The 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.
Pelikan has introduced over 40 different nib widths and styles during their 90 years of fountain pen production. Time and market forces have slowly taken their toll, whittling away at the available variety and eroding character. Around the year 2012, Pelikan discontinued production of oblique nibs in the widths of OM, OB, OBB, and O3B. The following year, the larger BB and 3B nibs were also removed from the standard line-up. Correspondence from representatives of the company around that time cited low global sales as justification for the discontinuation. For the past six years, Pelikan’s fine writing instruments could only be purchased with nibs in the standard widths of EF, F, M, and B. There have been exceptions to this rule as seen with the intermittent availability of an IB (italic broad) nib option or Niche Pens batch of M8xx BB nibs first offered in 2015. Neither option has been widely available or part of the standard line-up. Many have lamented Pelikan’s lack of variety, particularly as other manufacturers have continued to offer a significantly wider array of nibs. One such example of innovation in the nib space that comes to mind is Montblanc’s Meisterstück Solitaire or 149 fountain pens equipped with a flexible 18C-750 gold calligraphy “expression” nib which can reportedly vary line widths from about 0.3 mm to 1.6 mm. These calligraphy pens buck the familiar trend of hard as nails nibs, capitalizing on a maturing market of enthusiast looking for modern day flex writing pens. While Pelikan has yet to venture into that space, we’ve recently learned, courtesy of Appelboom, that they are re-introducing IB and BB nibs, adding them to the standard line-up on a restricted basis. Read on to learn more about the reincarnation of these older nibs as well as a few other tidbits.
Just yesterday I posted the first glimpses of the M805 Blue Dunes special edition (first put out by Penbox) and, as promised, am able to follow that up today with some additional details. The actual promotional photos now available seem to affirm my first impression of a blue Grand Place type finish but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The official product information from Pelikan reads as follows;
“Gaze at the new Series Souverän M805 Blue Dunes and find yourself fascinated by a world of colors. Contrasts of shadow and light interplay in hues from brilliant azure to deep, midnight blue. The composition of flowing silhouettes displays distinct patches of color, yet it also harmoniously unites the varying shades of blue. Like the color of sand dunes under a midnight moon, the interplay of blues in each M805 Blue Dunes writing instrument is unique.”
That is quite the colorful description and the inspiration behind the finish is definitely clearer now. Pelikan frequently recommends ink pairings from their Edelstein line for new release and for this one they have chosen Topaz. The M805 Blue Dunes appears to be on track for a late June 2019 release.
Yesterday brought an unexpected glimpse of the next M8xx release out of Hannover, this time courtesy of U.K. based Penbox by way of their Instagram account. The news seems to come a little ahead of schedule as we don’t have any high quality stock photos or other promotional materials available as of yet nor do we see any announcements from other vendors. What we do have is a first look at the upcoming M805 Blue Dunes special edition in what appears to be a pre-release photo meant for retailers. Consistent with the rumors from earlier this year, this M805 has a pattern reminiscent of 2016’s M800 Grand Place. The Blue Dunes embodies swirling shades of blue intermixed with darker tones. We are still awaiting official word from Pelikan with regards to the inspiration behind this finish. The Blue Dunes will join the likes of the Ocean Swirl (2017) and the Vibrant Blue (2015), accented by palladium plated trim. Based on what little info is available at the moment, this one is anticipated for a late June 2019 release.
Over the past few years, Pelikan has begun to more consistently bring us new limited edition Raden releases. It should come as no surprise then that a Raden model would be in the works for this year, a year in which the company is celebrating a historic anniversary. What does one give as a gift for a 180th anniversary? While there aren’t any well established customs for such an occasion, something in platinum seems a fitting choice. Perhaps that is why Pelikan has chosen to give us the M805 Raden Royal Platinum. For those new to the hobby, pens done in a Raden style employ a traditional Japanese art whereby finely ground abalone is embedded or glued onto laquer-coated surfaces. The result is an inlay that shines with a rainbow of colors when struck by light. This year’s release will make a worthy addition to the models that preceded it. These include the Kyokko & Gekko (2005), Moonlight (2011), Sunlight (2013), Starlight (2014), Sunrise (2016), and Royal Gold (2017). It would seem that the Royal Platinum is the kindred spirit to last year’s Royal Gold. The design and finish appear to be the same with one in silver tones and the other in gold. I suspect that many owners of the Royal Gold will be clamoring to add this one as a companion piece.
