to compare this model to others as it is a somewhat unique edition, though most akin to the M101N series. It’s a small pen with a big price tag that is usually reserved for larger pens such as those from the M1oxx line. European prices have been slightly more attractive but the pen remains pricey no matter from where you source it. That probably owes in large part to the exclusive nature of it. Many will find the lack of nib options, small size, and largely tested design as not adding any real value. That said, this is definitely a stand out edition that others will find value in based on its unique clip, gilded components, and exposed piston assembly. It is a pricey, premium product therefore it will not be for everyone. Whether or not the pen justifies its price tag is up to the individual buyer. It’s a unique limited edition that brings together many historic features, some of which we have not seen from the company previously. That alone may be worth the price of admission for some. I suspect that this one will retain its value if not appreciate some with time.
Conclusion – Bringing multiple design elements together in a pleasing way means that this pen’s homage in on point
Herzstück 1929: 53/60 or 88%
The Herzstück was released to commemorate 90 years of pen production. It takes elements from several vintage models and brings them together with modern production techniques. The end result is a sharp looking pen that seems to hit its mark. In addition to its looks, the Herzstück writes well and balances nicely making this a well-rounded model. At the end of the day, this pen may not break any new ground but what it does, it does well and is sure to make the lucky few who get to own one happy.
- A cohesive pen that is able to bring together elements from many past models
- A very polished appearance that exudes quality, right down to the cap’s clip
- A smaller pen that post wonderfully and is a dependable writer
- The gold elements might be a bit too flashy for some
- There is only one nib width available
- The clear window along the pen’s barrel will not be to everyone’s taste and the actual piston mechanism is obscured
- Much of the price is derived from exclusivity rather than materials bringing the pen’s value into question
A Look At The Pelikan Herzstück 1929
Pelikan’s Promotional Video
*The pen utilized for this review is my own from my personal collection and therefore the opinions expressed are also mine and free of any undue influence.