Classic Pens’ Collision With Pelikan: A Look At The CP6 Goethe Pens

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Marguerite & CharlotteBorn out of a shared passion for fountain pens, Andreas Lambrou and Keith G. Brown launched Classic Pens Limited in England in 1987.  Their goal was to create exclusive fountain pen designs for like-minded pen lovers across the globe.  The pair would end up partnering with a wide variety of international manufacturers, taking models with an already established pedigree and elevating them in new and unique ways.  The endeavor did not take off immediately as they struggled to find manufacturers willing to partner with them, but their efforts came to fruition in 1990 with the launch of the Classic Pens CP collection of limited editions.  The first release was done in partnership with Sheaffer UK and was based on the Targa but the collection would grow to comprise well known flagship models from many other prominent brands.  Classic pens would take those pens and make them new again by covering them in sterling silver and decorating them with customized guilloche engravings.  Named after the craftsman Guillot who is credited with inventing the art, guilloche is an ancient technique that consists of engraving patterns on materials.  It has been used to decorate countless items including watches, lighters, cufflinks, cutlery, and pens.  In 1998, shortly after the release of their fourth CP edition, Classic Pens Incorporated was formed in Los Angeles, California in order to better serve the United States market.  The CP collection of pens are as much works of art as they are functional writing instruments.  To accomplish all of this, Classic Pens partnered with the Murelli family, renowned professional guillocheurs out of France.  The series has spanned 18 years and is made up of 8 limited edition releases representing 14 models with most of the designs guided by a specific theme.  All the pens standout as special but two in particular will be the focus of this article; the CP6 Charlotte and CP6 Marguerite.  These two models represent the sixth edition of the CP series and are only rarely seen for sale these days.  Announced in September 2000 and released in 2002, they represent a collaboration between Classic Pens, Murelli, and Pelikan.  Both are considered official Pelikan releases, backed by a lifetime Pelikan Warranty and after sales service.  Read on to learn about the inspiration that helped breathe life into these unique models.  

 

Edition Manufacturer/Model Theme Year Number

CP1

Targa

Sheaffer Targa *** 1990 250

CP2

Pushkin

Sheaffer Crest Pushkin Prizes 1993 500

CP3

Iliad

Aurora 88 Homer 1995 500
CP3

Odyssey

Aurora 88 Homer 1995 500

CP4

Washington

Sheaffer Legacy American Civil War 1997 500

CP4

Richmond

Sheaffer Legacy American Civil War 1997 500

CP5

Vintage

Parker Duofold Celebration 1999 500

CP5

Modern

Parker Duofold Celebration 1999 500

CP6

Marguerite

Pelikan M1000 Goethe 2002 500

CP6

Charlotte

Pelikan M800 Goethe 2002 500

CP7

Pacific

Sailor 80 Oceans 2003 250

CP7

Atlantic

Sailor 80 Oceans 2003 250

CP8

Flamme

Aquila Brands

Classic Legend 766L/762L

Murelli 2008 175 FP

75 RB

CP8

Vannerie

Aquilla Brands

Classic Legend 766L/762L

Murelli 2008 175 FP

75 RB

 

Goethe in 1828 by Joseph Carl Stieler

Goethe in 1828 by Joseph Carl Stieler

The Charlotte and Marguerite keep good company as you can see from the table above.  Both models were named after famous female protagonists in classic German literature.  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (August 28, 1749 – March 22, 1832) was an acclaimed German writer and statesman. Viewed by many as one of Europe’s biggest cultural heroes, his stature is often compared to the likes of Shakespeare, Dante, and Homer.  Goethe’s (pronounced something like Ger-ta) first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774), and his play Faust (1808) served as the inspiration behind Classic Pens’ CP6 set.  Born in Frankfurt, Germany, he was the child of an imperial councilor which afforded him the opportunity to pursue a classical education.  He matriculated to Leipzig University in 1765 where he would study law.  It was there that Goethe earned accolades for a collection of love poems titled Annette and the Leipzig Songbook, a series of ten poems set to melodies.  Goethe took up residence in Weimar in 1775 after establishing himself as a literary celebrity by the age of 25.  He was an early participant in the Sturm und Drang proto-romantic literary movement which rejected the prevailing neo-classicism of the time in favor of subjectivity, artistic creativity, and the beauty of nature.  In addition to his literary achievements, he made significant contributions in various scientific fields (geology, botany, anatomy, and physics), as an art and literary critic, and as a statesman working as a senior civil servant in the duchy of Weimar.  

