Luigi Colani (1928-2019) was a German born industrial designer and, while he may not be a household name, he is responsible for a multitude of consumer products and served as an influence for generations of architects and designers. On September 16, 2019, he passed away at the age of 91 after succumbing to an unspecified severe illness in the town of Karlsruhe, on the Rhine river west of Stuttgart. He is survived by his partner Yazhen Zha and son Solon Luigi Colani. A shameless self-promoter and an eternal provocateur, I thought that it would be a fitting tribute to explore this most fascinating man and one of his many corporate collaborations. You may or may not be aware but Luigi Colani worked with Pelikan in the 1980s on the design of several pens. While vehicle design seemed to be his métier, Colani was a prolific designer who had his hand in a bit of everything. His designs can be seen in furniture, cameras, cars, musical instruments, shoes, pens, and so much more. Mr. Colani once estimated that he had committed more than 4000 designs to paper over his long career, most of them relegated to desk drawers, with only a small percentage actually being brought to life. His vision for the Cannon T90 film camera was perhaps one of his largest commercial successes and would go on to influence Japanese camera design to this day. Admittedly, his contribution to the world of writing instruments may have been less lasting than some of his other endeavors but it is no less interesting. Read on to learn how Colani’s distrust of angularity informed the creation of the Pelikan № 1, № 2, and P80 pens.
With two in a row, this back half of the year certainly has felt a bit heavy with reviews, a testament to some of the recent creativity that we have seen out of Hannover. Up for appraisal today is Pelikan’s newly released M200 Gold-Marbled fountain pen. Prior to now, we’ve only ever had one white pen in the M2xx line-up, the M205 White which was released 10 years ago. That white M205 holds a special place in my heart as it was the first Pelikan fountain pen that I ever purchased, something akin to Scrooge McDuck’s lucky Number One Dime. Of course, it’s hard to look at the new Gold-Marbled model and not see parallels with the M400 Tortoiseshell White. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t think that it takes a huge leap of the imagination to envision someone blurring the lines on the tortoise and blending the colors into something near to what we see on the Gold-Marbled. Regardless, this finish appears unique and worthy of review. The last M2xx not released as part of the Edelstein companion pieces was the Brown-Marbled in 2017. While that one is part of the standard line-up, the Gold-Marbled is meant as a special edition meaning once the supply chain runs dry, these will no longer be available. Read on to find out whether or not Pelikan has the Midas Touch as far as the Gold-Marbled is concerned and see if you should consider making space amongst your flock for this one.
It’s time for another review on The Perch and while I normally like to scrutinize models that are unique in some way, I’m taking a look at the M800 Brown-Black largely because of its seemingly similar appearance to a past release. If you have had any experience with the Pelikan catalog over the past decade, you might find yourself drawing parallels between this new model and an old favorite. The M800 Tortoiseshell-Brown (2013) quickly comes to mind as a special edition that also utilized stripes and brown resin components. Pelikan’s product literature describes the Brown-Black like so;
“A graceful and subtle appearance. That’s the look of the new Special Edition Souverän 800 Brown-Black. The warm brown hue resin material of this writing instrument series is perfectly complimented by dark brown stripes. The barrel with brown and black stripes is crafted out of high grade cellulose acetate which is then turned into a sleeve. The rings and the clip are elegantly decorated with 24-carat gold.”
Is the Brown-Black something we’ve seen before or a new design unto itself? I think that the best analogy I can put forth is that while it all may be chocolate it comes down to the difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Does the Brown-Black have enough going for it to stand on its own merits? Read on to find out.
The “Pelikan Blätter” served as a newsletter of sorts that provided dealers with information and advice about new products and advertising. It was first published in 1929 and the October edition of that year detailed the introduction of Pelikan’s first ever fountain pen. By that time, the company had already been in business for nearly a century but had never produced a pen. The Romanian inventor Petrache Poenaru had been granted a patent in France for a fountain pen design in 1827 and Evelyn Andros de la Rue had developed a cumbersome piston filler as early as 1905 so the concepts had been firmly established by the time Pelikan produced their first model. Self-filling pens that relied on a pressure and lever system and eyedropper filled safety pens dominated the market in the period following World War I. Perhaps it was the addition of the Beindorff children to the family business in the early 1920s that injected fresh viewpoints and an eagerness to seek out new and modern product lines which prompted the venture. Maybe it was just happenstance that at this time in its history the company was propositioned by an engineer looking to bring his design to market. Whatever the reason, Pelikan finally entered the fray with the Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen (also more simply known as the Pelikan Fountain Pen). Notice the lack of a model number? While similar in appearance to the 100, that designation didn’t come about until around 1931 when an expansion of the company’s product lines created the necessity for a more precise naming scheme. The pen initially derived its name from the transparent ink view window located behind the section. The fledgling design of the 1929 model was short lived and saw several small changes that quickly brought it more in line with how we envision the 100 today. Read on to learn how Pelikan got into the pen business and to explore the model that set the tone for the last 90 years of production.
