Glossary of Terms

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The result of an oxidative reaction that results in a yellow-brown discoloration of certain plastics over time.



The body of the pen that usually houses the filling mechanism and reservoir.


A German word that describes the colored/patterned sleeve that is fitted around the outside of the barrel of a vintage Pelikan fountain pen.  Pronounced BIN-duh.


Refers to the wear of a filled or plated surface that results in the base metal (often brass) showing through.

Breather Hole

A small hole found at the base of the split in the tines of the nib.  Its purpose is to provide a smoother ink flow.



A cover to protect the nib and help prevent the ink from drying while the pen is not in use.  These can be snap or screw type.

Cap Band

An ornate piece of metal found at the base of a cap to provide decoration and help prevent cracking of the material at the lip.

Cap Top

The end of the cap opposite of the lip.  This is the area that often bears the Pelikan logo and is used to affix the clip.


A disposable, pre-filled plastic ink reservoir used in pens that accept cartridges.  Available in various sizes that are manufacturer specific.


A type of pen that can utilize a disposable ink cartridge or a re-usable converter which pulls ink from a bottle.


A type of finish that consist of repeated geometric patterns.


A piece of metal attached to the cap that prevents the pen from rolling as well as allowing attachment to a piece of paper or shirt pocket.


A re-usable/replaceable ink reservoir that is used in cartridge/converter pens to allows drawing ink up from a bottle.


A type of material used for piston seals in early, pre-war Pelikan pens.  These are prone to rotting over time and it is recommended that they be kept moist for optimal function.



The modern term indicates a pen whose internal mechanism and ink reservoir is visible through a clear or colored plastic.  Historically, these were non-working salesman’s models that had cutouts to show the mechanism of the pen.

Desk Pen

A pen with a long, tapered end to help achieve a good balance/appearance for use as part of a desk set.

Desk Set

A set containing one or more pens with a base to hold those pens.


German for a propelling, mechanical pencil.  The derivation of Pelikan’s Dxxx designation.


The designation for Pelikan’s manifold nibs which are very firm and inflexible to facilitate writing on carbon copies.



A hard rubber material employed in vintage pens for feeds and other parts.  Because of the nature of the material, it can become brittle with age.



The material upon which the nib sits that facilitates ink traveling from the reservoir to the tip of the nib.  Usually with multiple fins to increase surface area and allow for capillary action.


A description of a nib’s ability to bend and provide variation in line width.  Mostly seen on vintage pens and can range from semi-flex, to flex, to wet noodle.  Modern pens, unless specifically designed with flex in mind, are often firm.  Over flexing a nib can be damaging resulting in a sprung nib.

Friction Fit

A type of nib fitting that was experimented with by Pelikan.  The nib and feed were seated in the section by friction, rather than a threaded collar.


German for fountain pen.


A reference to the external metal parts of a pen, also known as the trim.  This would include cap bands, clips, and trim rings.


Gold Filled

A technique which places gold on top of a base metal, usually brass.


A system of interchangeable nibs with a nib holder designed by Pelikan and used from the 1930’s – 1950’s for technical drawing and calligraphy.


Hard Rubber

A material employed in early pen feeds and bodies popular in the early part of the twentieth century.  Can become fragile over time and prone to wear more so than modern materials.


A design that covers a portion of the nib with a sleeve of plastic or hood to help protect against drying out as well as to provide some protection.


Ink Window

A window which allows the level or remaining ink in the pen to be gauged.

Inner Cap

A liner inside of a cap designed to help prevent a pen from drying out when capped.  Vintage Pelikan liners were made of metal which did not shrink over time when the surrounding plastic did resulting in cracking of the caps.


A tipping material related to platinum employed for its hardness and wear resistance.


A type of nib that is available in varying widths to provide line variations.  Usually custom produced and available in a variety of styles from crisp to stub.




A reference to the gold alloy employed in nib manufacturing.  Often seen listed as K or C.  i.e. 10K-417, 12K-500, 14K-585, and 18K-750.  The trailing number after the karat weight is a European reference to actual gold content (41.7%, 50%, 58.5%, and 75%).  24K describes pure gold which is not employed in nibs due to its softness.

