The Chronoswiss Styloscope Rediscovered, Literally!

Pelikan Chronoswiss Styloscope

Treasure can be lost, perhaps tucked away for a later occasion, then forgotten with the passing of time. Sometimes, like the periodical cicadas that emerge from under the ground only once every 17 years, that treasure is rediscovered. Chronoswiss is a mechanical watch manufacturer based out of Lucerne, Switzerland and founded by Gerd-Rüdiger Lang in 1983. In order to commemorate the company’s 20th anniversary, Mr. Lang, a big fan of the M800, commissioned Pelikan to create limited edition pen known as the Styloscope which was released in 2002.  Built off of the M800 chassis, the Styloscope was a numbered, limited edition of 999 pieces which I previously described in detail here. These were sold by Chronoswiss and could not be obtained through Pelikan. Now long out of production, finding one on the secondary market can be a challenge for those who lack patience or means as these models have appreciated nicely over the past few decades. The Chronoswiss company turns 40 next year and the Styloscope has now achieved its own milestone, turning 20 years old this year. While mildly interesting news in its own right, what really punctuates that birthday is the fact that 88 unnumbered Chronoswiss Styloscope pens were just recently found by Chronoswiss’ COO, Beat Weinmann, in the company’s basement. Talk about a serendipitous discovery. After much consideration regarding their fate, Style of Zug, a self-described Swiss concept store with a focus on fine writing instruments, has been tapped as the sole distributor for these newfound beauties which are being released into the wild. Read on to find out all of the details including how you might own your own Styloscope.

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News: Pelikan Souverän M800 40 Years Anniversary LE

Pelikan Souverän M800 40 Years Anniversary LE

Pelikan’s original model 400 was manufactured throughout most of the 1950s as well as the first half of the 1960s. The model would experience two major revisions over its production run, but it ultimately proved to be a great success for the brand. Times change and the company moved away from that iconic design for a number of years, with the Merz & Krell 400NN of the 1970s being a notable exception. That classic style which was so popular in its day saw a revival in 1982 when Pelikan launched the first Souverän fountain pen, the model M400. The black/green color combination featuring the “Stresemann” striped pattern was again alive and well and little changed from that 1950s model upon which it was based. Like its predecessor, the M400 was well received, a win that the company desperately needed at the time. The early 1980s marked a turbulent period in the company’s history, one rife with financial trouble and the M400 played its part to help turn Pelikan’s fortunes around. Forty years later and the Souverän series of pens remains a mainstay in the brand’s portfolio, its design is as iconic now as it ever was. In honor of that that forty-year anniversary, Pelikan is releasing a new limited edition fountain pen, the Souverän M800 40 Years Anniversary limited edition. The design of this new pen is meant to commemorate those features of the Souverän that have made their mark over the years. Read on to learn all about this newest limited edition fountain pen out of Hannover.

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The New M800 Black-Red’s Surprising ‘Old’ Look

Pelikan M800 Black-Red

Early last month, I wrote about a new initiative at Pelikan that would see the long standing translucence of the Souverän’s barrel eliminated. Gone would be the translucent stripes present for the last 40 years of the line’s heritage, exchanged for an opaque replacement. The news took many, myself included, by surprise. Likely motivated by the new realities of this post-COVID world and ongoing supply chain issues, the change was met with mixed reactions at best. Those stripes have been an integral feature for many of Pelikan’s fountain pens, allowing one to more easily gauge the remaining amount of ink in their pen without the need for a discreet ink view window. The solution was both clever and elegant to say the least. It was widely expected that the M800 Black-Red would be the first new release to fall victim to the changing times. You can imagine the consternation that this newest Souverän has fomented when the first stock to hit vendor’s shelves was literally just the opposite. That’s right, the M800 Black-Red, at least in this first wave of production, appears to be nothing other than business as usual. The stripes behind the section are, as they always have been, translucent. So, what gives? Read on to find out what I suspect may be the most likely answer.

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News: M800 Black-Red (Psst, It’s Back!)

Pelikan M800 Black-Red

Close up on a young Carol Anne Freeling answering the ring of an old rotary phone. After a brief pause to listen to the caller and with the phone still pressed to her ear, she glances over her left shoulder and says, “They’re ba-ack” in a lilting voice. This pop culture staple is from 1986’s Poltergeist II trailer and it was the first thing that sprang to my mind when I learned of the return of the M800 Black-Red. Yes, you read that correctly. News of the Black-Red’s triumphant return was first broken by The Nibsmith. Oh, it was a good run while it lasted. The M800 Black-Red was on the market as a regular production model circa 2001 until its discontinuation in 2012. Since then, they’ve become increasingly scarce on the secondary market and, consequently, all the more desirable. It is high on the list of many who missed out on the original run and one of the most requested pens that I hear people ask about Pelikan re-releasing. Someone in Hannover must have been listening because, as of mid-March, the M800 Black-Red will once again join the standard Souverän line-up and will likely be around for the foreseeable future. Read on to learn about all of the details.

