Review: M800 Brown-Black (2019)

Pelikan M800 Brown-Black Fountain PenIt’s time for another review on The Perch and while I normally like to scrutinize models that are unique in some way, I’m taking a look at the M800 Brown-Black largely because of its seemingly similar appearance to a past release.  If you have had any experience with the Pelikan catalog over the past decade, you might find yourself drawing parallels between this new model and an old favorite.  The M800 Tortoiseshell-Brown (2013) quickly comes to mind as a special edition that also utilized stripes and brown resin components.  Pelikan’s product literature describes the Brown-Black like so;

“A graceful and subtle appearance.  That’s the look of the new Special Edition Souverän 800 Brown-Black.  The warm brown hue resin material of this writing instrument series is perfectly complimented by dark brown stripes.  The barrel with brown and black stripes is crafted out of high grade cellulose acetate which is then turned into a sleeve.  The rings and the clip are elegantly decorated with 24-carat gold.”

Is the Brown-Black something we’ve seen before or a new design unto itself?  I think that the best analogy I can put forth is that while it all may be chocolate it comes down to the difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate.  Does the Brown-Black have enough going for it to stand on its own merits?  Read on to find out.

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Where It All Started: The Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen

1929 Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen AdvertisementThe “Pelikan Blätter” served as a newsletter of sorts that provided dealers with information and advice about new products and advertising.  It was first published in 1929 and the October edition of that year detailed the introduction of Pelikan’s first ever fountain pen.  By that time, the company had already been in business for nearly a century but had never produced a pen.  The Romanian inventor Petrache Poenaru had been granted a patent in France for a fountain pen design in 1827 and Evelyn Andros de la Rue had developed a cumbersome piston filler as early as 1905 so the concepts had been firmly established by the time Pelikan produced their first model.  Self-filling pens that relied on a pressure and lever system and eyedropper filled safety pens dominated the market in the period following World War I.  Perhaps it was the addition of the Beindorff children to the family business in the early 1920s that injected fresh viewpoints and an eagerness to seek out new and modern product lines which prompted the venture.  Maybe it was just happenstance that at this time in its history the company was propositioned by an engineer looking to bring his design to market.  Whatever the reason, Pelikan finally entered the fray with the Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen (also more simply known as the Pelikan Fountain Pen).  Notice the lack of a model number?  While similar in appearance to the 100, that designation didn’t come about until around 1931 when an expansion of the company’s product lines created the necessity for a more precise naming scheme.  The pen initially derived its name from the transparent ink view window located behind the section.  The fledgling design of the 1929 model was short lived and saw several small changes that quickly brought it more in line with how we envision the 100 today.  Read on to learn how Pelikan got into the pen business and to explore the model that set the tone for the last 90 years of production.

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Guest Post: Restoring a 1929 Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen

1929 Transparent Pelikan Fountain PenWhile browsing through some listings on eBay one day in late March, I happened to stumble across an auction titled “Vintage Pelikan Fountain Pen 14 Karat NIB.”  The nondescript caption led me to believe that the seller wasn’t quite sure of what it was they were trying to peddle.  The pen in question had seen better days, that much was obvious.  Upon closer inspection, the binde was missing and a few gouges marred the surface of the cap and filling mechanism.  It would have been easy to dismiss the listing and move on if it weren’t for the lack of cap bands.  They weren’t missing mind you; they just weren’t part of the design.  The look of the cap offered just enough hope and a promise of what might lie beneath.  Scrolling through the rest of the photos in the series revealed just what I had hoped to find, a nib with a heart shaped breather hole.  A holy grail for some, the ID became immediately clear.  While not in fighting shape, the pen was no doubt a 1929 Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen and looked very serviceable for a 90 year old writing instrument.  Understanding that a major restoration would be needed, I entered the fray, placed my bid, and began the waiting game.   To my surprise and delight, I ended up winning that listing on April 1st.  The pen arrived a few days later and I half expected it to be an utter disappointment, perhaps with a note tucked inside saying “April Fools’.”  Once I was able to inspect it, I knew right away that it was worthy of restoration so I turned to Rick Propas, a fellow Pelikan enthusiast and friend, who agreed to take on the task of reconditioning the eldest of Pelikan’s fountain pens.  Such a project is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced because disaster can befall at any step of the process.  With any restoration of this nature, concessions have to be made.  For instance, the early green bindes disintegrate when removed from barrels and spares are next to impossible to find.  Despite such limitations, I believe that the final product speaks for itself.  As an added bonus, Rick was kind enough to offer to document the restoration process.  Read on to learn how this wounded bird again learned how to fly as told by the restorer himself.

