Fountain pens have been around since at least the 17th century and it stands to reason that the earliest variants likely adhered to the 20th century modernist architecture principle form follows function. This principle contends that the shape of an object should be based upon its intended purpose. I wonder how much time elapsed before pens started being embellished with unique styling and artistic sensibilities. There are some pens that are incredibly plain and while they may excel at what they do, they fail to ignite the senses. Others are so ornate and overblown that their artistry interferes with their function making for an all but useless show piece. Some pens are able to straddle the line between the two extremes and that is where Pelikan’s M800 Raden Royal Gold falls. With gold and black stripes reminiscent of a honey bee, the golden Raden finish married to the tried and true M800 chassis has resulted in an exceptional fine writing instrument, the likes of which haven’t been seen since a much more basic implementation on the now discontinued P3110 Ductus. Of course that is just my opinion but I hope to convince you of the same. The biggest argument against the design that I’ve heard is that this model has such a preponderance of gold that it makes for an overly ostentatious appearance (translation: too “blingy”). I can see why someone might feel that way but let me assure you that the use of gold here behind the mother of pearl overlay is not at all gratuitous. I always struggle with the utility of reviewing a pen made in such limited quantities and priced at such a luxury market price point. With only 388 people destined to enjoy the Raden Royal Gold, I decided to write this review in order to share the beauty and craftsmanship of this unique release with those who will never have the pleasure of owning this exquisite fine writing instrument.
News broke of the M101N Bright Red at the end of January and pens started shipping just a few weeks ago. The M101N is a modern re-imagining of a line of pens that Pelikan first introduced in the 1930s. Since 2011, we have had several releases in the series including the Tortoiseshell Brown (2011), the Lizard (2012), and the Tortoiseshell Red (2014). It’s not clear why the hiatus between the Tortoiseshell Red and the new Bright Red. What’s interesting about the Bright Red is that there is no direct historical 101N model from which it draws upon for its design. Perhaps that might explain the delay in a new model being put forth. The closest approximation in Pelikan’s history appears to be the amazing 101 Coral Red. The 101s were 100s that had colored caps but still retained the design of the 100. While the finishes of the modern Bright Red and vintage Coral Red are similar, the look of the two models is significantly different. There is a lot of divided sentiment about these modern releases and I find most of the accolade and adoration consistently goes to the Tortoiseshell Brown. Read on to find out whether or not the M101N Bright Red can upset the Tortoiseshell Brown’s place on the throne.
Pelikan has enjoyed a long and storied history of pen production. For this post, I’d like to focus on what may well be characterized as a bit of an oddity in the Pelikan line-up. The P1 was introduced in September of 1958 and enjoyed only a short production run ending sometime in 1963, presumably due to poor sales. The ‘P’ designation stands out as unusual here because this more commonly denotes a patronen-füller or cartridge pen but the P1 is in fact a piston filled fountain pen. This model was available as both Silvexa (P1S) and Rolled Gold (P1RG) variants. It came at a time when hooded nibs were en vogue and seemed to serve as Pelikan’s answer to the phenomenon. That said, Pelikan’s foray came much later than most other companies since pens like Parker’s 51 & 61, Aurora’s 88, Lamy’s 27, and Waterman’s C/F had already been on the market for some time. Until the introduction of the P1, Pelikan had been producing pens like the venerable 140 and 400, making the P1 a significant departure in design. Be that as it may, many people have shown much affection for the P1 and I felt a bit of a historical overview and review were in order as the P1 slowly creeps up on its diamond jubilee.
Pelikan’s 24 pen Collectors’ box was announced last year but issues with manufacturing resulted in a significant delay bringing the product to market. Vendors are finally starting to get stock and I thought that it would be worthwhile to share my impressions for those that may be interested in picking one up. Finding an adequate storage solution becomes a problem every collector faces at some point. I have seen no shortage of creative solutions during my time with this hobby and I’ve even employed a few of my own. Many people take to retrofitting objects made for other purposes to the task of fountain pen storage. I presume Pelikan hopes to change that with their own branded pen chest. The chest that I review here was purchased from Appelboom in the Netherlands and I cannot recommend them enough for their excellent customer service and communication (no personal or professional affiliation, just a satisfied customer). Read on to find out how this chest stacks up as a storage solution for your flock.
