In my review of this year’s Stone Garden M800, I included a picture of the Nord/LB limited edition which generated a few inquiries. Given the history behind the Nord/LB and its somewhat obscure nature, I thought that the topic would be ripe for a post of its own. First off, this limited edition was designed at the request of the Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale. Somewhat unique to Germany, the Landesbanken are a group of state-owned banks that are regionally organized and predominantly focused on wholesale banking. Abbreviated Nord/LB, this North German bank was at one time counted amongst the top 10 banks in Germany and the top 100 banks in the world. As of 2016, the company’s total income was $2.3 billion with total assets of approximately $205 billion. It is a public corporation owned by the federal states of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt with headquarters in Hannover. Originally established in 1765 as the Braunschweigische Staatsbank, it began operating under its current name on July 1, 1970 following the merger of four predecessors. Nord/LB specializes in investment banking, agricultural and real estate banking, corporate finance, ship and aircraft financing, and private banking. In 1995, the company celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding. To mark the occasion, the firm’s board contracted with Pelikan in order to provide each of its employees at the time with a Limited Edition Souverän M800 fountain pen. The pen in question was never made available for purchase to the general public but several examples have entered into the collector’s space over the past 23 years.
The Perch may have been quiet recently but I assure you that it has not been idle. Almost a year’s worth of research on a very interesting topic is coming to a close and I hope to get it out into the wild in the coming weeks. For today’s post, I wanted to bring you something a little more timely because I know that a lot of people remain on the fence about this one. I’m referring to Pelikan’s recently released M800 Stone Garden. Pelikan’s pre-release photos continue to cause consternation amongst potential customers. In this case, the official marketing photos look more like a computer rendered image than an actual photograph. With so much of the decision to purchase a fountain pen relying on its visual appeal, inaccurate photos can result in significant buyer’s remorse. Sadly, that is just how many products are advertised today. Pelikan’s literature describes the pen as follows;
“Stone gardens are known for their serenity and peaceful effect. The new Special Edition Souverän 800 Stone Garden was created to be symbolic of this special place and the calming influence from life’s hectic everyday pace. The combination of opaque dark blue and the sophisticated marbled structure with blue and brown colors give a noble and elegant look to this series.”
While dark blues and browns are not the palette of most of the stone gardens that I have ever encountered, I’m willing to allow Pelikan some artistic license provided that the pen is able to bring something new to the table. It has been a very conservative and dichromatic year thus far for the bigger birds as seen with the M815 Metal Striped and the M805 Raden Royal Platinum. Read on to find out whether or not the Stone Garden can bring some much needed color to this year’s line up.
As anticipated, news broke early this morning across Europe regarding the next big release out of Hannover. All I can say is prepare to hear the sound of jaws dropping. Today we have the Pelikan M800 Stone Garden Special Edition and, if the product shots do it justice, it looks to be a gorgeous fountain pen. Of course, given the inconsistent track record of Pelikan’s product photography over the last several releases, we’ll have to reserve judgement until we can see some real world pictures. Still, there is a lot of promise here. This model follows closely on the heels of the M205 Olivine which just recently entered retail channels and the much more limited Raden Royal Platinum. The promotional literature for the Stone Garden states; “Rock gardens are known for their soothing effect. The new special edition Souverän M800 Stone Garden absorbs this atmosphere and offers tranquility in daily chores.” It is anticipated to be available around mid-October.
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.