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.
After a hiatus of nearly two months, we again have fresh news about the next release out of Hannover. March looks to be a big month for Pelikan with the previously announced M200 Pastel Green and the Edelstein IOTY Moonstone already due. Those releases will now be joined by a new Souverän, the M1000 Raden Green Ray. The last Raden model to be released was the M805 Raden Royal Platinum back in 2018. The M1000 line hasn’t seen a pen in this style since 2016’s Raden Sunrise. To make a pen with this traditional Japanese technique, a special Japanese Urushi lacquer is first applied to the barrel and cap. The stripes are then constructed with particles of Australian abalone. For the Green Ray, these colorful pieces of pearlescent shell appear to reflect hues of green, blue, and purple. Finally, another layer of lacquer is applied to seal everything in place. The artist then hand numbers and signs each piece in the Maki-e technique. Other notable past Raden releases built off of the M1xxx chassis are the Moonlight (2011), Sunlight (2013), Starlight (2014), and Sunrise (2016). This will be a limited edition of just 400 pieces worldwide and is due out in March 2020.
In 2007, Pelikan introduced the Majesty series of fountain pens. Production would run through 2012 and include the M7000 and M7005. They are hefty pens that incorporate a piston mechanism hidden by a sterling silver sleeve. The M7000 is characterized by a sterling silver cap with gold plated accents and a two-tone nib. A limited edition of this model made up of just 170 pens was released in 2008 in honor of the company’s 170th anniversary. That version is entirely gold plated with three diamonds embedded in the nest on the cap top. The M7005 eschews the gold plating and includes a highly polished black resin cap. Each model line had a matching ballpoint and rollerball available. The cap top features a Jugendstil frieze, the design of which was taken directly from the facade of Pelikan’s original offices in Hannover, Germany. This horizontally, engraved band depicts a motif of pelicans, originally crafted by a stonemason at the turn of the century sometime between 1900 and 1906. Jugendstil was the German counterpart to Art Nouveau, an artistic movement that was active from 1895 to 1910. The movement developed as a reaction to the historicism and neo-classicism of the official art and architecture academies and was most active in the fields of graphic arts and interior design. That original frieze remains in place to this day. The Majesty’s launch was met with mixed emotion and, like its contemporary the Ductus, opinion was split down the middle. Hampered by an undersized nib and a supersized price tag, the pen certainly had its detractors. Read on to find out if the Majesty holds up to royal scrutiny.
Pelikan’s first venture into the writing instrument market was heralded by the release of the Pelikan Fountain Pen in 1929. That pen would see a number of revisions over its lifespan, ultimately becoming what we know today as the model 100. A specific designation only became necessary because the company very quickly expanded their catalog to include additional models targeting a more affluent market. Built off of the 100 chassis, these pens would incorporate new colors and gilded embellishments which elevated the base model to a whole new level. The first of these came about in 1930/31 when Pelikan released the models 110 (White Rolled Gold), 111 (Gold/Black), and 112 (Gold). The T111 Toledo would also go on sale in 1931 with an initial price tag of 27 marks. While not the most expensive pen in the company’s line-up at the time, it was perhaps one of the most inspired. In 1935, the 101 model line was introduced which was characterized by caps that matched the colored bindes surrounding the barrels. Several variations were produced, often in vibrant colors, such as Jade (Green) and Lapis (Blue). Production of all of the aforementioned models was relatively short lived, ending no later than 1938 if not sooner. Perhaps it was the seemingly timeless design or a sense of nostalgia that prompted the resurrection of these classics nearly sixty years later in 1997. They would be produced as a run of limited edition pieces that would carry the moniker “Originals Of Their Time.” Not just inspired by the source material, these new pens were faithfully recreated from the original technical drawings. Taking it one step further, Pelikan eschewed modern plastics in parts of the construction in favor of the same materials employed decades earlier, chiefly celluloid and black hard rubber, adding an additional layer of authenticity. Of course, this has it’s downsides too as hard rubber can easily oxidize and turn brown. While the replicas may look spot on at first glance, some liberties were taken for the modern era. Gone are the cork seals of old; a slightly updated piston assembly incorporating a modern, synthetic seal in their place. The nib assemblies too bear only a slight cosmetic resemblance to their predecessors. Made in limited numbers and nearing two decades since production ceased, these modern pens are a treat to behold. Read on to learn more.
Some of you may recall a small post that I wrote back in 2015 titled “The (Short) Story of the M151.” If not, allow me to refresh your memory. Pelikan introduced the M150 alongside the M200 back in 1983 in order to provide a smaller alternative in the Classic series of pens. The M150 Green-Black came about in 1988 and underwent a redesign in 1997. Found predominantly in the Italian market, the M151 is nothing more than a regional variation of the standard post-1997 Green-Black M150 sold with fancier packaging. The atypical designation was once explained by one of Pelikan’s European sales & marketing representatives like so; “M151 is the company’s own ‘internal description’ for the M150 model and is the name that the pen has come to be sold under in certain export markets.” Sales literature can be found that seemingly elevates this particular model to some sort of legendary status. One such tagline reads “Everything passes…myths remain.” New for 2019, it would appear that the M151 has gotten a big brother aptly named the M251. Dressed in the exact same trim and color scheme, the M251 is distinguished from the M151 only by its larger size. Read on to find out all of the details.