Pelikan fountain pens, the 100 vintage pen and the Souverän

vintage pen

The 100 is a true historic Pelikan vintage pen

It was even the pen used by Einstein. How can it be more historic than that. There are off course several ‘Classics’ (and there are even a couple of Pelikan fountain pens), but this one, the Pelikan vintage pen 100 is in itself a little bit of fountain pen history. I will tell you why this vintage pen is not to be ignored by any pen lover and to do so I will start with some history on the Pelikan company.

How the pelican of the Pelikan fountain pen came to be

Pelikan’s story began in 1832 as a workshop producing paints and accessories for artists. In 1863 Gunther Wagner, the factory manager, acquired the company, gave it its name and ran it splendidly. He gave the company a trademark as a sign for quality. The trademark was his very own family crest or coat of arms, namely a pelican. This trademark was to be one of the first trademarks ever to be registered for these purposes. The trademark itself evolved over time.

vintage pen

The origins of the Pelikan fountain pen

Gunther was good at many things because at the turn of the century his products will be sold all over the world. The company had around 3000 employees, quite an accomplishment in those days. It was much later that a Hungarian engineer Theodor Kovacs invented the piston filling mechanism with a differential spindling gear. Although he sold his patent in 1927, he re-patented it in 1929 and the same year Pelikan launched its first ‘Pelikan fountain pen’. The first one had a jade green barrel, where most fountain pens sold then were black.

vintage pen

(image from Lothar Spurzem, Wikimedia Commons)

In 1931 models expanded and model names had to be given. And so the name model 100 saw light. In 1937 the model 100N (for New) was sold internationally. Production ended sadly in 1944.

Now why is this Pelikan vintage pen so special ?

Well, before this pen was invented people wrote with the famously named safety pens or security pens however it was still a difficult task to use a fountain pen. These pens were not safe at all. Charging a pen or filling it with ink ended up in a stain party on hands and pockets. On top of that you could not go very far on ink so the advantage compared to a plume and an ink jar were small. So it is my opinion that this filling system along with the first pen to hold it, were somewhat revolutionary.

Bakelite, Palladium and cork were off course one of the materials that were replaced in more modern versions but this filing system is still used in some models that exist today. It was a big step forward and changed the industry of fountain pens and this is why it is surely the most classic vintage pen. No wonder Einstein used the Pelikan 100.

Confusion with Montblanc and this Pelikan fountain pen

Some say MontBlanc invented this system but this is not true. Kovacs had been in discussions with several parties, MontBlanc was one of them but eventually Pelikan got the deal. There is another reason why some confusion with MontBlanc exists. At the time Pelikan and MontBlanc worked together. MontBlanc did not make ink and Pelikan did not produce nibs so they were suppliers for each other. Here is the Pelikan nib, in the early times supplied by MontBlanc.

So really, the true success story of Pelikan began with the model 100. This Pelikan fountain pen is seen today as a rather middle class citizen like Lamy, and not quite up there with upper class MontBlanc. Funny to think that Pelikan lies at the origins of the piston filling mechanism, and most fountain pen companies all use this system today.

Another Pelikan fountain pen, the Souverän

I will help you now choose a very close and related modern version of this vintage pen because unfortunately the exact replica of the model 100 is not made anymore. The Souverän, the direct successor of 1950’s Pelikan 400, is probably one of the most iconic fountain pens today, and has succeeded the role of the classic pen, model 100. The most striking aspect of the pen is the striped barrel now made from cellulose acetyl, a different material than plastic used by most. This “pinstripe” pattern gave the its nickname Stresemann, namely the Secretary of State in Weimar Republic well-known for his striped trousers. The clip in the form of a golden pelican are features unchanged since the fifties.

Pelikan fountain pen, Souverän

So, if you are charmed by the pyama or the beak or truly want to hold some pen history in your hands, you should go for the Souverän. Lost of choices in colors (however green is a must). Different sizes, including the oversize, and there are also a nice range of Special Editions. You can find more information, reviews and the price of this vintage pen, here.

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