Originals Of Their Time: Darlings Of The 1930s

Pelikan Originals of their Time SeriesPelikan’s first venture into the writing instrument market was heralded by the release of the Pelikan Fountain Pen in 1929.  That pen would see a number of revisions over its lifespan, ultimately becoming what we know today as the model 100.  A specific designation only became necessary because the company very quickly expanded their catalog to include additional models targeting a more affluent market.  Built off of the 100 chassis, these pens would incorporate new colors and gilded embellishments which elevated the base model to a whole new level.  The first of these came about in 1930/31 when Pelikan released the models 110 (White Rolled Gold), 111 (Gold/Black), and 112 (Gold).  The T111 Toledo would also go on sale in 1931 with an initial price tag of 27 marks.  While not the most expensive pen in the company’s line-up at the time, it was perhaps one of the most inspired.   In 1935, the 101 model line was introduced which was characterized by caps that matched the colored bindes surrounding the barrels.  Several variations were produced, often in vibrant colors, such as Jade (Green) and Lapis (Blue).  Production of all of the aforementioned models was relatively short lived, ending no later than 1938 if not sooner.  Perhaps it was the seemingly timeless design or a sense of nostalgia that prompted the resurrection of these classics nearly sixty years later in 1997.  They would be produced as a run of limited edition pieces that would carry the moniker “Originals Of Their Time.”  Not just inspired by the source material, these new pens were faithfully recreated from the original technical drawings.  Taking it one step further, Pelikan eschewed modern plastics in parts of the construction in favor of the same materials employed decades earlier, chiefly celluloid and black hard rubber, adding an additional layer of authenticity.  Of course, this has it’s downsides too as hard rubber can easily oxidize and turn brown.  While the replicas may look spot on at first glance, some liberties were taken for the modern era.  Gone are the cork seals of old; a slightly updated piston assembly incorporating a modern, synthetic seal in their place.  The nib assemblies too bear only a slight cosmetic resemblance to their predecessors.  Made in limited numbers and nearing two decades since production ceased, these modern pens are a treat to behold.  Read on to learn more.

 

Pelikan 1935 Jade Original Of Their Time Packaging

Representative packaging that accompanies each model of the “Originals Of Their Time” series

 

 

1931 Gold

Pelikan Originals Of Their Time 1931 Gold Pelikan Originals Of Their Time 1931 Gold

 

Length Weight Pens Produced Release Year Nib
4.58 in 0.63 oz 5000 1997  18C-750

Based off of the original model 111, the 1931 Gold was released in 1997 as a run of 5000 pens.  This model’s name derives from the original which was initially called the Pelikan Gold.  Its pieces include a black celluloid cap and barrel with a hard rubber piston knob and section.  The binde is made of 18 karat gold and is embellished with bands of plain stripes alternating with a guilloche pattern.  The gold barrel is stamped “Au750 18CT PF” and the piston knob has an arrow indicating the direction it is to be turned.  The furniture includes a drop clip and double cap bands, both of which are plated in 18 karat gold.  The cap has the word “Pelikan” with green fill in the old style font with the numbered edition on the other side (unfilled).  The cap top displays the company’s original 4 chick logo which was in use until 1938.  There is a dark amber ink window just behind the section.  Rounding out the pen’s features is an 18 karat yellow gold script nib complete with a “PF” engraving.  Rather than the original cork, the piston mechanism uses a synthetic seal, one of the few variations from the original found here.  The 1931 Gold is 4.58 inches capped, 6.18 inches posted, has a diameter of 0.46 inches, and weighs in at 0.63 ounces.  The ink capacity is around 1.25mL.