Few designs capture the imagination of the fountain pen community like a tortoise release from Pelikan. The tortoise finish goes all the way back to the earliest days of Pelikan’s foray into fountain pens. Forums can frequently be found with posts lamenting the lack of a tortoiseshell variant of one model or another. When the M800 Tortoiseshell Brown was released in 2013, it became an instant classic. Prior to that the M4xx line last saw a tortoise release in 2009 (M415) and the M600 line last had one in 2012 (Tortoiseshell White). When the M800 was made available, one of the few criticisms from the community was that such a finish was not present in a smaller sized model. Three years later and Pelikan has again resurrected the tortoise as a special edition finish in the M400 series. This is the first brown tortoise in the M400 line in seven years and is sure to make a big splash, particularly amongst those that favor a smaller/standard sized writing instrument. After a month of regular use, I’ve been very pleased by this model and felt that a review was in order. Read on to discover my thoughts on the newest special edition to join the flock.
Every so often, someone asks how I manage my collection. I thought that it might benefit the community at large to share my solution and do a review of sorts. This will be one of the few post that you find on this site that has nothing to do with Pelikan. When you get your first pen, you have no need for spreadsheets. Often times, it’s not long before you add a second pen and then a third. Before you know it, you have a collection and a desire to keep a better accounting of it. I think that it is important for any collector to have a record of past purchases with detailed accounts of those transactions. We’ve all been in a position of having to figure out the best way to do this. Initially I used Microsoft Word in conjunction with Excel. This was a very workable solution in the early days but as my collection grew, I felt that this method lacked flexibility. It became harder and harder to keep track of the variables that I was interested in and data began to become the enemy rather than an asset. I decided to search the web and see what other solutions might be out there. I didn’t expect to find something geared for the fountain pen enthusiast but was hoping to at least find a solution that could be retrofitted to that purpose. I wanted an option that wasn’t too expensive, provided flexibility, and would allow me to have a bird’s eye view of my collection by being easily searchable. In that quest, I found Recollector, a piece of software designed for the collector of just about anything.
Pelikan’s announcement of the M120N in January came as somewhat of a surprise. The retro release marked the revival of a popular 1950’s school pen, the predecessor of the Pelikano. Like the original that debuted in 1955, this version keeps the same green-black color scheme and gold-plated stainless steel nib but comes in a larger size and with the added flourish of a unique nib engraving. What was even more surprising than the pen itself was the price tag attached to it. Still, these seem to have found their target audience and I have heard anecdotes that sales have been good. Pelikan expected to very quickly sell out of this special edition release. I couldn’t resist picking one of these up and after thoroughly putting the pen through its paces, I felt that a review was in order. Read on to see how this model stacks up to the original 120 from over 60 years ago.
In my review of the Pelikan P200, I alluded to my general disdain for the cartridge filling fountain pen. Intellectually, I understand the void that it fills and just how useful it can be to some. While my personal preference has always gravitated towards Pelikan’s piston filling pens, I do appreciate the diversity available to us and I try to approach each pen with an open mind and strive to keep my pre-formed notions from getting in the way of enjoying a nice pen. When the opportunity to review the Pelikan P3100 Ductus came along, I was actually excited. The Ductus demonstrates modern styling and was “developed for straightforward people with a unique style” according to Pelikan. The line has since been discontinued as of 2014, marking the end of a seven year run. The name Ductus is reported to be Latin in origin, translating to “guidance” or “leadership”. The pen’s styling was welcomed at its release and it won the “Stylus Icon Award 2009” from Stylus Magazine. I can see the merit behind that award. When capped, this pen is sleek and stunning. Read on to find out if that opinion holds up when we take a more in-depth look.