Originals Of Their Time: Darlings Of The 1930s

Pelikan Originals of their Time SeriesPelikan’s first venture into the writing instrument market was heralded by the release of the Pelikan Fountain Pen in 1929.  That pen would see a number of revisions over its lifespan, ultimately becoming what we know today as the model 100.  A specific designation only became necessary because the company very quickly expanded their catalog to include additional models targeting a more affluent market.  Built off of the 100 chassis, these pens would incorporate new colors and gilded embellishments which elevated the base model to a whole new level.  The first of these came about in 1930/31 when Pelikan released the models 110 (White Rolled Gold), 111 (Gold/Black), and 112 (Gold).  The T111 Toledo would also go on sale in 1931 with an initial price tag of 27 marks.  While not the most expensive pen in the company’s line-up at the time, it was perhaps one of the most inspired.   In 1935, the 101 model line was introduced which was characterized by caps that matched the colored bindes surrounding the barrels.  Several variations were produced, often in vibrant colors, such as Jade (Green) and Lapis (Blue).  Production of all of the aforementioned models was relatively short lived, ending no later than 1938 if not sooner.  Perhaps it was the seemingly timeless design or a sense of nostalgia that prompted the resurrection of these classics nearly sixty years later in 1997.  They would be produced as a run of limited edition pieces that would carry the moniker “Originals Of Their Time.”  Not just inspired by the source material, these new pens were faithfully recreated from the original technical drawings.  Taking it one step further, Pelikan eschewed modern plastics in parts of the construction in favor of the same materials employed decades earlier, chiefly celluloid and black hard rubber, adding an additional layer of authenticity.  Of course, this has it’s downsides too as hard rubber can easily oxidize and turn brown.  While the replicas may look spot on at first glance, some liberties were taken for the modern era.  Gone are the cork seals of old; a slightly updated piston assembly incorporating a modern, synthetic seal in their place.  The nib assemblies too bear only a slight cosmetic resemblance to their predecessors.  Made in limited numbers and nearing two decades since production ceased, these modern pens are a treat to behold.  Read on to learn more.

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News: The M151 Gets A Big Brother – Introducing The M251

Pelikan M251Some of you may recall a small post that I wrote back in 2015 titled “The (Short) Story of the M151.”  If not, allow me to refresh your memory.  Pelikan introduced the M150 alongside the M200 back in 1983 in order to provide a smaller alternative in the Classic series of pens.  The M150 Green-Black came about in 1988 and underwent a redesign in 1997.  Found predominantly in the Italian market, the M151 is nothing more than a regional variation of the standard post-1997 Green-Black M150 sold with fancier packaging.  The atypical designation was once explained by one of Pelikan’s European sales & marketing representatives like so; “M151 is the company’s own ‘internal description’ for the M150 model and is the name that the pen has come to be sold under in certain export markets.”  Sales literature can be found that seemingly elevates this particular model to some sort of legendary status.  One such tagline reads “Everything passes…myths remain.”  New for 2019, it would appear that the M151 has gotten a big brother aptly named the M251.  Dressed in the exact same trim and color scheme, the M251 is distinguished from the M151 only by its larger size.  Read on to find out all of the details.

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News: Edelstein Ink of the Year 2020 – Moonstone

Edelstein Ink of the Year 2020 - MoonstoneIt was around this time last year that we learned of the 2019 Edelstein Ink of the Year selection so it should not come as too much of a surprise that today brings news of Pelikan’s next batch of limited edition ink.  In addition to learning of the M200 Pastel-Green, our second bit of product news is all about Moonstone, the forthcoming 2020 Edelstein Ink of the Year.  The palette again shifts, this time to a silver-gray hue which is a significant departure from the prior Star Ruby release.   This will be the seventeenth gemstone inspired color to grace the line-up.  Moonstone will join Turmaline, Amber, Garnet, Amethyst, Aquamarine, Smoky Quartz, Olivine, and Star Ruby as the ninth Ink of the Year release.  Some of these special editions have been resurrected to have a second life but, at least for now, we can expect this one to be a limited run for the next year.  Moonstone is anticipated to grace store shelves sometime around March of 2020.

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Pelikan And Luigi Colani: A Collaboration

Pelikan No 1 ballpointsLuigi Colani (1928-2019) was a German born industrial designer and, while he may not be a household name, he is responsible for a multitude of consumer products and served as an influence for generations of architects and designers.  On September 16, 2019, he passed away at the age of 91 after succumbing to an unspecified severe illness in the town of Karlsruhe, on the Rhine river west of Stuttgart.  He is survived by his partner Yazhen Zha and son Solon Luigi Colani.  A shameless self-promoter and an eternal provocateur, I thought that it would be a fitting tribute to explore this most fascinating man and one of his many corporate collaborations.  You may or may not be aware but Luigi Colani worked with Pelikan in the 1980s on the design of several pens. While vehicle design seemed to be his métier, Colani was a prolific designer who had his hand in a bit of everything.  His designs can be seen in furniture, cameras, cars, musical instruments, shoes, pens, and so much more.  Mr. Colani once estimated that he had committed more than 4000 designs to paper over his long career, most of them relegated to desk drawers, with only a small percentage actually being brought to life.  His vision for the Cannon T90 film camera was perhaps one of his largest commercial successes and would go on to influence Japanese camera design to this day.  Admittedly, his contribution to the world of writing instruments may have been less lasting than some of his other endeavors but it is no less interesting.  Read on to learn how Colani’s distrust of angularity informed the creation of the Pelikan № 1, № 2, and P80 pens.

