Pelikan M1000 1998-Present
by Jim Mamoulides 8/24/03

Supersize It!

The Pelikan M1000 is the largest pen in Pelikan's top Souverän line of standard production premium pens and one of the largest production pens available today, 5 3/4 inches capped, an enormous 6 3/4 inches long posted, and 5/8 inches in diameter. This is a big pen, but deceptively lighter in weight than one might expect. Introduced in 1998 and obviously designed to compete with the top models made by Montblanc, Waterman, and Parker, the pen carries forward the same classic and familiar look that has defined Pelikan pens since the Pelikan 400 model was introduced in 1950.

Pelikan M1000 Green

The M1000 features double gold plate bands on the cap and barrel end, one gold plated band on the section tip, the famous Pelikan logo in gold on black on the cap top, and the trademark pelican beak clip.

Each pen is made of celluloid either with a black cap and barrel or a black cap and green stripe barrel wrap. Green pens have visulated barrels, with the ink level easily seen through the clear "black" stripes. Black pens have a clear window near the top of the barrel just below the section threads. The barrel is actually a clear sealed core that the piston operates within, wrapped by a celluloid sheet. This very clean and modular design allows Pelikan to easily change the wrap and caps to make multiple models, and makes the higher end Souverän M800 and M1000 attractive for Limited Editions, not only by Pelikan, but by several high end customizers.

The M1000 has a huge hand crafted and ground 18 carat, two-toned rhodium masked gold nib, one of the largest mounted on any regular production pen, modern or vintage. The nib serves as a bright visual anchor to the pen's otherwise functional and subdued design, especially in the black model. As with other Souverän pens, a very large assortment of screw-in nibs are available, including Extra-Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, Double Broad, Triple Broad, Oblique Medium, Oblique Broad, Oblique Double Broad, and Oblique Triple Broad. M1000 nibs tend to be soft and wet writers.

Pelikan M1000 Green Cap And Nib Detail

As with the smaller M800, the M1000 fills using a smooth solid brass differential piston filling mechanism. The Souverän M1000 is only available as a bottle-filled fountain pen.

The M1000 currently retails in the USA for US $490.00. Pelikan packages the pen in a large, business-like paperboard box, that when opened, reveals the pen cradled in a pale yellow silk and paired with a bottle of Pelikan 4001 ink.

An interesting accessory for the pen is a one or two pen "Crystal Desk Base" pen holder, that fits either the M800 or M1000 pens, effectively turning them into desk pens. An interesting throwback to another era. The single pen base is US $139.00, the double is US $179.00.

A Late Start For A Classic

Pelikan may be thought of as one of the venerable fountain pen brands, but it was actually a late starter in both the pen game, and late to pens in its own company history. Certainly, when looking at the classic lines of the Souverän series pens, which trace their design to the 1950 400 model. One might think that Pelikan must have been there in the early days when well known brands like Conklin, Parker, Sheaffer and Mabie Todd were starting. It is true that the company has a long history, but pen making didn't start for nearly a hundred years.

Pelikan traces its inception to April 28, 1838, when Carl Hornemann first sent pricing for his self-made paint and ink to his artist customers. The Pelikan name came in 1863, when Günther Wagner took control of the company, using the pelican symbol from his family's coat of arms, and creating one of Germany's first trade marks.

Pelikan introduced its first fountain pen in 1929, a pen that would have the establishing design elements that still exist today: the black cap and green celluloid wrap barrel, the smooth differential piston filling mechanism that uses the base of the barrel as the turning knob, and of course the pelican beaked clip. The main visual difference is the tall dome cap top on the 1929 pen. A high quality product that set the standard for all the Pelikans to follow.

Pelikan M1000 Green - Not Usually Desk bound!

The Ups And Downs Of Premium Pen Pricing

Researching the Pelikan M1000 providing something I don't usually run into: a widely varying pricing.

From 1998, at introduction, the Black M1000B and Green Stripe M1000G priced as follows:

1998 - US $500.00
1999 - US $500.00
2000 - US $525.00
2001 - US $555.00
2002 - US $440.00
2003 - US $490.00

Why the up, down, and up price model? The Pelikan Souverän line probably finds its closest competition with the Montblanc Meisterstück line, and the M1000 obviously competes with the Montblanc 149, the largest Meisterstück. Like the M1000, the 149 is a piston filler only pen with no matching ballpoint, rollerball or pencil, and the 149 only comes in black. During the same time period, 1998-2003, the 149 changed price only once:

1998 - US $425.00
1999 - US $425.00
2000 - US $425.00
2001 - US $425.00
2002 - US $450.00
2003 - US $450.00

Pelikan had just changed USA distributors in 2001 to Chartpak, and though the M1000 was price positioned above the 149, heavy discounting actually made the M1000 less expensive than the 149 at retail. This discounting continues today, with overseas discounters often pricing substantially lower than USA domestic retailers.

