Italy is rife with manufacturers whose products focus on the culture of writing. Aurora, Montegrappa, Pineider, Stipula, and Visconti are just a few that quickly come to mind. Despite the already crowded market space, German interlopers have also done well in the region. One such instance that comes to mind is the curious case of the M151. In 2015, I wrote a brief piece titled “The (Short) Story of the M151” which explored from where the pen’s moniker was derived. As it turned out, the M151 was simply a repackaged M150 Green/Black meant to be sold within the Italian market. The name of the model arose from the company’s own internal description for the M150. Despite the seemingly simple explanation, the pen’s marketing has suggested that there is a lot more to this model than meets the eye. At the end of 2019, the M251 was released, destined for the same region and meant to serve as a larger companion piece to the M151. Rather than a repackaged model, this was a unique addition to the Classic line, employing the same Green/Black color scheme as its little brother. Regional sales literature for the M151 can be found with tag lines such as; “Everything passes…myths remain” and “A legend from the past is back.” This piqued my curiosity. What was so special about this little fountain pen that would elevate it to mythical status and why was it worthy of a new regional companion piece? Was it simply a matter of overzealous marketing or was there something more to it? To answer those questions, I enlisted the help of Mario Pagnozzi of Stilo&Stile. Based out of Rome since 2004, his company’s mission has focused on welcoming enthusiastic, curious people to the world of handwriting. With his help and an inquiry to Pelikan’s Italian division, the cultural connection to the M151 has been made just a little bit clearer. Read on to learn why these two pens might hold a bit more significance for the country than they at first let on.
There has been a dearth of new releases from Pelikan during the first half of 202o which is likely a reflection of the turbulent times that we find ourselves in. If pre-release rumors are to be believed, the second half of the year promises to be much more exciting. That run gets kicked off today with Pelikan’s announcement of the forthcoming Maki-e release, Kingfisher. This newest model further flushes out the company’s Maki-e portfolio, adding to last year’s Five Lucky Bats and Japanese Umbrella. Pelikan describes the Kingfisher as, “a masterpiece that combines the craftsmanship of Pelikan Germany coupled with superior Japanese traditional Maki-e painting techniques.” The accompanying literature describes the newest Maki-e fountain pen thusly;
“Kingfisher is a small bird that lives near the waterside. The kingfisher has a long, dagger-like beak. The plumage of most kingfishers is bright, with green and blue being the most common colors. In Japanese, it is also called jade or blue gemstone because of its bright colors. On the fountain pen, two beautiful Kingfishers are vividly painted on the background of burning red autumn leaves. The motive fantastically expresses a colorful scene in the autumn of Japan.”
The Kingfisher is built off the M1000 chassis, consistent with most of their past Maki-e releases. Given the timing of the announcement, you can expect this model to be available next month. While there is no word yet on pricing, you should expect this ultra-limited edition to command a king’s ransom. This one is reported to be limited to just 123 pieces worldwide.
Five years ago, I published an article titled Chartpak & Their Policies. That piece was the result of a telephone interview with Abigail “Abi” Weeks of Chartpak’s pen repair department. At the time of the interview, Chartpak was servicing the warranty claims for all Pelikan pens purchased from authorized dealers, regardless of the country of origin. By 2017, Chartpak had reversed course and began to honor only those warranty claims for pens purchased from authorized dealers in the United States. For the past several years, those of us looking for better deals from overseas did so with the knowledge that we would have to forego domestic warranty support. While the move created some hard feelings with consumers, it was hardly surprising. Other distributors in the industry have similar policies, policies put in place as a result of international competition. It’s not dissimilar to the camera industry’s long held approach to gray market or parallel import items. Many manufacturers have opted to not provide warranty support for genuine products purchased outside of a region’s distribution channels. This has hardly dissuaded customers from buying overseas as Pelikan’s pens tend to be quite robust and most foreign vendors provide excellent after sales service in my experience. Fast forward to 2020 and things have again changed. Read on to find out how a recent change in Chartpak’s repair policy will affect consumers, effective immediately.