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Review: M200 Gold-Marbled (2019)

Pelikan M200 Gold Marbled Fountain PenWith two in a row, this back half of the year certainly has felt a bit heavy with reviews, a testament to some of the recent creativity that we have seen out of Hannover.  Up for appraisal today is Pelikan’s newly released M200 Gold-Marbled fountain pen.  Prior to now, we’ve only ever had one white pen in the M2xx line-up, the M205 White which was released 10 years ago.  That white M205 holds a special place in my heart as it was the first Pelikan fountain pen that I ever purchased, something akin to Scrooge McDuck’s lucky Number One Dime.  Of course, it’s hard to look at the new Gold-Marbled model and not see parallels with the M400 Tortoiseshell White.   Maybe it’s just me but I don’t think that it takes a huge leap of the imagination to envision someone blurring the lines on the tortoise and blending the colors into something near to what we see on the Gold-Marbled.  Regardless, this finish appears unique and worthy of review.  The last M2xx not released as part of the Edelstein companion pieces was the Brown-Marbled in 2017.  While that one is part of the standard line-up, the Gold-Marbled is meant as a special edition meaning once the supply chain runs dry, these will no longer be available.  Read on to find out whether or not Pelikan has the Midas Touch as far as the Gold-Marbled is concerned and see if you should consider making space amongst your flock for this one.

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Review: M800 Brown-Black (2019)

Pelikan M800 Brown-Black Fountain PenIt’s time for another review on The Perch and while I normally like to scrutinize models that are unique in some way, I’m taking a look at the M800 Brown-Black largely because of its seemingly similar appearance to a past release.  If you have had any experience with the Pelikan catalog over the past decade, you might find yourself drawing parallels between this new model and an old favorite.  The M800 Tortoiseshell-Brown (2013) quickly comes to mind as a special edition that also utilized stripes and brown resin components.  Pelikan’s product literature describes the Brown-Black like so;

“A graceful and subtle appearance.  That’s the look of the new Special Edition Souverän 800 Brown-Black.  The warm brown hue resin material of this writing instrument series is perfectly complimented by dark brown stripes.  The barrel with brown and black stripes is crafted out of high grade cellulose acetate which is then turned into a sleeve.  The rings and the clip are elegantly decorated with 24-carat gold.”

Is the Brown-Black something we’ve seen before or a new design unto itself?  I think that the best analogy I can put forth is that while it all may be chocolate it comes down to the difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate.  Does the Brown-Black have enough going for it to stand on its own merits?  Read on to find out.

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Where It All Started: The Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen

1929 Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen AdvertisementThe “Pelikan Blätter” served as a newsletter of sorts that provided dealers with information and advice about new products and advertising.  It was first published in 1929 and the October edition of that year detailed the introduction of Pelikan’s first ever fountain pen.  By that time, the company had already been in business for nearly a century but had never produced a pen.  The Romanian inventor Petrache Poenaru had been granted a patent in France for a fountain pen design in 1827 and Evelyn Andros de la Rue had developed a cumbersome piston filler as early as 1905 so the concepts had been firmly established by the time Pelikan produced their first model.  Self-filling pens that relied on a pressure and lever system and eyedropper filled safety pens dominated the market in the period following World War I.  Perhaps it was the addition of the Beindorff children to the family business in the early 1920s that injected fresh viewpoints and an eagerness to seek out new and modern product lines which prompted the venture.  Maybe it was just happenstance that at this time in its history the company was propositioned by an engineer looking to bring his design to market.  Whatever the reason, Pelikan finally entered the fray with the Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen (also more simply known as the Pelikan Fountain Pen).  Notice the lack of a model number?  While similar in appearance to the 100, that designation didn’t come about until around 1931 when an expansion of the company’s product lines created the necessity for a more precise naming scheme.  The pen initially derived its name from the transparent ink view window located behind the section.  The fledgling design of the 1929 model was short lived and saw several small changes that quickly brought it more in line with how we envision the 100 today.  Read on to learn how Pelikan got into the pen business and to explore the model that set the tone for the last 90 years of production.

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Guest Post: Restoring a 1929 Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen

1929 Transparent Pelikan Fountain PenWhile browsing through some listings on eBay one day in late March, I happened to stumble across an auction titled “Vintage Pelikan Fountain Pen 14 Karat NIB.”  The nondescript caption led me to believe that the seller wasn’t quite sure of what it was they were trying to peddle.  The pen in question had seen better days, that much was obvious.  Upon closer inspection, the binde was missing and a few gouges marred the surface of the cap and filling mechanism.  It would have been easy to dismiss the listing and move on if it weren’t for the lack of cap bands.  They weren’t missing mind you; they just weren’t part of the design.  The look of the cap offered just enough hope and a promise of what might lie beneath.  Scrolling through the rest of the photos in the series revealed just what I had hoped to find, a nib with a heart shaped breather hole.  A holy grail for some, the ID became immediately clear.  While not in fighting shape, the pen was no doubt a 1929 Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen and looked very serviceable for a 90 year old writing instrument.  Understanding that a major restoration would be needed, I entered the fray, placed my bid, and began the waiting game.   To my surprise and delight, I ended up winning that listing on April 1st.  The pen arrived a few days later and I half expected it to be an utter disappointment, perhaps with a note tucked inside saying “April Fools’.”  Once I was able to inspect it, I knew right away that it was worthy of restoration so I turned to Rick Propas, a fellow Pelikan enthusiast and friend, who agreed to take on the task of reconditioning the eldest of Pelikan’s fountain pens.  Such a project is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced because disaster can befall at any step of the process.  With any restoration of this nature, concessions have to be made.  For instance, the early green bindes disintegrate when removed from barrels and spares are next to impossible to find.  Despite such limitations, I believe that the final product speaks for itself.  As an added bonus, Rick was kind enough to offer to document the restoration process.  Read on to learn how this wounded bird again learned how to fly as told by the restorer himself.

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