Pelikan has produced many commissioned pieces over the years. These are often models made in very limited quantities for specific vendors or other patrons. Past examples include the M150 Bols demonstrator (3000 pieces), the M200 Deutsche Telekom (5000 pieces), the M200 Citroenpers (1200 pieces), and the M800 Chronoswiss (999 pieces). There also exists a little known run of green striped M800s with 20C nibs made for the Japanese market to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Maruzen bookstore in Japan (1989). Of course, Japan also boast the better known, but still obscure, M600 Tortoiseshell brown commissioned to honor the 130th anniversary of that same company in 1999. Some of these releases are so limited in terms of quantity and scope that they can often fly under the radar and go largely unnoticed, achieving an almost mythical mystique (as in the case of the tortoise M600). Japan seems to be a particularly fertile ground for limited releases not available here in the West. One such model was recently brought to my attention by a reader from China. The pen that he introduced me to is known as the Mitsukoshi #660. This limited edition pen was released as a small run of just 400 pieces for the large retail chain Mitsukoshi of Japan circa 1995. Do I have your attention yet? Read on to learn more about this golden beauty.
Pelikan introduced the model 100N in March of 1937. The “N” stands for new but rather than replace the model 100 that preceded it, the 100N was produced concurrently, initially just for the export market. It was designed as Pelikan’s response to a trend towards larger pens being produced by other manufacturers. The 100 was, by design, a smaller pen when capped and a very comfortably sized pen with excellent balance when posted. By 1938, the 100N was offered for sale in Germany as a way to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary. Somewhat bigger than the 100 and with a larger ink capacity, the 100N continued to employ Pelikan’s differential piston mechanism. Production was constrained by war time rationing which limited the available building materials such as gold and cork. Shortly after its introduction, palladium and later chromium-nickel steel had to be substituted in place of gold for the nib. Around 1942, black plastic synthetic seals were first employed as a replacement for cork. Production was completely interrupted in 1944 due to the war and did not resume again until the factory reopened in 1947. The 100N saw several small iterations of design over its production, some of these better characterized than others. The earliest models had a strong resemblance to the 100 and some even sport the 4 chick logo on the cap top which was being phased out at the time of launch. Other variations such as the Danzig (Poland) produced models and the Emegê pens (Portugal) also stand out and are full topics in and of themselves.
A 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.
Koi 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.
Have 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.
In 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.
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.
Today’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.