A demonstrator is a very polarizing type of fountain pen amongst enthusiasts. Some love them for the ability to see the inner workings of the piston mechanism. Nothing is left to the imagination and new shades of ink can effect a chameleonic transformation upon the pen’s appearance. Others hate them for the very same reason since every errant blob of ink may become glaringly evident and stains aren’t so well hidden. Pelikan has released many demonstrators over the course of its history including several amongst their Classic series. This is Pelikan’s lower tier line with a somewhat less ostentatious trim than the Souverän series, stainless steel nibs in place of gold ones, and a slightly less polished finish. Don’t let those differences fool you though as these are excellent fountain pens for substantially less money than what the Souverän line commands. One production theme that has often been repeated across the M2xx series is that of the brown transparent demonstrator. Since 2003, Pelikan has released four models done in a shade of brown, three of which are so similar that only a few tell tale details set them apart. The newest model to that line is several shades darker and I thought that it would be interesting to see these four distinct but related releases together so that you might see just how they stack up with one another and how much darker the Smoky Quartz actually is.
Over the last month, I have been repeatedly asked by fellow pen lovers as to why U.S. prices for Pelikan’s fine writing instruments far exceed that which is available elsewhere. It’s no secret that over the last few years, an increasingly growing number of U.S. consumers have awakened to the realization that Pelikan fountain pens can often be had for significant savings when purchased from overseas vendors. The U.S. market has seen a steady increase in the price of Pelikan’s fine writing instruments, the last swell coming in February of 2016. Consequently, authorized United States’ retailers have historically had to offer their Pelikan wares at significantly higher prices than competing international merchants. Regardless of what factors may have contributed to that discrepancy, the end result was a tilted playing field that made it incredibly hard for US vendors to compete in what is clearly a global economy. I have always questioned the disparity in pricing and wondered why U.S. customers are dealt with so differently? It’s a passionate issue for me because I have a deep affection for the brand but their marketing strategy has prevented me from recommending even an entry level Pelikan pen to anyone starting out in this hobby since these too are often priced higher than competing brands.
For the last month, I have done extensive research into the economics of why Pelikan’s U.S. pricing might be the way that it is and that is what I intended to present to you today. Just as I was preparing to publish that article, Pelikan/Chartpak called an audible on me and therefore I have scrapped that entire post in favor of this one. What I present to you now is evidence that there may be a major shift in U.S. pricing silently occurring and our domestic vendors and their customers are likely to reap the benefits.
Koi fish are a domesticated variant of the common carp and have been around for thousands of years. Carp are a cold water fish that can survive and adapt to many climates and water conditions which facilitates their propagation to new locations. With proper habitat, they can grow up to three feet in length and easily live 25-30 years or more. They were originally found in Central Europe and Asia but are most frequently associated with Japan. This may be because they were largely unknown to the outside world until a Tokyo exposition in 1914. Carp were first bred for food but color morphs were later selectively bred resulting in the beautiful diversity that we see today. There are currently over 20 different varieties of Koi fish. The carp has been revered for thousands of years, often represented in stories as a symbol of perseverance. In Japanese culture, they symbolize wealth, prosperity, love, a successful career, and good fortune. One ancient legend of the Koi stands out and Pelikan highlights it in the promotional materials for their 2015 Maki-e release, simply titled Koi.
After much anticipation, several overseas vendors including Appelboom and Penworld bring us our first official glimpse of the upcoming M805 Ocean Swirl fountain pen. This site first reported on the design back in July. Similar in pattern to this year’s Renaissance Brown, the Ocean Swirl depicts various shades of teal intermixed with black. Pelikan’s literature states;
“Exposure to light further enhances and adds sparkle and depth which vary in intensity. Just like in the deep sea, bright spots alternate with dark spots mimicking the light that radiates and is found in the ocean. Each writing instrument is truly unique.”
The pattern is offset smartly by the palladium plated trim characteristic of the Souverän family of pens. The barrel is expected to be translucent to allow visualization of the ink level just like we have seen with the Renaissance Brown. Similar to other M805s, the pen will measure 5.59 inches when capped and weigh in at a respectable 0.99 ounces thanks to the brass piston assembly. The nib will be rhodium plated 18C-750 gold and available in sizes EF, F, M, and B. The anticipated release date is November 2017.