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The Many Anniversaries Of Maruzen

Maruzen Booksellers Storefront

The Maruzen Co., Ltd. has long been one of Japan’s leading booksellers. With a core focus on books and other periodicals, the company has cultivated a diverse portfolio that includes stationery, fashion, and information technologies. Founded in 1869 as Maruya Shosha, its success and longevity over the past 152 years is likely due to the forward thinking of founder Yuteki Hayashi. Hayashi’s ambitions were reportedly spurred on by the encouragement of Yukichi Fukuzawa, an educator and founder of Japan’s first private system of elementary and secondary schools, who was a proponent of Westernization. Great change was underway in Japan during the mid-19th century, heralded by the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853, an American naval officer in command of the East India Squadron. He played a leading role opening Japan to the West after more than 200 years of isolationist policy under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate which comprised the military government of Japan during the Edo period from 1603 to 1868. Hayashi saw opportunity brought about by this cultural shift and sought out translated versions of many of the seminal works of the Western world. His relationship with Fukuzawa positioned Maruzen to have a strong presence with educational institutions, a major areas of sales for the company. Maruzen further diversified its product lines throughout the twentieth century and was able to survive the damage inflicted by World War II. Many sources indicate that Maruzen played a major role introducing the fountain pen to Japan, predominantly by importing brands such as Onoto and Waterman from England and the United States. As such, it is hard to overstate the importance of Maruzen’s involvement in bringing this writing technology to the citizens of Japan. Today, the company has a number of stores and international offices to its credit. Of course, I’m not here to regale you about the company’s rich and storied history. As a stationary retailer, Maruzen has had the opportunity to partner with several manufacturers of fine writing instruments over the years in order to celebrate its various milestone anniversaries, beginning sometime around 1989. I’m sure that you have surmised by now that a Pelikan or two may have been a part of some of those past offerings. Read on to learn all about these unique and rarely seen models.

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Unity Day And Pelikan’s “Rebirth Of A New Germany” Commemorative M800

Pelikan New German Birth Commemorative M800

October is a busy month, playing host to a number of international holidays such as Oktoberfest and Halloween to name just a few. It is punctuated by the crisp fall air, a tapestry of fall foliage, and the scent of pumpkin spice. Perhaps less well known globally is that October is also home to German Unity Day, celebrated on the third day of the month. It was 1990 when East and West Germany were reunited after 40 years of division set against the backdrop of the Cold War. The most recognizable symbol of that division was the Berlin Wall, a concrete barrier under armed guard that served as both a physical and ideological barrier from 1961 to 1989. Built by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and portrayed as protecting the eastern population from fascism in the west, the wall cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany. It became a tale of two Germanys with the West, guided by the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), flourishing under capitalist rule whereas the East languished under Communism, facing regular shortages and a lack of opportunity. Such was the case until political unrest and revolution within several Eastern Bloc countries helped fuel dissent in the East. Faced with increasing pressure due to mounting protest, the communist leadership opened the border between the two states on November 9, 1989. A celebration ensued as crowds of East and West Germans intermingled freely for the first time in decades. This paved the way for German reunification, which went into effect on October 3, 1990, via treaty. To commemorate the occasion, Pelikan released a special edition “Rebirth of a New Germany” Green-Black M800, exclusive to the Japanese market. It’s a model not commonly encountered outside of Japan therefore you may have never seen one before. Read on to find out what, if anything sets this fountain pen apart.

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The M800 Stilo “Laser”: A Rare & Intriguing Italian Bird

Pelikan M800 Stilo Laser

When the fictional character Ransom “Ranse” Stoddard (James Stewart), a revered US Senator, reveals the truth about his origins to newspaper editor Maxwell Scott (Carleton Young), Mr. Scott utters one of the most resonant lines in all of cinema, proclaiming; “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” This line comes at the end of acclaimed director John Ford’s western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). Pelikan’s catalog is full of models that have a somewhat unusual provenance, their origins obscured just like those of Jimmy Stewart’s character. Perhaps few models have been surrounded by as much palace intrigue as the M800 Stilo “Laser.” Heard of it? I’m not surprised if you haven’t. The “Laser” has largely fallen into obscurity in the intervening decades since its launch, the details behind its genesis largely forgotten to time. As such, it’s hard to tease out where the facts end, and the fiction begins. In the spirit of the romanticized American West, I will endeavor to present you the legend of the Stilo “Laser” sprinkled with as much fact as we know. Read on to learn about this model’s unique design and history.

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The Pelikan M800: A Modern Day Titan

Pelikan M800sThe German city of Frankfurt has a long tradition of hosting trade fairs, a history that spans more than 800 years.  The first Frankfurt trade fair to be documented in writing dates back to 1240 under the auspices of Emperor Frederick II.  Since 1330, trade fairs have been held in Frankfurt twice a year; once in the spring and once in the fall.  It was at the Frankfurt Spring Fair of 1987 that Pelikan launched the M800, their first modern oversized pen.  Held from February 21-25, the event was regarded as a success by its organizers with 4,375 exhibitors displaying their wares to an estimated 100,000 visitors.  Pelikan maintained a large display at the fair separated into two parts, one of which featured the sizable Pelikan collection of stylophile Mel Strohminger.  It was the following year (1988), on the occasion of Pelikan’s 150th anniversary, that their newest Souverän model would be brought to the shores of the United States.  Presumably, the M800 emerged as the result of market competition from rival Montblanc’s Meisterstück 146 and 149 amongst others.  The Souverän series, by today’s standards, was rather anemic before the M800’s introduction, consisting of only the M400 which got its start in 1982 and a version of the M600 which launched in 1985.  Despite differing model numbers, both of the existing Souveräns at the time were actually the same size, the M600 being distinguished only by its more upscale trim package.  These were considered standard sized pens though are somewhat small by today’s reckoning.   It wasn’t until 1997 that Pelikan adjusted the lines to make the M600 more of an intermediate size to bridge the gap between the M400 and M800.  You can well imagine how the M800 dwarfed its siblings in the lineup at the time of its introduction and represented a truly new size option for the first time in the company’s modern history.  The M800 was initially available in Green/Black (striped) or Black but the line would quickly expand throughout the 1990s to encompass many limited edition releases.  Even today, the M800 chassis is the go to platform for a large number of Pelikan’s special and limited edition models.  Read on to learn how the M800 has evolved over the years.

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