Varying Shades of Brown – The M2xx Demonstrators

Pelikan M200 Amber, Cognac, Smoky Quartz and M250 Amber DemonstratorsA 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.

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Pelikan’s Maki-e Koi and the Story of the Dragon

Pelikan M1000 Maki-e Koi Fountain PenKoi 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.

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Limited Edition Spotlight

Pelikan Limited Edition Fountain Pens from the 1990sHave you ever looked through a catalog or the literature accompanying a product that you’ve purchased and wished that the ads were in 3D so you could get a really good look at the item in question?  I feel that way when I look at catalogs for fountain pens.  While going through the literature that accompanied the 1996 limited edition release, “1000 Years of Austria,” I noticed that I could do something about that.  I thought that it would be a great opportunity to walk you through some of my favorite Pelikan limited edition releases from the 90s and early 2000s which were based off of the M8xx chassis.  These limited editions encompass a varied assortment of colors and subject matter.  All of the pens below have long been out of production.  This means that some can be a challenge to find while others are more challenging to afford.  Read on to learn a bit more about the unique characteristics of each of these models.

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The Tiffany & Co. Atlas by Pelikan

Tiffany & Co. Atlas M818 by PelikanIn 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany and John F. Young opened Tiffany & Young with a $1,000 loan from Mr. Tiffany’s father.  That store was located in New York and sold stationery and other luxury goods such as costume jewelry.   In 1841 Mr. Tiffany and Mr. Young took on another partner, J. L. Ellis, and the store became Tiffany, Young & Ellis.  The name Tiffany & Company was adopted in 1853 when Charles Tiffany bought out his partners and took control.  As the company’s sole lead, he established the firm’s emphasis on jewelry and developed a tradition of introducing designs that captured the mood of contemporary fashion and defined American luxury.  The company has had its share of ups and downs throughout its history, particularly suffering from the effects of the stock market crash in the 1930s.  Over the years and under various mantles of leadership, the company’s fortunes rebounded, making it the multi-million dollar company that it is today.  Perhaps best known for its stunning jewelry, Tiffany & Co. has crafted many branded goods over the years.  In the early 1990s, approximately 1/4 of those goods were made by the company itself.  The balance was produced under contract by other manufacturers.  Pelikan was one of those manufacturers, producing the M817 and M818 Atlas series of pens for Tiffany & Co.

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Pelikan’s Ceramic Pen Stands

Pelikan Ceramic Pen Stands

Pelikan has been manufacturing a variety of goods since 1838 and almost all of those products have been backed by advertising of one form or another.  Consequently, Pelikan has produced a tremendous amount of ephemera, enough to keep a collector busy for a lifetime.  I invite anyone interested to check out “Pelikan – The Brand” by Detmar Schäfer and “Deutsche Werbegeschichte – Am Beispiel Günther Wagner – Pelikan” by Heinz Rings for fascinating accounts of Pelikan’s advertising over their nearly 180 year history.  Pelikan has employed various displays to draw attention to their products in order to make a sale.  One such display has always captured my imagination and, to me, is the epitome of Pelikan advertising.  Since the 1930s, the company has been creating figurines in the form of a pelican in support of its fountain pen sales.  These are usually made of ceramic but have been crafted from other materials over the years.  The initial versions were a cadmium yellow and promoted sales of the model 100.  Designed for display in shopkeeper’s windows, the figurines have attracted a following and have become quite collectible.  The older pieces are incredibly difficult to come by but there have been more recent versions that were released to German dealers after the M400’s introduction in the 1980s.  These pieces can be found a bit more commonly, most often in white or cobalt blue.  It is a lesser known fact that these figurines enjoyed a much larger variety of color which is what I wish to share with you today.

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Pelikan’s M700 Series

Pelikan M700 SeriesToday’s post will explore the Pelikan M700 family of fountain pens.  This is a particularly interesting and unique series as it includes two Toledo models as well as several others plated with various metals.  The M7xx pens have the same dimensions as the M400 though with some added heft due to their metal construction.  The five pens that comprise this line are the M700 Toledo, M710 Toledo, M730, M750, and M760.  Most of these models were made in the 1980s and 1990s though some have been produced more recently.  As far as Pelikan pens go, these five are amongst some of my favorites for reasons which I hope will be clear by the end of this post.  They are not without their shortcomings, however, as I will try to point out.  Most of these pens are now out of production and some are quite hard to find.  Many will command a premium price if you do happen to stumble across one that’s for sale.  Read on to learn a bit more about the idiosyncrasies of each of these models.

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The Chronoswiss Styloscope by Pelikan

Pelikan Chronoswiss StyloscopeChronoswiss, founded by Gerd-Rüdiger Lang in 1983, is a mechanical watch manufacturer currently based out of Lucerne.  Mr. Lang spent several years leaning his trade as an apprentice before finding employment with Heuer (now TAG-Heuer) where he would work with chronographs for approximately 15 years.  Quartz movements came to dominate in the 1980s prompting Mr. Lang to seek opportunity elsewhere.  After his departure, he attended school in Würzburg and graduated as a “Master Watchmaker.”  Shortly thereafter, he founded his own company which specialized in mechanical watches during a time when quartz was all the rage.  It wasn’t until 1987 that the “Régulateur,” a hand-wound wristwatch, was born.   It was touted as the first serially manufactured wristwatch with a regulator-type dial.  It is the characteristics of this watch that would go on to define the company’s iconic style.  Those features include a screwed and channeled bezel, an onion-shaped crown, and screwed strap lugs.  While not as historically rich as many of the traditional brands, the Régulateur would help cement Chronoswiss’s place in horology.

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Pelikan’s 25 Year Anniversary Pen

Pelikan R200 25 Year Anniversary Cap EngravingPens have a ubiquitous presence in our environment which makes them well suited as promotional items.  We’ve all seen pens with business names and logos inscribed upon them as a means of advertising.  Sometimes the inscriptions are more meaningful and are intended to commemorate an event or recognize outstanding performance or participation.  Pens also serve this purpose well because they are so useful in our day to day lives.  We saw this with the Lagostina M150 where a company contracted with Pelikan to have a special, limited production pen made for exclusive distribution.  In this example, the pen was created as a gift for the management of the Italian cookware company Lagostina during the early 1980s.  In similar fashion, Pelikan has supplied pens to their employees on occasion to commemorate certain achievements or milestones.  One such event was the 25th anniversary of the opening of the manufacturing plant at Peine-Vöhrum, Germany.

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