September 22nd marked the fourth annual Pelikan Hubs event and by all accounts, it looks to have been a tremendous success. Pelikan reports that there were 145 individual Hubs spread across 43 countries with 3600 registered participants. That is over 1000 more people than had registered the year prior which is a 38% increase and shows consistent year over year growth. Sadly, the Mexico City Hub had to be postponed until next month due to the recent earthquake in that region. All of those Hub participants are reported to be safe but obviously the country is mourning their losses and our thoughts and prayers are with them. This is the third consecutive year that I was chosen as the Hub master for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA location. Our local hub has been held at Sabrina’s Cafe, Goat Hollow, and now, for the second straight year, the Philadelphia Hub returned to Cooperage Wine and Whiskey bar located within the historic Curtis Center. The staff could not have been more welcoming or accommodating to our group and really helped to make the evening extra special. I enjoyed a wonderful cask IPA and the food was excellent. They even showed a genuine interest in our gathering and the pens on display so who knows, we may have a few new converts to this
obsession hobby of ours. The good people at Cooperage once again provided us a great venue in which to hold our event and I still can’t recommend them highly enough if you’re looking for a location for your next function.
In addition to the Maki-e Dragonfly, Pelikan’s retail channels also broke news of the M605 White Transparent due out in the second half of next month (October 2017). News of this model was first announced here at the Perch way back in July and much of what was expected at that time has materialized in the final release version of this new model. Many will appreciate the fact that the M6xx line is getting some attention as this is the preferred size for many who find an M400 too small and an M800 too large. Pelikan bills this model as a modern reinterpretation of the classic Souverän. The official statement reads;
“Gracefully with a gentle appearance. That‘s the look of the new Pelikan Souverän M605 White-Transparent. Thanks to its tone-in-tone design it seems to be inconspicuous but it is absolutely not. The bright but not cold white colour shades underline the very modern interpretation of the true classic Souverän.“
If you’ve been waiting for Pelikan to release a new M6xx, this might be the one for you.
Earlier today, Pelikan International gave us a glimpse of their new 2017 Maki-e model. It was just around this time last year that we learned of the prior release, the Spring & Autumn. This new release has been given the moniker Dragonfly. Not many details are available at this time. Pelikan themselves only state;
“This limited edition “Dragonfly” is a masterpiece that combines the craftsmanship of Pelikan Germany based on 179 years of tradition and technology coupled with superior Japanese traditional Maki-e painting techniques. Each fountain pen has the Pelikan logo on the crown, a limited edition number and the artist’s signature drawn in by hand using Maki-e techniques.“
While there isn’t much to glean from that excerpt, the picture is a bit more telling. The double scroll work on the nib clues us into the fact that this is designed off of the M1000 chassis. The traditional Make-e painting depicts a dragonfly amongst a colorful background which stands out nicely against what appears to be a black pen.
We saw a lot of great pens released by Pelikan in 2016 and that momentum seems to have been sustained thus far into 2017. To date, the company has given us the M101N Bright Red, Pelikano Up, M800 Renaissance Brown, M800 Raden Royal Gold, and the M200 Smoky Quartz which is due out next month. Let’s also not forget the addition of Edelstein Aquamarine to the standard line-up as well as the introduction of the Ink of the Year 2017, Smoky Quartz. The year is just a little more than half over but several additional new pens are still anticipated before the year’s end. News of upcoming releases has been much more scarce this year when compared to years prior. While vendors are taking their contractual obligations much more seriously, word of a new pen always generates excitement throughout the community and gossip can only be contained for so long. Those on a budget often need to plan for a new pen expenditure so any information can be a big help in mapping out future purchases. With that in mind, The Pelikan’s Perch is committed to bringing you the latest Pelikan news as it unfolds. Over the last several months, I have had various, anonymous pen enthusiast approach me to report intelligence of a few upcoming Pelikan fountain pens that they’ve gleaned information about in their travels. This information comes from all parts of the globe and enough credible information has finally come to light to allow me to confidently bring that news to you. While I can guarantee you that Pelikan has more in store for 2017 than what’s outlined below, the two upcoming releases detailed here represent a nice chunk of what’s yet to come. Of course, there have been no definitive announcements from Pelikan or official confirmation therefore the information presented needs to be taken in the context of a credible rumor though I am confident that we will see both of these models materialize. Additional details will surely be forth coming as we get closer to the anticipated release so stay tuned and enjoy the teaser for now.