The Many Anniversaries Of Maruzen

Maruzen Booksellers Storefront

The Maruzen Co., Ltd. has long been one of Japan’s leading booksellers. With a core focus on books and other periodicals, the company has cultivated a diverse portfolio that includes stationary, fashion, and information technologies. Founded in 1869 as Maruya Shosha, its success and longevity over the past 152 years is likely due to the forward thinking of founder Yuteki Hayashi. Hayashi’s ambitions were reportedly spurred on by the encouragement of Yukichi Fukuzawa, an educator and founder of Japan’s first private system of elementary and secondary schools, who was a proponent of Westernization. Great change was underway in Japan during the mid-19th century, heralded by the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853, an American naval officer in command of the East India Squadron. He played a leading role opening Japan to the West after more than 200 years of isolationist policy under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate which comprised the military government of Japan during the Edo period from 1603 to 1868. Hayashi saw opportunity brought about by this cultural shift and sought out translated versions of many of the seminal works of the Western world. His relationship with Fukuzawa positioned Maruzen to have a strong presence with educational institutions, a major areas of sales for the company. Maruzen further diversified its product lines throughout the twentieth century and was able to survive the damage inflicted by World War II. Many sources indicate that Maruzen played a major role introducing the fountain pen to Japan, predominantly by importing brands such as Onoto and Waterman from England and the United States. As such, it is hard to overstate the importance of Maruzen’s involvement in bringing this writing technology to the citizens of Japan. Today, the company has a number of stores and international offices to its credit. Of course, I’m not here to regale you about the company’s rich and storied history. As a stationary retailer, Maruzen has had the opportunity to partner with several manufacturers of fine writing instruments over the years in order to celebrate its various milestone anniversaries, beginning sometime around 1989. I’m sure that you have surmised by now that a Pelikan or two may have been a part of some of those past offerings. Read on to learn all about these unique and rarely seen models.

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Unity Day And Pelikan’s “Rebirth Of A New Germany” Commemorative M800

Pelikan New German Birth Commemorative M800

October is a busy month, playing host to a number of international holidays such as Oktoberfest and Halloween to name just a few. It is punctuated by the crisp fall air, a tapestry of fall foliage, and the scent of pumpkin spice. Perhaps less well known globally is that October is also home to German Unity Day, celebrated on the third day of the month. It was 1990 when East and West Germany were reunited after 40 years of division set against the backdrop of the Cold War. The most recognizable symbol of that division was the Berlin Wall, a concrete barrier under armed guard that served as both a physical and ideological barrier from 1961 to 1989. Built by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and portrayed as protecting the eastern population from fascism in the west, the wall cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany. It became a tale of two Germanys with the West, guided by the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), flourishing under capitalist rule whereas the East languished under Communism, facing regular shortages and a lack of opportunity. Such was the case until political unrest and revolution within several Eastern Bloc countries helped fuel dissent in the East. Faced with increasing pressure due to mounting protest, the communist leadership opened the border between the two states on November 9, 1989. A celebration ensued as crowds of East and West Germans intermingled freely for the first time in decades. This paved the way for German reunification, which went into effect on October 3, 1990, via treaty. To commemorate the occasion, Pelikan released a special edition “Rebirth of a New Germany” Green-Black M800, exclusive to the Japanese market. It’s a model not commonly encountered outside of Japan therefore you may have never seen one before. Read on to find out what, if anything sets this fountain pen apart.

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News: M200 Golden Beryl Special Edition Demonstrator

