The company that we know today as Pelikan is now 181 years old. In all of that time, it has cultivated a rich history full of unusual anecdotes and outstanding achievements. Just take a close look at any of their fine writing instruments and you will see a glimpse of bygone days. Perhaps not as well known are the guardians of that history. Those of us who have studied the company and their products are well aware of the select few who have been chosen to stand watch over precious artifacts from the days of yore. The modern world is so focused on consumption that it seems precious little is built to last, and the history of things can quickly be forgotten. In that setting, it is reassuring to know that there are still companies looking to preserve even a small piece of history, not because they have to but because they want to. It is with that backdrop in mind that I would like to introduce you to Pelikan’s archivists, past and present. Currently housed in the original location of Pelikan’s Hannover factory in what is known as the TintenTurm, the company’s archives contain a wide variety of artifacts. These include vintage inks, prototype pens, old displays, historic advertising, and more. We have recently passed a transition point where Pelikan’s long time archivist, Jürgen Dittmer, has officially retired and whose role is now being filled by Wilfried Leuthold. Who are these men and what is their charge? Read on to find out.
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.
Another Pelikan Hubs event has come and gone meaning that it’s time for a proper recap. September 21st was a big day for lovers of fine writing as it marked the fifth installment of Pelikan’s annual gathering. Word continues to spread about the fun and excitement of the evening as demonstrated by the ever-expanding number of registrations. This year saw gatherings take place in 181 cities spread across 46 countries with over 4500 registered participants, a roughly 30% increase over the year prior. Given the gravity of the occasion, Pelikan kindly provided me an opportunity to interview the Hubs team ahead of this year’s event, allowing us a fresh perspective and a small peak behind the curtain. Not all was smooth sailing this year, perhaps a reflection of some growing pains. There are reports of Pelikan’s gifts not being delivered to a few of the Hub locations in time for the event. Other Hubs have reported Olivine ink boxes containing Smoky Quartz, a puzzle that’s beyond me to solve. While disappointing, I think that it is important to keep things in perspective. The free gifts are indeed nice but they are by no means what brings the majority of us together so hopefully those Hubs were able to make the best of the situation. The Hub masters continue to show no shortage of passion and commitment and deserve a lot of kudos for ensuring the success of their local venues. Many went above and beyond by making or purchasing their own items for attendees to sample and take home. It is the dedication of the Hub masters that goes a long way to making the event as great as it is. Their efforts are even more commendable when you look at the ever increasing burden of finding a venue for such large groups without any budget. It’s that burden which prompted me to relinquish the title of Hub Master this year in Philadelphia, PA, USA. Frank Limper of Federalist Pens and Paper picked up the mantle and ran a great event. Our local hub has been held at a variety of locations and this year brought us somewhere new, The Victoria Freehouse Pub. The venue was cozy, provided good food and drink, and had a nice atmosphere. Everyone that I spoke with had a great time and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the venue for a future gathering. The only major blemish on my night was the parking ticket waiting for me when all was said and done (¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ).
The early days of 2018 have provided me some time for introspection (there is not much else you can do when in the midst of a bomb cyclone). There has been a lot to reflect upon personally, professionally, and globally. This past year’s world events alone have been quite tumultuous, leaving the future seemingly more uncertain than ever. Trying to turn to lighter fare, one thing that has been on the forefront of my mind recently is a question that I’ve been asked several times over the past few months. That question can be summed up in two words; “Why Pelikan?” In over three years of blogging here at the Perch, I can’t believe that I haven’t addressed this sooner. It’s true that there are many great manufacturers out there who have produced a countless number of awesome and desirable fountain pens. What then does Pelikan have that puts it above all of the other brands in my mind and how informed am I to even make that type of declaration? I hope to share with you my experiences before Pelikan and why I chose to dedicate myself to just that brand of fountain pen. I thought this would make for excellent fodder for the first post of the year. All I can say up front is that Pelikan pens have some indescribable quality, a character and a discipline, that makes owning and using them a joy that transcends the sum of their parts. By the end of this article, I hope to be able to impart upon you just a little sense of that magic.