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News: M605 Stresemann Announced

Pelikan M605 StresemannWith the M800 Brown-Black just starting to ship from retailers this week and the recently announced M200 Gold Marbled still not quite a month away, fresh news breaks yet again detailing the next release out of Hannover.  For those that have been particularly observant, I’ve been teasing about Pelikan plugging one of the glaring holes in their M6xx line-up this year.   Once again, it is Appelboom, this time via their Instagram account, who informs us that day is now upon us with the upcoming release of the M605 Stresemann (a.k.a. Black-Anthracite).  Due out in mid-November, this M605 will join the M805 (2015), M405 (2016), and M1005 (2019) models that already sport the same design.  Many people have been waiting for this finish to grace the mid-sized model that so many prefer.  The only other model that might make a bigger splash would be a Tortoiseshell Brown M600 but the rumor mill remains silent on that one.  If you’re seeing the Stresemann name for the first time and are wondering from where it originates, it is most simply explained as a term that has long been used to describe the classic pinstriped appearance of Pelikan’s pens.  An unofficial nickname of sorts for the Souverän line, it was derived from the Secretary of State of the Weimar Republic, Gustav Stresemann, who was well-known for wearing black/grey striped trousers and a jacket in black or anthracite.  The Stresemann pens honor that legacy.

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News: M200 Gold Marbled

Pelikan M200 Gold MarbledPelikan brought something new to the table with the finish of the M205 Star Ruby.  If you expected the company to retreat to the confines of the safe and predictable following that release, think again.  Thanks to Appelboom, we get our first official glimpse of the newest addition to Pelikan’s Classic line, the M200 Gold Marbled fountain pen.  Intended as an elegant yet more affordable alternative to the Souverän range, it would be understandable if you mistook this Classic model for one of the company’s more upmarket offerings.  The resin of the barrel displays various shades of gold imbued with what the company calls a “mother of pearl” effect designed to create a sense of warmth and soft color.  White resin accents are employed to compliment the golden hued barrel, the likes of which we’ve never before seen in the 34 year history of the Classic line (the M205 White notwithstanding).  This one is anticipated to hit store shelves sometime in mid-November with vendors likely to start taking pre-orders soon. The M2xx models are known as dependable writers that incorporate Pelikan’s legendary piston filling mechanism and the marbled finish has been a part of the Classic series for decades.  Recent iterations have included the M200 Green (2015), M205 Blue (2016), and M200 Brown (2017) Marbled variants.  If the sparkles of the Star Ruby weren’t to your liking, read on to see if the Gold Marbled has the Midas touch.

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Review: M205 Star Ruby (2019)