 


1935 Jade

Pelikan Originals Of Their Time 1935 Jade Pelikan Originals Of Their Time 1935 Jade

 

 

Length Weight Pens Produced Release Year Nib
4.58 in 0.49 oz 4000 1998  18C-750

The next pen of the series came one year after the 1931 Gold.  The 1935 Jade is modeled from the similarly colored 101 of 1935.  New as of 1998, this pen saw a run of just 4000 pieces.  You will notice going forth that each subsequent release saw fewer and fewer pens produced.  This model incorporates a jade celluloid cap and binde with a black hard rubber piston knob and section.  The jade coloring has a striking marbled pattern to it.  The piston knob, furniture, and cap are the same as described above therefore I won’t rehash them here.  The ink window is dark green and the nib is once again an 18 karat yellow gold script nib with a “PF” engraving.  The same mechanism and synthetic seal employed throughout the series is again found here.   The 1935 Jade measures 4.58 inches capped, 6.18 inches posted, has a diameter of 0.46 inches, and weighs in at 0.49 ounces.  The ink capacity remains approximately 1.25mL.

 


1931 White Gold

Pelikan Originals Of Their Time 1931 White Gold Pelikan Originals Of Their Time 1931 White Gold

 

Length Weight Pens Produced Release Year Nib
4.58 in 0.81 oz 1931 2000 18C-750

Stepping back again, the next release in the series was based off of the model 110.  The 1931 White Gold came in 2000, after a short hiatus, with only 1931 pens produced (see what they did there).  Again sporting a black hard rubber piston knob and section, the cap and binde are made of an 18 karat gold fill and, like the 1931 Gold, are decorated with bands of plain stripes alternating with a wavy guilloche pattern.  The gold barrel lacks any visible stamping and the piston knob again sports an arrow.  The furniture simply includes a drop clip making this the only model of the series to forego the double cap bands.  Also absent from the cap top is the company name.  The edition number is engraved lengthwise in a small font whereas the prior models had their engraving around the cap.  The company’s original 4 chick logo is etched into the cap top.  A dark amber ink view window sits behind the section and we find the same 18 karat yellow gold script nib seen on the previous two models.  This one again employs modern materials in the piston mechanism but is otherwise a faithful reproduction.  The 1931 White Gold is 4.58 inches capped, 6.18 inches posted, has a diameter of 0.46 inches, and weighs 0.81 ounces, the heaviest of all of the pens discussed here.  The ink capacity is once again approximately 1.25mL.

 


1935 Lapis

Pelikan Originals Of Their Time 1935 Lapis Pelikan Originals Of Their Time 1935 Lapis

 

Length Weight Pens Produced Release Year Nib
4.58 in 0.49 oz 1935 2001 18C-750

Following on the heels of the 1931 White Gold, the 1935 Lapis came about in 2001 as an edition of just 1935 pieces.  A marbled lapis celluloid cap and binde are married to a black hard rubber piston knob and section and the lapis coloring is just as striking as that of the jade.  The piston knob sports an arrow and the furniture again includes an 18 karat gold plated drop clip and the double cap bands resurface.  The familiar features of the cap return with the word “Pelikan” done in a white fill with the numbered edition unfilled on the reverse.  The ink window is a dark amber and the nib remains unchanged from the prior examples, an 18 karat yellow gold script variant.  The 1935 Jade measures 4.58 inches capped, 6.18 inches posted, has a diameter of 0.46 inches, and weighs 0.49 ounces.  The ink capacity continues to be 1.25mL.

 


1931 Toledo

Pelikan Originals Of Their Time 1931 Toledo Pelikan Originals Of Their Time 1931 Toledo

 

Length Weight Pens Produced Release Year Nib
4.58 in 0.56 oz 1100 2003 18C-750

The last pen of the series came following a short delay but it certainly could be considered the coup de grâce of the line-up.  This one made its debut in 2003 as a run of just 1100 pens and was modeled off of the original T111 Toledo.  A black celluloid cap matches a black hard rubber piston knob and section.  The binde is engraved in the Toledo style with two panels of pelican motifs.  In contrast to modern Toledos, this pen is much more ornate.  The barrel lacks any stamping and the piston knob again sports an arrow.  The drop clip features an engraving of a pelican and its beak and the double cap bands also sport embellishment.  These small touches serve to really make this one standout as perhaps the most beautiful and artistic of the lot.  The cap again has the word “Pelikan” with green fill in the old style font along with the unfilled numbered edition on the opposite side.  The ink view window is dark amber and the 18 karat yellow gold script nib is the same as previously detailed.  The 1931 Toledo is 4.58 inches capped, 6.18 inches posted, has a diameter of 0.46 inches, and weighs 0.56 ounces.  The ink capacity remains 1.25mL.