Today’s post will be brief and to the point because it has nothing to do with Pelikan and everything to do about me which is, admittedly, uncomfortable territory. Perhaps it’s the fear of rejection that has fed my reticence. I have never been one to promote myself or ask for anything beyond your continued readership. I have worked very hard over the past several years to bring you the latest Pelikan news, reviews of unique pens in the line-up, and in-depth, heavily researched original content. That last part has been perhaps the most satisfying for me personally. To date, I have done all of this at my own expense, both financially and with regards to my limited free time. I have always wanted to focus on the content and not allow for distraction. That is why you will never find an ad on my site nor will any of my content ever be placed behind a paywall. Also, to retain my impartiality and independence, I do not solicit nor accept sponsorships.
While browsing through some listings on eBay one day in late March, I happened to stumble across an auction titled “Vintage Pelikan Fountain Pen 14 Karat NIB.” The nondescript caption led me to believe that the seller wasn’t quite sure of what it was they were trying to peddle. The pen in question had seen better days, that much was obvious. Upon closer inspection, the binde was missing and a few gouges marred the surface of the cap and filling mechanism. It would have been easy to dismiss the listing and move on if it weren’t for the lack of cap bands. They weren’t missing mind you; they just weren’t part of the design. The look of the cap offered just enough hope and a promise of what might lie beneath. Scrolling through the rest of the photos in the series revealed just what I had hoped to find, a nib with a heart shaped breather hole. A holy grail for some, the ID became immediately clear. While not in fighting shape, the pen was no doubt a 1929 Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen and looked very serviceable for a 90 year old writing instrument. Understanding that a major restoration would be needed, I entered the fray, placed my bid, and began the waiting game. To my surprise and delight, I ended up winning that listing on April 1st. The pen arrived a few days later and I half expected it to be an utter disappointment, perhaps with a note tucked inside saying “April Fools’.” Once I was able to inspect it, I knew right away that it was worthy of restoration so I turned to Rick Propas, a fellow Pelikan enthusiast and friend, who agreed to take on the task of reconditioning the eldest of Pelikan’s fountain pens. Such a project is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced because disaster can befall at any step of the process. With any restoration of this nature, concessions have to be made. For instance, the early green bindes disintegrate when removed from barrels and spares are next to impossible to find. Despite such limitations, I believe that the final product speaks for itself. As an added bonus, Rick was kind enough to offer to document the restoration process. Read on to learn how this wounded bird again learned how to fly as told by the restorer himself.
With the M800 Brown-Black just starting to ship from retailers this week and the recently announced M200 Gold Marbled still not quite a month away, fresh news breaks yet again detailing the next release out of Hannover. For those that have been particularly observant, I’ve been teasing about Pelikan plugging one of the glaring holes in their M6xx line-up this year. Once again, it is Appelboom, this time via their Instagram account, who informs us that day is now upon us with the upcoming release of the M605 Stresemann (a.k.a. Black-Anthracite). Due out in mid-November, this M605 will join the M805 (2015), M405 (2016), and M1005 (2019) models that already sport the same design. Many people have been waiting for this finish to grace the mid-sized model that so many prefer. The only other model that might make a bigger splash would be a Tortoiseshell Brown M600 but the rumor mill remains silent on that one. If you’re seeing the Stresemann name for the first time and are wondering from where it originates, it is most simply explained as a term that has long been used to describe the classic pinstriped appearance of Pelikan’s pens. An unofficial nickname of sorts for the Souverän line, it was derived from the Secretary of State of the Weimar Republic, Gustav Stresemann, who was well-known for wearing black/grey striped trousers and a jacket in black or anthracite. The Stresemann pens honor that legacy.
Pelikan brought something new to the table with the finish of the M205 Star Ruby. If you expected the company to retreat to the confines of the safe and predictable following that release, think again. Thanks to Appelboom, we get our first official glimpse of the newest addition to Pelikan’s Classic line, the M200 Gold Marbled fountain pen. Intended as an elegant yet more affordable alternative to the Souverän range, it would be understandable if you mistook this Classic model for one of the company’s more upmarket offerings. The resin of the barrel displays various shades of gold imbued with what the company calls a “mother of pearl” effect designed to create a sense of warmth and soft color. White resin accents are employed to compliment the golden hued barrel, the likes of which we’ve never before seen in the 34 year history of the Classic line (the M205 White notwithstanding). This one is anticipated to hit store shelves sometime in mid-November with vendors likely to start taking pre-orders soon. The M2xx models are known as dependable writers that incorporate Pelikan’s legendary piston filling mechanism and the marbled finish has been a part of the Classic series for decades. Recent iterations have included the M200 Green (2015), M205 Blue (2016), and M200 Brown (2017) Marbled variants. If the sparkles of the Star Ruby weren’t to your liking, read on to see if the Gold Marbled has the Midas touch.