Friday, December 3, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 293

And now, a really nice write-up on a classic vintage fountain pen recently acquired by honourary VPC member Glenn in Australia (many thanks to Glenn for sharing this new pen with us!):

(all text by Glenn)

Pelikan 140 with DEF (extra fine manifold) nib. 

Successor to the IBIS, the Pelikan 140 was produced from April 1952 to July 1965. It is most often found in green stripes, the version with the longest period of production (1954-‘64), but many other colours were made for far briefer periods (3 months to a few years.) It was also sold under various other company names, as well as for third parties, without the Pelikan branding, all of which adds to the extensive range of examples to be found. 

 (all photos courtesy of Glenn ~ please click on images to enlarge)

It is a petite pen, weighing a mere 14.7g and measuring 125mm x 12mm, with an ink capacity of 1.5ml. Cheaper than the 400, its gold plating is said to be of a lesser quality, making it more prone to brassing, as mildly evidenced by the cap band on my own example. The inscription thereon is a simple “Pelikan 140 Germany,” which was introduced from 1954, replacing the initial plain band. Similarly, the narrower clip seen on my pen dates back to 1954, as does the engraved 2-chick logo on the cap head. At the same time, the barrel engraving “Gunther Wagner Pelikan” or “Gunther Wagner Pelikan 140” was deleted, as was the nib size engraving on the filler knob. 


 The ‘logo’ nib replaced the ‘script’ nib in December 1954; it has two chevrons that extend from the shoulder and meet at the slit, hence the nickname ‘fir tree’ nib. In 1965 the design changed again, so that the chevrons terminate just before the slit, as seen on my pen. At least this provides a more definitive date of manufacture than the 11-year reign of the previous version; all have the old-style ebonite feed & ring. 


Manifold nibs are very hard because they are designed for making multiple copies using carbon paper*, which requires considerably more pressure, akin to writing with a ballpen; the greater the number of copies, the harder the writer must press on the original. The later version of the manifold nib requires the 2nd air hole because it has a shorter slit to further reduce the degree of spring, making it even firmer. 

While this special purpose nib surely was not uncommon in its day, I have seen very few of them in recent times, but unless it comes on a much rarer barrel colour at an amazing price, I am unlikely to buy another. The degree of firmness that made it invaluable in the office means it is, to me at least, not a particularly enjoyable nib to write with. That said, someone who grew up using a ballpen might well find it ideal. I didn’t, my English teacher hated with a vengeance the incursion of cheap ballpens in the early ‘60s, and demanded that we all use a ‘proper’ pen; that must be why I have so many of them! 😊 

Having filled it to test the nib, I’m using the 140 as my daily driver; I am a little more used to the nib now, but it really is a proverbial nail.

* For benefit of the ‘younger generations’: Carbon paper was originally paper coated on one side with a layer of a loosely bound dry ink or pigmented coating, bound with wax, used for making one or more copies simultaneously with the creation of an original document with a typewriter or ballpoint pen. In 1954 ‘solvent carbon paper’ was invented; it uses a solvent-applied coating or set of coatings with polyester or other plastic film as a substrate, instead of actual paper. . (I am a little surprised to see that you can still buy it in this era of printers and photocopiers.)

 References, all accessed Nov 29, 2021,sc 

Glenn Garside,
Brisbane, Australia.

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