In 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany and John F. Young opened Tiffany & Young with a $1,000 loan from Mr. Tiffany’s father. That store was located in New York and sold stationery and other luxury goods such as costume jewelry. In 1841 Mr. Tiffany and Mr. Young took on another partner, J. L. Ellis, and the store became Tiffany, Young & Ellis. The name Tiffany & Company was adopted in 1853 when Charles Tiffany bought out his partners and took control. As the company’s sole lead, he established the firm’s emphasis on jewelry and developed a tradition of introducing designs that captured the mood of contemporary fashion and defined American luxury. The company has had its share of ups and downs throughout its history, particularly suffering from the effects of the stock market crash in the 1930s. Over the years and under various mantles of leadership, the company’s fortunes rebounded, making it the multi-million dollar company that it is today. Perhaps best known for its stunning jewelry, Tiffany & Co. has crafted many branded goods over the years. In the early 1990s, approximately 1/4 of those goods were made by the company itself. The balance was produced under contract by other manufacturers. Pelikan was one of those manufacturers, producing the M817 and M818 Atlas series of pens for Tiffany & Co.
This year promises some interesting additions to the Pelikan line-up if rumors are to be believed. We have already seen the Zeus and M101N Bright Red released along with the Ink of the Year, Smoky Quartz. News of Pelikan’s newest special edition broke today, courtesy of several vendors. Slated for a May 2017 release, the M800 family expands with the introduction of the Renaissance Brown.
News broke of the M101N Bright Red at the end of January and pens started shipping just a few weeks ago. The M101N is a modern re-imagining of a line of pens that Pelikan first introduced in the 1930s. Since 2011, we have had several releases in the series including the Tortoiseshell Brown (2011), the Lizard (2012), and the Tortoiseshell Red (2014). It’s not clear why the hiatus between the Tortoiseshell Red and the new Bright Red. What’s interesting about the Bright Red is that there is no direct historical 101N model from which it draws upon for its design. Perhaps that might explain the delay in a new model being put forth. The closest approximation in Pelikan’s history appears to be the amazing 101 Coral Red. The 101s were 100s that had colored caps but still retained the design of the 100. While the finishes of the modern Bright Red and vintage Coral Red are similar, the look of the two models is significantly different. There is a lot of divided sentiment about these modern releases and I find most of the accolade and adoration consistently goes to the Tortoiseshell Brown. Read on to find out whether or not the M101N Bright Red can upset the Tortoiseshell Brown’s place on the throne.
Pelikan has enjoyed a long and storied history of pen production. For this post, I’d like to focus on what may well be characterized as a bit of an oddity in the Pelikan line-up. The P1 was introduced in September of 1958 and enjoyed only a short production run ending sometime in 1963, presumably due to poor sales. The ‘P’ designation stands out as unusual here because this more commonly denotes a patronen-füller or cartridge pen but the P1 is in fact a piston filled fountain pen. This model was available as both Silvexa (P1S) and Rolled Gold (P1RG) variants. It came at a time when hooded nibs were en vogue and seemed to serve as Pelikan’s answer to the phenomenon. That said, Pelikan’s foray came much later than most other companies since pens like Parker’s 51 & 61, Aurora’s 88, Lamy’s 27, and Waterman’s C/F had already been on the market for some time. Until the introduction of the P1, Pelikan had been producing pens like the venerable 140 and 400, making the P1 a significant departure in design. Be that as it may, many people have shown much affection for the P1 and I felt a bit of a historical overview and review were in order as the P1 slowly creeps up on its diamond jubilee.
Pelikan’s first foray into the school pen market was the 120 released in the mid 1950’s. Prior to that, their focus had been on writing implements designed almost exclusively for adults. After five years of experience in that market, Pelikan began production of the first Pelikano model which was launched on March 22, 1960. The Pelikano’s design was based on lessons learned from the 120 as well as the feedback they received from teachers. The model line is now 57 years old and it shows no signs of slowing down. The Pelikano has undergone many design changes over its nearly six decades in addition to spawning other products such as the Pelikano Junior. The most recent version of the Pelikano has been the P480, first released in 2010 as a significant redesign to the prior P460 and updated again in 2015. The current P480 has an opaque rather than transparent grip and an ink view window on its barrel, distinguishing it from its predecessor. Pelikan appears to be adding an upgraded version of the Pelikano to the line-up. Made from better materials and with a more adult design, their newest creation has been dubbed the Pelikano Up fountain pen.
Today’s post will explore the Pelikan M700 family of fountain pens. This is a particularly interesting and unique series as it includes two Toledo models as well as several others plated with various metals. The M7xx pens have the same dimensions as the M400 though with some added heft due to their metal construction. The five pens that comprise this line are the M700 Toledo, M710 Toledo, M730, M750, and M760. Most of these models were made in the 1980s and 1990s though some have been produced more recently. As far as Pelikan pens go, these five are amongst some of my favorites for reasons which I hope will be clear by the end of this post. They are not without their shortcomings, however, as I will try to point out. Most of these pens are now out of production and some are quite hard to find. Many will command a premium price if you do happen to stumble across one that’s for sale. Read on to learn a bit more about the idiosyncrasies of each of these models.
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.
Pens have a ubiquitous presence in our environment which makes them well suited as promotional items. We’ve all seen pens with business names and logos inscribed upon them as a means of advertising. Sometimes the inscriptions are more meaningful and are intended to commemorate an event or recognize outstanding performance or participation. Pens also serve this purpose well because they are so useful in our day to day lives. We saw this with the Lagostina M150 where a company contracted with Pelikan to have a special, limited production pen made for exclusive distribution. In this example, the pen was created as a gift for the management of the Italian cookware company Lagostina during the early 1980s. In similar fashion, Pelikan has supplied pens to their employees on occasion to commemorate certain achievements or milestones. One such event was the 25th anniversary of the opening of the manufacturing plant at Peine-Vöhrum, Germany.