The company actually dates back to 1838, chemist Karl Hornemann started an ink factory in Hanover, Germany. Later, it became the pen company as we know it when Günther Wagner, a chemist, joined the firm. Eight year later, Günther bought the company and established his family crest -- a pelican feeding its chicks -- as the company logo.
Wagner moved to company into the production of inks for writing and drawing. He passed on the management of the company to his son-in-law Fritz Beindorff in 1895. Later, in 1925 the company launched the Pelikan No 100 - the first workable piston filler fountain pen.
Here is a great pen company that makes a full range of pens, right from the economical pens used by students in schools to the high-end Souverän line. The Peikano was first produced in 1960 as the basic school pen and has been produced ever since. In terms of the Souverän, this has been a mainstay of the company, and serious pen users, and the look has basically has not changed since the 50's. I can't count the number of pen stores that have commented, here is pen company that got the design and mechanics right, and they just keep producing.
The M100 was a really big change to pens at the time when it was introduced in 1937. While most pens used eyedroppers or levels, here was a pen that used a piston system that allowed the pen to fill up a good supply of ink.
During the second world war because the production of gold nibs were not possible, Pelikan cut back in its production of pens. Pens that were made in that time period were made with steel alloy nibs.
The company introduced in 1929 the classic green and black striped pen is known as the "Stresemann". That style if seen in many of their pens today.
From the 1970's till the 1980's the company struggled along with others. The ballpoint pen basically took over and the company took some time to get their line established again.
The M800, and I consider this "the pen of pens" was introduced in 1987. It is basically identical, although larger than the M400 which was launched around 1982. The M800 was considered the company's first step into the luxury pen line.
The company entered the era of the limited edition pen with the Blue Ocean model in 1993.
Over the past years Pelikan has issued a fairly popular places/cities limited edition series, but a limited edition series that are reasonably price and therefore a possibility for more people. The pens are based on the M600 body size, and I find that a bit small for my hand, but they are Pelikans and are superior writing pens. Although the same body as the M600, the M620's have 18 k gold nibs and from my experience with the Piazza Navona, quite the pen!
The history of Pelikan has highs and lows. Suffering in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Under the continued ownership of the Beindorff family, in 1962 an outside management firm was asked to manage the company. This brought on some good and bad decisions. In 1978 Pelikan went public (shares held by the family and others).
In 1982 Pelikan went into receivership. Then, two years later, Condorpart, a Swiss firm took over the company and in 1966, Goodace of Malaysia became the majority stockholder of Pelikan.
By 1982 the company focused on its core business and brought back the 400 Series targeted primarily at the Asian market. The line did well. Other lines followed and in 1987 Pelikan brought out the M800.
- Berlin - green tones
- Stockholm - rich blues
- Madrid (2002) has rich red and black tones.
- Chicago - black and white
- San Francisco - orange tones to remind one of the Golden Gate Bridge
- New York City - stunning black and white pattern
- Athens - the blue of Greece, what else!
- Shanghai (2004) is a stunning pen with translucent red and orange stripes.
- Piazza Navona (2005) has soft cream and marble tones.
- Place de la Concord with blue and grey stripes.
- Piccadilly Circus with its red and black swirls
- Grand Place has gentle graduation of rich browns and creams colours
- Niagara Falls with a water blue design that almost glimmers
The next series are part of the M640's line.
Sahara - this pen in the places series has a metal shaft in the colour of sand. A lacquer coating holds the colours. The pen brings forward a new shape in the series with a wide body. With the metal shaft although it is not that much larger than the M600 it feels heavier and more substantial in the hand.
Polar Lights (2008)- a metal shaft with multi-colour varnish finish - from deep black to translucent green. The pen has silver-tone finishing that go very nicely with the black and green tones.
They are a company with a good reputation for service on all follow-up issues. Thanks Abbi for all the great service!