Many of the preeminent innovations and game changing inventions throughout the history of human civilization have had but one thing in common: they were born out of curiosity. The drive to push towards new ideas and experiences thereby unlocking limitless potential is a basic human attribute. From the Acheulean hand axe and the control of fire to space exploration and self-driving cars, curiosity is a powerful motivator for learning and influential in decision-making. It is one of the pillars upon which the advancements of society have been built. It should come as no surprise then that curiosity has also helped drive innovations in fountain pen design. Mention of a primitive reservoir pen can be found dating back to less than 1000 years Anno Domini. The Romanian inventor Petrache Poenaru was one of the first to be granted a patent for such a design in France on May 25th, 1827. Pelikan entered the market with their Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen in 1929 featuring Theodor Kovác’s differential piston filling mechanism. The steady evolution of the fountain pen meant added complexity and many of the competing manufacturers of the early twentieth century were eager to show off their pens and make the case for why their design was superior to others. Pelikan was no different in this regard and therefore outfitted their sales representatives and stationary shops with special pens that revealed the model’s inner workings. Likely starting sometime in the early 1930s, the hard rubber components of the 100 were skeletonized or cut away to create non-functional models, not available or intended for resale. It is unclear in what capacity these models were utilized but make no mistake, this was the birth of the demonstrator, just not the ones we commonly think of today. Those came about later, with the advent and mass production of clear plastics. Examples exist of the 400 and 400NN from the 1950s and 60s done in green or clear shades of transparent plastic. Many of Pelikan’s demonstrators from the 1950s through the 1960s were low production volume items carried by reps and delivered to stationary shops, which makes them scarce and highly collectible today. Eventually, such pens would catch on with consumers and grow in popularity. No longer relegated to life as a sales tool, demonstrators would grow into their own and become special edition releases. Pelikan’s first major modern foray into the demonstrator was the Transparent Green M800 released in 1992 which they quickly followed up with the M810 Blue Ocean in 1993 and a multitude of other demonstrators since. Read on to learn more about the origins from which today’s demonstrators hail.
The M800 Demonstrator has had an interesting life. It was first released in 2008 as a special edition to celebrate the company’s 170th anniversary and it came in two forms. The first of these was a standard demonstrator in clear, transparent resin that lacked any embellishment on the barrel or cap. The clear resin allowed for unobstructed viewing of the brass piston assembly which was complimented by Pelikan’s standard gold plated trim. At the same time, another model was released, identical to the first save that this one featured etched descriptors of the various parts filled in with white paint. These pointed out key features such as the spindle nut, twist stopper, and piston to name just a few. Eight attributes in all were labeled along the barrel and piston knob. Interestingly, this particular model featured a cut out in the brass connector of the piston assembly to allow for better visualization of the spindle within the connector, making it a true demonstrator pen. When the same features were incorporated on an M805 variant in palladium trim in 2015, this little detail would be left out. Most of the etched variants were annotated in the English language while a small minority would be done in Spanish. Niche Pens once declared that, “Altogether, 3,500 Clear Demonstrators were produced, the majority with English engravings, a small number with Spanish engravings and an even smaller number with no engravings at all.” While the veracity of that statement cannot be verified, it further imbues the M800 Demonstrator with a bit of mystique. Both pens were readily available in their time but have been out of production for about twelve years now and are infrequently encountered. This model is not without its fair share of intrigue and new developments for 2020 make it worth revisiting.
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.
With a new Pelikan demonstrator due out in a few weeks, I thought now might be a good time to revisit how to best clean one. The endearing thing about demonstrators is that they put the inner workings of the pen on display, warts and all. Perhaps that is why the demonstrator is such a polarizing model amongst fountain pen enthusiast. No matter what side of the debate you come down on, it’s undeniable that cleaning this type of pen can be a real challenge. You can see every drop of residual ink and even more disturbing, every stain left behind. Thankfully, good pen upkeep can help to avoid this type of permanent staining. In addition to the usual pen maintenance issues that we all face, there is one exceedingly frustrating area on Pelikan demos that is particularly troublesome to clean. That area would be the section which, no matter how much you may rinse or swab, simply won’t come clean. With Pelikan’s demos, there is a little trick to be learned here which can make your cleaning woes a thing of the past. Due to the design, there is a little lip on the inside of the section where the threads are located. The area behind that lip will collect ink as you fill and use your pen. It is not readily noticeable until you try to flush the pen clean. Thankfully, it’s easy to remedy if you know what to do. Read on to learn how to get that residual ink flushed out of the section.
