The company that we know today as Pelikan is now 181 years old. In all of that time, it has cultivated a rich history full of unusual anecdotes and outstanding achievements. Just take a close look at any of their fine writing instruments and you will see a glimpse of bygone days. Perhaps not as well known are the guardians of that history. Those of us who have studied the company and their products are well aware of the select few who have been chosen to stand watch over precious artifacts from the days of yore. The modern world is so focused on consumption that it seems precious little is built to last, and the history of things can quickly be forgotten. In that setting, it is reassuring to know that there are still companies looking to preserve even a small piece of history, not because they have to but because they want to. It is with that backdrop in mind that I would like to introduce you to Pelikan’s archivists, past and present. Currently housed in the original location of Pelikan’s Hannover factory in what is known as the TintenTurm, the company’s archives contain a wide variety of artifacts. These include vintage inks, prototype pens, old displays, historic advertising, and more. We have recently passed a transition point where Pelikan’s long time archivist, Jürgen Dittmer, has officially retired and whose role is now being filled by Wilfried Leuthold. Who are these men and what is their charge? Read on to find out.
When you dig back through Pelikan’s long and storied history of pen making, you can find all sorts of odd editions made for local markets or done by regional distributors. Some of those models came from company sanctioned production runs while others had a more dubious genesis. The M800 Laser (2000) comes to mind as a good example of a strictly regional release. The Laser was an exclusive limited edition of only 100 pens which were specially engraved by Visconti and authorized by Pelikan Milan. This pen was made only for the Italian market, but it was not warmly welcomed in Hannover resulting in several being destroyed but that is a story for another day. My point is that it has been some time since we’ve seen a truly regional release from Pelikan which is why May 30th will be a stand out day in the company’s history. On that day, Pelikan Romania unveiled a new fountain pen titled “King Michael I of Romania – Royal Edition.” This model is not like many of the other Souveräns that we’ve seen and its unveiling was met with much more ceremony than we’ve been accustomed to. Read on to learn more about this neat and ultra-limited edition.
Now in its sixth year, Pelikan keeps tradition alive with today’s announcement of Pelikan Hubs 2019. The company has launched a new “microsite” to facilitate registration and to serve as a source of information for prospective attendees. The Hubs have continued to grow year over year with new records for attendance being set annually. The 2018 gathering took place in 181 cities spread across 46 countries with over 4500 registered participants. That level of attendance represented a roughly 30% increase over the year prior which had shown tremendous growth itself. Much of that success is thanks to the pen enthusiasts who have relished gathering to share their experiences and passion for fine writing and all that comes with it. If you are new to the brand and unfamiliar with what the Hubs event is all about, allow me to fill you in. Pelikan Hubs is first and foremost a fan driven gathering of Pelikan aficionados from across the globe who meet on the same local date and time. I say fan driven because Pelikan itself only acts in a supporting role. Each chosen location is appointed a Hub master (selected through application) who oversees the planning of the event with the company providing some organizational framework and a few supplies. This is what allows the evening to take on a unique and individual flavor. There is no specified agenda and you don’t even need to own a Pelikan pen to attend. The result is that no two hubs are quite alike, but they are invariably an enjoyable affair. It is also heavily encouraged to utilize social media via the hashtag #pelikanhubs so that other locations and those who could not attend can share in the festivities. I have been a Hub participate from the beginning and look forward to this gathering each and every year. You can read about my most recent experience here. This year, Pelikan is requiring a minimum of seven participants in a locale to constitute a Hub, a change from prior years where the minimum was five. That is why it is important to spread the word to those who may be interested in your area. When you register, you will also have a chance to nominate yourself for the position of Hub master if you would like to serve as the local point of contact and organizer for the event. It is the Hub master who designates a centrally located meeting place and distributes the provided Pelikan swag to all of the registered guest in attendance. Read on for all of the details for Pelikan Hubs 2019.
Over the last several years we have become accustomed to annual releases of Maki-e inspired limited edition fountain pens from Pelikan. These models have married nearly a century of pen making experience with the expertise of Japanese artists. Recent past releases have included the Spring & Autumn (2016), Dragonfly (2017), and Peacock (2018) to name just a few. The Pelikan’s Perch has learned that the 2019 Maki-e pen will be called Five Lucky Bats. An excerpt from Pelikan’s sales literature has this to say about the new model;
“In China, the bat is considered a symbol of happiness as the pronunciation of the word ‘bat’ resembles a Chinese word which means ‘fortune is coming.’ The depiction of the bat is considered to be a lucky pattern which brings five kinds of luck: a long life, wealth and respect, health and mindfulness, virtue and grace, and to die without worry and regret. There were times when only noble people could wear clothes using motifs of the bat. In Japan as well, the bat is regarded as a symbol of luck as the word bat is pronounced as ‘komori’ which could be written in Japanese as ‘a lot of happiness.'”
Like the models cited above, this one will be built off of the M1000 chassis, the same line that has been plagued by a supply chain issue in recent months. Fret not as a limited edition of this nature is likely immune to the issues affecting the rest of the series. It is unclear just when we might see this one come to market though I would anticipate a June/July release.
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.
The M101N takes its design queues from Pelikan’s historic models of the 1930s and 40s and the re-interpretation has, by all outward appearances, been a success for the company. This modern line was first introduced in 2011 and has steadily grown since, now counting six models amongst its ranks. Those include the Tortoiseshell Brown (2011), the Lizard (2012), the Lizard Jubilee Edition (2013), the Tortoiseshell Red (2014), and the Bright Red (2017). The newest model, released just this year, is the Grey-Blue. Like the Bright Red that came before, there does not appear to be a corresponding vintage 101N model with the exact same finish. That’s not surprising since the original 101N line encompassed only a few different models. Also, Pelikan defies the nomenclature of the past here with its choice of styling. The 100Ns were characterized by black caps whereas the 101Ns had colored caps or caps that matched the pattern of the barrel. By placing a black cap on the newest M101N, the company has blurred some of the conventions of old, conventions which had remained intact up until now. Of this modern lot, it seems that the Tortoiseshell Brown consistently gets the most attention, and for good reason. The Grey-Blue is no slouch however and it is worth a look given the uniqueness of the finish. Read on to find out more.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Pelikan introduced a series of special editions across their Souverän lines that employed sterling silver components decorated with a gold overlay. The gilding of silver is often referred to as vermeil, a French term that is actually pronounced “ver-may.” By plating sterling silver in such a way, an item can be imbued with a gold appearance at a fraction of the cost of pure gold. This should not be mistaken for simple gold plating. There are regulations that oversee what may be called vermeil in many jurisdictions. For the U.S. market, the base metal must be sterling silver with a gold coating of at least 10 carats or finer and with a thickness of 2.5 microns (1/10,000th of an inch). Mere gold plating has no such industry regulations. These upgraded Souveräns have a guilloche metal cap but otherwise maintain the same visual appearance and trim as their less gilded siblings. Each fountain pen in the series is referred to as an Mx50 and there have been nine such models over the years in addition to several companion pieces. Care should be taken not to confuse these with the M150 and M250 of the Classic series or the M750 anniversary edition which do not have any vermeil components.