While we await official news of this year’s upcoming releases, I wanted to take one last look back at a model from last year. I have already reviewed the M205 Moonstone and the M600 Tortoiseshell Red so this time I will be performing a shakedown of the M405 Silver-White. Pelikan has embraced the use of white resin over the past several years, predominantly amongst their M6xx models. This time around, rather than something in a medium size, the company has decided to instead show some love to their M405 line which consists of smaller pens by today’s standards. The M405 series has only been around since 2002 and the Silver-White is just the fifth pen to grace the line. It is also the first of its line to incorporate white resin into its design. The other M405 models are the Black, Blue-Black, Dark Blue, and Stresemann. Upon first glance, the Silver-White has a very similar appearance to 2017’s M605 White-Transparent. The major difference between the two are their size and the barrel’s striping. What makes the M405 Silver-White worth reviewing is the fact that it is not a limited or special edition but rather a release added to the standard line-up meaning that you will have time to pick this one up should it suit your fancy. The Silver-White is a very solid release but brings nothing new to the table. Read on to find out if this is the pen that you’ve been waiting for.
How well do you know Pelikan’s Classic/Traditional line? Not as well as you might think I’m willing to wager. Let us review; M100, check. M150, check. M200, M205, M215, and M250; check, check, check, and check! Many of those model lines have since been discontinued but a few still persists and are being expanded to this day, some 35 years after the series’ introduction. There is another entry into that line-up that is not nearly as well known and easily overlooked, even by the most hardcore of collectors. Enter the #350. There is a lot to unpack here so please bear with me. First, let’s tackle that hashtag or number sign. Most of Pelikan’s fountain pens have an ‘M’ or a ‘P’ preceding the model number. These designate either a Mechanik-Füller (piston filling) or Patronen-Füller (cartridge) fountain pen respectively (though exceptions exists). The ‘#’ was widely used in Japan during the 1980s and 90s for many of Pelikan’s piston filling models sold in that market and is therefore an appropriate regional prefix. You might recall that I first introduced the concept when detailing the Mitsukoshi #660. In addition to the unusual prefix, model numbers also sometimes differed. For instance, the M400 used to retail in Japan as the #500. Today, the regional sales literature generally adheres to the M/R/K/D prefix scheme and model numbers used elsewhere. The #350 will be easier to understand when its predecessor, the #250, is considered so I will detail both of those models in this post. Japan has long been a fertile ground for some of Pelikan’s most interesting releases, models not widely available anywhere else. The Maruzen Tortoiseshell Brown M600, the Mitsukoshi #660, the East/West reunification commemorative M800, and the Merz & Krell 400NN re-issue were all either exclusive to the Japanese market or came about as a result of that market’s influence. Read on to learn how the #250 and #350 models fit into Pelikan’s Classic series.
I haven’t yet had a chance to officially wish all of you reading the blog a Happy New Year! If you blinked, you may have missed it but a mailer from Fahrney’s Pens at the end of last year alluded to a price increase for some of Pelikan’s products in 2021. The actual header read, “Certain models increase in price effective January 1.” The United States has seen a steady rise in prices for Pelikan’s fine writing instruments and inks over the last several years. Some of that is to be expected due to inflation, fluctuations in manufacturing costs, and the numerous other factors that play into market pricing. Still, the United Sates remains home to some of the highest prices for Pelikan’s products anywhere around the globe. Increases this year may be more justified than years past due to the economic realities brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. It’s without dispute that every step of the manufacturing process has been impacted. Raw materials are harder to source and production costs have risen. For the most part, ink pricing has remained stable and some pen pricing is relatively flat. On the one hand, we see some notable increases for models within the Classic series and on the other, some small reductions in Souverän pricing. Across the board, effective January 1st, 2021, there was what looks to be an average increase of nearly 5% in the company’s MSRP across all product lines for the United States’ market. Read on to get a sense of which of your preferred products may have been affected.
We have seen a release schedule upended and product slow to make its way into retail channels thanks to a pandemic which came to define 2020. Still, the show must go on and Pelikan seems ready to rise to the challenge of brightening all of our spirits, both figuratively and literally. The first new product of 2021 comes in the form of the next Edelstein Ink of the Year release. This year’s selection is nothing short of astonishing as Pelikan has decided to break new ground by introducing its first ever shimmering ink to the Edelstein line, a top request per the company’s social media accounts. The 2021 Ink of the Year will be none other than Golden Beryl. The silver-gray hue of Moonstone now gives way to a yellow-golden ink with shimmering qualities, perhaps the biggest departure from any past release to date. Golden Beryl will mark its debut as the eighteenth gemstone inspired ink in the line-up and it will be the tenth Ink of the Year, soon to be counted amongst the likes of Turmaline (2012), Amber (2013), Garnet (2014), Amethyst (2015), Aquamarine (2016), Smoky Quartz (2017), Olivine (2018), Star Ruby (2019), and Moonstone (2020). As of now, this is expected to be a limited run, in production for just one year only. Golden Beryl is slated to hit store shelves in April provided the pandemic doesn’t intervene to delay the launch.
