Pelikan’s recently released M205 Star Ruby fountain pen is a trail blazer worthy of review. It is not the form factor or the nib that stands out nor is it the filling system. All of those bits faithfully follow the company’s time tested formula that Pelikan fans and longtime readers of this blog are accustomed to. What really shines here is, well, the shine. The M205 Star Ruby has a sparkle to its finish, the likes of which we have not seen before. As Dorothy Gale says in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” (you couldn’t expect me to review a sparkly ruby colored pen without at least one Wizard of Oz quote). That is perhaps due in large part to typically reserved German sensibilities. When you think of pens that sparkle, Japanese and Chinese brands such as Sailor and Jinhao are more likely to spring to the forefront of your mind than anything out of Germany. The Star Ruby marks the fifth consecutive time that Pelikan has released a matching pen for the Edelstein Ink of the Year collection. This year’s iteration joins the likes of the M205 Amethyst (2015), M205 Aquamarine (2016), M200 Smoky Quartz (2017), and M205 Olivine (2018). While each of those pens have a deep, rich color that compliments their namesake nicely, none have had occasion to sparkle. Perhaps Pelikan wanted to honor the asterism of its namesake. For those that don’t know, star rubies are a special class of gemstone that display a sharp, shimmering six-rayed star on their surface. True to form, however, nothing feels gratuitous here. The coloring of the pen is a deep burgundy and the sparkles are hardly overblown as some had feared. This may be one of the best looking models of the quintet but certainly won’t appeal to everyone. Read on to find out whether or not this is one you should consider adding to your flock.
As anticipated, Pelikan kicks off the month of October with a new Maki-e release, this one titled Japanese Umbrella. This is actually the second Maki-e pen to debut in 2019 with Five Lucky Bats having been launched this past summer. These ultra-detailed and labor intensive pieces have been a show case of the marriage between German engineering and Japanese artistry. The prior four themed models have included the Spring & Autumn (2016), Dragonfly (2017), Peacock (2018), and Five Lucky Bats (2019). Pelikan has this to say about their new Maki-e model;
“The umbrella was introduced from China to Japan during the Heian period (AD 794-1185). The traditional Japanese umbrella is made of natural material such as Japanese paper, bamboo, and wood. Thirty to seventy bamboo bones are used to open and fairly spread the umbrella made of Japanese paper. On the fountain pen, there are four Japanese umbrellas drawn in Taka-Maki-e, using techniques such as raden and kirikane. Rain is expressed using many narrow pieces of mother of pearl.”
As has been the case with many of the prior releases, this one will again be built off of the M1000 chassis. Japanese Umbrella will likely start shipping later this month or early next but beware. This limited edition will command a hefty price and many vendors will see only limited availability due to the number of pieces available. I wouldn’t wait too long if you have the means and the desire to add this one to your flock.
The Pelikan Hubs event is now over and, after a day of reflection, it’s time for my traditional recap. The most dramatic thing that struck me about the sixth annual Hub event is the sheer amount of growth that has occurred over the past six years. As I demonstrated in my post analyzing this year’s numbers, the annual registrations continue to grow at an astounding clip. The 2019 event saw Hubs take place in 200 cities spread across 46 countries with over 5,500 registered participants, a roughly 15% increase over 2018’s numbers. While those worldwide stats are indeed impressive, I can’t help but be awed by the growth of my local hub. At the very first Hub back in 2014, there were four of us sitting around a table in a small cafe passing around pens and sharing our experiences with various inks and papers. Five years later, the Philadelphia Hub is bursting at the seams and I’m sure similar stories can be seen the world over. The passion of this year’s batch of Hub masters was clearly on display, many going above and beyond to make their individual Hubs extra special. I commend those who have taken up the mantle because it is thanks in no small part to their efforts that this event has been able to continue to grow. In Philadelphia, Frank Limper of Federalist Pens and Paper helmed the Hub for the second year running, once again selecting The Victoria Freehouse Pub to play host. With tasty food and refreshing drink, the venue provided a cozy atmosphere though perhaps one our Hub has outgrown. The only major downside to the location this year was the lack of street parking due to an event happening at the waterfront.
