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.
A little over a year ago I posted all that I knew about the Pelikan M481, a little understood model released in the early 1980s. Based on the pen’s design, it was clearly the predecessor to the M200 that followed in 1985. The M481 appears to have been largely relegated to the export market. It is the same size as the M200 but with different furniture. To briefly recount, the M481 has a single cap band, no trim ring on the barrel or piston knob, and lacks the Pelikan logo on the cap top (perhaps its most distinguishing feature). I encourage you to read my previous article linked above if you’re interested in more of this model’s details. Up until now I have assumed that the M481 was limited to a release of just three colors; black, green-black, and burgundy. I now think that there was a fourth model, not quite designated an M481 in name, with enough of the tell-tale attributes to allow one to make a reasonable inference that it was intended as part of that lineage. The variant that I’m referring to is what I now feel to be the previously misclassified M200 clear demonstrator, single cap band variant.
Allow me to start this post by saying that I am not an expert on this topic and have no special insight into the heritage of this model. That said, what follows is the culmination of much careful research. Given the lack of a good knowledge base on this topic, I have had to make inferences and educated deductions where necessary. I present you my thoughts and ask you to draw your own conclusions. The M481 is a little understood model, likely owing to its relative scarcity. Just how many were produced over its run is unclear. The model was initially released by Pelikan in 1983, largely for the export market, and it appears to have enjoyed only a relatively short production run. Released just one year after the re-introduction of the M400, it seems safe to say that it can be considered the predecessor/prototype of the M200.
One of the confounding factors surrounding this model is the fact that the early, pre-1997, M150’s were released with labeling/packaging that stated ‘M150/481.’ In actuality, it appears that the M481 was already being phased out at the time of introduction of the M150 and M200 (1985). It is my understanding that the 481 designation was an early name for the M150 but when the success of the, then newly released, M400 became apparent, Pelikan decided to build a range of pens around that line. In order to avoid signficant confusion, the 481 nomenclature was dropped and we were left with the M150 as we know it today.