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Marguerite & Charlotte

Left to right: M1000 CP6 Marguerite & M800 CP6 Charlotte with their natural patina

 

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Etching, 1844, by Tony Johannot

Etching, 1844, by Tony Johannot

The Sorrows of Young Werther, Goethe’s first novel, is a story about unrequited love.  Werther is a young artist with a sensitive and passionate temperament.  The story is presented utilizing the conceit of letters written by Werther to his friend Wilhelm which give an intimate account of his stay in the fictional village of Wahlheim.  While there, he meets Charlotte (Lotte), a beautiful young girl with whom Werther falls in love.  Werther would later learn that she is engaged to a man named Albert.  Undeterred, he cultivates a friendship with both Charlotte and Albert but his sorrow over unrequited love gets to be too much for him.  He seeks solace by leaving Wahlheim for Weimar but suffers great embarrassment at the hands of nobles causing him to return to Wahlheim.  By the time of his return, Charlotte and Albert have married and Werther is reminded daily that Charlotte will never be able to requite his love.  During their final visit, Werther reads from his own translations of Ossian, and both he and Charlotte weep for the beauty of the story and their own ruined friendship.  When Werther forces kisses upon Charlotte, the spell is broken, and she banishes him from her home.  Werther resolves that one member of the love triangle has to die in order to remedy the situation.  Being unable to hurt anyone else himself, he decides to take his own life.  Werther writes to Albert asking for the use of his two pistols on the pretext that he is going on a journey.  Once received, he shoots himself in the head, dying some twelve hours later.  His funeral is not attended by any clergy, nor by Albert, nor Charlotte.  The story’s plot was loosely autobiographical, inspired by Goethe’s emotional entanglement with Charlotte Buff whom he met in 1772 and fell in love with before finding out that she was engaged to his friend Johann George Christian Kestner.

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Charlotte

The CP6 Charlotte was presented in a handmade, customized gift box

 

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Charlotte

Every CP6 Charlotte came with a numbered certificate

 

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Marguerite & Charlotte

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Marguerite & Charlotte warranty certificate

 

The CP6 Charlotte takes its name from Goethe’s protagonist in the above work.  Built off the M800 Souverän chassis, Classic Pens took a standard M800 and clad it in sterling silver.  The cap top features an engraving of the company’s two chick logo which was in use at the time of the release.  The furniture includes a gold plated beak clip on the cap and a single trim ring on the section.  The cap band is unusually wide for a Pelikan and is engraved “Pelikan Sterling Silver 925 Germany xxx of 500.”  The text is large and some of it is stacked in 3 lines, making good use of that wide band.  In partnership with Murelli, modern computer technology for linear engraving was utilized to create the Cascade engraving, an exclusive for the CP6 Charlotte.  This is seen on the cap, barrel, and piston knob.  Regarding the pattern, Classic Pens’ accompanying literature states; “The sinuous fluidity of the Charlotte Cascade pattern represents ‘Werther,’ a novel describing the first romantic love, and associated with youth, emotion and the flow of passion.”  The pen features Pelikan’s standard two toned 18C-750 nib which was available in EF, F, M, B, BB, OM, OB, OBB, 3B, and O3B widths.  The final detail worth mentioning is a smoke grey ink window that sits just behind the section.  The CP6 Charlotte has essentially the same dimensions of a standard M800 in terms of overall length and diameter but weighs much more.  If a standard M800 is approximately 0.99 ounces, the CP6 edition comes in at 1.59 ounces.  Each pen was packaged in a handmade gift box specifically designed for the CP6 series.  Included with said packaging was a warranty card, a numbered certificate, and a 16 page brochure.  Only 500 numbered sets were made.  These are infrequently encountered in the market today making them a challenge to value but something in the neighborhood of $1,800 – $2,000 would be a reasonable estimate.

