Everywhere you turn these days, goods and services invariably cost more. Everyday items such as bread, milk, diapers, and gas command prices not seen in decades. The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting supply chain crisis deserve much of the credit for getting the ball rolling but those are only the origins of this story. Russia’s war in Ukraine and the resulting economic sanctions further disrupted many of the global supply chains, adding fuel to the economic fire already raging. Sprinkle in a healthy share of corporate greed for good measure and it’s not too hard to understand how we got here. Prices are now at levels not seen since the 1980s and consumers, who had been better positioned than during past crises to weather the storm early on, are now finding that their household finances are becoming increasingly strained. This is inflation, a rise in prices or the decline of purchasing power over time, and there is little remedy for it at the moment. Pen makers are not insulated from the harsh economic climate any better than the rest of us and the cost of doing business is rising. Pelikan generally raises prices once or sometimes twice a year in order to keep up with the usual annual increases in cost. This generally manifests as a 2-3% increase on fine writing instruments and a 5% increase on inks, refills, and accessories. What we have seen as of November 1st, at least here in the US, is a much more significant increase than in years past, no doubt a reflection of the current global situation. Read on to discover how your favorite Pelikan pens and inks have been affected.
The following breakdown is specifically for the North American market, predominantly the United States, where prices have historically been significantly more than those found in Europe. You will notice in the table below that prices don’t always rise. In fact, 2022 saw a correction of sorts where prices actually stayed stable or were slightly reduced from the year prior. The table below depicts how that played out.
|2021 MSRP||2022 MSRP||Difference||Net Effect|
|M900 Toledo||$2,840||$2,500||$340 less (12% decrease)||Decrease|
|M700 Toledo||$1,680||$1,600||$80 less (4.8% decrease)||Decrease|
|M1000 Black/Green||$1,040||$990||$50 less (4.8% decrease)||Decrease|
|M800 Black/Green||$730||$740||$10 more (1.4% increase)||Increase|
|M600 Black/Green||$530||$580||$50 more (9.4% increase)||Increase|
|M400 Black/Green||$490||$490||$0||No Change|
|M200 Green Marbled||$200||$190||$10 less (5% decrease)||Decrease|
|4001 Royal Blue, 30mL||$10||$9||$1 less (10% decrease)||Decrease|
|Edelstein Tanzanite, 50mL||$35||$35||$0||No Change|
It is important to note that the prices reflected in these tables represents the manufacturer’s suggested retail pricing (MSRP). In the USA, retail prices tend to list for about 20% below these values meaning that these are not the prices you would pay at the register, but they directly impact how much the items will cost you. The changes that took effect on November 1st have significantly increased prices compared with the year prior and at a rate that is higher than we’ve seen in the recent past. With the current increases, the prior year’s reductions have essentially been wiped out and then some for most models. An M400 today, for instance, now cost more than an M600 did just two years ago.
|2022 MSRP||2023 MSRP||Difference||Net Effect|
|M900 Toledo||$2,500||$2,600||$100 more (4% increase)||Increase|
|M700 Toledo||$1,600||$1,700||$100 more (6.3% increase)||Increase|
|M1000 Black/Green||$990||$1,040||$50 more (5% increase)||Increase|
|M800 Black/Green||$740||$820||$80 more (10.8% increase)||Increase|
|M600 Black/Green||$580||$640||$60 more (10.3% increase)||Increase|
|M400 Black/Green||$490||$540||$50 more (10.2% increase)||Increase|
|M200 Green Marbled||$190||$210||$20 more (10.5% increase)||Increase|
|4001 Royal Blue, 30mL||$9||$10||$1 more (11% increase)||Increase|
|Edelstein Tanzanite, 50mL||$35||$37||$2 more (5.7% increase)||Increase|
The larger than usual magnitude of these increases likely reflects a combination of the typical adjustments along with an additional sum that is indicative of the current global economic situation. Forbes, Xometry, and Zogby recently polled 150 manufacturing CEOs in late August which gives us a glimpse into the realities of that sector. Amongst the companies polled, 45% had passed on the cost of inflation to customers, 38% had avoided dosing so, and 17% absorbed the cost despite the financial hit. Looking ahead, 87% of them said that they will hike their prices in 2023. The majority of executives polled who had passed on the costs of inflation said that they increased their prices between 5% and 15%. That fits what we’re seeing here with Pelikan. Keep in mind that Pelikan only sets rates to the first trade level which means for customers buying directly from the company. Any other prices in the market are subject to free market forces. The prices above are handed down from Chartpak, Pelikan’s North American distributor. To bring the disparity between pricing in the USA and the EU into stark relief, we can look at the case of a Black/Green M800 equipped with a medium nib. Vendors in the United States sell this model for $656 at retail. Overseas, the same pen is available to US customers for $401.96 once the VAT is excluded. That is a substantial savings of $254.04, a situation that plays out with essentially every model in the line-up.
Pelikans from top to bottom: M900 Toledo (1991-2002), M700 Toledo (1986-90), M1000 Black/Green (2012-15), M800 Black/Green (2005-10), M600 Black/Green (2003-10), M400 Black/Blue (1997-2003), and M200 Green Marbled (2015). Shocking, but I don’t have a post-1997 Black/Green M400 Souverän in my collection
|2023 MSRP||2023 Expected US Retail Pricing|
|M200 Green Marbled||$210||$168|
In other news, Pelikan updated their main web page last year but the site for their fine writing instruments, which had been in desperate need of revision, was not included in the refresh leaving many to wonder what was going on. Pelikan took their time getting around to it and the rollout, from a layman’s point of view, seemed rather botched. Delays aside, the new fine writing instruments site has finally launched, announced in a newsletter to fans on November 13th. The website plays off of the “Pelikan Passion” branding that they’ve embraced over the last several years. Touted as being more informative and modern, the new website certainly is a bit cleaner than the prior iteration. Interestingly enough, the site is only available in an English language version at present, but the company promises other languages to follow in the near future. Despite their claims to the contrary, I find navigating the new site a tad cumbersome, but it certainly is improved over the prior product and should make for a good starting point for future updates and revisions.
Finally, it’s worth noting a change in the “Make-A-Wish-Nib” program. I believe it was sometime around 2014 that Pelikan began providing an opportunity to get a custom ground nib as part of their factory tour. Starting with a broad nib as the base, a nib specialist would grind the nib to your specifications whilst you wait. It was an appointment only service that required the purchase of a pen at the time of the visit meaning you couldn’t have one of your existing nibs modified. These nibs are distinguished from off the shelf options by an “S” engraved at the base. As special as the service was for some, you were not allowed to observe the actual grinding of the nib itself but were able to test the nib immediately after the grind and the nib specialist would work on it until it met your expectations. Pelikan’s new website states; “Presently, we are reorganizing our internal processes and adjusting our structure of the Make-A-Wish-Nib program. For these reasons, we are unfortunately not offering neither any appointments nor vouchers at this time. As soon as we have new information, we will provide the details here for you.” If you had hoped to partake of this experience in the near future, your plans may have to be adjusted. This is certainly not a service for everyone given the somewhat strict limitations but hopefully it will be back soon for those who do wish to participate.