 


Modern Vs. Vintage

As the above text alludes, these modern versions are not identical replicas.  While the original technical drawings were used in conjunction with true to the era vintage materials, the designs received slight updates for a more modern age.  The furniture and external appearance are largely the same between the two versions.  Below you will find an accounting of the differences as best as I can ascertain.

 

Ventilated caps

Back in the 1930’s feeds were far from perfected and were therefore much more sensitive to changes in pressure.  When uncapping a pen, the vacuum created could result in ink leaking from the feed and creating an unwanted mess.  To combat this phenomenon, Pelikan utilized up to four breather holes in their earliest caps in order to equalize the pressure.  As time went on and technology improved, the number of breather holes was reduced from four to two to one and then ultimately none.  Feeds today are much better at tolerating changes in pressure which is why we don’t see breather holes as much anymore.  That is why the 1930’s models have breather holes and the reproductions do not.

Pelikan Black 100 and 1935 Lapis

  1. [Top] Black 100 circa 1935-38 – Two breather holes are found on the cap opposite one another
  2. [Bottom] 1935 Lapis from 2001 – No breather holes present

Section assembly

The location and technique regarding how the section attaches to the barrel has changed over time.  In the vintage models, the joint lies in front of the threads whereas in the more modern versions, the joint is behind the cap threads (as depicted by the arrows).

Pelikan 100 Blue Marbled and 1935 Jade

  1. [Top] Blue Marbled 100 circa 1937-38 – The section joins the barrel in front of the cap threads
  2. [Bottom] 1935 Jade from 1998 – The section joins the barrel behind the cap threads 

Piston mechanics

While the telescoping piston mechanism hasn’t changed much over time as far as the user experience is concerned, there have been revisions to the design.  The piston rod on these modern pens is most similar to those found in the models of the Souverän series.  The piston knob fits onto a spindle nut which treads into a connector before joining with a spindle.  Juxtapose this with the vintage version which has the spindle fitted to the piston knob which is then inserted into a piston guide into which the piston rod topped with the seal is fitted.

Pelikan Black 100 and 1931 White Gold Pelikan Black 100 and 1931 White Gold

  1. [Top] Black 100 circa 1935-38 – 1 = Piston knob & spindle, 2 = Piston guide, 3 = Piston rod & seal
  2. [Bottom] 1931 White Gold from 2000 – 1 = Piston knob & spindle nut, 2 = Connector , 3 = Spindle & seal

Piston Seals

It wasn’t until October of 1942 that we saw the introduction of synthetic seals.  That means these vintage versions all came equipped with a cork seal.  The modern versions incorporate a synthetic seal.

Pelikan Black 100 and 1931 White Gold

  1. [Top] Black 100 circa 1935-38 – Cork seal
  2. [Bottom] 1931 White Gold from 2000 – Synthetic seal

Piston knob

There is a slightly wider, more noticeable gap where the vintage piston assembly interfaces with the barrel than is seen on the modern iterations.  The fit on the modern versions seems slightly more precise.

Pelikan Black 100 and 1935 Jade

  1. [Top] Black 100 circa 1935-38 – The interface where the piston knob meets the barrel is slightly more pronounced
  2. [Bottom] 1935 Jade from 1998 – The interface where the piston knob meets the barrel is slightly less pronounced

Nibs

The vintage models, in general, came equipped with 14 karat script nibs when sold in the domestic market whereas 18 karat nibs were utilized on pens designated for export.  To the best of my knowledge, none of the vintage models incorporated a “PF” stamp.  The modern version invariably utilized 18 karat script nibs, all with a small “PF” stamp in the corner.

