Those of us in the U.S.A. awoke this morning to news of yet another forthcoming release from Pelikan. The company is once again going retro with the introduction of a new model in the M101N series. Perhaps it is no coincidence that such a pen is being brought to light during the 90th anniversary of Pelikan’s first foray into fountain pens. The newest M101N on the block has been dubbed the Grey-Blue and it will become the fifth pen in a line that takes its inspiration from the historic models of the 30s and 40s. To date, the Grey-Blue has been preceded by the Tortoiseshell Brown (2011), Lizard (2012), Tortoiseshell Red (2014), and Bright Red (2017). Whereas the first three models listed emulated some of the more popular vintage finishes, the Grey-Blue will join the Bright Red in blazing its own trail as a fresh take on an old design. Pelikan’s promotional materials state; “The grey and blue color and pattern is reminiscent of the original historical model of the 1930s,” but I do not recall any historic 101N ever having come in this color scheme. If you cannot wait to get your hands on this one, be thankful February is a short month as these are due to make their way to market sometime in March.
Now that we are well into the new year, I thought that it might be worthwhile to explore a topic that many may not have previously thought about. While this post is not specific to the Pelikan brand or even fountain pens, I hope that it will be of some interest to anybody who has invested the time and money to cultivate an assortment of pens and pen related paraphernalia. As many of us know all too well, what starts out as a pen or two can quickly balloon into a collection, the contents of which may grow to represent a substantial outlay. What if something were to happen to that collection? Loss, theft, and fire are all real threats in today’s world and, while only objects, our collections represent an emotional investment as much as one of time and money. As casual collectors, this is hardly on the forefront of our minds but it is something that you should think about at least once. Property crime includes the offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. While statistics show that this has been on the decline over the past decade, the menace remains very real. According to the FBI, there were an estimated 7,694,086 property crime offenses in the U.S.A. in 2017 resulting in losses approximating $15.3 billion. That equates to a rate of 2,362.2 crimes per 100,000 people. Burglary accounted for 18.2 percent of all the property crimes cited above and is something that is always in the back of every homeowner’s mind. We all hope that it won’t happen to us but tragedy could be just around the corner which begs the question; “Are you properly covered in the event of a loss?” A few high-profile examples of pen theft over the past few years come to mind. Recall that Dan Smith, aka The Nibsmith, had $40,000 worth of fountain pens stolen from his vehicle in May 2017. Then there was the case of Novelli who was robbed of a large quantity of pens and lighters in August 2018. While these cases represent the unique situation of vendors with large inventories, they still serve as good examples to illustrate the threat that is out there. Of course theft is only one peril that might befall a collection. Read on to learn what you may be covered for and what you should do to protect yourself.
Rumors of the M1005 Stresemann began early last year and it was widely expected that we would see it hit the market sometime in late 2018. The year came and went without such an announcement suggesting that the release had been pushed back with a new estimated arrival set for the first quarter of 2019. The wait is now over as word of the upcoming M1005 Stresemann finally broke today from the Netherlands courtesy of our friends at Appelboom. This new model will join the M805 (2015) and the M405 (2016) in the same finish. The M1005 will be the largest model to sport the anthracite stripes and is a welcome addition to a line that hasn’t seen a refresh in some time. The last M10xx model not host to an ultra limited Maki-e or Raden finish was the M1005 black released seven years ago in 2013. In case you’re new to the blog or brand and may be unaware of the origins of the Stresemann finish, allow me to explain from where the designation derives. The former foreign minister of the Weimar Republic and Nobel prize recipient, Gustav Stresemann (1879-1929), had a proclivity for wearing suits with thin stripes which became something of a defining trait. After a time, people started drawing parallels between Pelikan’s now well-known striped pattern and the Stresemann look resulting in the nick-name that has persisted to this day.
Barring any further unforeseen news breaking over the next few weeks, this will likely be my last post of the year as we gear up for the Christmas and New Years holidays. I thought that it would be useful to look back at what 2018 has brought us and maybe try to prognosticate a little of what 2019 might hold in store. Pelikan has already given us a peek into some of what lies ahead. There was a lot of buzz and excitement going into this year in particular. After all, it’s not every day that a company turns 180 years old. Over the past five to six years, Pelikan has really ramped up their annual number of new releases and this year was no exception with ten new birds joining the catalogue. While I was personally left somewhat underwhelmed, there were more than a few gems to be had amongst the lot. Of course the year wasn’t just about new pens. We were given Edelstein Olivine as the Ink of the Year and Garnet was resurrected to live on in the standard Edelstein line up. Many of us were also fortunate enough to be able to take part in Pelikan’s largest gathering of pen enthusiasts to date for their 2018 Hubs event. While we had a lot of good come out of 2018, we were all left a little cold when Pelikan increased the prices of their EF nibs across the globe. Read on for a recap of all of the year’s highs and lows as well as some thoughts on what’s to come.
