Over the past four years, I have endeavored to bring you news and unique insights about the Pelikan brand of fountain pens not readily available elsewhere. Personally, it has been a lot of fun researching some of the more esoteric aspects of the company’s products and history. Because there is so much nuance out there, I sometimes lose sight of the fact that many people still don’t fully grasp the fundamentals or overall landscape of Pelikan’s current line-up. I could drone on about the topic but I thought this may be one area where a picture might just be worth a thousand words. To that end, I have devised an infographic, my first, to serve as a reference for the community. It is my hope that this graphic visual representation of information will allow for a quick and clear understanding of some of the differences amongst both Pelikan’s Classic and Souverän lines. The nature of an infographic prevents it from being all-inclusive but I hope that you will find it a good jumping-off point into the brand’s offerings over the last few decades. Click the link below to jump to the visual. You can stop there but feel free to read on as I will endeavor to walk you through some of the panels of information and expound upon their contents as well as provide relevant links to past posts where appropriate.
I don’t think that it’s too much of a stretch to say that, at least in the United States, most people have heard the old saying about wearing white after labor day. It has been a big no-no in fashion circles since sometime around the early to mid-twentieth century. Nobody knows for sure how this piece of fashion etiquette came about let alone became ingrained into the mainstream collective. One practical theory contends that, since people used to dress more formally, white was simply cooler in the summer months. When the fall rains came, the color became impractical as it soiled easily with mud and debris. While this theory sounds logical, that in and of itself may be why many scholars discount it. The rules of fashion seldom seem to follow any logic. A more salacious and compelling explanation may lie in the habits of America’s well to do who frequently escaped the doldrums of the city in the summer months. That escape included leaving behind the more drab palette of the city which included opting for lighter clothing instead. White linen suits became the unofficial uniform of the upper crust of society. Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday in September, has long marked the unofficial end of summer and was when the elite class would stow their whites and return to city life. By mid-century, a clash between old money and new money was brewing as the middle class expanded and people became more upwardly mobile. Old money elites looking to keep their social fabric from fraying would shun those not in the know. Arbitrary rules, including not wearing white after Labor Day, allowed high society to protect their standing and identify the less savvy newer members of the upper class. Whichever reasoning you may ascribe to, this old “rule” has largely fallen out of favor and many fashion icons have shown that white can indeed be worn year round. That is a darn good thing too because Pelikan has graced the M6xx line with more white pens in recent history than ever before and I for one would hate to have to lock them away for half of the year due to some fashion snobbery. Read on for a look at how Pelikan has made white pens chic again.
It is not uncommon for a company to enter into an agreement for the manufacture of goods meant to be sold and distributed by another business. These products are frequently meant to target a different market segment than the manufacturer’s usual wares. As far as fountain pen production is concerned, often times these pens are not tied to the original manufacturer by way of their usual branding. Despite the absence of those tell tale markings, the pen’s designs are not radically altered from that of a company’s standard production models and can be readily identified. The Taylorix company is an example of one such business that purchased a large number of pens from multiple manufacturers upon which they placed their own branding starting sometime in the 1930s. Today, I would like to focus on those Taylorix branded pens produced by Pelikan in the post-war period. Aside from the surviving pens themselves, very little information is know about these models. Pelikan’s archives contain little in the way of details and Taylorix is no longer in business. What we do know is that, for the most part, the Taylorix pens made by Pelikan included the 100N, 130 Ibis, and 140 produced sometime in the 1950s. In a more unusual twist, there has even been an MK10 or two seen with the Taylorix branding, indicating a relationship between the two companies persisted into the 1960s. Read on to learn what we know about these unique Pelikan manufactured pens.
As far as demonstrator fountain pens go, the clear variants are perhaps the purest because they allow the most unobscured visualization of a pen’s inner workings. With this year’s release of the re-issued M205 Clear Demonstrator, I thought that it was an opportune time to look back at Pelikan’s clear M2xx models and to highlight some of the differences between each. To date, there have been seven clear demos released in Pelikan’s lower tier Classic line, not including the very similarly styled M481 demo. These models are characterized by a less ostentatious trim than the Souverän series as well as a slightly less refined finish. The upside is that you get a great pen for substantially less money than what a Souverän might cost. While I was working on this article, my wife somewhat incredulously remarked, “You have seven of the same pen?!” While that may seem to be the case upon first glance, each pen has a unique variation or two that sets it apart and allows for proper identification (though that explanation somehow did not mollify my wife). Clear demonstrators draw both appreciation and ire for facilitating an unobstructed view of the piston mechanism as well as the ink chamber. Each fill with a different colored ink can serve to change the pen’s look, keeping the writing experience fresh and exciting. The trade-off, of course, is that without proper pen maintenance, those colors can persist long after a pen is emptied. While staining is a real possibility with any demonstrator, it can be all the more apparent in one of the clear demo variants. Still, proper pen care makes this a relatively small issue and one that shouldn’t bar you from enjoying such a great pen.
