The Pencil Is Mightier Than The Pen – Part 1: An Exploration Of The 350

Pelikan 350 Mechanical Pencil

Pelikan introduced their first mechanical pencil to the market on June 26, 1934. The model 200, known as the AUCH-Pelikan, was initially designed to accompany the 100 and, later on, the 100N line of fountain pens. The AUCH-Pelikan continued to be manufactured until October of 1951 with little variation in its design over its 17-year production run. The 1950s would bring a flurry of new mechanical pencils, most designed with an eye towards matching Pelikan’s burgeoning line-up of fountain pens. Pelikan’s focus has always seemed to rest squarely upon their pens with add-ons like mechanical pencils being more of a secondary consideration. That isn’t to say that Pelikan’s mechanical pencils aren’t solid additions to their other writing implements, they absolutely are. In fact, the pencils that they produced were even somewhat ahead of their time when you compare them with other brands. It’s just that the development of their pencil lines has never seemed to be a primary goal. One of the first models to follow on the heels of the AUCH-Pelikan was the 350, first introduced on October 24, 1950. This model changed its looks several times over the course of its production run and is therefore worth exploring in a bit more detail. As far as companion pieces go, the 350 would actually have a few different dancing partners early on in its existence. Care should be taken to not confuse the vintage 350 mechanical pencil that we are discussing here with either the #350 fountain pen made for the Japanese market or the M350 Vermeil fountain pen, two modern models produced in the 1990s. Read on to explore all of the 350’s many forms.

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Not All That Scribbles Has A Nib, Part 3: An Introduction To The Clickier Side of Pelikan – Rollerball Edition

Rollerball Tip

Over the years, we’ve explored vast swaths of Pelikan’s fountain pen landscape and true connoisseurs of the writing experience will accept no substitute. More recently, we ventured off of the beaten path, taking a sojourn into a world of ballpoints and mechanical pencils. I considered leaving it there but, I am a completist at heart and could not rest easy knowing that I neglected an entire category of wiring instrument. They may not go clickity-clack like their cousins, but rollerballs deserve some love too. Rollerballs aren’t too dissimilar from their ballpoint brethren, both employing a ball-in-socket type mechanism but, it is in the execution that they vary. You might best conceive of the rollerball as a hybrid between both a fountain pen and a ballpoint which may just make them the next best choice in your arsenal of writing implements provided you understand their limitations. They are actually the youngest of Pelikan’s fine writing crew, now just a spry 32 years old, which means there aren’t any truly vintage examples from Pelikan to speak of. That makes sense since this technology didn’t exist in the first place until 1963/64 and it wasn’t employed by Pelikan until 1990. This article will be the final act in what has been my sincerest attempt at expanding your writing utensil horizons. The rollerball, by virtue of its youth, has perhaps the least voluminous history to wade through though it is no less interesting. Cap your fountain pens, retract your ballpoints, and sheath your lead. It’s time to roll out and learn all about rollerballs.

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Not All That Scribbles Has A Nib, Part 2: An Introduction To The Clickier Side of Pelikan – Pencil Edition

AUCH-Pelikan Pencil

Fountain pens rule, ballpoints are cool, and mechanical pencils are an essential tool. In Part 1 of this series, I explored the beginnings of Pelikan’s ballpoint production which proved to be an educational and fun diversion. While Pelikan’s fountain pens remain my preferred writing implement, years of research and experience have opened my eyes to other worlds and the rabbit hole goes deep. Even more diverse than their ballpoints, Pelikan’s vintage mechanical pencils are a force all their own with a nuanced variety that begs exploring. The heresy aside, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, not everything that scribbles has a nib and now it’s time to focus on the mechanical pencil. Today, it is writers, architects, mathematicians, students, and artists who predominantly use these tools but that was not always the case, especially prior to the advent of cheap ballpoints. Of particular interest to me are Pelikan’s vintage offerings that spanned the 1930s through the 1960s though we can certainly look at a few modern styles as well. While Pelikan’s high end mechanical pencils are not nearly as prolific as they once were, likely a sign of the changing times, they still serve a role. This article will act as an introduction to mechanical pencils, but it is only meant to scratch the surface. To follow is what I envision to be a multi-part series of its own, with each article drilling down in as much detail as possible on a few select models of Pelikan’s pencils. This is a journey that I’m ecstatic to be undertaking with you. Once again, it’s time to stow your pens and get the lead out as we explore Pelikan’s catalogue of vintage mechanical pencils.

