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.
Yesterday brought an unexpected glimpse of the next M8xx release out of Hannover, this time courtesy of U.K. based Penbox by way of their Instagram account. The news seems to come a little ahead of schedule as we don’t have any high quality stock photos or other promotional materials available as of yet nor do we see any announcements from other vendors. What we do have is a first look at the upcoming M805 Blue Dunes special edition in what appears to be a pre-release photo meant for retailers. Consistent with the rumors from earlier this year, this M805 has a pattern reminiscent of 2016’s M800 Grand Place. The Blue Dunes embodies swirling shades of blue intermixed with darker tones. We are still awaiting official word from Pelikan with regards to the inspiration behind this finish. The Blue Dunes will join the likes of the Ocean Swirl (2017) and the Vibrant Blue (2015), accented by palladium plated trim. Based on what little info is available at the moment, this one is anticipated for a late June 2019 release.
The M101N takes its design queues from Pelikan’s historic models of the 1930s and 40s and the re-interpretation has, by all outward appearances, been a success for the company. This modern line was first introduced in 2011 and has steadily grown since, now counting six models amongst its ranks. Those include the Tortoiseshell Brown (2011), the Lizard (2012), the Lizard Jubilee Edition (2013), the Tortoiseshell Red (2014), and the Bright Red (2017). The newest model, released just this year, is the Grey-Blue. Like the Bright Red that came before, there does not appear to be a corresponding vintage 101N model with the exact same finish. That’s not surprising since the original 101N line encompassed only a few different models. Also, Pelikan defies the nomenclature of the past here with its choice of styling. The 100Ns were characterized by black caps whereas the 101Ns had colored caps or caps that matched the pattern of the barrel. By placing a black cap on the newest M101N, the company has blurred some of the conventions of old, conventions which had remained intact up until now. Of this modern lot, it seems that the Tortoiseshell Brown consistently gets the most attention, and for good reason. The Grey-Blue is no slouch however and it is worth a look given the uniqueness of the finish. Read on to find out more.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Pelikan introduced a series of special editions across their Souverän lines that employed sterling silver components decorated with a gold overlay. The gilding of silver is often referred to as vermeil, a French term that is actually pronounced “ver-may.” By plating sterling silver in such a way, an item can be imbued with a gold appearance at a fraction of the cost of pure gold. This should not be mistaken for simple gold plating. There are regulations that oversee what may be called vermeil in many jurisdictions. For the U.S. market, the base metal must be sterling silver with a gold coating of at least 10 carats or finer and with a thickness of 2.5 microns (1/10,000th of an inch). Mere gold plating has no such industry regulations. These upgraded Souveräns have a guilloche metal cap but otherwise maintain the same visual appearance and trim as their less gilded siblings. Each fountain pen in the series is referred to as an Mx50 and there have been nine such models over the years in addition to several companion pieces. Care should be taken not to confuse these with the M150 and M250 of the Classic series or the M750 anniversary edition which do not have any vermeil components.