With the M205 Moonstone about to arrive in stores, news of Pelikan’s next product release has broken. I first saw it announced by the Polish vendor Pióromaniak. Next to market will be the M405 Silver-White. The last time a new M4xx model was introduced to the line-up was in 2016. This one conjures images of the last several M6xx releases which have employed a similar color scheme, the main difference between the two lines being their size of course. The M405 Silver-White may hit that sweet spot for those that like a smaller pen. It joins a rather exclusive group of M405 models, a model line that only came about 18 years ago making it a relative newcomer to the Souverän series. This new release will join the likes of the M405 Black (2002), Blue/Black (2003), Dark Blue (2003), and Stresemann (2016). Many of those were/are regular models in the line-up and not special edition releases. This one also looks to join the ranks as a standard edition. Look for the Silver-White to hit store shelves sometime in November of this year.
Theodor Kovàcs is a mysterious historical figure, particularly for someone who had such a profound impact upon the history of fountain pen development. There is surprisingly little written about him and his work outside of what Pelikan Schreibgeräte and its derivatives tell us. His birth, family, activities outside of Pelikan, and death are all questions that I have been unable to answer despite extensive research. Much of what we do know seems to be based upon a strong oral history as well as a scant trail of patents and corporate agreements. A great deal of this history, I have already put forth in my piece, Where It All Started: The Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen so please forgive any redundancy. While I have previously dedicated time to the fruits of Mr. Kovàcs’ labor and partnership with Günther Wagner, I have never taken a deep dive into the engineering behind the differential piston mechanism that has become a defining characteristic of Pelikan’s 90+ year fountain pen legacy. Not just an incremental improvement, Mr. Kovàcs’ designs were evolutionary, taking the potential of these analogue instruments to the next level. I thought that it might be enlightening, particularly for the more engineering minded amongst us, to peek behind the curtain and see what makes a Pelikan tick, at least as it did back in the early days. The designs that follow are derived from the original patents filed by Mr. Kovàcs and Günther Wagner back in the 1920s which ultimately became the linchpin behind the company’s fountain pen fortunes. All the illustrations below have been annotated according to the patent’s text for ease of viewing. Of course, there have been some small improvements to the piston design over the past nine decades, but the fundamentals remain the same. Read on to learn how Pelikan’s differential piston filling mechanism got its start.
Many of the preeminent innovations and game changing inventions throughout the history of human civilization have had but one thing in common: they were born out of curiosity. The drive to push towards new ideas and experiences thereby unlocking limitless potential is a basic human attribute. From the Acheulean hand axe and the control of fire to space exploration and self-driving cars, curiosity is a powerful motivator for learning and influential in decision-making. It is one of the pillars upon which the advancements of society have been built. It should come as no surprise then that curiosity has also helped drive innovations in fountain pen design. Mention of a primitive reservoir pen can be found dating back to less than 1000 years Anno Domini. The Romanian inventor Petrache Poenaru was one of the first to be granted a patent for such a design in France on May 25th, 1827. Pelikan entered the market with their Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen in 1929 featuring Theodor Kovác’s differential piston filling mechanism. The steady evolution of the fountain pen meant added complexity and many of the competing manufacturers of the early twentieth century were eager to show off their pens and make the case for why their design was superior to others. Pelikan was no different in this regard and therefore outfitted their sales representatives and stationary shops with special pens that revealed the model’s inner workings. Likely starting sometime in the early 1930s, the hard rubber components of the 100 were skeletonized or cut away to create non-functional models, not available or intended for resale. It is unclear in what capacity these models were utilized but make no mistake, this was the birth of the demonstrator, just not the ones we commonly think of today. Those came about later, with the advent and mass production of clear plastics. Examples exist of the 400 and 400NN from the 1950s and 60s done in green or clear shades of transparent plastic. Many of Pelikan’s demonstrators from the 1950s through the 1960s were low production volume items carried by reps and delivered to stationary shops, which makes them scarce and highly collectible today. Eventually, such pens would catch on with consumers and grow in popularity. No longer relegated to life as a sales tool, demonstrators would grow into their own and become special edition releases. Pelikan’s first major modern foray into the demonstrator was the Transparent Green M800 released in 1992 which they quickly followed up with the M810 Blue Ocean in 1993 and a multitude of other demonstrators since. Read on to learn more about the origins from which today’s demonstrators hail.