Starting in 2015, Pelikan established an annual tradition of crafting fountain pens from their Classic series that matched their Edelstein limited edition Ink of the Year release. Historically, news of those models would drop in August, but the release schedule has been on its ear for well over a year now as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and likely some internal issues as well. Many have come to fear that the tradition would finally come to an end this year given the company’s silence as 2021 begins to wind down. Whether or not we’d ever see this model come to light has been one of the most common questions that I’ve fielded over the last several months.  Pelikan put those fears to rest today with news of a new Classic model M200 to accompany this year’s Golden Beryl, the seventh such release from the company based on their line of limited edition inks.   Prior to the M200 Golden Beryl, we have had the; M205 Moonstone (2020), M205 Star Ruby (2019), M205 Olivine (2018), M200 Smoky Quartz (2017), M205 Aquamarine (2016), and the M205 Amethyst (2015).  Some of these models have made a bigger splash than others and several are now quite hard to come by. It was 2019’s Star Ruby that first employed a glitter induced shimmer effect along the translucent material of the barrel and cap and, like the M205 Moonstone that preceded it, the Golden Beryl looks to incorporate the same. Pre-orders are going live today from many vendors with this one due out sometime in November 2021. Read on to discover all of the essential details regarding the newest fountain pen out of Germany.

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The M800 Stilo “Laser”: A Rare & Intriguing Italian Bird

Pelikan M800 Stilo Laser

When the fictional character Ransom “Ranse” Stoddard (James Stewart), a revered US Senator, reveals the truth about his origins to newspaper editor Maxwell Scott (Carleton Young), Mr. Scott utters one of the most resonant lines in all of cinema, proclaiming; “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” This line comes at the end of acclaimed director John Ford’s western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). Pelikan’s catalog is full of models that have a somewhat unusual provenance, their origins obscured just like those of Jimmy Stewart’s character. Perhaps few models have been surrounded by as much palace intrigue as the M800 Stilo “Laser.” Heard of it? I’m not surprised if you haven’t. The “Laser” has largely fallen into obscurity in the intervening decades since its launch, the details behind its genesis largely forgotten to time. As such, it’s hard to tease out where the facts end, and the fiction begins. In the spirit of the romanticized American West, I will endeavor to present you the legend of the Stilo “Laser” sprinkled with as much fact as we know. Read on to learn about this model’s unique design and history.

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News: M205 DUO Highlighter Makes A Comeback

Pelikan M205 DUO Highlighter Yellow

Thinking back to the good old days of 2010, many of you may recall the birth of the Classic yellow M205 DUO Highlighter. This was a special edition product which merged a fountain pen with a highlighter, hence the name DUO. In essence, you could highlight text with the double broad nib using a special ink but also jot notes at the same time. In 2011, the design went on to win several awards including the ISPA Award at Paperworld, the IF Product Design Award, and the Red Dot Award. The DUO came packaged in an attractive gift box that included a bottle of yellow highlighter ink. In 2013, a green version was released based on the same premise. The product’s accolades derived from taking two long held standard-bearers of the analog world and combining them in an innovative way. The end result was a reusable product that cut waste making for a pen that reportedly sold quite well in markets like Germany thanks to its reduced ecological impact. It seems that Pelikan has decided to resurrect this model but in a distinctly different hue. This past Thursday, notice of a new M205 DUO highlighter quietly dropped thanks to Fritz Schimpf and Pen Chalet. Expected to be available sometime in mid to late October, the new DUO looks to have a more neon appearance than its predecessor. Read on as I attempt to highlight all of the pertinent details surrounding this new model.

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Treasures In The Attic: A Time Capsule Rediscovered

Pelikan 100 caps

I imagine that most of us have experienced a fortunate stroke of serendipity at one time or another in our lives. Perhaps it was one major occurrence or a series of small serendipities along the meandering course of life. Sometimes, we may inadvertently stumble upon a long lost treasure, or we might discover something wholly unexpected and new to us. Maybe you can envision finding something unique and wonderful in the course of a home renovation? Such was the case in March of this year for one unsuspecting couple in North Macedonia. It’s not hard to picture what must have been a look of utter surprise on their faces when they chanced upon a cache of over 300 pens hidden in the attic of an old house that they were in the process of renovating. Not being diehard pen enthusiasts themselves, perhaps they were not struck quite as speechless as many of us would have been. How such a vintage horde of writing instruments came to be forgotten for so many decades is unclear. What is known is that within the couple’s lineage is a former retailer of both pens and watches who was in business around the time of World War II. Now deceased, it is his home that the couple came to inherit and have subsequently taken to the task of remodeling, leading to this most wonderful discovery. We can only presume that at some point, perhaps as a consequence of the post-war fall out, that the shopkeeper stashed the pens away in his attic where they would subsequently lay forgotten for nearly 80 years. What does one do when confronted with a unique and historic trove of writing instruments such as this? The couple in this scenario turned to Dragan Chichikj of ProtoPens, formerly known as UberPens, a retailer with several decades of expertise under his belt. Read on to learn what became of such a rare discovery.