Pelikan has introduced over 40 different nib widths and styles during their 90 years of fountain pen production. Time and market forces have slowly taken their toll, whittling away at the available variety and eroding character. Around the year 2012, Pelikan discontinued production of oblique nibs in the widths of OM, OB, OBB, and O3B. The following year, the larger BB and 3B nibs were also removed from the standard line-up. Correspondence from representatives of the company around that time cited low global sales as justification for the discontinuation. For the past six years, Pelikan’s fine writing instruments could only be purchased with nibs in the standard widths of EF, F, M, and B. There have been exceptions to this rule as seen with the intermittent availability of an IB (italic broad) nib option or Niche Pens batch of M8xx BB nibs first offered in 2015. Neither option has been widely available or part of the standard line-up. Many have lamented Pelikan’s lack of variety, particularly as other manufacturers have continued to offer a significantly wider array of nibs. One such example of innovation in the nib space that comes to mind is Montblanc’s Meisterstück Solitaire or 149 fountain pens equipped with a flexible 18C-750 gold calligraphy “expression” nib which can reportedly vary line widths from about 0.3 mm to 1.6 mm. These calligraphy pens buck the familiar trend of hard as nails nibs, capitalizing on a maturing market of enthusiast looking for modern day flex writing pens. While Pelikan has yet to venture into that space, we’ve recently learned, courtesy of Appelboom, that they are re-introducing IB and BB nibs, adding them to the standard line-up on a restricted basis. Read on to learn more about the reincarnation of these older nibs as well as a few other tidbits.
September is usually good for news of a new release (or two) from Pelikan and 2019 proves to be no exception. History has taught us that this is the month some of the bigger birds get unveiled. Last year, it was the M800 Stone Garden. This year, we have the M800 Brown-Black Souverän fountain pen. The newest special edition out of Hannover sports a brown and black striped barrel with a very warm tone, an appearance that could easily be mistaken for a Tortoiseshell design upon first glance. Those who were excited by Pelikan’s use of sparkles in the forthcoming M200 Star Ruby may be disappointed by the more conservative Brown-Black. As best I can recollect, this is the first traditionally striped pattern to grace the M8xx line since 2014’s Stresemann. Availability is anticipated starting sometime in mid-October.
I thought that it might be fun to explore a trio of pens that we don’t get to see nearly often enough. Many of us are intimately familiar with the M400 that revitalized Pelikan’s fine writing fortunes back in 1982. That model continues to be a cornerstone of their line-up today. Over the years, there have been many special editions based off of the M4xx chassis. Three in particular come to the forefront of my mind due to their silver embellishments. The trio of loosely related models to which I allude are the M420, M425, and M430. While the same length and diameter as your standard M400, they carry some extra weight due to the inclusion of sterling silver elements in their construction. These pens were manufactured between the late 1990s and early 2000s. Each Souverän mentioned here stands out amongst their lesser decorated siblings and I assure you that they look much better in real life than these photos depict. One pitfall to be aware of is mistaking one of these with the M730, an earlier model that sports a very similar shape and construction but is easily distinguished when you know what to look for. Now long out of production, all of the pens mentioned here are rather hard to find in today’s secondary markets which means that when you do find them for sale, they are usually much more expensive than your standard M4xx model. Read on to learn more about these silvered Souveräns.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of The Pelikan’s Perch going live. The last five years have been an incredible experience for me. When I originally started on this path, I never expected that it would lead me to so many engaged and wonderful people. I have thoroughly enjoyed researching each post and continually strive to build upon the existing foundation of Pelikan knowledge. For me, it is truly a labor of love and I hope that you have enjoyed it as much as I have. While much has changed in the world over the past five years, the mission of The Perch has not and I hope to continue to share my knowledge and perspective with you for many years to come. The Perch does not accept solicitation nor is it gifted products for review. In doing so, I have tried to remain free of bias so that I might bring you the most critical and honest reviews possible. That is why you don’t see too many giveaways on the site. One year ago was my first attempt at a contest where I gave away a new Pelikan P16 Stola III fountain pen. That giveaway was well received, so much so that I would like to repeat it in honor of The Perch’s fifth birthday and as a thank you to the community. For my second contest ever, I spent a lot of time pondering over just what might be a worthwhile prize. Thanks to the good people at Fritz Schimpf, I have been afforded the opportunity to give away a Pelikan 2019 Star Ruby M205 Demonstrator fountain pen and ink gift set, a pen certain to be on the wish list of many. Read on to learn how you might enter for a chance to win.
Historic examples of lower tier pen manufacturers emulating successful models from larger companies abound. While these pens may share a lot of similarities, they can usually be distinguished by a few telltale signs. Sometimes the distinctions are so few that you might suspect a collaboration between two companies. Such was the case with Gimborn and Pelikan, two businesses that share a history together. The term doppelgänger is used to describe a person that bears an uncanny resemblance to someone else without being a twin. It’s a word that is aptly applied to the Gimborn 150 Master which is eerily similar to its cousin, the Pelikan 300. The similarities are less surprising once you understand the history of Gimborn. Read on to learn about the company’s origins and how their first fountain pen came to look an awful lot like a Pelikan.