Pelikan’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.
Today’s post will explore the Pelikan M700 family of fountain pens. This is a particularly interesting and unique series as it includes two Toledo models as well as several others plated with various metals. The M7xx pens have the same dimensions as the M400 though with some added heft due to their metal construction. The five pens that comprise this line are the M700 Toledo, M710 Toledo, M730, M750, and M760. Most of these models were made in the 1980s and 1990s though some have been produced more recently. As far as Pelikan pens go, these five are amongst some of my favorites for reasons which I hope will be clear by the end of this post. They are not without their shortcomings, however, as I will try to point out. Most of these pens are now out of production and some are quite hard to find. Many will command a premium price if you do happen to stumble across one that’s for sale. Read on to learn a bit more about the idiosyncrasies of each of these models.
First released to the luxury market in 1931, the Pelikan T111 featured a steel binde (BIN-duh) hand engraved in the Damascene style, a technique imported to Toledo, Spain by the Arabs. Damascene artists traditionally decorate steel with threads of gold and silver to create beautiful, painstakingly crafted pieces. The Toledo models of today use a sterling silver binde rather than steel to which a thin layer of gold is applied. The technique that is used to produce the Toledo has changed very little over the past 85 years. Pelikan re-introduced the Toledo in 1986 with the M700, an M4xx sized pen depicting the classic Pelikan Toledo motif. Production has always been limited by the unique, hand crafted nature of each pen that rolls off of the line (Pelikan cites a quantity of just 200 pens produced per month). In 1991, Pelikan introduced the M900 Toledo, a pen with a similar design and motif but in the larger and heavier M8xx form factor and meant as a limited edition. The M900 was billed as “The Collectors’ Edition Toledo” in the United States and released as a run of just 500 pens earmarked specifically for the North American market (some accounts report an additional 500 pens made for sale overseas). Each North American pen came with a certificate declaring the rarity of the release. This exquisite model sold out quickly with many collectors being spurred into action by the limited and distinctive nature of such a release. The story might have ended there if it were not for Pelikan’s decision to re-release the M900 as a standard issue pen which has since enjoyed a lengthy production run.