The Perch has always endeavored to be a beacon, shining light on the varied bits of Pelikan arcana. That endeavor has led me down some pretty interesting paths over the years. Of course, I can only expand upon the established body of knowledge by standing on the shoulders of those who have come before me. Occasionally, I am approached about hosting a guest post from someone with a unique insight or experience with the brand which is where we find ourselves today. I’m happy to hand over the reins to Rick Propas, proprietor of the Penguin and a well-known Pelikan collector, retailer, and friend of this blog. The 400 was released in the first half of 1950 and became an incredibly popular model that helped to rebuild the company’s fortunes following World War II. Perhaps lesser known are the many variants derived from the 400 design, namely the 500, 600, and 700. Of these, the 600 remains the most obscure which makes it the perfect fodder for a post. Rick takes a look a close at the 600 and tries to fill in some of the many questions that still surround this model. Without further ado, I give you his take on the model 600.
I find it somewhat taxing to consistently review Pelikan’s fountain pens here on the blog, not because they aren’t great pens but because many of them are just variations on a theme. It becomes a challenge to find new things to write about with pens that are essentially unchanged aside from a fresh coat of paint. Consequently, I try to pick my reviews carefully, keeping my selection criteria to new, unique, or especially exciting features and finishes. I’m also hesitant to review pens that a majority of people won’t get to see in real life let alone own. Still, from time to time there comes a new finish so exciting that it just begs to be reviewed. That is the situation I find myself in with this year’s M1000 Raden Green Ray. This release follows the M805 Raden Royal Platinum (2018) and the M800 Raden Royal Gold (2017). The last Raden based off of the M1000 chassis was the Sunrise (2016). The newest entry in the lineup flaunts wide green stripes that reflect a rainbow of shimmering color in good light. We are so accustomed to the pinstriped pattern of Pelikan’s pens that this one cannot help but stand out. The stripes are made all the more impressive when juxtaposed against a background of deep black Japanese Urushi lacquer. The end result is really something to behold but, sadly, only 400 of these special edition M1000s were made. If pens utilizing the Raden technique appeal to you, then this is a must own Pelikan. Unfortunately, high pricing and limited production will keep this out of the hands of most so read on if for nothing more than to enjoy the eye candy.
With the first half of 2020 almost behind us, you may have noticed a relative dearth of new fountain pens releases coming out of Hannover. This is likely in no small part due to the turmoil that has engulfed the world as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. Thus far, we have come to see just three new models brought to the market in 2o2o. These include the M200 Pastel-Green, the M1000 Raden Green Ray, and let us not forget the more limited release of the M800 Chinese Demonstrator. While we anticipate some fresh new models for the second half of the year, I thought that it might be worthwhile to take a look at what we already have in hand. Announced at the end of last year and released in late March, the M200 Pastel-Green is an interesting new member of Pelikan’s Classic line-up. The company has really embraced an array of pastel colors married to white resin accents over the last few years. That said, the Pastel-Green is now just the third pen from the M2xx series to utilize white resin, following closely on the heels of 2019’s M200 Gold-Marbled. At the risk of deluding myself, I’d like to think that perhaps someone at Pelikan is listening as it appears that some of the features that I critiqued in my Gold-Marbled review were addressed with this release. The reason that I chose to review this one today is for the uniqueness of the finish which is somewhat different from prior releases. The Pastel-Green is a special edition meaning that it will only be around for a limited time so read on to find out whether or not it’s just the trick to brighten up this otherwise bleak Spring.
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.
Pelikan launched the M800, their first oversized pen, at the Frankfurt Fair in 1987. The new pen was initially available in the company’s classic green striped Stresemann pattern with an all-black model to follow shortly thereafter. We know that around this time a third model was released, the fabled Tortoiseshell Brown. For over twenty years, this was the only tortoise variant available from Pelikan in a larger sized model. Why this was the case, we can only speculate. While the brown tortoise M800 has achieved a cult status amongst collectors, some have posited that sales at the time of the initial release may have been somewhat lackluster. Nonetheless, in 2013 Pelikan re-introduced the M800 Tortoiseshell Brown to great fanfare. The company must have realized the pent up demand as their sales literature kicked off with the line; “Finally, it is back! The much coveted model Souverän 800 tortoiseshell brown….” Both models are now scarce in the secondary market and command a hefty sum when found. The provenance of that original tortoise has always been shrouded in a touch of uncertainty. The issue is compounded by the fact that German law only requires companies to preserve records for a period of 15 years so the historic archive is often times fragmented and lacking in primary supporting documents. That said, Pelikan has done a better job than many at preserving the company’s rich history. I thought that it might be interesting to explore the available evidence as well as the past statements of some subject matter experts in an attempt to find the truth. It also provides a good opportunity to take a closer look at each of the two M800 tortoises side by side. While we may never know the definitive answer as to original pen’s origins, the mystery only enhances its intrigue as a collector’s model.