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.
Times are truly tough for Pelikan if they have to do this to save the cost of polishing inside the barrel. I suppose the quality will continue to drop incrementally and at some point the residual goodwill the brand name carries will fade away and everyone will wonder why these pens are still priced like premium pens. Maybe this is their only way to keep the lights on right now, but it is short-sighted for any business when quality drops and the price does not.
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Time will tell if you’re right and I certainly hope that you aren’t but the developments are concerning to say the least.
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Wow, that is a very steep, and very slippery, slope you live on.
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When I heard about the change in materials I took a red M800 off my wish list and out of my budget. Then within days a wonderful M1000 with a custom rebinde in Conway Stewart Red Stardust fell into my lap. It is absolutely gorgeous and it has scratched the “large red Pelikan” itch—in fact it’s now one of my absolute favorite pens. No need for an M800 black and red.
Oh, that sounds awesome. Not much for the custom work myself but that sounds like a stunner.
As always, a great review. I happen to own several Souverans including a red and black and green and black 800 model, an all black 1000, etc. they are all great pens but have incredibly hard writing nibs unlike an old Pelikan 100 I have that has a somewhat softer nib. Would you agree?
Thanks! The nibs, particularly those in the last 20+ years, are very stiff so your experience mimics mine. Those vintage nibs from the early to mid twentieth century are the much more enjoyable.
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Hello my friends,
I have enjoyed my green M100 for ~ 8 years now. I have a flexible 18k italic nib which is a great compliment to the large barrel on this pen.
I have not taken my 149 Mont Blanc out of its case for a few years now. The point I making is that this Pelican is a “work of art” and has been amazing pen to right with.
I do need some help from you guys as soon as possible. The pen has been gently used over the time; yet the pen developed a crack in the black part of the barrel which caused the pen to break near the nim.
I pray that Pelican is like montblanc in their horrible repair policies.
Can someone Please help me!
Sounds like you cracked the section. Kind of depends on where you are located in the world as to your repair options. With an 18K nib, I suspect you may be talking about an M1000 and not an M100?
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Thanks for publishing this information. I tried to buy one of the old black/red M800s for years without success. But I did manage to buy one of the new translucent black/red M800s recently. I had to contact several vendors to do so. Apparently, the opaque ones are already out there based on the responses that I received.
The red is a bit more subtle than it looks in the photos. Still not my favorite color though!
I guess the change to opaque barrels will save me lots of money because I doubt I will be buying many of the new models from Pelikan.
Yes, I would imagine that, by now, the opaque barrels would be making their way into the retail channels as the early translucent stock has been bought up. Glad that you were able to lock one down. I have an original one and love the color. I agree that the lack of translucency is going to be a big detractor against the brand going forwards. Enjoy it.
I’m neither a fan of gold not red, but after seeing this one in person, I have to say it is quite a beautiful and ver classy pen.
I was of a similar mind until I saw one in person and then couldn’t not have one. Similar feelings were had about the blue and ended up the same way. Now it’s one of my favorites.