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The German Federal Minister For Labor And Social Affairs Visits Pelikan’s Vöhrum Factory

Pelikan Group Logo

Back in July, I brought you news of some rather significant strife occurring within the walls of Pelikan’s Vöhrum factory, the production facility where the company manufactures its fine writing instruments. Workers at the plant, a force numbering approximately 230 strong, had staged a public demonstration in order to protest and bring awareness to several perceived injustices. Christmas bonuses not yet paid in full and June’s wages being delayed contributed to tensions boiling over. Imagine that scenario playing out in an environment where employees have already given up five days of vacation and 15% of their collective wages in a bid to keep their jobs. Concerns had also previously been put forth about a lack of investment in the plant itself. Of course, none of this news made much of a splash outside of the local papers but the post here exposed the issues to a larger audience and generated a lot of conversation about the health of the factory and the future of Pelikan’s fine writing division, not only on this blog but on many of the pen forums as well. I have frequently been asked for updates on the situation and have continued to monitor the news out of Germany. There hasn’t been much to report until now. If you recall from my original post, works council chairman Walter Dettmer had called upon Hubertus Heil (SPD), Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, to get involved in the dispute. A trip to the Peine-Vöhrum plant was scheduled for mid-August and occurred as planned just a few weeks ago. Thanks to some local reporting, I can update you with some of the goings on at that meeting.

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Contest: WIN A Copy Of “Pelikan Limited and Special Editions 1993-2020”

September 1st came and went without much fanfare, but it was a rather notable day for me as it marked the seventh anniversary of the official launch of The Pelikan’s Perch blog. When I started this endeavor back in 2014, I never thought that it would grow into what it has become today. I was simply a guy who wanted to share my enthusiasm for the Pelikan brand with the community at large. The warmth of the response from my fellow enthusiasts continues to amaze and sustain me. I’ve gotten to interact with and help countless budding fountain pen enthusiasts along the way as well as contribute to broadening the knowledge base surrounding the brand. The Perch has always been my refuge, my outlet to relieve the stresses imposed by a very demanding day job, made all the worse since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. While I can no longer publish quite as often as I did in previous years due to the increased demands placed upon my free time, I do hope that you have continued to find the site informative and enriching. I have always striven to bring you the latest developments surrounding the Pelikan brand in a timely manner and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Everywhere we turn these days, there seems to be new tragedy vying for our attention. It is easy to get disheartened by the current state of global affairs. With seemingly little to celebrate these days, I wanted to take a moment and reflect upon the last year and thank new and old readers alike for their ongoing support.  I have appreciated the interactions from within the comments section of the blog as well as via e-mail because it is precisely that level of engagement that makes this labor of love so worthwhile.  It remains my goal to shore up the foundations of Pelikan knowledge and break new ground where I’m able.  I plan to continue to forbid advertising, refuse solicitation, and not accept gifted products of any type for review thereby allowing me to bring you as clean and bias free an experience as possible since there is nothing more important to me than the integrity of the blog.  As such, contests are far and few in between here at The Perch but the last few years have seen very successful giveaways in honor of the blog’s birthday which is my way of thanking you for your support. This year will be no different and I would like to present you with The Perch’s fourth annual anniversary giveaway.  Rather than a pen as has been the custom of year’s past, I have decided to gift one lucky reader a whole book full of them. I have secured a brand new copy of Michael Silbermann’s recent book, Pelikan Limited and Special Editions 1993-2020, that I offer up to the community with sincerest thanks. Read on to discover all of the details about how you might enter for a chance to win.

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