I recently came across a rather unusual Pelikan fountain pen, one not frequently encountered in the wild. I suspect that the reason for that lies in the fact that this pen was never intended for sale to the general public. It was not unusual for a company to contract with a brand such as Pelikan to have a special, limited production item made for exclusive distribution. Sometimes these pieces were intended for their customers and other times they were meant for employees. What we have depicted here is a special production Pelikan fountain pen labeled as an M150. It was created for the management of the Italian company Lagostina during the early 1980s. The mystery alluded to in the title of this post lies in the fact that this is not an M150 at all but rather an M481.
Pelikan’s convention of choosing descriptive model numbers has, in general, been one that is easy to follow. A fair bit of information is conveyed with just a single letter and a few numbers. A ‘P’ indicates a cartridge pen whereas an ‘M’ denotes a fountain pen. The first number in the model is the series number indicating models of roughly the same size and style. If the model number ends in a ‘5,’ the pen has rhodium trim and if it ends in a ‘0,’ this usually, but not always, indicates gold-colored furniture. This code, while simplistic, is overall well thought out and effective. How then do we explain a pen that defies these conventions? In a previous post I addressed the case of the M201, a clear demonstrator which turned out to be an M2oo is all respects, just made in a limited run for the Japanese market. I also discussed the M150/481 which has proven very confusing to collectors over the years as it combines numbers from two separate models, a short-lived convention used in the mid-80’s. With these precedents in place, it should come as no surprise then that you can regularly find pens for sale in certain markets branded with the designation M151. If you own one of these, rest assured that it is a legitimately produced model from Pelikan (link is in Italian).
A subtle distinction exist between limited and special edition pens. Pelikan has manufactured many limited edition pieces which are characterized by production in a defined run of finite number. In contrast, special edition pens are often produced in an unlimited number but only for a limited period of time. Since the mid-1990’s, Pelikan has released many limited edition pens. These are often targeted at a specific consumer group with sufficient purchasing power as the price of these models usually comes at a premium. Since these pens are only available in a known limited quantity (with individual pieces often numbered), the company builds in an incentive to buy. Examples would include; The Pyramids of Giza, The Hanging Gardens, The 1000 Years of Austria, Golden Phoenix, The Originals of Their Time series, Hunting, Golf, and Wall Street just to name a few. These are pens designed to commemorate certain events in history, places, historic pen models, or activities. There is also a subset of special edition pens produced in a limited quantity which are made at the request of a specific consumer or for a particular region. This practice within the company dates back to before World War II with the production of the Emege pens and has continued since that time. This has resulted in several variations based off of mainstream model lines that were produced only in small runs for a specific customer though were not themselves numbered. Six of those pens from the modern era will be detailed in this post.