If you have ever had the fortune to come across any of Pelikan’s more upscale vintage models, you’ve probably seen a golden cap with an inscription on the band that read something like; “Rolled Gold Doublé L.” Variations of this type of engraving can be found on models such as the P1, M30, M60, 500, and 520 to name just a few. Many of these models have held up well over their decades of service, their durability stemming from the decision to incorporate rolled gold into their construction rather than gold plating. That resistance to wear directly follows from the fact that the layer of gold utilized with rolled gold is much thicker than what can be achieved with standard electroplating. In addition to the added longevity, the look of rolled gold frequently has a richer, deeper appearance than what is typical of electroplated items. The cap band inscriptions will vary, owing to changes made over time as well as model specific factors. For instance, a 500NN may read “Pelikan Günther Wagner Germany Doublé L,” “Pelikan Germany Rolled Gold Double L+,” or some other variation of the same. Similar scenarios play out with the other models mentioned. Regardless of the format or the model, this stamping raises a few questions which I thought might be worth exploring. For instance; what is rolled gold, why is there an acute é in “Doublé,” and just what does that lonesome “L” stand for? Read on as I will explore these issues and more while trying to definitively answer some of the esoteric questions surrounding the inscriptions found on these models.
Pelikan has enjoyed a long and storied history of pen production. For this post, I’d like to focus on what may well be characterized as a bit of an oddity in the Pelikan line-up. The P1 was introduced in September of 1958 and enjoyed only a short production run ending sometime in 1963, presumably due to poor sales. The ‘P’ designation stands out as unusual here because this more commonly denotes a patronen-füller or cartridge pen but the P1 is in fact a piston filled fountain pen. This model was available as both Silvexa (P1S) and Rolled Gold (P1RG) variants. It came at a time when hooded nibs were en vogue and seemed to serve as Pelikan’s answer to the phenomenon. That said, Pelikan’s foray came much later than most other companies since pens like Parker’s 51 & 61, Aurora’s 88, Lamy’s 27, and Waterman’s C/F had already been on the market for some time. Until the introduction of the P1, Pelikan had been producing pens like the venerable 140 and 400, making the P1 a significant departure in design. Be that as it may, many people have shown much affection for the P1 and I felt a bit of a historical overview and review were in order as the P1 slowly creeps up on its diamond jubilee.