The sister M1050B, essentially the same pen with a straight line guillochè vermeil cap (24 karat gold plate over .925 sterling silver), was introduced in 1998 at US $900.00, and was discontinued after 1999.

So why the crazy pricing? Possibly the earlier prices reflected price points Pelikan felt it could achieve in the USA market. Heavy overseas discounting and general lack of price control, as Montblanc attempts, likely meant the pen was priced more to allow for discounting to a good street price and not relevant to the market. My opinion is that Pelikan lost control of its distribution and rethought pricing structure in 2002 to bring it back in line. Sounds like the basis for an interesting market study!

Pelikan M1000 Green Nib Detail

And Of Course, The Perfect Base For LEs

The M1000, as with its smaller siblings, has served as the base pen for a number of limited production pens.

The 2002 Genji Edition is a set of two M1000 pens painted, using Japanese Maki-e techniques, to illustrate two characters from the ancient Japanese "Story of the Genji". The first pen has Hikaru Genji among the clouds (Genji-gumo) on the barrel, and wheels (Genji-guruma) and hollyhock (Aoi) on the cap. The second pen shows his wife, Aoi no Ue among the clouds (Genji-gumo) on the barrel, and incense (Genji-koh) and vine (Kazura-gusa) on the cap. The pens are highly hand detailed by a Maki-e artist using urushi enamel and powdered gold, silver and platinum over a period of many weeks. Even the Pelikan logo and serial number are hand applied. Only 60 sets were made.

The Mubyo ("Health") and Takara-zukushi ("Wealth") Edition of 2003 is another 60 unit Maki-e Limited Edition set based on the M1000. As with the "Genji" Edition, this set is highly detailed in patterns designed to evoke the concepts of health and wealth.

These sets were unveiled at the 2002 and 2003 Paperworld office supply show in Frankfurt, Germany.

Another very limited Maki-e edition of only 20 four-pen sets is the "Four Seasons" edition. Each pen is specially hand painted to represent each season, with Spring (Ohka Shun-cho) showing Cherry blossoms, Summer Asagao (Natsu-botaru) showing Morning Glories, Autumn (Kohyoh Suzu-musi) showing fall color leaves, and Winter (Yukiwa Fuyu-usagi) showing snowflakes.

Parker Sonnet Ciselé (Left) And Pelikan M1000 Green (Right) For Size Comparison


This is a big pen. A really big pen. In any grouping of pens, even Parker Duofolds, this pen will look like the biggest pen in the lineup. The M1000 measures out at 5 3/4 inches capped, 6 3/4 inches long posted, and 5/8 inches in diameter. Some pens, like the Cross Townsend, are longer, but it looks like a pencil next to the M1000. Some, but not many, pens are bigger around. Think big. Really big.

Picking the pen up is a surprise. It's lighter than its size suggests. This is probably because it's mostly plastic. If the M1000 was done in all metal, it would likely be very heavy and tiresome to use for a long period. There is some weight in the but of the barrel, with all that brass making up the filling mechanism, but it conveys "substance", not "heft".

The design is very clean, and considering its 1950 heritage, not the zoomy streamlining one would expect from that vintage. The more tubular design with its soft dome ends, simple trim and pinstripe or all-black barrel says "all business", something that the beak clip winks at.

This is a very clean design, very boardroom, but with a touch of whimsy.

Pelikan M1000 Green Cap Detail - Note The Pelikan Beak Shape Of The Clip

Filling the pen is a very pleasant experience. Everything works so smoothly. One is tempted to crank the knob on the barrel end just to watch the piston work. It works so well, in fact, that it makes me quite testy to go back to balky piston converters! The cap very easily posts onto the barrel end, and though it's only friction, it stays deep and snug. A good thing, considering that the pen is now nearly seven inches long! The silly pelican beak that is the clip works very well and holds this tall pen securely, even in precariously short pockets.

Pelikan M1000 Green Cap And Nib Detail

This M1000 is fitted with a very smooth and wet writing medium nib. Many feel this pen has the closest thing in a modern pen to a flexible nib, and it's easy to see why. It inks at the touch of the paper and has a nice soft spring to it. The huge nib is pretty and no nail.

All in all, this is a superb pen, and one of the best all around daily users at any price. For those who don't want a club, the less large M800 is a great choice in a smaller, full size pen, with the bonus of more color choices. In spite of a princely retail price, M1000s can be found easily at discount, making the pen a good value in a higher priced pen.

Comments on this article may be sent to the author, Jim Mamoulides

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Last Update 8/26/04