Buying a high-end luxury item is about more than just the product. People who can afford such things pay the additional premium not only because of the promise of better quality but also for the luxe experience. Consequently, those products tend to come with more elegant packaging which is frequently just as integral to the purchase. For some it matters and for others it does not, but nobody likes to purchase an expensive item only to have it come packaged in a cheap, flimsy box. Ideally, the box should have shelf appeal, be aesthetically pleasing, and serve a function. Pelikan’s Souverän line, which has seemingly tried to push more into the luxe market as the years have worn on, has always had very specific packaging for its high end models. As best I can tell, there have been approximately seven major revisions to the standard assortment of presentation boxes serving the Souverän line over the past 40 years. That number is not necessarily all encompassing since it is beyond the scope of this article to recount each and every one of the regional variations and model specific gift packages that have come about (e.g. the M815) but it does a good job of approximating most of the mainstream offerings that have been employed over the years. In the last few decades, we’ve seen new presentation boxes emerge along the frequency of roughly every 8-9 years. The earliest presentation box for the Souverän from Pelikan was the GV400 and today, new for 2022, we have the G30. Several people have asked me if the new packaging is legit or some kind of knock off. The suspicion is understandable given that most people are accustomed to the G15 packaging which has been the standard for the last decade, but the new box is indeed genuine, representing the latest revision to occur during the reign of the Souverän. I thought that it might be a worthwhile and fun exercise to take a stroll down memory lane and look back at some of the unique packaging that has accompanied our Souveräns over the years before detailing this newest version. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, it’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.
The first Souverän fountain pen to enter the market was the M400 which debuted in 1982. Its packaging was known as the GV400, and it prevailed for most of the 1980s. When the M600 launched in 1985 and the M800 in 1987, additional boxes respectively known as GV600 and GV800 were introduced to match, a convention that was utilized for subsequent revisions. The original GV design was a cardboard box housing a silky, tan piece of cloth. The motif used to embellish the box was taken from a historic design circa 1897. The box was partitioned to provide a space to secure a pen as well as a small area for a bottle of 4001 Royal Blue ink. The GV packaging was first altered around 1990. Gone was the historic motif, eschewed in favor of a simple yet sophisticated black box with green lines. These square packages had a black cloth upon which the fountain pen would rest along with an accompanying bottle of ink. That design was seemingly short lived. By 1992, Pelikan would pivot back to an Art Nouveau styled box reminiscent of their original packaging. After another four years with this motif, the GV line would meet its end.
Circa 1996, the GS branded packaging was introduced to replace the GV. Like before, these were assigned product numbers based on the model, e.g. GS800, GS600, and GS400. The larger square boxes were done away with in favor of smaller, black and yellow rectangular packages. These came in a few variants. Smaller boxes had cardboard sleeves to hold the pen in place whereas larger packaging continued to feature a cloth bed with space for a pen as well as a small bottle of Pelikan’s 4001 Royal Blue or Black inks, bottles that were referred to as TG1. Some of the packages even came with a maple desk stand for 1 or 2 pens known as SGA1. This style of presentation box was utilized for approximately eight years before its expiry.
Packaging again changed circa 2004 and now featured a blue rectangular box with a hinged, clamshell opening and a pillowed bed that nestled a pen or pens in place. This style of presentation box was referred to as G6 when accompanying a Souverän and G5 when packaging a Classic Series model. The next major revision dropped circa 2013 with the introduction of the G15 which had been the standard up until this year (product #998.278). The G15 consisted of a tall, rectangular cardboard box with a lid that pulled off to reveal faux wood grain housing an imitation white leather pen sleeve resting upon a tray. That insert pulled out to reveal the relevant product literature and warranty information contained below, usually wrapped in some white tissue paper. It was a simple but effective presentation that served its purpose well prior to its retirement.
That brings us to the current iteration of packaging, new for 2022. The G30 presentation box brings a modest refresh after 9 years under the former’s rule (product #820.608). The new box maintains a rectangular shape though is perhaps a bit shallower. The lid is now hinged with a magnetic closure to secure it in place. The pen sleeve has been altered from an envelope with an elastic closure to a simple sleeve type design, embossed with the company logo, that remains open at the side. The standard literature/warranty booklet continues to be included, though is no longer wrapped in tissue paper, along with a message from The Pelikan team that says, “We wish you a lot of writing pleasure with your fine writing instrument!” While there is nothing earth shattering here, the presentation remains solid. It’s certainly nothing ostentatious but neither are the pens which fit in well with the more subdued and refined look. This newest presentation box should continue to serve its purpose well, especially since the packaging is usually all but forgotten five minutes after unwrapping. I hope that you have enjoyed this fun little recap. Please note that the dates quoted for the presentation boxes are approximate and should not be taken as absolute. They were sourced and extracted from an extensive review of past company literature. I’m open to any friendly corrections or additions you might want to offer if I’ve misspoken or left something out.