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Not All That Scribbles Has A Nib, Part 1: An Introduction To The Clickier Side of Pelikan – Ballpoint Edition

Pelikan Roller

My endeavors here at The Perch have long focused on the Pelikan brand, their fountain pens, and related ephemera. My love for the brand and their fine writing instruments remains at the core of this site. It would be remiss of me, however, to not acknowledge the elephant in the room and continue to ignore some of the brand’s other writing instruments. Yes, it’s true! Not everything that scribbles has a nib and its high time that I paid proper attention to those ubiquitous tools that permeate our everyday lives; ballpoints. Whether they are used to jot a quick note or to write the next great novel, a ballpoint is never far from one’s grasp. Of particular interest to me is how they got their start, so we’ll be taking a close look at Pelikan’s earliest offerings. There is a lot of meat on the bone here so this post will serve as an introduction to a world that I have yet to explore on this blog. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited. Pelikan has been in the ballpoint business for the last 67 years. Their earliest models were matched to their fountain pens, produced to meet a demand but clearly of a lesser stature. Since those early days, the company’s ballpoints have spanned the gamut from cheap and disposable to models that continue to pair with their fine writing instruments, and it is the latter that I will focus on here. Put your ink and blotters away and get ready to explore Pelikan’s ballpoints.

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Meet The New G30 Presentation Box And Take A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Pelikan G30 Presentation Box

Buying a high-end luxury item is about more than just the product. People who can afford such things pay the additional premium not only because of the promise of better quality but also for the luxe experience. Consequently, those products tend to come with more elegant packaging which is frequently just as integral to the purchase. For some it matters and for others it does not, but nobody likes to purchase an expensive item only to have it come packaged in a cheap, flimsy box. Ideally, the box should have shelf appeal, be aesthetically pleasing, and serve a function. Pelikan’s Souverän line, which has seemingly tried to push more into the luxe market as the years have worn on, has always had very specific packaging for its high end models. As best I can tell, there have been approximately seven major revisions to the standard assortment of presentation boxes serving the Souverän line over the past 40 years. That number is not necessarily all encompassing since it is beyond the scope of this article to recount each and every one of the regional variations and model specific gift packages that have come about (e.g. the M815) but it does a good job of approximating most of the mainstream offerings that have been employed over the years. In the last few decades, we’ve seen new presentation boxes emerge along the frequency of roughly every 8-9 years. The earliest presentation box for the Souverän from Pelikan was the GV400 and today, new for 2022, we have the G30. Several people have asked me if the new packaging is legit or some kind of knock off. The suspicion is understandable given that most people are accustomed to the G15 packaging which has been the standard for the last decade, but the new box is indeed genuine, representing the latest revision to occur during the reign of the Souverän. I thought that it might be a worthwhile and fun exercise to take a stroll down memory lane and look back at some of the unique packaging that has accompanied our Souveräns over the years before detailing this newest version. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, it’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.

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Tortoises So Rare, They Were Thought Extinct: The Great White Whales Of The Souverän M600 Line

