The Pelikan 400 And Its Many Forms

Pelikan 400, 400N, and 400NNThe Pelikan 400 of the 1950s and 60s is perhaps one of the most iconic and successful pens ever put out by the company over its 90 year history of fountain pen production.  Perhaps it is telling that Pelikan chose this model to rekindle its fountain pen production and turn the company’s fortune around in 1982 with a reincarnation of the 400 dubbed the M400 Souverän.  We will focus squarely on the original 400 for the purposes of this article which introduces the final pen in this three-part series.  If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my in-depth look at both the 300 and the 140 which were in production alongside the 400.  Glass negatives in the Pelikan archives indicate that this model was first conceived in 1939 and likely had World War II to thank for its eleven years on the drawing board.  Launched on May 25, 1950, the Pelikan 400 was produced for a period of fifteen years (not including a brief resurrection in the 1970s) but underwent several modifications in that time.  With each major revision, the suffix “N” was added to the model number.  This stood for “neu,” the German word for new, and was a designation only meant to be used internally.  This nomenclature was utilized for the 400 as well as several other similarly styled product lines and is the reason we have the 400, 400N, and 400NN.  Of course, when these pens were being marketed, they were all simply called the 400 which is why you won’t find the “N” designation in any price list.  Read on to learn more about just what changes came with each revision and how to identify them.  As you read through, be sure to click on the photos found within to enlarge them for further study.

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