Fountain pens have been around since at least the 17th century and it stands to reason that the earliest variants likely adhered to the 20th century modernist architecture principle form follows function. This principle contends that the shape of an object should be based upon its intended purpose. I wonder how much time elapsed before pens started being embellished with unique styling and artistic sensibilities. There are some pens that are incredibly plain and while they may excel at what they do, they fail to ignite the senses. Others are so ornate and overblown that their artistry interferes with their function making for an all but useless show piece. Some pens are able to straddle the line between the two extremes and that is where Pelikan’s M800 Raden Royal Gold falls. With gold and black stripes reminiscent of a honey bee, the golden Raden finish married to the tried and true M800 chassis has resulted in an exceptional fine writing instrument, the likes of which haven’t been seen since a much more basic implementation on the now discontinued P3110 Ductus. Of course that is just my opinion but I hope to convince you of the same. The biggest argument against the design that I’ve heard is that this model has such a preponderance of gold that it makes for an overly ostentatious appearance (translation: too “blingy”). I can see why someone might feel that way but let me assure you that the use of gold here behind the mother of pearl overlay is not at all gratuitous. I always struggle with the utility of reviewing a pen made in such limited quantities and priced at such a luxury market price point. With only 388 people destined to enjoy the Raden Royal Gold, I decided to write this review in order to share the beauty and craftsmanship of this unique release with those who will never have the pleasure of owning this exquisite fine writing instrument.
Have you ever looked through a catalog or the literature accompanying a product that you’ve purchased and wished that the ads were in 3D so you could get a really good look at the item in question? I feel that way when I look at catalogs for fountain pens. While going through the literature that accompanied the 1996 limited edition release, “1000 Years of Austria,” I noticed that I could do something about that. I thought that it would be a great opportunity to walk you through some of my favorite Pelikan limited edition releases from the 90s and early 2000s which were based off of the M8xx chassis. These limited editions encompass a varied assortment of colors and subject matter. All of the pens below have long been out of production. This means that some can be a challenge to find while others are more challenging to afford. Read on to learn a bit more about the unique characteristics of each of these models.
The release of a new Raden model to follow-up on last year’s Sunrise has been expected but specific details have been lacking. That changed this evening when De Roos gave us a glimpse of a new Raden model from Pelikan via their Instagram page. De Roos is a fountain pen retailer based in Heemstede, Netherlands and has been around since 1953. The pen featured today is the upcoming M800 Royal Gold. It appears that De Roos is the first to break this news. This would be the first Raden release in the M8xx form factor since the Kyokko & Gekko of 2005. It will join the likes of the Kyokko & Gekko (2005), Moonlight (2011), Sunlight (2013), Starlight (2014), and Sunrise (2016). For those unfamiliar with Raden, it is a traditional Japanese decorative craft characterized by finely ground abalone embedded or glued onto laquer-coated surfaces. The inlay glitters in wonderful colors when struck by light. The painstaking process ensures that these are usually limited in number and quite expensive at retail.
This year promises some interesting additions to the Pelikan line-up if rumors are to be believed. We have already seen the Zeus and M101N Bright Red released along with the Ink of the Year, Smoky Quartz. News of Pelikan’s newest special edition broke today, courtesy of several vendors. Slated for a May 2017 release, the M800 family expands with the introduction of the Renaissance Brown.
If you mentioned the Pelikan Grand Place (pronounced ɡʁɑ̃ plas) just a few months ago, those in the know would have assumed you were referring to the M620 of the same name released in 2006. Despite the rumors of Pelikan’s 2016 line up that abounded at the end of last year, I’m not sure if anyone saw a new M800 of the same name forthcoming. Similarly styled but with very clear differences, the new M800 version of the Grand Place is destined to sell out quickly. Pelikan has released many special edition M800’s in recent years and this one appears to go a step further by being geographically limited to just a few countries with the United States, Netherlands, and Italy making the short list. Hopefully that is enough geographic distribution, with the global economy being what it is today, to allow anyone who wants one of these to get their hands on one. Rumors have suggested that the production run is more limited than usual but specific details as to just how many pens have been produced are unavailable. However many were made, it certainly feels more exclusive than most of the other recent special editions. The pattern is undeniably beautiful with rich, vibrant shades of brown intermingled with deep, lustrous blues swirled throughout. The outer box describes the model as “Water Soil” which is a fitting description of the pen’s design. Interestingly, this is the same description that accompanied the ultra limited release of the M201 Bayou last year and the material for both pens appears to be identical. The pen reviewed here was purchased for my personal use from Goldspot Pens who provided competitive pricing, excellent communication, and fast shipping for which I would highly recommend them.
As anticipation grows for the upcoming M800 Grand Place and M805 Vibrant Blue, I thought that it would be fun to start off the new year with a close look at the last Souverän released in 2015, the M800 Burnt Orange. Pelikan reported in their last newsletter that stock sold out very quickly with this model, so much so that a second run is planned for sometime in April 2016. The Burnt Orange boast a beautiful combination of rich, warm colors that were well suited to its fall release. To achieve such a beautiful looking pen, some design choices had to be made and form appears to have won out over function as I’ll describe below. This is the first time that we have seen a shade of orange make its way into Pelikan’s high-end Souverän line since the M320 Orange Marbled debuted in 2004. Many other manufacturers have effectively incorporated similar colors into some of their models, the Montblanc Hemingway and the Delta Dolcevita quickly coming to mind. Read on to find out if Pelikan’s implementation on the Burnt Orange hits the mark or goes astray.
Despite all of the rumors swirling about Pelikan’s upcoming 2016 releases, the company is still able to surprise and delight its customers. In an unexpected announcement today from several well known vendors, Pelikan has proven that it still has a trick or two up its sleeve. Seemingly out of nowhere comes news of the soon to be released M800 Grand Place. If this pen has a familiar look, that is because it is very similarly styled to the M620 Grand Place released in 2006 and the more recent M201 Bayou in 2015. The M800 Grand Place appears to take on features of both pens in a hybrid fashion. This M800 special edition is named after the world famous market and historical landmark in Brussels, Belgium. According to Wikipedia, “The Grand Place (pronounced ɡʁɑ̃ plas) or Grote Markt is the central square of Brussels. It is surrounded by opulent guildhalls, the city’s Town Hall, and the Breadhouse building containing the Museum of the City of Brussels. The square is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels.” Also of note, Brussels serves as the headquarters of the European Union.
Pelikan is well known for their regularly released limited edition fountain pens in addition to their standard line-up. There have been many limited edition releases over the years and I thought that it might be interesting to look back at what is considered to be the very first of these modern releases from Pelikan. The details surrounding this model have caused some confusion over the years which I hope to dispel by the end of this post. Which model launched such a distinguished tradition of releases? The answer is none other than the highly sought after M800 transparent green demonstrator. Affectionately referred to as the “Green Ocean,” it is the predecessor to the highly successful M800 Blue Ocean released as a run of 5000 fountain pens in 1993. The confusion surrounding the transparent green release often stems from the fact that none of these M800s are identifiable as limited editions as the pens themselves are not numbered.