Last year, I wrote an in-depth piece looking at how Pelikan’s 4001 line of inks got its start. As it turns out, the number scheme began in the late 1890s to provide clarity in their marketing and to allow for easier product recall. This was particularly necessary since the company’s price lists from that decade took up 17 pages detailing the available ink varieties alone. Multiple numbered lines, each with their own unique properties and purposes were developed. Only the 4001 product line, historically one of their more popular, has continued production into more modern times, albeit with a different chemical composition from the original. The line currently has many standard bearers such as Royal Blue, Brilliant Black, and Blue-Black. Available in 30 or 62.5mL bottles, these inks have generally been well reviewed and highly recommended for taming the somewhat wet and generous feeds of Pelikan’s fountain pens. In addition to bottles, the product line comes packaged in cartridge form. What many may not realize is that there have historically been unique colors introduced to the line that have only been available in cartridge format. Examples have included Apricot, Cherry Red, Cyan Blue, and Moss Green to name just a few. Many of these have been short lived and part of limited production runs. One ink that has persisted over time has been Pelikan’s 4001 Pink. Somewhat lesser known, Pink is regarded as a well behaved color lacking sheen but possessing some nice shading along with magenta undertones. In a surprise announcement today, Pelikan has revealed that Pink will be coming to a bottle near you. Read on to learn more.
September 1st is always a day of reflection for me since it heralds the anniversary of The Pelikan’s Perch going live. That’s right, The Perch turns six today! I always like to take this time to look back and see where the blog has been and try to visualize where it’s going. The last year has seen incredible challenges to our way of life. Hyper-partisan politics, economic devastation, a spotlight on racial inequality, weather extremes of biblical proportions, and the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic seemingly leave little to celebrate. These real world concerns have adversely impacted every facet of daily life including this blog, limiting my ability to bring you the same volume of content that I have in years past. Still, while lacking in quantity I hope that I have made up for that with quality. In addition to my family, the blog has been my refuge, helping to keep me sane amid the turmoil and uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus. The engagement with the pen community that the blog has afforded me has allowed me to retain faith that we may indeed overcome these hardships. I thank you all for that and hope that you will continue to keep up your engagement with the site, either via email or the comments feature. To those who have been content to spectate, that is fine too, but I encourage you to join the conversation. My personal goals for the site have not changed and I will continue to endeavor to expand the Pelikan knowledge base for as long as I’m able. The Perch remains a labor of love. As such, I will continue to forbid advertising, refuse solicitation, and not accept gifted products of any type for review. This allows me to bring you a clean viewing experience and allows me to remain free of bias. The integrity of the site is of utmost importance to me. The one downside to this approach is that it limits me from being able to host very many giveaways. My prior two contests were in honor of The Perch’s birthday and I’m thrilled to be in a position to bring you The Perch’s third annual anniversary giveaway. As a thank you from me to this amazing community of pen lovers, I am offering up a 2020 Pelikan M205 Moonstone Demonstrator fountain pen and ink gift set. I’m only able to do so thanks to the consideration afforded to me by the world class crew at Fritz Schimpf. Read on to learn how you might enter for a chance to win.
