Fountain pens have been around since at least the 17th century and it stands to reason that the earliest variants likely adhered to the 20th century modernist architecture principle form follows function. This principle contends that the shape of an object should be based upon its intended purpose. I wonder how much time elapsed before pens started being embellished with unique styling and artistic sensibilities. There are some pens that are incredibly plain and while they may excel at what they do, they fail to ignite the senses. Others are so ornate and overblown that their artistry interferes with their function making for an all but useless show piece. Some pens are able to straddle the line between the two extremes and that is where Pelikan’s M800 Raden Royal Gold falls. With gold and black stripes reminiscent of a honey bee, the golden Raden finish married to the tried and true M800 chassis has resulted in an exceptional fine writing instrument, the likes of which haven’t been seen since a much more basic implementation on the now discontinued P3110 Ductus. Of course that is just my opinion but I hope to convince you of the same. The biggest argument against the design that I’ve heard is that this model has such a preponderance of gold that it makes for an overly ostentatious appearance (translation: too “blingy”). I can see why someone might feel that way but let me assure you that the use of gold here behind the mother of pearl overlay is not at all gratuitous. I always struggle with the utility of reviewing a pen made in such limited quantities and priced at such a luxury market price point. With only 388 people destined to enjoy the Raden Royal Gold, I decided to write this review in order to share the beauty and craftsmanship of this unique release with those who will never have the pleasure of owning this exquisite fine writing instrument.
Pelikan’s Hub locations for 2017 are now available on their website. The data doesn’t reveal any big surprises and many of the same cities that we’ve seen in the past have again emerged as Hub locations. Others are absent, making room for a few new venues. Based on the available data, the fourth annual Hubs event continues to show steady growth. Each year has seen the inclusion of more countries, more cities, and significantly more participants when compared with the year prior. Based on the available data from Pelikan’s Hubs website (as of 7/7/17), this year’s event will span 131 cities spread out amongst 39 countries with 2999+ participants. Thus far, that represents roughly a 42% increase in attendance with time still left to register. For those not yet aware, this year’s gathering will take place on Friday, September 22, 2017 at 6:30pm local time. No details have been announced yet but prior years have included some excellent Pelikan swag for participants. Even though the locations are set, online applications for Hub Masters are being accepted until July 12th and general applications will remain open through July 17th. That means time is quickly running out if you want to be included in this year’s festivities. Attendance is by application only so even if you are unsure of your availability, I would urge you to submit an online application to secure your place and do the same for any friend/spouse/pen loving stranger that you intend to bring with you. Registration forms can be found here. If you cannot attend, you can easily follow along with the world-wide festivities via the hashtag #pelikanhubs on the various social media sites.
While not officially rumored, an announcement has been expected from Pelikan regarding a new fountain pen from their Classic line in the same color as this year’s Edelstein Ink of the Year, Smoky Quartz. This model would follow a pattern established by two prior releases emulating a limited edition Edelstein ink, Amethyst (2015) and Aquamarine (2016). Of note, both of those models were designated as part of the M205 line which is characterized by chromium plated furniture which is silver in color. Fritz-Schimpf, an awesome retailer based out of Germany, has given us our first look at the much anticipated Smoky Quartz demonstrator. While the release has been expected, I did not anticipate that it would be part of the M200 line-up, distinguished by its gold-plated furniture. It shouldn’t take long now for this pen to show up for pre-order via your preferred retailer. Consistent with past timelines, expect the M200 Smoky Quartz to be available sometime in August.
Pelikan moved its administration and production space to Hannover on the Podbielskistraße in the year 1906. By 1973, that facility was no longer adequate and could not be further expanded to meet the company’s needs. Production was moved to the Peine-Vöhrum plant, 24 miles east of Hannover, where it remains today. The administrative offices would linger at the Podbielskistraße facility for another 30 years, until March 17, 2003 at which time the company moved to its current office building on the Werftstrasse in Hanover. The historic former location has since become the Sheraton Hannover Pelikan Hotel where visitors can still enjoy many reminders of Pelikan’s heritage from their almost 100 year occupation of the site. The company’s impact has been so lasting, the area has become known as the Pelikan district and the hotel now sits at its center. On March 29, 2017 Pelikan had a homecoming of sorts when they returned to their former facilities with the opening of The Pelikan TintenTurm. With over 10o guest in attendance, the opening illustrated just how much of an impact the company has had over its extensive history. The TintenTurm resides in over 7000 sq ft of refurbished space that now hosts the company’s archive, a museum, and a retail outlet.
