Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Pelikan Experience

Long before discovering Pelikan, Montblanc was the fountain pen in my pocket. At the time, it was nothing more than a serviceable tool for putting words to paper on occasion. The pen was a Meisterstuck 146 and went through two nib changes before I could even say I liked it a little. Nothing like enthusiasm, and certainly no passion surrounded the pen, or my use of it. I saw it simply as an okay kind of fountain pen that had cost too much money. Well, about Montblanc and that old Meisterstuck 146 my opinion has done an about face, but that’s another story.

After a few years of using the Montblanc, a friend led me to a small pen shop in Tokyo and urged me to try a Pelikan Souverän. I mark that as the day my eyes were first opened to the beauty and craft of fountain pens. I experienced then the particular Pelikan joy of written words generated by a well-made fountain pen. That day I bought my first Pelikan, a Souverän 600. I have never wavered in my enchantment with Pelikan, and since that first Souverän have added another five Pelikan fountain pens to my treasure box of pens.

I like all of my Pelikans, but view one of them as the jewel in the crown. A year ago I bought a vintage Pelikan 100N from a dealer in Budapest, Hungary. The pen came to me in excellent condition, and from the first day became a special member of my collection.

The Pelikan 100N (N for ‘neu’ or ‘new’) was a modification of the 100, and was first produced in 1938. Some say that the 100 and 100N marked the beginning of Pelikan’s distinctive styling. The company produced the pen in a number of different versions, or models. For example, the export model was slightly different from that produced for domestic use. It was during Germany’s war years, and that fact determined things like available materials. During those years, the pens were all made with nickel or steel nibs and pocket clips.

My own 100N was manufactured in the years immediately after WWII, between 1947 and 1951. The barrel of the pen is marbled gray celluloid with a bottle green ink window (a post war feature). The cap is black with a 14 carat gold plated pocket clip and single band—both with a fluted design. The nib is 14 carat and the size is M. The logo on the top of the cap shows the traditional Pelikan design, with two chicks in the nest, and is white-filled engraving. Around the top of the cap (not seen in the photos) is ‘Pelikan PATENT’ also in white-filled engraving.

The pen measures 12.3 centimeters (5.24 inches) and 15.5 centimeters (6.1 inches) posted.

I have written in an earlier post (Rainy Day Favorites) a brief description of the 100N’s quality of writing. I will repeat that brief description here: The 100N makes a sound that I like very much as it moves across the paper. Other Pelikan pens have nibs that flow across the page without a murmur, but for some reason (related to age?), the 100N whispers to the paper in a soft susurrus as the words unfold. Ears as well as eyes bear witness to the pen’s writing.

This is one that I expect won’t allow my enthusiasm for fountain pens to wane.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America