Pelikan’s schedule of new releases has been unavoidably altered for 2020 due to the global issues affecting us all today. One of the most highly anticipated models expected this year has been a fountain pen inspired by the Edelstein Ink of the Year, Moonstone. I’m happy to report that the wait is now over as Bookbinders, a stationary shop out of Australia, has given us our first glimpse of the M205 Moonstone Special Edition Demonstrator. The latest special edition to join the Classic series continues the tradition that began with the M205 Amethyst (2015) and now marks the sixth release to be based on their Edelstein line of inks. The M205 Moonstone joins ranks with the M205 Star Ruby (2019), M205 Olivine (2018), M200 Smoky Quartz (2017), M205 Aquamarine (2016), and the M205 Amethyst (2015). Last year’s Star Ruby broke the mold by employing a material with a sparkly, shimmering character. The Moonstone looks to continue this trend by utilizing the same sparkling material encased within a dark gray translucent medium. Pre-orders should be available from most vendors by September 1st with this one expected to hit store shelves sometime in early October.
It was just eight months ago that Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organization to several pneumonia cases of unknown cause in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China. To most of us, I’m sure it feels like much longer due to the global saga that has since ensued. We are now all too familiar with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Not since the H1N1 influenza outbreak of 1918 have we seen a pandemic with such far reaching ramifications for everyday life. Countries across the world have taken unique and unprecedented measures to try and stop the spread of the virus. These have varied in severity by location and have met with mixed degrees of success. Actions universally agreed upon to be effective have included social distancing, mask wearing, and hand hygiene. Germany’s government and healthcare system were well positioned to tackle the challenges posed by the virus at the outset but that is not to say they have had it easy. With the fourth largest economy in the world and approximately 11% of its gross domestic product spent on health care, Germany ranks among the top five countries in the European Union for the number of nurses and physicians per 1,000 people. Germany recorded its first case of COVID-19 on January 27, 2020 in Bavaria. By February 27, the total number of cases had climbed to 26. Towards the end of February mass gatherings and travel were increasingly restricted. In mid-March schools started to close and by March 22, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the federal states and national government had jointly decided to implement a “contact ban.” This served to limit public gatherings to two people, required a physical distance of at least 5 feet, and closed many businesses. Today, Germany has reported approximately 224,000 cases and just over 9,000 deaths, a sad reminder of just how infectious and deadly this virus is. The necessary restrictions outlined above along with others have resulted in the pandemic taking a heavy toll on the operations of most businesses, Pelikan’s included. Read on to learn of the disruption that has been caused thus far and what it means for the company’s fine writing instruments division for the remainder of 2020 and beyond.
Italy is rife with manufacturers whose products focus on the culture of writing. Aurora, Montegrappa, Pineider, Stipula, and Visconti are just a few that quickly come to mind. Despite the already crowded market space, German interlopers have also done well in the region. One such instance that comes to mind is the curious case of the M151. In 2015, I wrote a brief piece titled “The (Short) Story of the M151” which explored from where the pen’s moniker was derived. As it turned out, the M151 was simply a repackaged M150 Green/Black meant to be sold within the Italian market. The name of the model arose from the company’s own internal description for the M150. Despite the seemingly simple explanation, the pen’s marketing has suggested that there is a lot more to this model than meets the eye. At the end of 2019, the M251 was released, destined for the same region and meant to serve as a larger companion piece to the M151. Rather than a repackaged model, this was a unique addition to the Classic line, employing the same Green/Black color scheme as its little brother. Regional sales literature for the M151 can be found with tag lines such as; “Everything passes…myths remain” and “A legend from the past is back.” This piqued my curiosity. What was so special about this little fountain pen that would elevate it to mythical status and why was it worthy of a new regional companion piece? Was it simply a matter of overzealous marketing or was there something more to it? To answer those questions, I enlisted the help of Mario Pagnozzi of Stilo&Stile. Based out of Rome since 2004, his company’s mission has focused on welcoming enthusiastic, curious people to the world of handwriting. With his help and an inquiry to Pelikan’s Italian division, the cultural connection to the M151 has been made just a little bit clearer. Read on to learn why these two pens might hold a bit more significance for the country than they at first let on.