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.
As we embark on a new year, I thought it would be fitting to look back and reminisce about the products that Pelikan brought to market in 2016. Many of those releases were rumored late in 2015 and most turned out to be true. That doesn’t mean Pelikan didn’t show up with a few surprises along the way. Pelikan, like most companies, is not a fan of pre-release spoilers so I doubt we’ll see the treasure trove of leaked models that became available at the end of 2015. I suspect that the company has since reminded their vendors of their contractual obligation to not leak info of upcoming releases. While we may not know what the future holds, we can look back and see that the last few years have witnessed a lot of interesting new designs as well as re-releases of fan favorites. I think Pelikan has overall struck a good balance though the M600 and M1000 lines continue to see the least amount of attention of any of the Souverän models. While there was a lot to like this past year, not all news was good news. 2016 saw significant price increases in the United States market, well above and beyond the rest of the world and pricing for UK customers rose due to Brexit and the weakening pound against the Dollar and Euro. The U.S. distributor, Chartpak, reversed previously stated policy and began refusing warranty services to US owners of Pelikan fountain pens purchased from overseas retailers despite those vendors being authorized by Pelikan. This was most likely done in an attempt to deter people from shopping overseas where Pelikan fountain pens can be purchased at a steep discount. Read on to get caught up on anything you may have missed this past year.
September 16th has come and gone, leaving in its wake a lot of the excitement that culminated in the third annual Pelikan Hubs event. Rather than post my thoughts immediately, I wanted to take some time and let it breathe. The third annual Pelikan Hubs took place in at least 109 cities spread across 37 countries with roughly 2600 fans registered to attend. Just as last year’s event showed tremendous growth over the inaugural year, Hubs 2016 has demonstrated that the event continues to pick up momentum. This year marked the second consecutive time that I was chosen as the Hub master for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA location. Thankfully, the Pope remained in Rome this year which helped to avoid much of the traffic nightmare that occurred during last year’s hub. Site selection remains a challenge for Hub masters worldwide. As you might imagine, it is difficult to find a suitable location that can accommodate an event of this size, be centrally located, have good lighting, not be too loud, and be available gratis. I also like to ensure attendees a chance at food and beverage since the event occurs during the dinner hour. With those parameters in mind, I set out on an extensive search of the city and had quite a few misses which took us right down to the wire. Ultimately, I found an amazing establishment that was gracious enough to host our party free of charge. This year’s Philadelphia Hub went down at Cooperage Wine and Whiskey bar located in the historic Curtis Center in the Washington Square neighborhood. Cooperage bills itself as combining southern bistro fare with an eclectic list of wine and whiskey from around the world. The restaurant is very welcoming and has a great feeling of warmth about it. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the food menu is excellent as well. The establishment boast over 90 different kinds of whiskey available. The good people at Cooperage provided us a great area in which to hold our event and I can’t recommend them highly enough if you’re looking for a venue for your next function.
September 25th has passed and in its wake the Pelikan Hubs event has come and gone. The second annual Pelikan Hubs occurred in 72 cities divided amongst 29 countries. I had the privilege of being the Hub master for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA location. This year, Philadelphia faced a unique challenge owing to the traffic restrictions put into place with the Pope’s arrival into town. With that in mind, the venue had to be carefully selected. Ultimately, I decided to host the event at Goat Hollow in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. Goat Hollow is an American brassiere with a great selection of hand crafted beers and a menu that has plenty to offer provided in heaping portions. It’s a nice neighborhood location with a wonderful private room upstairs that served to host our group. For a reasonable fee, we were provided our own server, Collin, who did an excellent job fulfilling our orders. Food and drink were enjoyed by all and while I can’t speak for the whole menu, the poutine was exceptional.