The Evolution of the IBIS: A Story Of Death And Resurrection

Pelikan IBIS Box

Last year, we took an in-depth look at the Rappen fountain pen, a lower tier offering from Pelikan that was available during the 1930s and 1940s, priced as a more affordable alternative to the model 100. That work concluded with a look at the so called Rappen-IBIS, an IBIS pen sold under the Rappen branding in order to avoid trademark infringements in certain export markets. Make no mistake about it, however, that model was far more IBIS at its heart than Rappen which begs the question; “What is a Pelikan IBIS? It was October 15, 1936, when the IBIS fountain pen was officially introduced to Germany, replacing the Rappen in that market. Perhaps it was with some deliberation that the IBIS moniker was chosen. In the hierarchy of biological classification, the order Pelecaniformes contains several medium to large waterbirds including the families Pelecanidae (pelicans) and Threskiornithidae (ibises) indicating a distant relation between the company’s namesake bird and the ibis. By the time of the IBIS’ introduction, Günther Wagner had been producing and selling fountain pens under the Günther Wagner/Pelikan brand for seven years. Whereas the Rappen originally employed a bulb filling method with a sac, the IBIS was equipped with a piston filling mechanism more in line with the company’s upmarket offerings. This effectively makes the IBIS a hybrid of sorts, combining the looks of the Rappen with the mechanics of the model 100. Despite being supplanted in Germany, the Rappen would continue to be sold in export markets until the end of World War II and would eventually be outfitted with that same piston filling mechanism towards to end of the product line’s run. Unlike the Rappen, the IBIS would be sold under the Günther Wagner/Pelikan brand, where it continued to fill the gap of a more affordable, entry level model when compared with the 100 and 100N. In their literature to dealers, Pelikan would explain that “The IBIS was created… so that the specialist trade could also offer a solidly made transparent piston filler from Günther Wagner in the medium price range.” Price lists from the 1930s described the IBIS as a “fountain pen of good quality, moderate in price and reliable in use.” World War II had a significant impact on the IBIS’ production, but it would survive the tumult and ultimately go on to enjoy an eleven year production run. Today, many of the surviving pens, especially those from the post-war era, can be had relatively cheaply on the secondary market which makes this a model well worth learning about. Read on to learn how the IBIS fell to the pressures of war only to later be resurrected.

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