The chemist Carl Hornemann founded a paint and ink company near Hanover, Germany in 1832. This would serve as the foundation for what we know today as Pelikan. The date of the company’s official founding is regarded as April 28th, 1838 because that was the occasion of their very first price list. All of the company’s anniversaries are based off of that date meaning that 2018 marks the 180th anniversary of the brand. To honor the affair, Pelikan is releasing a very limited edition fountain pen called the Spirit of 1838. We get our first glimpse of this new model thanks to the German retailer Fritz-Schimpf. You may recall similar releases in the past such as the M750 and M760 which honored the 150th anniversary in 1988. We also saw the M101N Jubilee Pen in 2013 which was a run of just 238 pens marking the company’s 175th anniversary. Now the Spirit of 1838 follows a similar vein, being released in an edition of just 180 pens.
If you frequent the Pelikan forum over at The Fountain Pen Network, you may have noticed a thread from last month asking about the Pelikan Revival series. The paucity of authoritative answers demonstrated just how little is actually known about the topic making it the perfect fodder for a post. Pelikan has accumulated many such stories that have fallen into obscurity over the past 180 years. Before continuing, I have to give special thanks to two long standing Italian retailers and their staff who aided my research on this topic; Marco of Novelli and Vito of Casa della Stilografica. If you frequent the secondary market, you may encounter Pelikan pens identified as Pelikan Revival. This is particularly the case when looking at pens that hail from Italy. What is so special about the Revival line you ask? Read on because the truth of the matter may just surprise you.
While not a quite a Pelikan, it looks like the bluebird of happiness may have just landed for some. Hannover may have gotten off to a late start but they are wasting no time in giving us a few rapid fire releases. Just forty-eight hours after news of the M600 Turquoise-White broke, we now get our first glimpse of the upcoming M120 Iconic Blue. This is a follow-up to the M120 Green-Black which was re-issued back in early 2016. Both of these models draw their design from the tried and true lineage of the original 120 that was made from 1955-1965. While many similarities exists between old and new, these modern versions certainly stand out on their own and make for excellent and dependable writers that are true to their school pen roots. Availability is anticipated for some time in March of this year alongside the M600 Turquoise-White.
Today is Saint Valentine’s day and Pelikan has chosen to celebrate the occasion by sending a love letter of sorts to their fans. Retailers across the globe broke news of Pelikan’s first release of 2018, the M600 Turquoise-White. The announcement comes somewhat later than anticipated and heralds the second M6xx release in the last several months, following on the heels of the M605 White-Transparent which came out at the end of last year. You’ll notice that it is styled and packaged very similarly to that model as well as the M600 Pink that pioneered this look back in 2015. This newest release is expected to hit retail shelves sometime around mid-March but I wouldn’t count on this one hanging around for too long. Pelikan’s turquoise beauty will serve to kick off what promises to be an exciting 180th anniversary season of new releases.
When I wrote my review of the M605 White Transparent, I indicated that the pre-release product photography didn’t quite portray the actual pen very accurately. Rather than a cool white colored resin, the photos depicted a warmer, more ivory leaning cast. I wanted to expound upon this because it seemed to be a recurring theme at the end of last year that confounded several would-be customers. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and perhaps nowhere is that more true than when selling some form of goods. Pelikan’s product photography has always been somewhat hit or miss but the actual merchandise has usually turned out to be better than advertised. It may seem trivial, harping on the less than true pictographic portrayal of a fountain pen but, for many, those pre-release photos are the only visuals available prior to making a decision to purchase. Far too many consumers lack access to brick and mortar stores or any other opportunity to see a real world example of a pen prior to committing to buy. For some limited edition models, waiting for real world photos may mean missing the pre-order period which can equate to extra money spent or a missed opportunity all together. This is why true to life photos are important for any company selling a product. The M805 Ocean Swirl was subject to one of the most perplexing depictions in some time and therefore I thought that it was worth taking a closer look.
The early days of 2018 have provided me some time for introspection (there is not much else you can do when in the midst of a bomb cyclone). There has been a lot to reflect upon personally, professionally, and globally. This past year’s world events alone have been quite tumultuous, leaving the future seemingly more uncertain than ever. Trying to turn to lighter fare, one thing that has been on the forefront of my mind recently is a question that I’ve been asked several times over the past few months. That question can be summed up in two words; “Why Pelikan?” In over three years of blogging here at the Perch, I can’t believe that I haven’t addressed this sooner. It’s true that there are many great manufacturers out there who have produced a countless number of awesome and desirable fountain pens. What then does Pelikan have that puts it above all of the other brands in my mind and how informed am I to even make that type of declaration? I hope to share with you my experiences before Pelikan and why I chose to dedicate myself to just that brand of fountain pen. I thought this would make for excellent fodder for the first post of the year. All I can say up front is that Pelikan pens have some indescribable quality, a character and a discipline, that makes owning and using them a joy that transcends the sum of their parts. By the end of this article, I hope to be able to impart upon you just a little sense of that magic.
The latest East coast holiday season snow storm has come and gone but none of the new fallen snow thus far has been as white as the M605 White Transparent. Pelikan’s latest M6xx release was preceded by a bit of uncertainty due to pre-release product photography that was somewhat poorly representative of the actual pen. Despite that, popular opinion has been favorable towards the M605 and vendors have noted strong sales. News of a new M6xx Souverän is usually welcomed by many as this model’s size hits the sweet spot for a large swath of enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it is also one of the more neglected lines in the Souverän family. The White Transparent looks very sharp with clean lines that are nicely complimented by its palladium plated furniture. Filling the pen with your favorite colored ink allows it to take on an additional dimension thanks to the transparent barrel which provides for easy viewing of the ink chamber. A white pen can be somewhat polarizing amongst those in the community and the White Transparent will likely be no exception. A pen so pure white is surely to be at risk for staining and while its critics will be quick to point that out, the pen has a charm that should allow many to look past such potential shortcomings.
Pelikan has produced many commissioned pieces over the years. These are often models made in very limited quantities for specific vendors or other patrons. Past examples include the M150 Bols demonstrator (3000 pieces), the M200 Deutsche Telekom (5000 pieces), the M200 Citroenpers (1200 pieces), and the M800 Chronoswiss (999 pieces). There also exists a little known run of green striped M800s with 20C nibs made for the Japanese market to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Maruzen bookstore in Japan (1989). Of course, Japan also boast the better known, but still obscure, M600 Tortoiseshell brown commissioned to honor the 130th anniversary of that same company in 1999. Some of these releases are so limited in terms of quantity and scope that they can often fly under the radar and go largely unnoticed, achieving an almost mythical mystique (as in the case of the tortoise M600). Japan seems to be a particularly fertile ground for limited releases not available here in the West. One such model was recently brought to my attention by a reader from China. The pen that he introduced me to is known as the Mitsukoshi #660. This limited edition pen was released as a small run of just 400 pieces for the large retail chain Mitsukoshi of Japan circa 1995. Do I have your attention yet? Read on to learn more about this golden beauty.