It isn’t easy deciding which pens to review here on The Perch. I like to focus on those pieces that bring something new to the table or tell a story. I mean, there is only so much you can say about another M800 with a different color scheme. That line of thinking is what lead me to today’s review. The recently released King Michael fountain pen stands out as unique in Pelikan’s catalog for a couple of reasons. The official name of this model is the King Michael I of Romania – Royal Edition and was only sold through Herlitz in Romania making this an ultra-exclusive regional edition that was not available through the usual retail channels. In fact, acquiring one required registration on the web, being selected, and then facilitating payment via a direct bank transfer. Honoring King Michael I (10/25/1921 – 12/5/2017), the last king of Romania, this edition is limited to just 300 pieces. While the underlying bones are clearly recognizable as those of a standard M800, this model incorporates a few design elements not previously seen. That allows this edition to stand out as an example of what good can come from local distributors partnering with the company to put out a unique product. While the opportunity to own one has largely passed at this juncture, I think that this pen is worthy of a closer look.
Pelikan was officially founded in 1838 but did not produce its first fountain pen until 1929. The first pens to roll off of the assembly line came without a model number and were known only as the Pelikan fountain pen, presumably since they were the company’s only such product. It wasn’t until 1931 and after a few small revisions that it would come to be known as the model 100. Armed with a removable nib assembly and an industry leading differential piston filling mechanism, that first model would go on to set a bar of excellence for generations to come. This year marks the 90th anniversary of Pelikan’s foray into fountain pen production. There have been hundreds of different models produced in that span of time and the company has just added a new limited edition to its catalog, this time to commemorate those 90 years of pen making history. The Herzstück 1929 pays homage to the company’s first fountain pens without being a direct copy. It stands out as unique in Pelikan’s catalog, incorporating features from several historic models. Coupled with updates for the modern age, this new addition is not your great grandfather’s fountain pen. The name of this limited edition suggests just how important this design has been to the company as Herzstück can be roughly translated to mean core or heart. The last time that we saw such a commemorative model was in 2004 when the M1075 was debuted to honor 75 years of pen production. That model was ultra-limited to just 75 copies. The Herzstück has been produced as an edition of 462 pieces, a number that was derived from the last three digits of the company’s original patent, which will serve to make it somewhat more widely available than its predecessor. How does this retro inspired fountain pen stack up today? Read on to find out.
The M101N takes its design queues from Pelikan’s historic models of the 1930s and 40s and the re-interpretation has, by all outward appearances, been a success for the company. This modern line was first introduced in 2011 and has steadily grown since, now counting six models amongst its ranks. Those include the Tortoiseshell Brown (2011), the Lizard (2012), the Lizard Jubilee Edition (2013), the Tortoiseshell Red (2014), and the Bright Red (2017). The newest model, released just this year, is the Grey-Blue. Like the Bright Red that came before, there does not appear to be a corresponding vintage 101N model with the exact same finish. That’s not surprising since the original 101N line encompassed only a few different models. Also, Pelikan defies the nomenclature of the past here with its choice of styling. The 100Ns were characterized by black caps whereas the 101Ns had colored caps or caps that matched the pattern of the barrel. By placing a black cap on the newest M101N, the company has blurred some of the conventions of old, conventions which had remained intact up until now. Of this modern lot, it seems that the Tortoiseshell Brown consistently gets the most attention, and for good reason. The Grey-Blue is no slouch however and it is worth a look given the uniqueness of the finish. Read on to find out more.
Pelikan has several brightly colored models in its stable of past releases though only a precious few bear the moniker ‘vibrant.’ Prior to this year, we only had the M600 Vibrant Green (2014) and the M805 Vibrant Blue (2016). It seems a biennial pattern of vibrant releases is emerging because this year we’ve been given the M600 Vibrant Orange. It may surprise you to learn that these finishes are not unique nor did they originate with these larger birds. Back in 2004, Pelikan gave us the M320 Orange followed by the M320 Green three years later. The smallest of the Sovueräns, these tiny pens pioneered the vibrant finish even if they weren’t named as such. Other manufacturers have produced similar finishes which can be seen with the Delta Dolce Vita Oro, Pineider Avatar Saffron Yellow, and the Aurora 88 Sole to name just a few. Pelikan appears to have dusted off the old cellulose-acetate to bring us this year’s Vibrant Orange. Looking back at the releases that have graced the M6xx line in recent years, it certainly looks as though this line, more than any other, is Pelikan’s outlet for colorful expression. I’d wager that few lines have seen the bouquet of colors that the M6xx has which is ironic since so many voices have clamored for a Tortoiseshell Brown or Anthracite Stresemann to grace the platform. As my little kindergartener tells me, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” So it is with open arms that I welcomed the Vibrant Orange into my flock and after some use, have found it unique enough to review. Read on to find out if this is the model for you. I have a suspicion it may well be the last official release we see out of Hannover for 2018.