When I wrote my review of the M605 White Transparent, I indicated that the pre-release product photography didn’t quite portray the actual pen very accurately. Rather than a cool white colored resin, the photos depicted a warmer, more ivory leaning cast. I wanted to expound upon this because it seemed to be a recurring theme at the end of last year that confounded several would-be customers. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and perhaps nowhere is that more true than when selling some form of goods. Pelikan’s product photography has always been somewhat hit or miss but the actual merchandise has usually turned out to be better than advertised. It may seem trivial, harping on the less than true pictographic portrayal of a fountain pen but, for many, those pre-release photos are the only visuals available prior to making a decision to purchase. Far too many consumers lack access to brick and mortar stores or any other opportunity to see a real world example of a pen prior to committing to buy. For some limited edition models, waiting for real world photos may mean missing the pre-order period which can equate to extra money spent or a missed opportunity all together. This is why true to life photos are important for any company selling a product. The M805 Ocean Swirl was subject to one of the most perplexing depictions in some time and therefore I thought that it was worth taking a closer look.
After much anticipation, several overseas vendors including Appelboom and Penworld bring us our first official glimpse of the upcoming M805 Ocean Swirl fountain pen. This site first reported on the design back in July. Similar in pattern to this year’s Renaissance Brown, the Ocean Swirl depicts various shades of teal intermixed with black. Pelikan’s literature states;
“Exposure to light further enhances and adds sparkle and depth which vary in intensity. Just like in the deep sea, bright spots alternate with dark spots mimicking the light that radiates and is found in the ocean. Each writing instrument is truly unique.”
The pattern is offset smartly by the palladium plated trim characteristic of the Souverän family of pens. The barrel is expected to be translucent to allow visualization of the ink level just like we have seen with the Renaissance Brown. Similar to other M805s, the pen will measure 5.59 inches when capped and weigh in at a respectable 0.99 ounces thanks to the brass piston assembly. The nib will be rhodium plated 18C-750 gold and available in sizes EF, F, M, and B. The anticipated release date is November 2017.
We saw a lot of great pens released by Pelikan in 2016 and that momentum seems to have been sustained thus far into 2017. To date, the company has given us the M101N Bright Red, Pelikano Up, M800 Renaissance Brown, M800 Raden Royal Gold, and the M200 Smoky Quartz which is due out next month. Let’s also not forget the addition of Edelstein Aquamarine to the standard line-up as well as the introduction of the Ink of the Year 2017, Smoky Quartz. The year is just a little more than half over but several additional new pens are still anticipated before the year’s end. News of upcoming releases has been much more scarce this year when compared to years prior. While vendors are taking their contractual obligations much more seriously, word of a new pen always generates excitement throughout the community and gossip can only be contained for so long. Those on a budget often need to plan for a new pen expenditure so any information can be a big help in mapping out future purchases. With that in mind, The Pelikan’s Perch is committed to bringing you the latest Pelikan news as it unfolds. Over the last several months, I have had various, anonymous pen enthusiast approach me to report intelligence of a few upcoming Pelikan fountain pens that they’ve gleaned information about in their travels. This information comes from all parts of the globe and enough credible information has finally come to light to allow me to confidently bring that news to you. While I can guarantee you that Pelikan has more in store for 2017 than what’s outlined below, the two upcoming releases detailed here represent a nice chunk of what’s yet to come. Of course, there have been no definitive announcements from Pelikan or official confirmation therefore the information presented needs to be taken in the context of a credible rumor though I am confident that we will see both of these models materialize. Additional details will surely be forth coming as we get closer to the anticipated release so stay tuned and enjoy the teaser for now.