A demonstrator is a very polarizing type of fountain pen amongst enthusiasts. Some love them for the ability to see the inner workings of the piston mechanism. Nothing is left to the imagination and new shades of ink can effect a chameleonic transformation upon the pen’s appearance. Others hate them for the very same reason since every errant blob of ink may become glaringly evident and stains aren’t so well hidden. Pelikan has released many demonstrators over the course of its history including several amongst their Classic series. This is Pelikan’s lower tier line with a somewhat less ostentatious trim than the Souverän series, stainless steel nibs in place of gold ones, and a slightly less polished finish. Don’t let those differences fool you though as these are excellent fountain pens for substantially less money than what the Souverän line commands. One production theme that has often been repeated across the M2xx series is that of the brown transparent demonstrator. Since 2003, Pelikan has released four models done in a shade of brown, three of which are so similar that only a few tell tale details set them apart. The newest model to that line is several shades darker and I thought that it would be interesting to see these four distinct but related releases together so that you might see just how they stack up with one another and how much darker the Smoky Quartz actually is.
While not officially rumored, an announcement has been expected from Pelikan regarding a new fountain pen from their Classic line in the same color as this year’s Edelstein Ink of the Year, Smoky Quartz. This model would follow a pattern established by two prior releases emulating a limited edition Edelstein ink, Amethyst (2015) and Aquamarine (2016). Of note, both of those models were designated as part of the M205 line which is characterized by chromium plated furniture which is silver in color. Fritz-Schimpf, an awesome retailer based out of Germany, has given us our first look at the much anticipated Smoky Quartz demonstrator. While the release has been expected, I did not anticipate that it would be part of the M200 line-up, distinguished by its gold-plated furniture. It shouldn’t take long now for this pen to show up for pre-order via your preferred retailer. Consistent with past timelines, expect the M200 Smoky Quartz to be available sometime in August.
Pelikan has had many unique fountain pen releases over its long and storied history. Amongst the Classic line, the marbled variants have proven very popular and have had an enduring presence since their introduction in the late 1980s. Perhaps no finish has enjoyed the longevity of the grün marmoriert or green marbled variant, one of Pelikan’s best sellers. This pattern has seen no less than five permutations across a couple of different models in the M2xx family. The marbled look can be traced all the way back to Pelikan’s earliest pens dating to the 1930s. I thought that it would be fun to explore each one of these modern iterations in the M2xx line-up, especially in light of the newest version released in November 2015. Green marble is back and while it may seem like much of the same on the surface, there are some subtle differences that are worth pointing out.
With official news of the Souverän M800 Burnt Orange finally coming out of Hannover, it seemed that all of Pelikan’s planned releases for 2015 had finally been announced. When Goldspot Pens posted their Pelikan Fall Preview 2015 two weeks ago that notion was cast into doubt. The very last paragraph of that post was cryptically titled “More Pelikan?” Goldspot’s post indicated that an old favorite within the M200 series was going to make a come-back with a debut anticipated for November 2015 but the author would not reveal any more. There have been roughly thirty M200 releases since the series’ introduction in 1985 so which of these could be the old favorite alluded to in Goldspot’s blog? It now appears that the “old favorite” is none other than the M200 Green Marbled, a pen previously reported to be one of Pelikan’s best sellers. Sound like deja vu? It should as this is not the first time this pen has resurfaced.
Pelikan’s 101N Lizard from the 1930’s is a highly sought after and well-regarded fountain pen. At auction, it can command prices upwards of $1500-$2000. It’s finish is unique and stands out against Pelikan’s more well-known tortoise designs. The release of the M101N Lizard in 2012 served as a modern homage to that originator but the finish seemed to fall short of expectations and, anecdotally, does not appear to have been as well received as the M101N releases before and after it. Regardless of your opinion of the pen’s appearance, if you thought that the 2012 M101N Lizard was the first time that Pelikan re-visited the lizard design, think again. Sometime in the mid-1990’s a special edition set was released to the United States in a pattern then described as “Snakeskin.” If you look at it in person, it is very similar, if not identical, to the lizard pattern of today’s M101N. While the rollerball and ballpoint versions can still be had with minimal difficulty, very few of these snakeskin fountain pens have ever been seen and information on them is sparse and incomplete. Maybe this is because there is some truth behind one rumor that contends that only ten such pens are known to exist. While I can’t provide any validity to that rumor, after much research, I believe that I have cobbled together a plausible origin story and will do my best to try to shed some light on this seldom seen model.
It seems as if it were just yesterday that Pelikan announced a new M200 model for 2015 and, two months later, we now have the Café Crème (pronounced kah/fay krehm) in hand. The company has been producing many special editions in recent times within both its Classic and Souverän lines. For the M200 line, Pelikan gave us the clear transparent demonstrator in 2012 which they followed up in 2014 with the cognac transparent demonstrator. Both of those releases were nice pens but ultimately were little more than re-releases of prior M200 models with a slight upgrade of the cap top trim. While this was welcomed by many due to the relative scarcity of examples from the original release on the secondary market, the new models overall have felt uninspired and stale. What’s more is that pen collectors/users are very polarized over demonstrator models with one camp loving them and another loathing them without much middle ground in between. This years release does not feel rehashed but instead seems to offer a truly new and unique pen that brings back some excitement to Pelikan’s entry-level line-up. Inspired by the world of coffee, this pen is anything but stale and whatever your taste may be, this release hopefully signals a game change from the creative minds at Pelikan.
The grey marbled M200, a finish also known as the silver pearls, is a frequently encountered variation of Pelikan’s Classic line. These are quite commonly found for sale on the secondary market and are, in my opinion, one of the more distinguished appearing variants of the M200. It likely made its debut sometime around 1988 in the ‘old-style’ trim variant which was distinguished by a derby cap top, double cap bands, and the absence of a trim ring at the piston knob. This finish also was utilized in an older run of M250’s for the export market. In the M200 line-up, this model persisted along with its blue and green marbled siblings up until and through the revision of the line in 1997.
It certainly seems that Pelikan is in step with the holiday spirit this season as new product announcements continue to roll out of Hanover ahead of the new year, much to the delight of Pelikan aficionados. It was just this past Monday when Pelikan announced the M805 Stresemann which introduces a new anthracite binde paired with a very complimentary rhodium trim. The early chatter seems to indicate that the pen community has received the news of that new model quite enthusiastically. Now, just three days on the heels of that announcement, Pelikan is at it again, this time with a new pen in their Classic line. Their last release in this line was the M200 Cognac Demonstrator which debuted in 2014. It seems that the upcoming year will bring us another beverage inspired model, the M200 Café Crème.