Fountain pens were once the writing instruments that ruled all others. In a relatively short period of time, the ballpoint pen was able to overthrow the kings of old. Sometime around the mid-twentieth century, ballpoints had clearly become the de facto standard. While fountain pen usage was on the wane, it never went away completely. By the early 1980s, Pelikan saw an opportunity for a revival of sorts. No longer the essential tool for daily life that it once was, the fountain pen was again being taken up, this time as more of a status symbol or collectors item. The early 1980s would come to herald what could be considered a fountain pen renaissance. It was 1982 when Pelikan chose to try to capture this market with the re-introduction of the 400, a pen that the company had a lot of success with decades earlier. With little in the way of cosmetic differences, the new model would be called the M400 and it would become the cornerstone of a high end line of pens known as the Souverän series, a moniker likely prompted by Montblanc’s long standing Meisterstück. Quite perilously, this came at a troubled time for Pelikan as a rapid expansion of the business in the late 1970s resulted in the company having to declare bankruptcy right around the time of the M400’s release. The company was ultimately taken over and various divisions were parted out, either into subsidiary companies or sold off completely. It is lucky for us that the production of fine writing instruments would survive this tumultuous time. What separates the 400 from the M400? How do you identify the subtle and not so subtle differences between the two? Read on to find out.
Few designs capture the imagination of the fountain pen community like a tortoise release from Pelikan. The tortoise finish goes all the way back to the earliest days of Pelikan’s foray into fountain pens. Forums can frequently be found with posts lamenting the lack of a tortoiseshell variant of one model or another. When the M800 Tortoiseshell Brown was released in 2013, it became an instant classic. Prior to that the M4xx line last saw a tortoise release in 2009 (M415) and the M600 line last had one in 2012 (Tortoiseshell White). When the M800 was made available, one of the few criticisms from the community was that such a finish was not present in a smaller sized model. Three years later and Pelikan has again resurrected the tortoise as a special edition finish in the M400 series. This is the first brown tortoise in the M400 line in seven years and is sure to make a big splash, particularly amongst those that favor a smaller/standard sized writing instrument. After a month of regular use, I’ve been very pleased by this model and felt that a review was in order. Read on to discover my thoughts on the newest special edition to join the flock.
Vendors have finally put to rest speculation over this year’s rumored M400 Tortoiseshell Brown by announcing Pelikan’s plans for a September 2016 release. This has been a much anticipated addition to the line-up and I’m certain supplies aren’t likely to last long. While this announcement had been anticipated since the end of last year, Pelikan continues to show that it can still keep a few secrets. In a surprise move, we were also given news of an M205 Blue Marbled fountain pen for release around the same time. This marks the materialization of nearly all of the models that were expected for 2016 though I presume that the company may have one or two more surprises still in store for us before the year ends.