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.
With the closing of the registration period (extended an extra week due to high demand), we now have a pretty good sense of Pelikan’s Hub locations for 2018 as well as the number of registrations at each location. The analysis that follows is derived from data taken from Pelikan’s Hubs page (as of 7/23/18 at 9:00pm EST) and should not be taken as absolute since it is subject to some fluctuation between now and the big event. Still, it gives us a significant insight into how this fifth anniversary event is shaping up. Most of the cities that participated last year are again included in this year’s festivities with at least two dozen new cities added to the roster, a roughly 23% increase. The Hubs event continues the steady trend in annual growth that we’ve seen year after year. Each year has been larger than the one before with more countries, more cities, and more people participating. For 2017, Pelikan reported that there were 145 individual Hubs spread across 43 countries with 3600 registered participants. Based on the currently available data, this year’s event will span 178 cities spread out amongst 44 countries with over 4700 participants. Thus far, that represents roughly a 31% increase in attendance over last year and an astounding 425% increase since the inaugural year. Whereas events were few and far between the first year, the access that fans now have to a local Hub has grown exponentially. The United States is again host to the largest number of registrations with Canada, Australia, Taiwan, and Germany rounding out the top 5. This year’s gathering is set to take place on Friday, September 21, 2018 at 6:30pm local time with Pelikan expected to release additional details about the event as we get closer to the date. If you cannot attend this year’s event, you can easily follow along with the world-wide festivities via the hashtag #pelikanhubs on the various social media sites. To further synthesize the data, I’ve developed a series of maps and graphs to help depict the information. Read on to see what cities are involved and to learn about how your location stacks up with some of the others.
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.
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.
The 2018 Pelikan Hubs event has been anticipated by fans across the globe ever since last year’s highly successful gathering. With just a little over three months to go, Pelikan has officially opened up registration. This year hits a milestone as it marks the fifth anniversary of this pen and ink centric happening. The Hubs event has shown consistent growth over the past four years with 2017 coming in as the biggest year to date, a record that’s very likely to be bested once again. You may recall that there were 145 individual Hub locations spread across 43 countries with 3600 registered participants last year. That represents roughly a 38% increase over the attendance for 2016. If you are reading about this for the first time and wondering what the heck a Pelikan Hub event is, let me enlighten you. The Pelikan Hubs is a fan driven gathering of Pelikan aficionados from across the globe who meet on the same local date and time. With no specified agenda, anything goes meaning no two hubs are quite alike. Throughout all of this, Pelikan acts in a supporting role, providing the necessary organization and a few supplies, allowing the hub master and their attendees to free form an evening of festivities. For those who cannot attend, the various locations can be followed on social media via the hashtag #pelikanhubs. My local Philadelphia hub has always been a good time, attended by a growing and diverse group of fans. You can read about my past adventures here (2017), here (2016), and here (2015). One thing for certain is that there is usually no shortage of Pelikan eye candy. With a minimum of five people required to constitute a Hub, locations get selected based on a registered pool of online applicants. During the sign up process, you can nominate your city for inclusion if it is not already listed. Hub locations will be finalized sometime around July 9th. Once the participating cities are chosen, a Hub master is selected, by special application, to act as your local point of contact and organizer. It is the Hub master who designates a centrally located meeting place and distributes some Pelikan swag to all of the registered guest in attendance. Read on for all of the details for this years Hub.
News of two new Pelikan fountain pens in one day can only mean trouble for your wallet or purse. Following closely on the heels of this year’s Maki-e release, the Peacock, we also learn of the next model to come out of Hannover courtesy of Penworld. This one is known as the M815 Metal Striped special edition. The last pen to utilize the M815 nomenclature was the Wall Street limited edition from 1995. Refreshingly, this years model brings something new to the table while still preserving a comfortable familiarity. The M815 is adorned with metal stripes reminiscent of the well established Stresemann pattern. I’d wager that this is one of those releases that we had all hoped for from the company, something commensurate with their 180th anniversary.
There is no better way to start off a new week than with news of a few upcoming releases. First up is Pelikan’s Maki-e Peacock limited edition announced by Fritz-Schimpf earlier today. This 2018 model follows the Spring & Autumn (2016) and the Dragonfly (2017) that came before it. Pelikan’s sales literature (translated from German) relates that the peacock is one of the most beautiful birds on earth due to its exceptionally beautiful, brightly colored feathers. Peacocks have also been known to eat poisonous plants without being affected causing the animal to held in high esteem amongst different cultures and religions since the early days of human history. The peacock has developed as a symbol of happiness because the bird is seen as being able to protect people from hardship and pain. This Maki-e release celebrates all of the above. Built off of the M1000 chassis, the traditional Make-e painting depicts the brightly colored plumage of the peafowl set in sharp contrast against a black background.
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.