Pelikan M205 Star RubyPelikan’s recently released M205 Star Ruby fountain pen is a trail blazer worthy of review.  It is not the form factor or the nib that stands out nor is it the filling system.  All of those bits faithfully follow the company’s time tested formula that Pelikan fans and longtime readers of this blog are accustomed to.  What really shines here is, well, the shine.  The M205 Star Ruby has a sparkle to its finish, the likes of which we have not seen before.  As Dorothy Gale says in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” (you couldn’t expect me to review a sparkly ruby colored pen without at least one Wizard of Oz quote).  That is perhaps due in large part to typically reserved German sensibilities.  When you think of pens that sparkle, Japanese and Chinese brands such as Sailor and Jinhao are more likely to spring to the forefront of your mind than anything out of Germany.   The Star Ruby marks the fifth consecutive time that Pelikan has released a matching pen for the Edelstein Ink of the Year collection.  This year’s iteration joins the likes of the M205 Amethyst (2015), M205 Aquamarine (2016), M200 Smoky Quartz (2017), and M205 Olivine (2018).  While each of those pens have a deep, rich color that compliments their namesake nicely, none have had occasion to sparkle.  Perhaps Pelikan wanted to honor the asterism of its namesake.  For those that don’t know, star rubies are a special class of gemstone that display a sharp, shimmering six-rayed star on their surface.  True to form, however, nothing feels gratuitous here.  The coloring of the pen is a deep burgundy and the sparkles are hardly overblown as some had feared.  This may be one of the best looking models of the quintet but certainly won’t appeal to everyone.  Read on to find out whether or not this is one you should consider adding to your flock.

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News: Maki-e Japanese Umbrella Limited Edition

Pelikan Maki-e Japanese UmbrellaAs anticipated, Pelikan kicks off the month of October with a new Maki-e release, this one titled Japanese Umbrella.  This is actually the second Maki-e pen to debut in 2019 with Five Lucky Bats having been launched this past summer.  These ultra-detailed and labor intensive pieces have been a show case of the marriage between German engineering and Japanese artistry.   The prior four themed models have included the Spring & Autumn (2016)Dragonfly (2017), Peacock (2018), and Five Lucky Bats (2019).  Pelikan has this to say about their new Maki-e model;

“The umbrella was introduced from China to Japan during the Heian period (AD 794-1185).  The traditional Japanese umbrella is made of natural material such as Japanese paper, bamboo, and wood.  Thirty to seventy bamboo bones are used to open and fairly spread the umbrella made of Japanese paper.  On the fountain pen, there are four Japanese umbrellas drawn in Taka-Maki-e, using techniques such as raden and kirikane.  Rain is expressed using many narrow pieces of mother of pearl.”

As has been the case with many of the prior releases, this one will again be built off of the M1000 chassis.  Japanese Umbrella will likely start shipping later this month or early next but beware.  This limited edition will command a hefty price and many vendors will see only limited availability due to the number of pieces available.  I wouldn’t wait too long if you have the means and the desire to add this one to your flock.

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Pelikan Hubs 2019 – Philadelphia: A Recap

 

Pelikan 2019 Hubs BannerThe Pelikan Hubs event is now over and, after a day of reflection, it’s time for my traditional recap.  The most dramatic thing that struck me about the sixth annual Hub event is the sheer amount of growth that has occurred over the past six years.  As I demonstrated in my post analyzing this year’s numbers, the annual registrations continue to grow at an astounding clip.  The 2019 event saw Hubs take place in 200 cities spread across 46 countries with over 5,500 registered participants, a roughly 15% increase over 2018’s numbers.  While those worldwide stats are indeed impressive, I can’t help but be awed by the growth of my local hub.  At the very first Hub back in 2014, there were four of us sitting around a table in a small cafe passing around pens and sharing our experiences with various inks and papers.  Five years later, the Philadelphia Hub is bursting at the seams and I’m sure similar stories can be seen the world over.  The passion of this year’s batch of Hub masters was clearly on display, many going above and beyond to make their individual Hubs extra special.  I commend those who have taken up the mantle because it is thanks in no small part to their efforts that this event has been able to continue to grow.  In Philadelphia, Frank Limper of Federalist Pens and Paper helmed the Hub for the second year running, once again selecting The Victoria Freehouse Pub to play host.  With tasty food and refreshing drink, the venue provided a cozy atmosphere though perhaps one our Hub has outgrown.  The only major downside to the location this year was the lack of street parking due to an event happening at the waterfront.

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