Tortoiseshell has a long history of use in small items such as combs, glasses, guitar picks, knitting needles, boxes, and even as furniture inlays. The beauty of the material’s mottled appearance, its durability, and its organic warmth against the skin made tortoiseshell attractive for both manufacturers and consumers. The time invested to hunt and harvest the tortoises and the care needed in working with the shell to preserve its color made such items rather expensive. Unfortunately, the quest for profit has resulted in several of those species being hunted to near extinction with many now findings themselves on the endangered species list. The trade has been banned internationally for some time but that has not deterred harvesting shells for sale within the black market. Thankfully, more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives exist. The tortoise look is well suited for the likes of fountain pens and fans of Pelikan’s fine writing instruments can’t seem to get enough of such releases. The company’s tortoise finishes have been captivating people for decades thanks to their refined, upscale look. I’m happy to report that no actual tortoises have ever been harmed by Pelikan, the characteristic look instead being derived from cellulose acetate crafted to artificially resemble the mottled pattern of true tortoiseshell. There is no shortage of tortoise variants out there with some of the company’s most iconic and sought after models having been tortoises of one type or another. The original M800 Tortoiseshell Brown (1989) or the M600 Maruzen Tortoiseshell Brown (1999) come to mind as more recent examples of nearly mythical birds and that is just counting the company’s relatively recent production history to say nothing of the countless historic models such as the 400NN Light Tortoise (1957-60). To close out 2020, Pelikan has given us the M600 Tortoiseshell Red which looks to be a take on the previously released M101N Tortoiseshell Red (2014), now adapted to the more traditional Souverän line. Rather than a straight up adaptation however, this new model appears to be a reimagining of sorts. With a color scheme apropos for a December launch, this one is sure to please with its bold, vibrant hues and unique tortoiseshell application. Read on to learn if this model stacks up like Theodor Geisel’s Yertle the Turtle, king of the pond in Sala-ma-sond.
As the year meanders towards its close, I thought it a good time to look back on some of Pelikan’s releases this year. First up will be the M205 Moonstone fountain pen that accompanied 2020’s Edelstein Ink of the Year of the same name. It was 2019’s M205 Star Ruby acting as a pathfinder with sparkles adorning its finish that set the stage for the Moonstone. It represented a departure from Pelikan’s typically reserved German sensibilities and the gamble seems to have paid off as the Star Ruby was generally well received. I think a large part of that owes to striking just the right balance as the sparkles never came off as overblown and I think that the Moonstone also hits its mark in a similar fashion. It seems hard to believe but this year’s M205 now counts as the sixth consecutive pen to accompany the annual Edelstein Ink of the Year release. Prior models have included the M205 Amethyst (2015), M205 Aquamarine (2016), M200 Smoky Quartz (2017), M205 Olivine (2018), and M205 Star Ruby (2019). All of those models have been demonstrators, the overwhelming majority of which have had silver colored, chromium plated furniture (all except 2017’s Smoky Quartz). The sparkles are again fitting here because just as they paid homage to the asterism of the star ruby gemstone, they do equal justice with the true moonstone’s adularescence. What is that you may ask? The actual gemstone of its namesake displays a blue to white adularescence, a phenomenon where light appears to billow across the surface giving the stone a moonlight-like sheen. Read on to find out whether or not Pelikan’s reach for the stars hits the mark or falls flat.
The Souverän M300 did not burst onto the scene with any fanfare. There was no large, elaborately orchestrated debut such as what we saw with the M800 some eleven years earlier. Perhaps the lack of flourish was fitting given the pen’s diminutive and unassuming size. It was 1998 when the M300 emerged as the smallest Souverän in the line-up. News of Monica Lewinsky’s affair with Bill Clinton was just breaking, the XVIII Olympic Winter Games were being held in Japan, and Titanic became the first motion picture to gross US$1 billion. The late nineties were also a time of great change for Pelikan’s high end models. The M400 received an upgraded trim package, the M600 was given an entirely new form, and the massive M1000 would take up the mantle as Pelikan’s flagship. All of the furniture on the company’s Souveräns was standardized, essentially creating five models, each representing a different sized pen catering to a variety of tastes and purposes. The marketing which would follow highlighted this; “You can buy suits in different sizes. So why not fountain pens?” Amongst Pelikan’s refreshed line-up, the M300 fit the smallest niche, both literally and figuratively. Not much larger than your standard golf pencil, the M300 has ruled over its tiny kingdom for 22 years. That reign comes to an end in 2020 as the model line has now been officially discontinued. I was first alerted to this fact by vendors who could no longer order new stock and it has subsequently been confirmed to me by Juana Schahn, the Social Media Manager for Pelikan. Read on to learn the how’s and why’s behind the pen’s demise and get a glimpse at some of the M300’s history over the past two decades.
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.