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Charlotte

Pelikan/Classic Pens M800 CP6 Charlotte

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Marguerite & Charlotte

 

Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Lithograph, 1827, by Eugène Delacroix

Lithograph, 1827, by Eugène Delacroix

Where Werther was Goethe’s earliest work, Faust came about much later in his life though the composition actually spanned over 60 years.  Described as a hybrid between a play and an extended poem, part one was published in 1808 whereas part two was published posthumously in 1832.  In part one, the devil Mephistopheles makes a bet with God in which he declares that he can lure God’s favorite human being (Faust) away from his righteous pursuit towards enlightenment.  Faust was striving to learn the true essence of life but falls into despair over his efforts, frustrated by the limits to his knowledge, power, and subsequent enjoyment of life.  That frustration causes him to consider suicide, but he ultimately rejects the notion.  While out on a walk with his assistant Wagner, he is followed home by a stray poodle.  In Faust’s study, the poodle transforms into Mephistopheles with whom Faust reluctantly strikes an agreement.  In exchange for a lifetime of the devil’s servitude, Faust, if he is ever absolutely satisfied with earthly life and slips into idleness, will yield up his immortal soul to damnation and serve the devil in Hell.  The pact is signed with a drop of blood.  After a few outings, he meets Marguerite (Gretchen) to whom he is attracted.  With jewelry and the help of a neighbor, Mephistopheles draws her into Faust’s arms who seduces her.   Marguerite’s mother dies from a sleeping potion that Marguerite herself administered in order to obtain privacy so that Faust could visit her.  A pregnancy ensues.  Marguerite’s brother condemns Faust, challenges him, and falls dead at the hands of Faust and Mephistopheles.  Marguerite drowns her illegitimate child and is convicted of the murder.  Faust tries to free her from prison, but she refuses to escape.   Marguerite is saved by Heaven and Faust is left to grieve in shame.  Part two consists of five acts, each with a different theme.  It begins with the spirits of the earth forgiving Faust.  Many years pass and Faust is 100 years old.  After a lifetime of work, Faust finally experiences a moment of true happiness at which point he falls back deceased.  Mephistopheles tries to seize Faust’s soul after he dies but angels intervene and Faust ultimately goes to Heaven, a consequence of God’s grace and due to the intercession of the forgiving Marguerite.  The end of act V declares; “He who strives on and lives to strive / Can earn redemption still.”

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Marguerite

The CP6 Marguerite with handmade gift box, numbered certificate, warranty certificate, and brochure

 

Hand engraver from 1927 from the Murelli Museum

Hand engraver circa 1927

The CP6 Marguerite is built off Pelikan’s M1000 Souverän platform meaning it is substantially larger than the Charlotte.  It has the same standard features described above including a two chick cap top, gold plated beak clip and section ring, wide cap band, and smoke grey ink window.  The nib is Pelikan’s standard two toned 18C-750 gold found on the M1xxx models (stamped PF on my example).  The standout feature of the Marguerite is the guilloche work seen on the cap, barrel, and piston knob.  The Mosaique design was done completely by hand on an engraving device dating from circa 1927 which was reactivated from the Murelli museum for this piece (and again in 2007 for the ZJ1).  Marc Murelli crafted the Mosaique design manually in what was a lengthy and labor intensive process.  Because of the handcrafted nature of each pen, no two are completely alike making each one a unique work of art.  Classic Pens has this to say about the design; “The density and complexity of the Marguerite Mosaique design, has some uniformity, it is pleasing and relaxing to the eye, but at the same time it is powerful. All these elements identify the great poem ‘Faust,’ especially the final part which suggests contentment, order, regularity and comfort.”  The M1000 CP6 has the same dimensions of a standard M1000 coming in at 5.74 inches in length with a diameter of 0.56 inches.  The big difference is in the weight thanks to the sterling silver components.  Where a standard M1000 weighs approximately 1.16 ounces, the CP6 edition tips the scales at 1.87 ounces.  These too come with a specially designed handmade gift box along with a warranty card, numbered certificate, and 16 page brochure.   While also difficult to value due to their scarcity, $2,500 – $3,000 would make for a good starting point.

