Historic examples of lower tier pen manufacturers emulating successful models from larger companies abound. While these pens may share a lot of similarities, they can usually be distinguished by a few telltale signs. Sometimes the distinctions are so few that you might suspect a collaboration between two companies. Such was the case with Gimborn and Pelikan, two businesses that share a history together. The term doppelgänger is used to describe a person that bears an uncanny resemblance to someone else without being a twin. It’s a word that is aptly applied to the Gimborn 150 Master which is eerily similar to its cousin, the Pelikan 300. The similarities are less surprising once you understand the history of Gimborn. Read on to learn about the company’s origins and how their first fountain pen came to look an awful lot like a Pelikan.
It has been several months since we have had any fresh news of a pending Pelikan release. Customers continue to await the M1005 Stresemann now long delayed by supply chain issues. The drought has ended as news of the upcoming M205 Star Ruby Special Edition Demonstrator broke today. As expected, the company continues their streak of M2xx releases based on their Edelstein Ink of The Year. The Star Ruby will be the fifth model in that line-up and our first glimpse comes to us courtesy of Appelboom in the Netherlands. The M205 Star Ruby follows the likes of the M205 Olivine (2018), M200 Smoky Quartz (2017), M205 Aquamarine (2016), and M205 Amethyst (2015). This year’s M205 appears to be a departure from past releases in that the material has a sparkly, shimmering quality for lack of a better descriptor. Pre-orders should be available soon as this one is expected to be in stores starting sometime this September.
It isn’t easy deciding which pens to review here on The Perch. I like to focus on those pieces that bring something new to the table or tell a story. I mean, there is only so much you can say about another M800 with a different color scheme. That line of thinking is what lead me to today’s review. The recently released King Michael fountain pen stands out as unique in Pelikan’s catalog for a couple of reasons. The official name of this model is the King Michael I of Romania – Royal Edition and was only sold through Herlitz in Romania making this an ultra-exclusive regional edition that was not available through the usual retail channels. In fact, acquiring one required registration on the web, being selected, and then facilitating payment via a direct bank transfer. Honoring King Michael I (10/25/1921 – 12/5/2017), the last king of Romania, this edition is limited to just 300 pieces. While the underlying bones are clearly recognizable as those of a standard M800, this model incorporates a few design elements not previously seen. That allows this edition to stand out as an example of what good can come from local distributors partnering with the company to put out a unique product. While the opportunity to own one has largely passed at this juncture, I think that this pen is worthy of a closer look.
Pelikan was officially founded in 1838 but did not produce its first fountain pen until 1929. The first pens to roll off of the assembly line came without a model number and were known only as the Pelikan fountain pen, presumably since they were the company’s only such product. It wasn’t until 1931 and after a few small revisions that it would come to be known as the model 100. Armed with a removable nib assembly and an industry leading differential piston filling mechanism, that first model would go on to set a bar of excellence for generations to come. This year marks the 90th anniversary of Pelikan’s foray into fountain pen production. There have been hundreds of different models produced in that span of time and the company has just added a new limited edition to its catalog, this time to commemorate those 90 years of pen making history. The Herzstück 1929 pays homage to the company’s first fountain pens without being a direct copy. It stands out as unique in Pelikan’s catalog, incorporating features from several historic models. Coupled with updates for the modern age, this new addition is not your great grandfather’s fountain pen. The name of this limited edition suggests just how important this design has been to the company as Herzstück can be roughly translated to mean core or heart. The last time that we saw such a commemorative model was in 2004 when the M1075 was debuted to honor 75 years of pen production. That model was ultra-limited to just 75 copies. The Herzstück has been produced as an edition of 462 pieces, a number that was derived from the last three digits of the company’s original patent, which will serve to make it somewhat more widely available than its predecessor. How does this retro inspired fountain pen stack up today? Read on to find out.
