Review: M800 King Michael I of Romania – Royal Edition (2019)

Pelikan King Michael I of Romania Royal Edition M800It isn’t easy deciding which pens to review here on The Perch.  I like to focus on those pieces that bring something new to the table or tell a story.  I mean, there is only so much you can say about another M800 with a different color scheme.  That line of thinking is what lead me to today’s review.   The recently released King Michael fountain pen stands out as unique in Pelikan’s catalog for a couple of reasons.  The official name of this model is the King Michael I of Romania – Royal Edition and was only sold through Herlitz in Romania making this an ultra-exclusive regional edition that was not available through the usual retail channels.  In fact, acquiring one required registration on the web, being selected, and then facilitating payment via a direct bank transfer.  Honoring King Michael I (10/25/1921 – 12/5/2017), the last king of Romania, this edition is limited to just 300 pieces.  While the underlying bones are clearly recognizable as those of a standard M800, this model incorporates a few design elements not previously seen. That allows this edition to stand out as an example of what good can come from local distributors partnering with the company to put out a unique product.  While the opportunity to own one has largely passed at this juncture, I think that this pen is worthy of a closer look.

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Review: Herzstück 1929 (2019)

Pelikan Herzstück 1929 Fountain PenPelikan was officially founded in 1838 but did not produce its first fountain pen until 1929.  The first pens to roll off of the assembly line came without a model number and were known only as the Pelikan fountain pen, presumably since they were the company’s only such product.  It wasn’t until 1931 and after a few small revisions that it would come to be known as the model 100.  Armed with a removable nib assembly and an industry leading differential piston filling mechanism, that first model would go on to set a bar of excellence for generations to come.  This year marks the 90th anniversary of Pelikan’s foray into fountain pen production.  There have been hundreds of different models produced in that span of time and the company has just added a new limited edition to its catalog, this time to commemorate those 90 years of pen making history.  The Herzstück 1929 pays homage to the company’s first fountain pens without being a direct copy.  It stands out as unique in Pelikan’s catalog, incorporating features from several historic models.  Coupled with updates for the modern age, this new addition is not your great grandfather’s fountain pen.  The name of this limited edition suggests just how important this design has been to the company as Herzstück can be roughly translated to mean core or heart.  The last time that we saw such a commemorative model was in 2004 when the M1075 was debuted to honor 75 years of pen production.  That model was ultra-limited to just 75 copies.  The Herzstück has been produced as an edition of 462 pieces, a number that was derived from the last three digits of the company’s original patent, which will serve to make it somewhat more widely available than its predecessor.  How does this retro inspired fountain pen stack up today?  Read on to find out.

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News: Pelikan Hubs 2019 By The Numbers

June 30th marked the end of the registration period for Pelikan Hubs 2019.  A lot of new cities were chosen this year which is a testament to the buzz surrounding this event and the enthusiasm of the pen community.  With each passing year, the Hubs have grown larger and more diverse and this sixth annual gathering looks to be no different.  Perhaps the most important byproduct of this growth has been the ability to expand the Hub locations in order to provide access to more people.  While not everyone has a Hub convenient to them, each year makes it just a little easier to find a nearby location.  Using the most recent version of the map publicly available on Pelikan’s website (as of 7/3/19 at 10:00pm EST), we can get a feel for this year’s chosen venues and number of registrations.  These numbers will be subject to some fluctuation between now and the actual day of the event so the analysis that follows should not be considered a final tally.  Still, I’m hopeful that the insight the numbers provide will be of some general interest.  Nearly two dozen new cities have been added to this year’s line-up, representing a 10% increase over last year.  Growth continues to be steady with each year bringing more registrations than the one before it.  For 2018, Pelikan reported that there were 181 individual Hubs spread across 44 countries with 4,896 registered participants.  Based on the map data currently available, this year’s event will span 200 cities spread out amongst 46 countries with over 5,646 participants.  That represents at least a 15% increase in anticipated attendance over last year and an eye opening growth of 475% since the first Hub event in 2014.  The United States continues to play host to the most chosen cities and registrations with the Philippines, Canada, Australia, and India rounding out the top five.  Just in case you need a reminder, this year’s Hub event will take place on Friday, September 20, 2019 at 6:30pm local time.  Pelikan’s designated Hub masters should be reaching out in the next few weeks with additional details for each individual location.  Of course, if you are unable to attend this year’s event, you can follow along via the hashtag #pelikanhubs on your preferred social media platform.  Similar to last year, I have put together a series of maps and graphs to help better depict the information outlined above.  Read on to see this year’s line-up and where your city/state/country may rank.

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The Dark Brown Tortoise That Might Have Been…

Pelikan 101N Tortoiseshell Brown with Black AccentsPelikan has been responsible for the innovation and production of some of the most iconic fountain pens of the 20th century.  With 90 years of experience in pen making, a great number of models have been released into the wild.  Some releases were only meant for certain markets and therefore are fairly scarce in most other parts of the world.  As such, a model may be sighted so infrequently that it generates years of debate amongst enthusiasts about its authenticity.  One such example is the elusive M600 Tortoiseshell Brown (circa 1985-96) but it is not the only example.  While the M600 mentioned here turned out to be a factory produced model made for the Japanese market, there is another, older tortoise that has also been subject to a fair amount of speculation.   That model is a Pelikan 101N Dark Tortoiseshell Brown.  While that may not sound controversial, it’s the accents found on this particular pen that make it so.  Rather than the well documented red or tortoise colored components, both the cap top and piston knob of this Dark Tortoise are black.  Much of the information offered to justify this pen’s existence to date has been circumstantial and based on regional anecdotes.  Enough of these have been spotted in the wild to at least suggest that they may have been more than someone’s backroom special.  Today, I try to examine the available evidence and demonstrate once and for all the true origins of this controversial and largely undocumented 101N.

