Born out of a shared passion for fountain pens, Andreas Lambrou and Keith G. Brown launched Classic Pens Limited in England in 1987. Their goal was to create exclusive fountain pen designs for like-minded pen lovers across the globe. The pair would end up partnering with a wide variety of international manufacturers, taking models with an already established pedigree and elevating them in new and unique ways. The endeavor did not take off immediately as they struggled to find manufacturers willing to partner with them, but their efforts came to fruition in 1990 with the launch of the Classic Pens CP collection of limited editions. The first release was done in partnership with Sheaffer UK and was based on the Targa but the collection would grow to comprise well known flagship models from many other prominent brands. Classic pens would take those pens and make them new again by covering them in sterling silver and decorating them with customized guilloche engravings. Named after the craftsman Guillot who is credited with inventing the art, guilloche is an ancient technique that consists of engraving patterns on materials. It has been used to decorate countless items including watches, lighters, cufflinks, cutlery, and pens. In 1998, shortly after the release of their fourth CP edition, Classic Pens Incorporated was formed in Los Angeles, California in order to better serve the United States market. The CP collection of pens are as much works of art as they are functional writing instruments. To accomplish all of this, Classic Pens partnered with the Murelli family, renowned professional guillocheurs out of France. The series has spanned 18 years and is made up of 8 limited edition releases representing 14 models with most of the designs guided by a specific theme. All the pens standout as special but two in particular will be the focus of this article; the CP6 Charlotte and CP6 Marguerite. These two models represent the sixth edition of the CP series and are only rarely seen for sale these days. Announced in September 2000 and released in 2002, they represent a collaboration between Classic Pens, Murelli, and Pelikan. Both are considered official Pelikan releases, backed by a lifetime Pelikan Warranty and after sales service. Read on to learn about the inspiration that helped breathe life into these unique models.
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.
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.
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.
As anticipated, Pelikan kicks off the month of October with a new Maki-e release, this one titled Japanese Umbrella. This is actually the second Maki-e pen to debut in 2019 with Five Lucky Bats having been launched this past summer. These ultra-detailed and labor intensive pieces have been a show case of the marriage between German engineering and Japanese artistry. The prior four themed models have included the Spring & Autumn (2016), Dragonfly (2017), Peacock (2018), and Five Lucky Bats (2019). Pelikan has this to say about their new Maki-e model;
“The umbrella was introduced from China to Japan during the Heian period (AD 794-1185). The traditional Japanese umbrella is made of natural material such as Japanese paper, bamboo, and wood. Thirty to seventy bamboo bones are used to open and fairly spread the umbrella made of Japanese paper. On the fountain pen, there are four Japanese umbrellas drawn in Taka-Maki-e, using techniques such as raden and kirikane. Rain is expressed using many narrow pieces of mother of pearl.”
As has been the case with many of the prior releases, this one will again be built off of the M1000 chassis. Japanese Umbrella will likely start shipping later this month or early next but beware. This limited edition will command a hefty price and many vendors will see only limited availability due to the number of pieces available. I wouldn’t wait too long if you have the means and the desire to add this one to your flock.
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.
There is no better way to start off a new week than with news of a few upcoming releases. First up is Pelikan’s Maki-e Peacock limited edition announced by Fritz-Schimpf earlier today. This 2018 model follows the Spring & Autumn (2016) and the Dragonfly (2017) that came before it. Pelikan’s sales literature (translated from German) relates that the peacock is one of the most beautiful birds on earth due to its exceptionally beautiful, brightly colored feathers. Peacocks have also been known to eat poisonous plants without being affected causing the animal to held in high esteem amongst different cultures and religions since the early days of human history. The peacock has developed as a symbol of happiness because the bird is seen as being able to protect people from hardship and pain. This Maki-e release celebrates all of the above. Built off of the M1000 chassis, the traditional Make-e painting depicts the brightly colored plumage of the peafowl set in sharp contrast against a black background.
The chemist Carl Hornemann founded a paint and ink company near Hanover, Germany in 1832. This would serve as the foundation for what we know today as Pelikan. The date of the company’s official founding is regarded as April 28th, 1838 because that was the occasion of their very first price list. All of the company’s anniversaries are based off of that date meaning that 2018 marks the 180th anniversary of the brand. To honor the affair, Pelikan is releasing a very limited edition fountain pen called the Spirit of 1838. We get our first glimpse of this new model thanks to the German retailer Fritz-Schimpf. You may recall similar releases in the past such as the M750 and M760 which honored the 150th anniversary in 1988. We also saw the M101N Jubilee Pen in 2013 which was a run of just 238 pens marking the company’s 175th anniversary. Now the Spirit of 1838 follows a similar vein, being released in an edition of just 180 pens.