I find it somewhat taxing to consistently review Pelikan’s fountain pens here on the blog, not because they aren’t great pens but because many of them are just variations on a theme. It becomes a challenge to find new things to write about with pens that are essentially unchanged aside from a fresh coat of paint. Consequently, I try to pick my reviews carefully, keeping my selection criteria to new, unique, or especially exciting features and finishes. I’m also hesitant to review pens that a majority of people won’t get to see in real life let alone own. Still, from time to time there comes a new finish so exciting that it just begs to be reviewed. That is the situation I find myself in with this year’s M1000 Raden Green Ray. This release follows the M805 Raden Royal Platinum (2018) and the M800 Raden Royal Gold (2017). The last Raden based off of the M1000 chassis was the Sunrise (2016). The newest entry in the lineup flaunts wide green stripes that reflect a rainbow of shimmering color in good light. We are so accustomed to the pinstriped pattern of Pelikan’s pens that this one cannot help but stand out. The stripes are made all the more impressive when juxtaposed against a background of deep black Japanese Urushi lacquer. The end result is really something to behold but, sadly, only 400 of these special edition M1000s were made. If pens utilizing the Raden technique appeal to you, then this is a must own Pelikan. Unfortunately, high pricing and limited production will keep this out of the hands of most so read on if for nothing more than to enjoy the eye candy.
After a hiatus of nearly two months, we again have fresh news about the next release out of Hannover. March looks to be a big month for Pelikan with the previously announced M200 Pastel Green and the Edelstein IOTY Moonstone already due. Those releases will now be joined by a new Souverän, the M1000 Raden Green Ray. The last Raden model to be released was the M805 Raden Royal Platinum back in 2018. The M1000 line hasn’t seen a pen in this style since 2016’s Raden Sunrise. To make a pen with this traditional Japanese technique, a special Japanese Urushi lacquer is first applied to the barrel and cap. The stripes are then constructed with particles of Australian abalone. For the Green Ray, these colorful pieces of pearlescent shell appear to reflect hues of green, blue, and purple. Finally, another layer of lacquer is applied to seal everything in place. The artist then hand numbers and signs each piece in the Maki-e technique. Other notable past Raden releases built off of the M1xxx chassis are the Moonlight (2011), Sunlight (2013), Starlight (2014), and Sunrise (2016). This will be a limited edition of just 400 pieces worldwide and is due out in March 2020.
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.
Fountain pens have been around since at least the 17th century and it stands to reason that the earliest variants likely adhered to the 20th century modernist architecture principle form follows function. This principle contends that the shape of an object should be based upon its intended purpose. I wonder how much time elapsed before pens started being embellished with unique styling and artistic sensibilities. There are some pens that are incredibly plain and while they may excel at what they do, they fail to ignite the senses. Others are so ornate and overblown that their artistry interferes with their function making for an all but useless show piece. Some pens are able to straddle the line between the two extremes and that is where Pelikan’s M800 Raden Royal Gold falls. With gold and black stripes reminiscent of a honey bee, the golden Raden finish married to the tried and true M800 chassis has resulted in an exceptional fine writing instrument, the likes of which haven’t been seen since a much more basic implementation on the now discontinued P3110 Ductus. Of course that is just my opinion but I hope to convince you of the same. The biggest argument against the design that I’ve heard is that this model has such a preponderance of gold that it makes for an overly ostentatious appearance (translation: too “blingy”). I can see why someone might feel that way but let me assure you that the use of gold here behind the mother of pearl overlay is not at all gratuitous. I always struggle with the utility of reviewing a pen made in such limited quantities and priced at such a luxury market price point. With only 388 people destined to enjoy the Raden Royal Gold, I decided to write this review in order to share the beauty and craftsmanship of this unique release with those who will never have the pleasure of owning this exquisite fine writing instrument.
The release of a new Raden model to follow-up on last year’s Sunrise has been expected but specific details have been lacking. That changed this evening when De Roos gave us a glimpse of a new Raden model from Pelikan via their Instagram page. De Roos is a fountain pen retailer based in Heemstede, Netherlands and has been around since 1953. The pen featured today is the upcoming M800 Royal Gold. It appears that De Roos is the first to break this news. This would be the first Raden release in the M8xx form factor since the Kyokko & Gekko of 2005. It will join the likes of the Kyokko & Gekko (2005), Moonlight (2011), Sunlight (2013), Starlight (2014), and Sunrise (2016). For those unfamiliar with Raden, it is a traditional Japanese decorative craft characterized by finely ground abalone embedded or glued onto laquer-coated surfaces. The inlay glitters in wonderful colors when struck by light. The painstaking process ensures that these are usually limited in number and quite expensive at retail.
Thanks to an anonymous source out of Japan, we may just have our first look at the rumored but as yet unannounced Pelikan M1000 Raden Sunrise. A Raden model was anticipated for 2016 based on rumors from earlier this year. The ad is taken from a Japanese magazine and the text labels the pen as “Akatsuki” which translates as ‘dawn’ a term that could also be construed as ‘sunrise.’ The Raden series was launched by the Kyokko (Sunlight) & Gekko (Moonlight) set in 2005, M800 sized pens employing the technique of inlaid Mother-of-Pearl. Those two fountain pens were later followed up by the Moonlight (2011), Sunlight (2013), and Starlight (2014) all of which were subsequently based off of the M1000 chassis. The Sunrise would be the 4th edition in the M1000 Raden line. Pelikan’s Raden Collection is absolutely stunning though often ultra limited due to the technique employed in creating these pens. The end result is a very small run of writing instruments which are frequently priced beyond the reach of the average collector/enthusiast. Raden is a traditional Japanese decorative craft used for lacquer ware and woodwork. Abalone is ground to a fine thickness with a stone and then embedded or glued on laquer-coated surfaces. The inlay glitters in wonderful colors when struck by light. Even though most of us will never own one, it is always exciting to see such beautiful artistry.