Knockout Block

A piece of wood or metal that is used to separate a nib from a feed.


German for ball and used to refer to a type of nib designated as a Kugel or Ball nib.  These nibs have rounded tipping to facilitate easy writing from multiple angles.


German for ballpoint pen.  The derivation of Pelikan’s Kxxx designation.


Limited Edition

A run of pens that are of a limited quantity, sometimes numbered, sometimes not.



A Japanese technique of pen decoration that applies gold power to a lacquered service.  A very delicate and time consuming technique, often resulting in pens of higher value.  Pronounced mah-kee-eh.


A very rigid nib used to make an impression on a carbon copy.

Mechanik-Füller or Mechanik-Federhalter

German for mechanical or piston fountain pen.  The derivation of Pelikan’s Mxxx designation.


New Old Stock

A pen that is currently out of production but was not previously sold at retail and therefore is still available new.  Abbreviated as NOS.


The writing point of the pen made of various materials usually consisting of two split tines and a tipping material.

Nib Creep

Accumulation of ink on a nib which can range from mild to severe.  Often related to the properties of the ink being used.



Available in left and right footed designs to facilitate an individuals’ rotation of the pen.



German for a cartridge fountain pen.  The derivation of Pelikan’s Pxxx designation.


A filling system with a screw driven piston that facilities taking ink up from a bottle.

Piston Knob

The knob, usually at the base of the barrel that actuates the piston mechanism.

Piston Seal

The seal at the end of the piston mechanism that provides suction to draw up ink but also prevent ink from leaking behind the piston mechanism.  These are made of synthetics in modern pens but original pens utilized cork which can require special maintenance.


An injection molded plastic employed in some older Pelikan collars.  Due to the nature of the material, it becomes very fragile and crumbles over time resulting in ink leakage, requiring replacement.


Placing the pen’s cap at the end of the barrel opposite the nib while writing to keep it secure and also to facilitate a better hand feel and balance in certain pen models.




The portion of the barrel that contains the ink.


A silver colored metal of the platinum family used in the plating of nibs and furniture.  Notable for it’s properties of resisting oxidation.

Rolled Gold

A technique employing sheets of rolled gold to plate materials.  It is not as durable as gold-fill.


A rollerball pen that employs a type of ink in a sealed cartridge system.  Pelikan designates their rollerball line as Rxxx.



The end of the barrel that the nib is fitted into.  Usually contains the threads onto which the cap screws.


Pelikan’s trade name for the matte finish of the cap of a line of pens that were available in both piston filled and cartridge variants.


The areas of the nib that facilities the capillary action and drawing of ink from the feed to the writing surface.


A German word for sovereign and denotes the Pelikan brand’s line of luxury pens.


A property of nibs that does not refer to flex but rather a softness to the writing experience.

Sprung Nib

A nib that has been over-flexed and therefore damaged, often beyond repair.

Stainless Steel

A material employed in lower tier pen nibs.  Usually without flex but can have some spring.  Often plated in gold.


A description of Pelikan’s classic pinstripe appearance with green and black stripes.  It is the Souverän series nickname derived from the Secretary of State of the Weimar Republic well-known for wearing striped trousers.  The foreign minister of the Weimar Republic, Gustav Stresemann (1879- 1929), was honored with the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1926.  Together with his French colleague Aristide Briand, he was acknowleged for his reconciliatory work between the nations after World War I. Besides his impressive political career, Stresemann also became famous for the creation of a new kind of suit that was still sufficiently formal for official presentations and yet comfortable enough for his work at the office. Stresemann liked to wear suits with thin stripes and suddenly people started calling the striped fountain pens from Pelikan, which were just then starting their global tour around the world, by the name of “Stresemann.”


A nib shape that is utilized to provide line variation similar to that of an italic but is more rounded and therefore easy to use.



A reference to the external metal parts of a pen, also known as the furniture.  This would include cap bands, clips, and trim rings.

Two-Tone Nib

A nib that is partially plated, usually with rhodium, for decorative effect.




A thin layer of very pure gold bonded to silver.


Wet Noodle

A nib that has extreme flexibility, able to produce maximal line variation.

Wet Writer

Often used to describe Pelikan nibs.  This is a reference to the nib producing a generous, wet line.