Somewhat unexpectedly, news broke today about Pelikan’s next release for 2018. This one hails from their Classic line-up which is Pelikan’s lower end fountain pen line. Rather than something fresh and unique, Pelikan once again resurrects a model from the past. This time, we are given the Classic M205 Demonstrator Special Edition. The last M205 clear demonstrator was released in 2005 making it a full 13 years old. This is the second time Pelikan has re-issued a clear demonstrator in their Classic line, the last being the gold trimmed M200 released in 2012. This one is due out sometime around mid-May 2018. Pelikan says the following about their new model;
“Our latest special edition Classic 205 Demonstrator with its clear transparent barrel gives a clear view of the black-colored inner parts. It makes the interaction of the sophisticated parts visible while operating the piston mechanism.”
If seeing the innermost workings of your pen, imperfections and all, is your thing, read on to learn all of the details.
Chronoswiss, founded by Gerd-Rüdiger Lang in 1983, is a mechanical watch manufacturer currently based out of Lucerne. Mr. Lang spent several years leaning his trade as an apprentice before finding employment with Heuer (now TAG-Heuer) where he would work with chronographs for approximately 15 years. Quartz movements came to dominate in the 1980s prompting Mr. Lang to seek opportunity elsewhere. After his departure, he attended school in Würzburg and graduated as a “Master Watchmaker.” Shortly thereafter, he founded his own company which specialized in mechanical watches during a time when quartz was all the rage. It wasn’t until 1987 that the “Régulateur,” a hand-wound wristwatch, was born. It was touted as the first serially manufactured wristwatch with a regulator-type dial. It is the characteristics of this watch that would go on to define the company’s iconic style. Those features include a screwed and channeled bezel, an onion-shaped crown, and screwed strap lugs. While not as historically rich as many of the traditional brands, the Régulateur would help cement Chronoswiss’s place in horology.
A little over a year ago I posted all that I knew about the Pelikan M481, a little understood model released in the early 1980s. Based on the pen’s design, it was clearly the predecessor to the M200 that followed in 1985. The M481 appears to have been largely relegated to the export market. It is the same size as the M200 but with different furniture. To briefly recount, the M481 has a single cap band, no trim ring on the barrel or piston knob, and lacks the Pelikan logo on the cap top (perhaps its most distinguishing feature). I encourage you to read my previous article linked above if you’re interested in more of this model’s details. Up until now I have assumed that the M481 was limited to a release of just three colors; black, green-black, and burgundy. I now think that there was a fourth model, not quite designated an M481 in name, with enough of the tell-tale attributes to allow one to make a reasonable inference that it was intended as part of that lineage. The variant that I’m referring to is what I now feel to be the previously misclassified M200 clear demonstrator, single cap band variant.
First broke by Iguana Sell, a luxury pen retailer located in Spain, we now have news of yet another, long rumored, new model release from Pelikan. This is the third new model for 2015 and I understand that this most recent one has been on the wish list of many enthusiasts. With a target release date of late April, Pelikan is going to bring us the M805 Clear Demonstrator. Similar in styling to the M1005 released in 2011, this release will feature a clear demonstrator with an all rhodium trim, including an 18C rhodinated nib. Many have long appreciated the M1005’s styling which won it the renowned French Le Trophée du Stylographe award following its release. While the M1005 is held in high regard, its size and price point does not suit everyone. The new M805 will help remedy that to some extent and it will reportedly come in two variants. The first will be a standard, clear demonstrator available in nib sizes F, M, and B. The second variant will have engravings in English on the barrel identifying the various components of the mechanism similar to the prior M800 clear demonstrator special edition. The second variant will be available in F and M nib sizes. The packaging looks like it will be similar to the M1005 and includes a gift box with a transparent window allowing for immediate visualization of the pen and its transparency.