Early last month, I wrote about a new initiative at Pelikan that would see the long standing translucence of the Souverän’s barrel eliminated. Gone would be the translucent stripes present for the last 40 years of the line’s heritage, exchanged for an opaque replacement. The news took many, myself included, by surprise. Likely motivated by the new realities of this post-COVID world and ongoing supply chain issues, the change was met with mixed reactions at best. Those stripes have been an integral feature for many of Pelikan’s fountain pens, allowing one to more easily gauge the remaining amount of ink in their pen without the need for a discreet ink view window. The solution was both clever and elegant to say the least. It was widely expected that the M800 Black-Red would be the first new release to fall victim to the changing times. You can imagine the consternation that this newest Souverän has fomented when the first stock to hit vendor’s shelves was literally just the opposite. That’s right, the M800 Black-Red, at least in this first wave of production, appears to be nothing other than business as usual. The stripes behind the section are, as they always have been, translucent. So, what gives? Read on to find out what I suspect may be the most likely answer.
Before publishing news of the forthcoming changes to the Souverän line, I verified the information via three different sources on two different continents. Similar emails were received by vendors across the globe which related the following pieces of information (directly quoted below).
“There has been a change of design for the striped cellulose-acetate material on Souverän fountain pens. For technical reasons, we have made the decision to switch from the slightly transparent material to an opaque material for the striped barrels of Souverän fountain pens in the standard assortment. This opaque material is currently already in use for the striped upper parts of Souverän ballpoint pens and pencils as well as barrels of rollerballs. The fact that we will use from now on the same material for fountain pen barrels and upper parts of ballpoint pens/pencils and barrels of rollerballs, will assure the sets of fountain pen with ballpoint pen, pencil and rollerball will now match.”
To understand why the M800 is rolling off of the assembly line at Pelikan’s Peine-Vöhrum manufacturing plant like all those that have come before, it is the last line of the same email that is perhaps the most instructive.
“The switch already started to take place for Souverän Black-Green and Souverän Anthracite Stripes (Stresemann). It will follow for Souverän Black-Blue and Souverän Black-Red in the next weeks and months.“
As you can see from the text, the changes are already purported to have begun to roll out for several of the Souverän finishes, namely the Black-Green and Stresemann. The same revisions are slated to come to the Black-Blue and Black-Red models, but those changes are further out, anticipated within the coming weeks to months. This suggest that there was enough of the old material available to continue production in the traditional way, at least for a time, on the latter models or that the retooling for those lines simply has yet to be completed. It seems likely then that Pelikan began production of the M800 Black-Red under the old manufacturing process which is the stock we see arriving to vendors today. If the notice is to be taken at face value, we should see a changeover occur sometime later this year. It’s a boon for those who were looking for a Black-Red M800 with the translucent barrel but it’s not likely to last long so jump on the good fortune while you can.