Pelikan’s original model 400 was manufactured throughout most of the 1950s as well as the first half of the 1960s. The model would experience two major revisions over its production run, but it ultimately proved to be a great success for the brand. Times change and the company moved away from that iconic design for a number of years, with the Merz & Krell 400NN of the 1970s being a notable exception. That classic style which was so popular in its day saw a revival in 1982 when Pelikan launched the first Souverän fountain pen, the model M400. The black/green color combination featuring the “Stresemann” striped pattern was again alive and well and little changed from that 1950s model upon which it was based. Like its predecessor, the M400 was well received, a win that the company desperately needed at the time. The early 1980s marked a turbulent period in the company’s history, one rife with financial trouble and the M400 played its part to help turn Pelikan’s fortunes around. Forty years later and the Souverän series of pens remains a mainstay in the brand’s portfolio, its design is as iconic now as it ever was. In honor of that that forty-year anniversary, Pelikan is releasing a new limited edition fountain pen, the Souverän M800 40 Years Anniversary limited edition. The design of this new pen is meant to commemorate those features of the Souverän that have made their mark over the years. Read on to learn all about this newest limited edition fountain pen out of Hannover.
Anticipation has been high that Pelikan would release a commemorative model to celebrate such a major milestone in of one of their most important and prestigious product lines. The literature that accompanies this pen touts themes like permanence and adaptation while remaining true to self. The black/green striped pattern is hailed as a symbol of strong character and uniqueness, the quintessential sign of the Pelikan Souverän brand. This new model will be based off of the M800 chassis and will likely be a bit heftier than usual due to the additional gilding adorning the piston knob and section. Pelikan has a lot to say in their product literature including some of the following;
“A highlight of this spectacular Limited Edition in the Pelikan Souverän size M800 is the golden ring. The fine lines are diamond – ground and highlight the significance of the quintessential Pelikan Souverän striped design. They run up and down this highly desirable writing instrument with endless grace. It is an icon of the utmost elegance that combines the intricate details befitting a limited edition.”
“The metal logo at the tip of the cap is certain to draw attention, not least with its subtly engraved lines finished with green lacquer. This legendary detail is how Pelikan reestablishes that time – old emotional connection. It includes a curved, beak – like clip, the quintessential trademark of all premium Pelikan writing instruments.”
“The artistic nibs are the crowning glory of every premium Pelikan fountain pen. For decades, experienced craftspeople have handmade these nibs and used their rare skill to perfect them. This limited edition is crowned by an 18 – karat gold nib embossed with exceptional filigree. Each stroke on the paper promises an extraordinarily smooth writing experience. Quintessentially Pelikan.”
Breaking down the pen’s appearance in more detail, it seems as though a lot of classic elements were carried forward and embellished upon. Most notable is the pattern of green stripes adorning the barrel, similar to what you might find on any standard black/green Souverän. What I don’t see is an ink view which would be in keeping with recent developments as previously reported. While not explicitly stated one way or the other in their literature, the pre-release photos do not suggest the presence of one. To set this model apart, a circular gold band bisects the barrel into two halves. The band also has fine lines running parallel to the barrel in homage to that historic “Stresemann” pattern. The piston knob and section are plated in gold in an attempt to further elevate the traditional look. The bottom of the piston knob features a laser engraving with the edition number (xxx/888) making each pen one of a kind. There is just a single cap band which is larger than usual and prominently features “40 Years” around its circumference. Etched into the gold plating of the cap top is the single chick Pelikan logo filled in with green enamel, a small touch which harkens back to the days when the plastic cap top was etched and filled in with green paint. The nib is also unique to this model. It is done in an 18C-750 gold that lacks any rhodium plating giving it a monotone appearance in keeping with the rest of the trim. The engraving features the Pelikan logo with the words “40 Years” above. Flanking the slit is an additional filigree which likewise features a Pelikan motif, one that is unique to this model. The nibs come in a medium width as is standard for their limited editions. The pen will be packaged in a unique gift box that includes a specially labeled bottle of 4001 Dark Green ink (a refreshing change from the usual Royal Blue). When you pull up on the handle of the box, the sides unfold, a neat gimmick befitting such a limited edition.
This one will not be ultra-limited like some of the Maki-e or Raden pieces but, at just 888 pens available worldwide, I can foresee these quickly becoming scarce. Why 888 you ask? Pelikan alludes to the fact that in Asian cultures, the number 8 is a symbol of prosperity. The infinity symbol, a horizontal eight, is a sign of perpetuity. Pelikan seems to be making a statement with this model that the brand is here to stay. Release is set for October 27th meaning availability will probably be sometime in November of this year. The company has placed an RRP of €1,900 (~$1,848.40) on this one. While US pricing remains to be seen, overseas retail pricing, excluding the VAT, is coming in around €1,595.04 (~$1,544.01), give or take a few hundred depending on the vendor. That is a hefty price but not out of line for past editions of this caliber. I would expect these to appreciate in value over time once they become scarce.
I think that this is a design that really needs to be seen in person in order to be appreciated. The computer-generated renders available thus far leave me a little wanting. I also think that the gold band in the center of the barrel is a little incongruous and off putting. I do like the design on the nib and really appreciate the green enamel found on the cap top. Those are just my first impressions, sight unseen, but a more thorough review is sure to follow once I have one of these in hand. I do not wish to be too judgmental up front. I guess my biggest gripe is that this is an M800 which rings a bit hollow for me. It was the M400 that launched the Souverän line in 1982, not the M800. The M800 didn’t come onto the scene for another 5 years, launching in 1987. It is the M400 that is forty years old this year. If we are truly celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Souverän line, I think the sentiment would have been more fitting if bestowed upon the model that kicked things off. Perhaps that’s an unpopular opinion and I’m sure sentiment will fall on both sides of the issue. Regardless of my quibbles with the design, I’m happy to see that Pelikan is celebrating their heritage and can only hope to see many more decades of fountain pen development to come. What do you think about this limited edition? Will this one be joining your flock? Let me know what you think of the design in the comments below.