Pelikan 400NN

early 1960s

About This Model

Pelikan is one of the oldest fountain pen manufacturers, dating to a Hanover firm that made paint and ink in the 1830s. Its plant manager, chemist Günther Wagner gained control in 1878 and installed the pelikan, his family emblem as Pelikan's hallmark, even growing the number of pelikan chicks in the emblem to match the family's children (although its connection to the family disappeared over time and the number of chicks shrank from four to one). The product line of art inks added iron gall ink for official documents in 1898, and by 1910 this was the best-selling ink in the world. Pelikan entered the fountain pen market with the Model 100 in 1929 after purchasing the patent for a piston-filling pen. The peculiarity of this pen was the differential screw system. Unlike the typically black piston pens that characterized German fountain pens for the next twenty years, Pelikan's green marbled binde and semi-transparent ink window set them apart. After WWII, Pelikan grew steadily, adding the 400 Stresemann in the 1950s, with its green/black or brown/black striped barrel. In addition, a more simple piston was introduced in the 1950s for the 120 and 140 student pens. In the 1970s Pelikan contracted manufacturing out to Merz&Krell for the 120 model, which were slightly different but look much the same. The 1980s brought both the new deluxe pens, the 600 and 800 series, and then the limited edition 1000s, but its overexpansion also brought bankruptcy and a forced sale away from the family. Several reorganizations later, by 1994 all Pelikan production was moved to Peine-Vöhrum, the site of a Pelikan factory, where it is today.

About This Pen

The Pelikan 400 series pens were among the most sold, most enjoyed fine pens in Europe from the 1950s through the 1970s. They are very well-made, very solid, but without the heft of the current larger pens. This pen is a green-striped 400NN, probably from the early 1960s, like almost all Pelikans a piston filler. It measures 13.0cm in overall length and 1.2cm across the barrel. This pen is in very nice condition, showing almost no evidence of use; there ar no scratches or marks. The gold trim is clean and complete. The pen is engraved “Pelikan 400 Günter Wagner Germany” with very faint letters at the bottom of the barrel, confirming that it is from the early 1960s, before Pelikan turned production over to Merz&Krell. The cap ring is engraved “Germany”; if you’re wondering why it does not say “West Germany”, it was made for export to the European market. Its nib is 585C, 14 karat gold, and writes a smooth broad line; it has a bit of a stub. It’s pretty wet, as with so many German pens, so Pelikan or another German ink is recommended. Wonderful pen for daily use, please treat it to a case?

Price: $250 Sold

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