It has been five years now since Pelikan discontinued the production of their most interesting nibs. The sizes lost to us include the BB, 3B, OM, OB, OBB, and O3B nibs not to mention the more exotic IB and I variants. If all of those letters amount to alphabet soup for you, you can check out my post explaining Pelikan’s nib designations here. What we have been left with is the staid though faithful line-up of EF, F, M, and B sizes. In many of my posts, I have lamented the lack of character found in today’s nibs. The current philosophy behind Pelikan’s modern stock offerings seems to focus on providing a reliable though unvarying line, good for novices and advanced users alike. This “one-size-fits-all” mentality may suit the market but can leave the advanced user somewhat uninspired. What you get out of the box today is referred to as a round nib which produces the same line width on the cross stroke as it does on the down stroke. Modern nibs are wide and wet thanks to Pelikan’s generous feed but there is little to no character imparted to the writing. Contrast that with the nibs of yesterday, those from Pelikan’s early days through the mid-1960s, which provide a writing experience which I would argue is second to none. While I appreciate the focus on dependability, I do sometimes miss the excitement that a good nib can lend to the writing experience and thereby elevate the text beyond mere words on the page. Another theme that you may have seen me return to time and again is the generous and sometimes blobby amount of tipping material on Pelikan’s modern nibs. What this allows for is a robust canvas for a custom grind. There are many accomplished nib meisters out there, specialists with an expertise in nib adjustments. They can help your nib achieve a sorely missing degree of character and I wanted to highlight for you just what can be done. Now I tend to be a traditionalist and a purist and don’t often favor customizing my nibs but I have opened up to the notion and have been handsomely rewarded. If a reliable, unvarying line suits you just fine, then read no further. If you’re at all curious to learn how you might breathe new life into a boring nib then read on.
As you likely know by now, 2018 marks Pelikan’s officially recognized 180th anniversary. It is no surprise that such a significant event in the company’s history brought about a limited edition release to mark the occasion, the Spirit of 1838. Love it or hate it, the Spirit of 1838 continues a tradition of limited edition anniversary pens. In the past, we’ve seen commemorative releases for Pelikan’s 150th, 170th, and 175th anniversaries. The year 1988 marked Pelikan’s sesquicentennial or 150 year anniversary. That occasion was commemorated with the release of the M750 and M760 Jubilee pens. These two models, now 30 years old, are done in a silver or gold electroplated barleycorn pattern with 24 carat gold-plated accents. The production run was not limited to the anniversary year and reportedly ran from 1988-1995. Earlier pieces were engraved with “Pelikan W.-Germany 1838-1988” on their cap bands whereas models from later on in the production run had the dates omitted. I’ve written about these two pieces previously in my post Pelikan’s M700 Series where you can find more information about the entire M7xx series. What you may not realize is that these two pens weren’t the only contenders for the job of the Jubilee model. Today I will introduce you to the two M730 prototypes and their matching ballpoints which were considered but ultimately never put into production.
If you frequent the Pelikan forum over at The Fountain Pen Network, you may have noticed a thread from last month asking about the Pelikan Revival series. The paucity of authoritative answers demonstrated just how little is actually known about the topic making it the perfect fodder for a post. Pelikan has accumulated many such stories that have fallen into obscurity over the past 180 years. Before continuing, I have to give special thanks to two long standing Italian retailers and their staff who aided my research on this topic; Marco of Novelli and Vito of Casa della Stilografica. If you frequent the secondary market, you may encounter Pelikan pens identified as Pelikan Revival. This is particularly the case when looking at pens that hail from Italy. What is so special about the Revival line you ask? Read on because the truth of the matter may just surprise you.
Pelikan first announced their Collectors’ Box, a compact pen chest built to house up to 24 pens, three years ago with expected availability around April of 2015. Production was repeatedly delayed due to manufacturing issues. By late 2016, the boxes were finally making their way into retail channels. You can see my review of that original box here. Unfortunately, that stock was short lived and these again became scarce. As of December 2017, Pelikan announced fresh availability which appears to be more widely distributed and reliable. A close inspection has revealed that this new box is not the same as the original issue. The differences are significant enough that I wanted to provide an update on just what has changed between the two versions.