Pelikan has produced many commissioned pieces over the years. These are often models made in very limited quantities for specific vendors or other patrons. Past examples include the M150 Bols demonstrator (3000 pieces), the M200 Deutsche Telekom (5000 pieces), the M200 Citroenpers (1200 pieces), and the M800 Chronoswiss (999 pieces). There also exists a little known run of green striped M800s with 20C nibs made for the Japanese market to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Maruzen bookstore in Japan (1989). Of course, Japan also boast the better known, but still obscure, M600 Tortoiseshell brown commissioned to honor the 130th anniversary of that same company in 1999. Some of these releases are so limited in terms of quantity and scope that they can often fly under the radar and go largely unnoticed, achieving an almost mythical mystique (as in the case of the tortoise M600). Japan seems to be a particularly fertile ground for limited releases not available here in the West. One such model was recently brought to my attention by a reader from China. The pen that he introduced me to is known as the Mitsukoshi #660. This limited edition pen was released as a small run of just 400 pieces for the large retail chain Mitsukoshi of Japan circa 1995. Do I have your attention yet? Read on to learn more about this golden beauty.
Pelikan introduced the model 100N in March of 1937. The “N” stands for new but rather than replace the model 100 that preceded it, the 100N was produced concurrently, initially just for the export market. It was designed as Pelikan’s response to a trend towards larger pens being produced by other manufacturers. The 100 was, by design, a smaller pen when capped and a very comfortably sized pen with excellent balance when posted. By 1938, the 100N was offered for sale in Germany as a way to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary. Somewhat bigger than the 100 and with a larger ink capacity, the 100N continued to employ Pelikan’s differential piston mechanism. Production was constrained by war time rationing which limited the available building materials such as gold and cork. Shortly after its introduction, palladium and later chromium-nickel steel had to be substituted in place of gold for the nib. Around 1942, black plastic synthetic seals were first employed as a replacement for cork. Production was completely interrupted in 1944 due to the war and did not resume again until the factory reopened in 1947. The 100N saw several small iterations of design over its production, some of these better characterized than others. The earliest models had a strong resemblance to the 100 and some even sport the 4 chick logo on the cap top which was being phased out at the time of launch. Other variations such as the Danzig (Poland) produced models and the Emegê pens (Portugal) also stand out and are full topics in and of themselves.
A few international vendors such as Germany’s Fritz Schimpf and Italy’s Casa della Stilografica gave us notice today of a new M200 soon to be added to Pelikan’s Classic line-up. Dubbed the M200 Brown Marbled, this new model is intended as a standard addition to the line-up rather than a special edition piece. This news comes just as the M605 White-Transparent is starting to ship and ahead of the M805 Ocean Swirl’s release. The upcoming M200’s availability is slated for late November. Like the Green and Blue Marbled variants available today, the barrel of the Brown Marbled will have a pearlescent appearance allowing the varying shades of brown to really shine in the light. The Classic line is Pelikan’s lower tier offering that is intended as a more affordable yet still elegant alternative to the higher end Souverän range. These models are only lacking in a little polish and some extra furniture but do not skimp on the writing experience. One thing that is shared between the lines is Pelikan’s excellent piston filling mechanism. The Classic line was last updated just a few months ago with the release of the M200 Smoky Quartz.
There have been many excellent reviews of Pelikan’s P16 Stola III published since it was released back in 2015. I did not acquire one of these when they became available because I tend to favor Pelikan’s long revered piston filling mechanism over most cartridge/converter models. That said, an opportunity arose during the recent Pelikan Hubs event in Philadelphia, thanks to Frank from Federalist Pens, which allowed me to add a P16 to the flock. After using the pen for the past several weeks, I felt the need to add my voice to the reviews out there, largely because of how pleased I have been with this model. I am a piston user by preference and generally have a bit of disdain for the cartridge pen. I was softened to the cause of the cartridge pen after reviewing the P200 but was not won over. Despite my bias, the Stola III quickly had me forgetting about any misgivings and allowed me to enjoy the writing experience. It is a sharp looking pen with a surprisingly high end feel due to its metal barrel construction. It’s also priced quite reasonably for what you get. If you’re in the market for a cartridge pen, then I would have no qualms recommending the P16. Read on to find out why.
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.