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Passing The Torch: 70 Years Of Service

Pelikan's TintenTurmThe company that we know today as Pelikan is now 181 years old.  In all of that time, it has cultivated a rich history full of unusual anecdotes and outstanding achievements.  Just take a close look at any of their fine writing instruments and you will see a glimpse of bygone days.  Perhaps not as well known are the guardians of that history.  Those of us who have studied the company and their products are well aware of the select few who have been chosen to stand watch over precious artifacts from the days of yore.  The modern world is so focused on consumption that it seems precious little is built to last, and the history of things can quickly be forgotten.  In that setting, it is reassuring to know that there are still companies looking to preserve even a small piece of history, not because they have to but because they want to.  It is with that backdrop in mind that I would like to introduce you to Pelikan’s archivists, past and present.  Currently housed in the original location of Pelikan’s Hannover factory in what is known as the TintenTurm, the company’s archives contain a wide variety of artifacts.  These include vintage inks, prototype pens, old displays, historic advertising, and more.  We have recently passed a transition point where Pelikan’s long time archivist, Jürgen Dittmer, has officially retired and whose role is now being filled by Wilfried Leuthold.  Who are these men and what is their charge?  Read on to find out.

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News: King Michael I of Romania – Royal Edition

Pelikan's King Michael I of Romania - Royal EditionWhen you dig back through Pelikan’s long and storied history of pen making, you can find all sorts of odd editions made for local markets or done by regional distributors.  Some of those models came from company sanctioned production runs while others had a more dubious genesis.  The M800 Laser (2000) comes to mind as a good example of a strictly regional release.  The Laser was an exclusive limited edition of only 100 pens which were specially engraved by Visconti and authorized by Pelikan Milan.  This pen was made only for the Italian market, but it was not warmly welcomed in Hannover resulting in several being destroyed but that is a story for another day.  My point is that it has been some time since we’ve seen a truly regional release from Pelikan which is why May 30th will be a stand out day in the company’s history.  On that day, Pelikan Romania unveiled a new fountain pen titled “King Michael I of Romania – Royal Edition.”  This model is not like many of the other Souveräns that we’ve seen and its unveiling was met with much more ceremony than we’ve been accustomed to.  Read on to learn more about this neat and ultra-limited edition.

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News: Pelikan Hubs 2019

Now in its sixth year, Pelikan keeps tradition alive with today’s announcement of Pelikan Hubs 2019.  The company has launched a new “microsite” to facilitate registration and to serve as a source of information for prospective attendees.  The Hubs have continued to grow year over year with new records for attendance being set annually.  The 2018 gathering took place in 181 cities spread across 46 countries with over 4500 registered participants.  That level of attendance represented a roughly 30% increase over the year prior which had shown tremendous growth itself.  Much of that success is thanks to the pen enthusiasts who have relished gathering to share their experiences and passion for fine writing and all that comes with it.  If you are new to the brand and unfamiliar with what the Hubs event is all about, allow me to fill you in.  Pelikan Hubs is first and foremost a fan driven gathering of Pelikan aficionados from across the globe who meet on the same local date and time.  I say fan driven because Pelikan itself only acts in a supporting role.  Each chosen location is appointed a Hub master (selected through application) who oversees the planning of the event with the company providing some organizational framework and a few supplies.  This is what allows the evening to take on a unique and individual flavor.  There is no specified agenda and you don’t even need to own a Pelikan pen to attend.  The result is that no two hubs are quite alike, but they are invariably an enjoyable affair.  It is also heavily encouraged to utilize social media via the hashtag #pelikanhubs so that other locations and those who could not attend can share in the festivities.  I have been a Hub participate from the beginning and look forward to this gathering each and every year.  You can read about my most recent experience here.  This year, Pelikan is requiring a minimum of seven participants in a locale to constitute a Hub, a change from prior years where the minimum was five.  That is why it is important to spread the word to those who may be interested in your area.  When you register, you will also have a chance to nominate yourself for the position of Hub master if you would like to serve as the local point of contact and organizer for the event.  It is the Hub master who designates a centrally located meeting place and distributes the provided Pelikan swag to all of the registered guest in attendance.  Read on for all of the details for Pelikan Hubs 2019.

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News: Maki-e Five Lucky Bats Limited Edition

Pelikan Maki-e Five Lucky Bats Limited EditionOver the last several years we have become accustomed to annual releases of Maki-e inspired limited edition fountain pens from Pelikan.  These models have married nearly a century of pen making experience with the expertise of Japanese artists.  Recent past releases have included the Spring & Autumn (2016), Dragonfly (2017), and Peacock (2018) to name just a few.  The Pelikan’s Perch has learned that the 2019 Maki-e pen will be called Five Lucky Bats.  An excerpt from Pelikan’s sales literature has this to say about the new model;

“In China, the bat is considered a symbol of happiness as the pronunciation of the word ‘bat’ resembles a Chinese word which means ‘fortune is coming.’  The depiction of the bat is considered to be a lucky pattern which brings five kinds of luck: a long life, wealth and respect, health and mindfulness, virtue and grace, and to die without worry and regret.  There were times when only noble people could wear clothes using motifs of the bat.  In Japan as well, the bat is regarded as a symbol of luck as the word bat is pronounced as ‘komori’ which could be written in Japanese as ‘a lot of happiness.'”

Like the models cited above, this one will be built off of the M1000 chassis, the same line that has been plagued by a supply chain issue in recent months.  Fret not as a limited edition of this nature is likely immune to the issues affecting the rest of the series.  It is unclear just when we might see this one come to market though I would anticipate a June/July release.

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