Pelikan's M600 Tortoiseshell-Brown

The talk of the last few weeks has clearly been focused on the newest tortoise release from Pelikan, the upcoming M605 Tortoiseshell-Black. While this black tortoise is a new species, never before seen, the standard bearer across the lines has always been the brown tortoise. It is somewhat ironic then that the M6xx line has never enjoyed a large scale brown tortoise release. I don’t mean to imply that it’s the only Souverän to not get the brown tortoise treatment. The M3xx and M10xx models have likewise gone without, it’s just that the M6xx line is perhaps the most glaring omission since it’s also the most accessible, the other two being at the extreme ends of the Souverän line. It has been perceived by many aficionados of the M6xx to be a black hole of sorts. Perhaps as a subconscious effort to make up for that deficiency, the M6xx line has actually been graced with more unique tortoise releases than any other Souverän. Let us recap. We have had the M600 Tortoiseshell-White (2012), the M600 Tortoiseshell-Red (2020), and now the M605 Tortoiseshell-Black (2022). Many have lamented the lack of a Tortoiseshell-Brown model, but it is a little known fact that there have actually been two such releases, both targeted to the Japanese market in what were likely ultra-limited runs. Pelikan and Japan have long been odd bedfellows with a relationship spanning the 1970s through the late 1990s from which several unique models have arisen. The old-style Tortoiseshell-Brown M600 has been so seldomly seen, that many debated its very existence for the longest time. It reminds me of the coelacanth, thought extinct for 66 million years before being rediscovered in 1938 by a South African museum curator on a fishing trawler. A few years after Pelikan’s alterations to the model’s design, there was a new-style Tortoiseshell-Brown M600 released in 1999 that has been discussed on this blog previously. Collectors can search for decades and never find one of these. Having finally been able to procure an example of each, it seemed a topic worth rehashing. Read on to learn all about the traits that characterize these two ultra-rare beauties.

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The New M800 Black-Red’s Surprising ‘Old’ Look

Pelikan M800 Black-Red

Early last month, I wrote about a new initiative at Pelikan that would see the long standing translucence of the Souverän’s barrel eliminated. Gone would be the translucent stripes present for the last 40 years of the line’s heritage, exchanged for an opaque replacement. The news took many, myself included, by surprise. Likely motivated by the new realities of this post-COVID world and ongoing supply chain issues, the change was met with mixed reactions at best. Those stripes have been an integral feature for many of Pelikan’s fountain pens, allowing one to more easily gauge the remaining amount of ink in their pen without the need for a discreet ink view window. The solution was both clever and elegant to say the least. It was widely expected that the M800 Black-Red would be the first new release to fall victim to the changing times. You can imagine the consternation that this newest Souverän has fomented when the first stock to hit vendor’s shelves was literally just the opposite. That’s right, the M800 Black-Red, at least in this first wave of production, appears to be nothing other than business as usual. The stripes behind the section are, as they always have been, translucent. So, what gives? Read on to find out what I suspect may be the most likely answer.

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Putting Karats To Paper: The Various Gold Purities Of Pelikan’s Nibs And The Impact On Performance

Pelikan's 12C-500, 14C-585, 18C-750, and 20C-833 nibs

When the Earth began to form sometime around 4.5 billion years ago, molten iron sank to the planet’s center, forming the core. Gold and platinum also migrated to the core leaving the outer layer of the Earth essentially devoid of any precious metals. It is now widely believed that nearly all of the gold content within the Earth’s exterior came from meteorites that bombarded the planet more than 200 million years after its formation. In other words, all of the gold within our beloved nibs is likely extraterrestrial in origin. Of course, not all gold is created equal. We use a karat scale to measure the ratio of gold to other metals or alloys within an item, also known as its fineness. The term karat has the same derivation as carat which is more commonly used for gemstones. Both words originate with the carob bean born from the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) which grows in the Mediterranean and has fruit pods that contain multiple seeds. A balance scale used to be the only way to effectively weigh something which meant that a counterbalance of known quantity was necessary, and it was once believed that carob seeds were uniform in size, making them the perfect unit weights. The karat scale that has since emerged ranges from 0 to 24 with 24 karats representing gold in its purest form. In 92 years of fountain pen production, Pelikan has utilized gold with four different degrees of fineness in their nibs; 12C-500, 14C-585, 18C-750, and 20C-833. The number in front of the hyphen refers to the ratio of gold to other metals whereas the second number is the millesimal fineness which denotes the percent of gold in an item. For example, a 12C-500 nib has 50% pure gold whereas the 20C-833 nib has 83.3% pure gold. Does that mean a 20C-833 nib writes differently or is in some way superior to its more impure brethren? Read on to find out.

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