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.
The chemist Carl Hornemann founded a paint and ink company near Hanover, Germany in 1832. This would serve as the foundation for what we know today as Pelikan. The date of the company’s official founding is regarded as April 28th, 1838 because that was the occasion of their very first price list. All of the company’s anniversaries are based off of that date meaning that 2018 marks the 180th anniversary of the brand. To honor the affair, Pelikan is releasing a very limited edition fountain pen called the Spirit of 1838. We get our first glimpse of this new model thanks to the German retailer Fritz-Schimpf. You may recall similar releases in the past such as the M750 and M760 which honored the 150th anniversary in 1988. We also saw the M101N Jubilee Pen in 2013 which was a run of just 238 pens marking the company’s 175th anniversary. Now the Spirit of 1838 follows a similar vein, being released in an edition of just 180 pens.
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.
While not a quite a Pelikan, it looks like the bluebird of happiness may have just landed for some. Hannover may have gotten off to a late start but they are wasting no time in giving us a few rapid fire releases. Just forty-eight hours after news of the M600 Turquoise-White broke, we now get our first glimpse of the upcoming M120 Iconic Blue. This is a follow-up to the M120 Green-Black which was re-issued back in early 2016. Both of these models draw their design from the tried and true lineage of the original 120 that was made from 1955-1965. While many similarities exists between old and new, these modern versions certainly stand out on their own and make for excellent and dependable writers that are true to their school pen roots. Availability is anticipated for some time in March of this year alongside the M600 Turquoise-White.
Today is Saint Valentine’s day and Pelikan has chosen to celebrate the occasion by sending a love letter of sorts to their fans. Retailers across the globe broke news of Pelikan’s first release of 2018, the M600 Turquoise-White. The announcement comes somewhat later than anticipated and heralds the second M6xx release in the last several months, following on the heels of the M605 White-Transparent which came out at the end of last year. You’ll notice that it is styled and packaged very similarly to that model as well as the M600 Pink that pioneered this look back in 2015. This newest release is expected to hit retail shelves sometime around mid-March but I wouldn’t count on this one hanging around for too long. Pelikan’s turquoise beauty will serve to kick off what promises to be an exciting 180th anniversary season of new releases.
When I wrote my review of the M605 White Transparent, I indicated that the pre-release product photography didn’t quite portray the actual pen very accurately. Rather than a cool white colored resin, the photos depicted a warmer, more ivory leaning cast. I wanted to expound upon this because it seemed to be a recurring theme at the end of last year that confounded several would-be customers. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and perhaps nowhere is that more true than when selling some form of goods. Pelikan’s product photography has always been somewhat hit or miss but the actual merchandise has usually turned out to be better than advertised. It may seem trivial, harping on the less than true pictographic portrayal of a fountain pen but, for many, those pre-release photos are the only visuals available prior to making a decision to purchase. Far too many consumers lack access to brick and mortar stores or any other opportunity to see a real world example of a pen prior to committing to buy. For some limited edition models, waiting for real world photos may mean missing the pre-order period which can equate to extra money spent or a missed opportunity all together. This is why true to life photos are important for any company selling a product. The M805 Ocean Swirl was subject to one of the most perplexing depictions in some time and therefore I thought that it was worth taking a closer look.
Rumors began to circulate late last year that Pelikan was considering increasing their European prices. It was unclear at the time as to what such an increase would look like but details have steadily emerged from the European Union over the last few weeks. It is well known that European pricing has long been cheaper than that of the USA and some other regions. US consumers have been able to save hundreds of dollars by shopping from overseas vendors. Pelikan broke routine and caused some consternation regarding the direction of their US pricing strategy when they reduced the US MSRP for their last two releases. The M605 White-Transparent and the M805 Ocean Swirl were priced well below what prior, comparable models commanded. The strategy that Pelikan seemed to be working towards was to level the playing field across the globe. Select Pelikan products from many overseas vendors are about to see a rise in cost. Unfortunately, these newly announced price increases come at the same time as the company’s 180th anniversary which will be marked by the release of many new special and limited edition pens. While this would usually be cause for celebration amongst enthusiast, the price increases could certainly dampen enthusiasm for the new products.