It’s that time of year again, time for Pelikan to announce their fourth annual Pelikan Hubs event. Each year, the Hubs event has grown in attendance and I’m sure that the 2017 festivities will prove to be no different. Pelikan Hubs 2016 took place in at least 109 cities spread across 37 countries with roughly 2600 fans registered to attend. That represents nearly a 51% increase over the prior year! For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the Hub event is a shared gathering of Pelikan fans from across the globe. The event is facilitated for fans by fans with Pelikan acting in a supporting role. While these gatherings take place in 30+ countries, each Hub occurs at the same date and time locally. For those who cannot attend, each Hub is encouraged to upload photos to their favorite social media sites with the hashtag #pelikanhubs. There is no agenda and anything that the group can imagine is fair game ensuring that no two Hubs are quite alike. I have had tremendous fun over the past three Philadelphia events and the diversity of attendees adds to the wonderful dynamic. Participants have ranged from novice to expert and those looking for their first Pelikan pen to those with hundreds. Hubs get selected based on a pool of online applicants. A minimum of five people are required to make a hub and you can nominate your city when signing up. Hubs will be chosen sometime around July 12th. Once the cities are selected, a Hub Master is chosen (by application) to act as the local point of contact and organizer who designates a centrally located meeting space in the appointed city. After that, all that is left to do is to gather and enjoy each other’s company.
Have you ever looked through a catalog or the literature accompanying a product that you’ve purchased and wished that the ads were in 3D so you could get a really good look at the item in question? I feel that way when I look at catalogs for fountain pens. While going through the literature that accompanied the 1996 limited edition release, “1000 Years of Austria,” I noticed that I could do something about that. I thought that it would be a great opportunity to walk you through some of my favorite Pelikan limited edition releases from the 90s and early 2000s which were based off of the M8xx chassis. These limited editions encompass a varied assortment of colors and subject matter. All of the pens below have long been out of production. This means that some can be a challenge to find while others are more challenging to afford. Read on to learn a bit more about the unique characteristics of each of these models.
The release of a new Raden model to follow-up on last year’s Sunrise has been expected but specific details have been lacking. That changed this evening when De Roos gave us a glimpse of a new Raden model from Pelikan via their Instagram page. De Roos is a fountain pen retailer based in Heemstede, Netherlands and has been around since 1953. The pen featured today is the upcoming M800 Royal Gold. It appears that De Roos is the first to break this news. This would be the first Raden release in the M8xx form factor since the Kyokko & Gekko of 2005. It will join the likes of the Kyokko & Gekko (2005), Moonlight (2011), Sunlight (2013), Starlight (2014), and Sunrise (2016). For those unfamiliar with Raden, it is a traditional Japanese decorative craft characterized by finely ground abalone embedded or glued onto laquer-coated surfaces. The inlay glitters in wonderful colors when struck by light. The painstaking process ensures that these are usually limited in number and quite expensive at retail.
In 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany and John F. Young opened Tiffany & Young with a $1,000 loan from Mr. Tiffany’s father. That store was located in New York and sold stationery and other luxury goods such as costume jewelry. In 1841 Mr. Tiffany and Mr. Young took on another partner, J. L. Ellis, and the store became Tiffany, Young & Ellis. The name Tiffany & Company was adopted in 1853 when Charles Tiffany bought out his partners and took control. As the company’s sole lead, he established the firm’s emphasis on jewelry and developed a tradition of introducing designs that captured the mood of contemporary fashion and defined American luxury. The company has had its share of ups and downs throughout its history, particularly suffering from the effects of the stock market crash in the 1930s. Over the years and under various mantles of leadership, the company’s fortunes rebounded, making it the multi-million dollar company that it is today. Perhaps best known for its stunning jewelry, Tiffany & Co. has crafted many branded goods over the years. In the early 1990s, approximately 1/4 of those goods were made by the company itself. The balance was produced under contract by other manufacturers. Pelikan was one of those manufacturers, producing the M817 and M818 Atlas series of pens for Tiffany & Co.