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.