Pelikan has been responsible for the innovation and production of some of the most iconic fountain pens of the 20th century. With 90 years of experience in pen making, a great number of models have been released into the wild. Some releases were only meant for certain markets and therefore are fairly scarce in most other parts of the world. As such, a model may be sighted so infrequently that it generates years of debate amongst enthusiasts about its authenticity. One such example is the elusive M600 Tortoiseshell Brown (circa 1985-96) but it is not the only example. While the M600 mentioned here turned out to be a factory produced model made for the Japanese market, there is another, older tortoise that has also been subject to a fair amount of speculation. That model is a Pelikan 101N Dark Tortoiseshell Brown. While that may not sound controversial, it’s the accents found on this particular pen that make it so. Rather than the well documented red or tortoise colored components, both the cap top and piston knob of this Dark Tortoise are black. Much of the information offered to justify this pen’s existence to date has been circumstantial and based on regional anecdotes. Enough of these have been spotted in the wild to at least suggest that they may have been more than someone’s backroom special. Today, I try to examine the available evidence and demonstrate once and for all the true origins of this controversial and largely undocumented 101N.
When you dig back through Pelikan’s long and storied history of pen making, you can find all sorts of odd editions made for local markets or done by regional distributors. Some of those models came from company sanctioned production runs while others had a more dubious genesis. The M800 Laser (2000) comes to mind as a good example of a strictly regional release. The Laser was an exclusive limited edition of only 100 pens which were specially engraved by Visconti and authorized by Pelikan Milan. This pen was made only for the Italian market, but it was not warmly welcomed in Hannover resulting in several being destroyed but that is a story for another day. My point is that it has been some time since we’ve seen a truly regional release from Pelikan which is why May 30th will be a stand out day in the company’s history. On that day, Pelikan Romania unveiled a new fountain pen titled “King Michael I of Romania – Royal Edition.” This model is not like many of the other Souveräns that we’ve seen and its unveiling was met with much more ceremony than we’ve been accustomed to. Read on to learn more about this neat and ultra-limited edition.
Over the last several years we have become accustomed to annual releases of Maki-e inspired limited edition fountain pens from Pelikan. These models have married nearly a century of pen making experience with the expertise of Japanese artists. Recent past releases have included the Spring & Autumn (2016), Dragonfly (2017), and Peacock (2018) to name just a few. The Pelikan’s Perch has learned that the 2019 Maki-e pen will be called Five Lucky Bats. An excerpt from Pelikan’s sales literature has this to say about the new model;
“In China, the bat is considered a symbol of happiness as the pronunciation of the word ‘bat’ resembles a Chinese word which means ‘fortune is coming.’ The depiction of the bat is considered to be a lucky pattern which brings five kinds of luck: a long life, wealth and respect, health and mindfulness, virtue and grace, and to die without worry and regret. There were times when only noble people could wear clothes using motifs of the bat. In Japan as well, the bat is regarded as a symbol of luck as the word bat is pronounced as ‘komori’ which could be written in Japanese as ‘a lot of happiness.'”
Like the models cited above, this one will be built off of the M1000 chassis, the same line that has been plagued by a supply chain issue in recent months. Fret not as a limited edition of this nature is likely immune to the issues affecting the rest of the series. It is unclear just when we might see this one come to market though I would anticipate a June/July release.
Just yesterday I posted the first glimpses of the M805 Blue Dunes special edition (first put out by Penbox) and, as promised, am able to follow that up today with some additional details. The actual promotional photos now available seem to affirm my first impression of a blue Grand Place type finish but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The official product information from Pelikan reads as follows;
“Gaze at the new Series Souverän M805 Blue Dunes and find yourself fascinated by a world of colors. Contrasts of shadow and light interplay in hues from brilliant azure to deep, midnight blue. The composition of flowing silhouettes displays distinct patches of color, yet it also harmoniously unites the varying shades of blue. Like the color of sand dunes under a midnight moon, the interplay of blues in each M805 Blue Dunes writing instrument is unique.”
That is quite the colorful description and the inspiration behind the finish is definitely clearer now. Pelikan frequently recommends ink pairings from their Edelstein line for new release and for this one they have chosen Topaz. The M805 Blue Dunes appears to be on track for a late June 2019 release.