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Marguerite

Pelikan/Classic Pens M1000 CP6 Marguerite

 

Both the Charlotte and Marguerite have a stature and pedigree that allows them to serve as cornerstones in just about any collection.  The Cascade and Mosaique patterns are beautiful examples of Murelli’s expert craftsmanship.  I love the flowing look of the Cascade pattern on the Charlotte and really appreciate the handmade and unique design found on the Marguerite.  Both pens have the heart of a Pelikan dressed in a fashion that we haven’t seen before or since.  It is worth noting that amongst all of the CP series pens, the CP6 editions have the highest estimated market value.  Classic Pens has remained true to their mission, but it is a shame that such a successful run hasn’t spurred more partnerships or innovation from Pelikan.  While Classic Pens haven’t taken the CP series beyond the CP8 (a CP9 has yet to emerge officially), it should be noted that they have many other limited edition series including the AL, LB, LK, LS, and ZJ collections which you can find detailed here.  Please let me know what you think of the Marguerite and Charlotte in the comments below.

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Marguerite

Pelikan/Classic Pens M1000 CP6 Marguerite

 

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Charlotte

Pelikan/Classic Pens M800 CP6 Charlotte

 

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Marguerite & Charlotte

A close-up of the piston knobs of both the CP6 Charlotte (left) and Marguerite (right).  The band is the most distal part of the barrel and not part of the piston knob

 

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Marguerite & Charlotte

A close-up of the guilloche artistry by Marc Murelli in the CP6 Charlotte (top) and Marguerite (bottom).  The Cascade and Mosaique patterns are completely different but both are appealing to the senses.  Shown here with patina intact, they really stand out even more when polished

 

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Marguerite & Charlotte

A close-up of the cap tops of the CP6 Marguerite (left) and Charlotte (right) with the company’s two chick logo engraved

 

Pelikan/Classic Pens CP6 Charlotte

A close-up of the engravings on the wide cap band of the CP6 Charlotte.  The Marguerite sports identical engravings

 

A special thanks to Kirk Speer at Pen Realm for inspiring/facilitating this post.

12 responses

    • Happy to have enlightened you. I think that no matter how many Pelikan’s you have, there are always more to collect. There have been some very interesting production runs in the past, many of which have fallen into a bit of obscurity. Hopefully I can keep highlighting such things.

      Like

  1. Tremendously informative post, Joshua, as usual. As you know I am also a CP-6 set owner, although I have not decided which ink to use, yet. I also have one of the prototypes that I will dig out of storage and photograph since I fear it will be a long time before we see one another in person. I have never found the complete provenance on the prototype pen, but this will spur me on. It is time to get them out for their annual polishing, anyway. That is my one complaint about the silver, they are as bad as the flatware I inherited. 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks Tom. I did not find much in my research on prototypes other than that there are definitely a few in the wild. I’m not saying several CP6s but across the CP lines, there have been a few reported. Not sure how they were released. I suppose only Classic Pens might be able to answer that. Certainly worth an inquiry.

      Like

  2. Never heard of those pens…so thank you so much for this information! Those beauties are stunning! If you ever come to Germany, you have to visit Weimar…it’s by far my favourite city I ever visited! I just love to be there!

    Like

    • You’re welcome. I’m glad to be able bring the topic back to the light. It seems their exclusivity and the intervening 18 years have reduced their visibility. Germany is high on my list of places to travel but it seems like that won’t be any time soon given current circumstances. I’ll put Weimar on the list. Thanks!

      Like

  3. Pingback: Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – November 1, 2020 | Fountain Pen Quest

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