Pelikan Blue Marbled 100 and 1935 Jade nibs

  1. [Left] 14 karat script nib from a Blue Marbled 100 circa 1937-38
  2. [Right] 18 karat script nib from a 1935 Jade from 1998

Feeds

Pelikan’s vintage models incorporated an ebonite feed with three fins arranged vertically.  The modern feeds are made of many plastic fins which are arranged horizontally.  Both sets of feeds maintain the same basic shape and size but clearly demonstrate differences in construction.

Pelikan Blue Marbled 100 and 1935 Jade nibs

  1. [Top] Feed from a Blue Marbled 100 circa 1937-38 – Ebonite feed with vertical fins
  2. [Bottom] Feed from a 1935 Jade from 1998 – Plastic feed with horizontal fins

Collars

The collar surrounding the vintage nibs and feeds are longer than their modern counterparts and lack any metal reinforcing.  The modern models incorporate a shorter collar that utilizes a metal reinforcing ring.  Because of these differences, nib units from one generation cannot be utilized in the other without first exchanging collars.

Pelikan Blue Marbled 100 and 1935 Jade nibs

  1. [Top] Collar from a Blue Marbled 100 circa 1937-38
  2. [Bottom] Collar from a 1935 Jade from 1998

Cap top

The cap tops of the vintage models display the words “Pelikan PATENT Pelikan PATENT” whereas the modern versions just have “Pelikan” followed by the edition number.  The fonts utilized for the Pelikan logo have changed over time and for these modern variations, the company again employed an older font used from 1934-37.

Pelikan Black 100 and 1931 White Gold

  1. [Top] Black 100 circa 1935-38
  2. [Bottom] 1931 Gold from 1997

 

 

Pelikan Originals of their Time cap tops Pelikan Originals of their Time 1931 White Gold and Gold Pelikan Originals of their Time nibs Pelikan Originals of their Time 1931 Toledo

15 responses

  1. Fascinating. I didn’t start collecting fountain pens before the turn of the millennium, so these pens were not on my radar. They are fantastic, though. I picked up a 100N at the Philadelphia Pen Show, and am developing an appreciation for the stubby shape of classic early Pelikans. Very comfortable writers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the size of these and the original Pelikan models was a stroke of brilliance. These models fit in the pocket perfectly and are a very comfortable size when posted. The balance is also superb. There is such an emphasis on oversized pens these days that I think we miss out on the simplicity which these models brought.

      Like

  2. Hi Joshua, I am new to the online comments, I have been collecting Fountain pens for a few years now and have about 50 + pens including an older Pelikan of which I know nothing about. I am also going to Sydney in a weeks time where I intend to buy a Pelikan M 800 / 600/ 400. from Peter’s
    of Kensington. I also like your Blog and history of the Pelikan Brand.

    Like

    • Thanks for stopping by Igor and I appreciate you leaving a comment. It sounds like you got the bug to have a collection grown in that short amount of time. Many of us here can relate. I think you will do well with any of the models that you have listed. It really boils down to a preference in size. Please share what you picked up.

      Like

  3. Pingback: Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – February 2, 2020 | Fountain Pen Quest

  4. Joshua, I truly enjoyed this article and I use these 1930 remakes within my writing pen cycle. I currently have my 1931 “Pelikan Gold” in my pocket and am using. I also have the1931 T111 Toledo in reserve. I love these because Pelikan has taken the beautiful body of their earlier pens and updated them with more modern parts, material and reliability. Thanks and I look forward to your next posting.

    Like

    • I’m glad to hear that they get some use and aren’t just decoration. I feel the same way about mine. I too like these for the fact that I can feel a bit more comfortable that they aren’t 80+ year old pens with all of the fragility that can bring.

      Like

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