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Miscellaneous Pelikans

Most pen fanciers on the U.S. side of the Big Ditch know Pelikan from its older classics like the models 100 and 400, or its prestigious current offerings like the M800. In fact, Pelikan makes a very large and diverse range of pens, from primary-school "trainers," to stenographers' pens, and bulk-pack office pens. You'll also find plenty of trendy student pens, highlighters, watercolor paint-boxes, and Pelikan's famous ink-eradicator sticks in the lineup (but only if you go to Europe; the bulk of these products aren't available Stateside). Herewith, then, a sample of some less expensive but no less interesting Pelikan pens, past and present.

Pelikan Go! pen

Pelikan Go! in black, c 1990

According to most sources I've seen, the Pelikan model M75 Go! pen was made in the 1980s; judging from the "Germany" (not "W. Germany") imprint on the filler knob, one might want to place it after the German reunification in 1990 (when Pelikan removed the "W" from the imprint on its other lines); in any case, it is no longer in production and was never offered in the U.S. Perhaps the model failed to catch on, as did the later and similarly-marketed Level. Nevertheless, bushels of new-old-stock Go!s have made their way across the ocean and into the hands of collectors and users alike.

Packed in a clever cardboard box (with the unfortunate English misspelling "pistin-operated" on front), the Go! pen is a student-model fountain pen, offering a gold-plated steel point and genuine Pelikan piston fill system in a modern style. It is made from a slick black plastic with contrasting turquoise cap derby and clip (the clip being a squared-off affair with a hint of the Pelikan beak motif). The four examples I've bought all had this turquoise trim, although I have seen pictures of models with pinkish clips (one might also posit Go!s with blue and yellow-orange trim, since these are the only other colors used on the packaging). The ink level can be viewed through a set of "gills" on either side of the barrel.

The section has a fashionable three-sided contour, with embossed "grip pads." The big point is of the square-shouldered style popular on other German brands, and traceable to the 1950s Montblanc "wing" point; it has a Pelikan logo and the same gill motif as seen on the sides of the pen. It's a relatively springy point for such an inexpensive pen. The Go! is pretty big (just a few millimeters shorter than an M800), but very lightweight.

The Verdict

These pens are a good find, and usually sell for around $15 from dealers; at this price, buy several of them and give them out as gifts (be sure to keep one for yourself, though).

Maker Pelikan
Origin Germany
Production 1980s?
Type Piston fill
Point Gold plated steel, medium nib.
Construction Black plastic with contrasting plastic trim.

Pelikan Technixx

Pelikan Technixx, 2003

In the mid-1990s, Pelikan came under the control of an Indonesian investor, and it was announced that this would enable the company to establish contacts and sales outlets in the then-burgeoning Asian market for fine pens. This may account for the cadre of mid-priced metal pens (made in Japan, I'm told) that have appeared in the company's catalogs over the past five years or so, including the fanciful Belle, Form, and Pharo series. Of these, the only FP in the bunch (apart from the weird Pharo) is the $60 Technixx (discounts can reduce the price to under $50).

The Technixx is an all-metal pen, made (if I had to guess) from aluminum; like its cohorts, it is cast or machined rather than based on metal tubes (this may account for the relatively high price). The only non-metal parts visible from the outside are the feed and the end of the sleeve that holds the feed and point in place. The cap is a squarish design, with a solid-metal spring-loaded clip in the Lamy style (secured by two small but visible screws). The barrel, by contrast, has a nice simple curvature to it, and is fitted with a plinth-like end jewel (the well-balanced Technixx can actually stand up on its foot, something not many other flat-ended pens can do). Most of the cap and barrel are finished in what looks like a matté epoxy finish in any of four colors (argent, black, red, and blue), with a masked-out Pelikan imprint near the bottom of the cap.

The section has a solid, billet-like feel, and has three "dished" cutouts to give it a trendy triangular contour. The point is unapologetically steel and quite rigid, but of traditional kite-shaped design. The pen takes International cartridges (long or short) or a Pelikan converter.

My medium-nibbed Technixx is a very comfortable writer, thanks perhaps to the combination of slim girth and solid-metal heft. It feeds and writes flawlessly, and can take pressure to write through multipart forms. My only quibble is with the attractive blue finish, which began to flake off within weeks of purchase. I know this pen isn't an M1000, but it isn't exactly cheap, either. Still, perhaps one could write off these boo-boos as character marks, signs of a practical and hard-working writing tool.

The Verdict

One of the nicest all-metal pens you can find for the money, and a superb writer for everyday use. If only Pelikan could have done better with the finish...

Maker Pelikan
Origin Japan (?)
Production Current production
Type International cartridge or converter
Point Nickel-plate steel, medium nib.
Construction Solid aluminum (?) barrel, cap, and section; colored epoxy finish.

Pelikan Ink Roller

Pelikan Ink Roller, 2003

Now, here's something you don't see every day: a rollerball pen that can be filled with fountain pen ink! If your peregrinations often preclude your use of a genuine fountain pen, but you can't give up your favorite tutti-frutti ink colors, this is your baby.

The Ink Roller is an inexpensive (less than $10) all-plastic pen in frosty translucent plastic (in several colors, all with black caps), with a comfortable knurled grip. It uses special Ink Roller cartridges, although my first modification after purchase was to swap in a Pelikan fountain pen converter and fill it with normal fountain pen ink. The converter fit like a glove, and the pen filled easily from a bottle through the rollerball point.

Frankly, I expected the pen to clog up with dried ink within a few days, but was pleasantly surprised to find that after several weeks of non-use, it wrote from the first stroke. Even after several months on the shelf, the pen still had liquid ink in the converter (unheard of with fountain pens) and still laid down this ink from the very start, without prompting.

The Ink Roller writes as well as, or better than, any rollerball of comparable price and station, with a line that I'd call "fine" (in rollerball/ballpoint terms), and no skipping or other bad stylus-pen behavior.

The Verdict

No, I'm not going to sell all my FPs for the sake of the Ink Roller, but it does make a dandy alternative to the FP for travel, business use, and lending to people who might be afraid of "one of those pens." It's performance far exceeded my expectations, and in fact can offer a few modern fountain pens a run for their money.

NOTE: Pelikan does not say you can use converters and fountain-pen inks with the Ink Roller, but then again they don't say that you can't (the fact that the Ink Roller cartridge is identical in shape to an International FP cartridge could be a hint). I'm not sure that I'd use the special Ink Roller cartridges in a fountain pen, however, since I don't know what they put in that ink.

Maker Pelikan
Origin Germany (?)
Production Current production
Type Ink Roller cartridges
Point Rollerball
Construction Translucent plastic barrel with black plastic cap.