Italy is rife with manufacturers whose products focus on the culture of writing. Aurora, Montegrappa, Pineider, Stipula, and Visconti are just a few that quickly come to mind. Despite the already crowded market space, German interlopers have also done well in the region. One such instance that comes to mind is the curious case of the M151. In 2015, I wrote a brief piece titled “The (Short) Story of the M151” which explored from where the pen’s moniker was derived. As it turned out, the M151 was simply a repackaged M150 Green/Black meant to be sold within the Italian market. The name of the model arose from the company’s own internal description for the M150. Despite the seemingly simple explanation, the pen’s marketing has suggested that there is a lot more to this model than meets the eye. At the end of 2019, the M251 was released, destined for the same region and meant to serve as a larger companion piece to the M151. Rather than a repackaged model, this was a unique addition to the Classic line, employing the same Green/Black color scheme as its little brother. Regional sales literature for the M151 can be found with tag lines such as; “Everything passes…myths remain” and “A legend from the past is back.” This piqued my curiosity. What was so special about this little fountain pen that would elevate it to mythical status and why was it worthy of a new regional companion piece? Was it simply a matter of overzealous marketing or was there something more to it? To answer those questions, I enlisted the help of Mario Pagnozzi of Stilo&Stile. Based out of Rome since 2004, his company’s mission has focused on welcoming enthusiastic, curious people to the world of handwriting. With his help and an inquiry to Pelikan’s Italian division, the cultural connection to the M151 has been made just a little bit clearer. Read on to learn why these two pens might hold a bit more significance for the country than they at first let on.
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.
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).