1984 – 1989: Souverän GV400, GV600, GV800 (1897)
1990 – 1991: Souverän GV400, GV600, GV800 (Black/Green)
1992 – 1995: GV400N, GV600N, GV800N (Art Nouveau)
1996 – 2003: GS400, GS600, GS800
2004 – 2012: G6
2013 – 2021: G15
2022 – Present: G30
*Click on any of the above galleries in order to view the full sized photos contained within*
Another great work Joshua! I have a couple of these boxes:
– GV400 for an M600/K600 set that comes with a 4001 Brilliant Black ink bottle.
– GS400 for the late 90s M250, M400, and M650.
The GV400/GV400N (’90-’95) variants are relatively less frequently seen in the markets.
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Yes, I think a lot of retailers just used the GV400 packaging for some of the other models out of convenience. Same for the GS lines. The Art Nouveau and the Black/Green are the boxes that I encounter the least frequently in the market. A lot of people don’t keep their old boxes either so that doesn’t help. Still, neat to see how they temporally land in relation to one another.
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another cool article, Josh. I still have my GS800 and G15 boxes. I’d never get rid of them even tho I don’t store my pens in them.
I don’t store my pens in them either but do have several tubs full. I think that it’s important to keep the boxes that come with these pens in the event that resale is a consideration. I know not everybody feels the same. Does get a bit unwieldy after a while for large collections.
Joshua, great article as usual. I agree with your point, and I keep some of my pen boxes in my storage in case they may be needed for re-sale. The Pelikan Majesty presentation boxes for my Fountain Pen and Ballpoint were so large that there was no way I could use them for display. However, some of the specialty and limited-edition Pelikan pens have some beautiful presentation boxes. I love displaying my 705 and 910 Toledos, as well as my Hunting and White Tiger in their boxes in my home office display case. The beauty of Pelikan pens is satisfying enough for me but the appearance of them in a beautiful presentation box casts a spell on my heart. Man’s weakness has always been in the appearance of people and things.
One of my favorite presentation pieces has been the one that comes with “The Spirit of Gaudi.” If you have a nice display case, I can see the appeal of using those specialty boxes. Personally, I don’t have anyplace to display my pens which is just as well. I don’t think that it would be in my best interest for the Mrs. to get a gander at the full flock.
Very interesting article Joshua thank you.
Thanks for reading!
It might anger a number of collectors but I find such a kind of beautiful packaging a waste – as nice as they look.
I prefer to use collection boxes. My favorite brand Waldmann let me switch from one-pen boxes to a collection box: https://www.instagram.com/p/CW5enPrlMVE/
And look what can happen in countries with high humidity: https://www.instagram.com/p/CbmFte-viAv/
One cannot take the packaging out for drying everytime it is dry.
And, at the end it can look like this: https://www.instagram.com/p/CbmG7hVPbha/
Links are to my instagram account – no spam.
Collection boxes are nice for sure and a good way to consolidate and display a collection. Thankfully, I’ve never had to deal with mold issues like that. Seems like it could be quite an annoying problem.
It is Joshua. Very annoying!
When I moved to Japan, I took with me my many books. Some of their covers, especially the fake leather ones, quickly became moldy. The inside not so much. However, if there is mold, it smells and it is not healthy. So, final solution was: I digitized about 2000 books.
I can’t even imagine what kind of a task that was. Not quite as handy a fix for the storage box problem I suppose.
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A very interesting read as always, Joshua.
I was considering throwing away my empty pen boxes today due to all the space they take. After thinking i would part with most of them, i could only being myself to give up two. I don’t think I’ll ever sell my pens, nor will the pens go back in the boxes that are currently empty…but it just seems so wasteful to throw away something that could still be used.
I have two of the Pelikan 2022 boxes. I’m appreciative of how minimal they are. I will use the white pouch inside. For me, it’s a better concept than a huge display box that i will never use. I buy most of my pens online but I can imagine how the display oriented boxes would be useful in a retail setting.
And I appreciate you reading. It was a fun look back. They do take up a lot of space, especially if you have a lot of pens. I agree, it does seem wasteful to toss them and while we may have no plans for those boxes at the moment, I always think you never know what the future will bring.
Fantastic article, Joshua! I was one of the people that sent you an email requesting your expertise on the new packaging. I had ordered an M800 Green/Black from Cultpens and it arrived in the new box which I had never seen before. I searched all over the place (online) and couldn’t find any info about it, nor could I find any photos of the new packaging from the many, many Pelikan dealers out there. But, of course, you knew exactly what it was and set my mind at ease by letting me know that the packaging was new and I was one of the first to have my pen shipped in it. Keep up the good work and enjoy your weekend!
Glad that you liked it. You were part of the inspiration behind it. Hope that M800 is treating you well.
You did not give the new sleeve enough credit! It’s a really great sleeve because it has a sub-pocket to holds the pen perfectly upright, and then the outer sleeve is the correct size to stay in place inside a pocket.
Ha! I think most would toss the sleeve aside but, yes, the sub pocket is a nice extra.
Very nice article, as usual, and very interesting. I like the GV30 presentation box and welcomed the white pen sleeve, which I find very well done and useful (I usually carry my M600 in the sleeve, which can be comfortably put in the internal jacket pocket).
I’m sure the new pen sleeve will prove more useful to people than the prior variant. Definitely a nice option to keep these pens protected.
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