The Perch may have been quiet recently but I assure you that it has not been idle. Almost a year’s worth of research on a very interesting topic is coming to a close and I hope to get it out into the wild in the coming weeks. For today’s post, I wanted to bring you something a little more timely because I know that a lot of people remain on the fence about this one. I’m referring to Pelikan’s recently released M800 Stone Garden. Pelikan’s pre-release photos continue to cause consternation amongst potential customers. In this case, the official marketing photos look more like a computer rendered image than an actual photograph. With so much of the decision to purchase a fountain pen relying on its visual appeal, inaccurate photos can result in significant buyer’s remorse. Sadly, that is just how many products are advertised today. Pelikan’s literature describes the pen as follows;
“Stone gardens are known for their serenity and peaceful effect. The new Special Edition Souverän 800 Stone Garden was created to be symbolic of this special place and the calming influence from life’s hectic everyday pace. The combination of opaque dark blue and the sophisticated marbled structure with blue and brown colors give a noble and elegant look to this series.”
While dark blues and browns are not the palette of most of the stone gardens that I have ever encountered, I’m willing to allow Pelikan some artistic license provided that the pen is able to bring something new to the table. It has been a very conservative and dichromatic year thus far for the bigger birds as seen with the M815 Metal Striped and the M805 Raden Royal Platinum. Read on to find out whether or not the Stone Garden can bring some much needed color to this year’s line up.
The M815 Metal Striped special edition was announced in May and began shipping in late June of this year. It is the first M8xx release during the company’s 180th anniversary which makes the stakes seem just a little bit higher. This is not the first Pelikan pen to be labeled an M815 though. That honor fell to the Wall Street limited edition from 1995. While the two pens share little in common, it is nice to see Pelikan taking a new approach in tackling what is by now a familiar theme. The current M815 marries Pelikan’s high quality resin with palladium-plated stripes made from brass. The overall effect is a sophisticated elevation of their typical striped “Stresemann” design which enjoys a long and prestigious heritage. The brass added to this model gives it more heft than your typical M8xx, a boon for those who like a heavier pen. While not an exact analogy, you can think of it in terms of cramming an M1000’s weight into an M800’s body. One thing that detractors will likely be quick to point out, and rightly so, is that this model seems to have a lot in common with the M805 Stresemann from 2015. Let’s take a closer look and see if the M815 has enough going for it to stand on its own merits and separate itself from the pack.
The latest East coast holiday season snow storm has come and gone but none of the new fallen snow thus far has been as white as the M605 White Transparent. Pelikan’s latest M6xx release was preceded by a bit of uncertainty due to pre-release product photography that was somewhat poorly representative of the actual pen. Despite that, popular opinion has been favorable towards the M605 and vendors have noted strong sales. News of a new M6xx Souverän is usually welcomed by many as this model’s size hits the sweet spot for a large swath of enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it is also one of the more neglected lines in the Souverän family. The White Transparent looks very sharp with clean lines that are nicely complimented by its palladium plated furniture. Filling the pen with your favorite colored ink allows it to take on an additional dimension thanks to the transparent barrel which provides for easy viewing of the ink chamber. A white pen can be somewhat polarizing amongst those in the community and the White Transparent will likely be no exception. A pen so pure white is surely to be at risk for staining and while its critics will be quick to point that out, the pen has a charm that should allow many to look past such potential shortcomings.
There have been many excellent reviews of Pelikan’s P16 Stola III published since it was released back in 2015. I did not acquire one of these when they became available because I tend to favor Pelikan’s long revered piston filling mechanism over most cartridge/converter models. That said, an opportunity arose during the recent Pelikan Hubs event in Philadelphia, thanks to Frank from Federalist Pens, which allowed me to add a P16 to the flock. After using the pen for the past several weeks, I felt the need to add my voice to the reviews out there, largely because of how pleased I have been with this model. I am a piston user by preference and generally have a bit of disdain for the cartridge pen. I was softened to the cause of the cartridge pen after reviewing the P200 but was not won over. Despite my bias, the Stola III quickly had me forgetting about any misgivings and allowed me to enjoy the writing experience. It is a sharp looking pen with a surprisingly high end feel due to its metal barrel construction. It’s also priced quite reasonably for what you get. If you’re in the market for a cartridge pen, then I would have no qualms recommending the P16. Read on to find out why.