As the embers of 2018’s excitement begin to slowly fade with the year’s close, Pelikan rekindles a sense of anticipation for next year by giving us a small taste of what’s to come. News broke yesterday of the limited edition Herzstück 1929 which pays homage to the origins of Pelikan’s fountain pen production some 90 years ago. Today, reports of the 2019 Edelstein Ink of the Year have surfaced. With the introduction of Star Ruby, the palette appears to have swung from a shade of green to more reddish hues. This will be the sixteenth gemstone inspired color to grace the line-up. The forthcoming Star Ruby will join the likes of Turmaline, Amber, Garnet, Amethyst, Aquamarine, Smoky Quartz, and Olivine as the eighth Ink of the Year. Unlike last year’s Olivine, this one was not a fan chosen shade. While details are just emerging, we can expect availability sometime in March of 2019.
Theodor Kovacs altered the course of fountain pen history when he designed the differential piston filling mechanism. Prior to his creation, fountain pens were known to have smaller ink capacities and were somewhat cumbersome to use. While not the first piston mechanism to ever grace a fountain pen, it was perhaps one of the best. Patented sometime around 1925, Mr. Kovacs entered into a partnership to see his design put into production. When that relationship fell apart due to financial hardship, he sold his patents to Günther Wagner in 1927. The company would re-patent them under their own name in 1929. Later that year, Günther Wagner introduced its first writing instrument based on the differential piston filling mechanism, the transparent Pelikan fountain pen, initially provided without a model number. Next year will mark the 90th anniversary of that original release. To commemorate such a milestone in the company’s history, Pelikan is set to make available the Herzstück 1929 Limited Edition anticipated sometime around the end of March 2019.
A brand is often a company’s greatest asset. Frequently more than just a logo, tagline, or ad campaign, a brand is the sum total of the consumer’s experiences and interactions with it. Brands are fueled by a purpose and nurtured by the emotional attachment that they cultivate with their target audience. They are the vehicle by which a company defines itself, allowing it to differentiate its products and services from those of its competitors. Brand names can have a significant impact on the consumer’s perceived quality of a product, an item’s price, or even someone’s intention to purchase. The rise of global branding has transformed the marketing industry over the past century. While many brands have been able to successfully conform to a variety of cultures and their values, the discipline is littered with examples where that wasn’t the case. In a field complicated by cultural factors, the diversity of languages, and nationalism, adapting a brand name to the language of the target market can mean the difference between success and failure but the choice is not always so clear-cut. Linguistic and cultural assessments are key when entering a new market and this is something that Pelikan wrestled with in the first half of the twentieth century.
Pelikan’s fountain pen production spans nearly nine decades and more than a few mysteries have arisen over that time. Many of those puzzles relate to the provenance of certain models and are born largely from the lack of available documentation today. One lasting consequence of World War II (1939-45) has been the destruction of countless historic records. An area of fountain pen production that has been subjected to a fair bit of speculation has been the models attributed to Günther Wagner’s Danzig-Langfuhr plant. This facility is chiefly known for a unique version of the Pelikan 100N that has long been attributed to it. Danzig is the German word for Gdańsk, a Polish city on the Baltic coast. Following World War I (1914-18), the Treaty of Versailles established the Free City of Gdańsk, a territory that was under the oversight of the League of Nations. While largely influenced by Polish rule, the region remained fairly independent, acting as a conduit between Poland and Germany. The Polish or Danzig Corridor as this region was known was created so that Poland would not be landlocked or completely dependent on German ports. German citizens could cross the corridor by railroad, but were not permitted access to it without special authorization. Danzig’s unique status between the two nations prompted many German manufacturers to establish a presence there in order to sell goods in Poland without incurring the high customs fees that were usually levied on products from foreign companies. In the borough of Wrzeszcz (the Polish word for Langfuhr) during the late 1800s, brick carriage houses served as the base of operations for the troops of the 17th West Pomeranian Railway Battalion. Following World War I, those troops moved out of the region and the demilitarized area was turned into an industrial park of sorts. It was well suited to this purpose being on the outskirts of the city with a well-developed rail line running through the area. It is in this borough of Gdańsk where Günther Wagner would come to establish a factory. Due to a large population of Germans in the region, the Nazi party eventually came to demand that the city be turned over to Germany while the minority Poles hoped for a return to Poland. Hitler used the status of the city as a pretext for attacking Poland in September of 1939.