Pelikan model 100 in detail

How the first Pelikan fountain pen came about

Whoever hears "pelican" does not necessarily think of the water bird. We also associate Pelikan with the Pelikano school fountain pen with wax crayons and color boxes.

In 1838, Carl Hornemann founded a company for artists' paints. He hired chemist Günther Wagner, who later took over the company and gave it his name. In 1878, the pelican was registered as a trademark for products of the Günther Wagner company.
The employee merchant Fritz Beindorff married into the Günther Wagner family and took over the sole management of the company in 1895. He signs official papers with the company name Günther Wagner.

The company was very successful in producing various artists' supplies, for example paints, brushes, paint boxes and inks when in 1927 the graduate engineer Theodor Kovács found a partner in the Günther Wagner company with the idea of a new type of piston fountain pen. In 1929, the company's first fountain pen was launched on the market. It was advertised without a name but with the attribute transparent, since the ink level in the reservoir was visible. Common at the time were tube pens or safety pens, so ink level control was a significant feature.

The first changes to the fountain pen were not long in coming and it was then marketed under the model number 100. Later, other colors and precious metal variants were added, which received their own model numbers in the 100 name range.

Despite all the changes, it should be shown at this point that there are still astonishing similarities between the first piston fountain pen and today's Souverän fountain pens, especially from a technical point of view.

Modern M400 and the first Pelikan fountain pen from 1929

Continuous development and change

When comparing the modern Souverän M400 and its historical ancestor from 1929, you will find a number of similarities. You will find a cap in which a clip is inserted between the cap head - or in today's models, the cap crown - and the cap sleeve and held in place by these two parts. The cap itself is screwed onto a thread on the fountain pen, just above the grip section.
Then, as now, a nib assembly, consisting of nib, ink conductor and bushing, is screwed into the barrel. The piston mechanism, of which we see the filling grip at the end of the barrel, also functions essentially as it did back then.

In detail, the changes to the basic Model 100 are so varied over the 14 years of its production that we can only attempt to give an overview here. Special features like decorated clips for the Toledo, differently designed "Danzig" variants and analog special shapes are not completely considered or only mentioned textually.
The consideration is thus reduced to the standard model and its modifications, which were made on the basis of experience, technical progress and external influencing factors.

The multitude of changes, which are presented chronologically as far as possible, nevertheless does not allow an exact chronological determination of individual fountain pens. On the one hand, it is not always known from which point in time a change was made, and on the other hand, stocks were used as they were available, so that, especially in the borderline periods, a mixture of materials, for example, when production was switched to injection molding, is quite typical and cannot be attributed exclusively to later repairs.

By the way, the concrete dates of certain changes come from catalogs or notices of the company Günther Wagner in the information publication "Pelikan Blätter".

The cap

Cylindrical cap head with old logo, conical with old logo, with new logo and injection molding with new logo.

The cap of a fountain pen protects the nib and prevents the ink from drying out. In the Model 100, the cap consists of a cap sleeve, the cap head, and the clip (also known as a clamp). 

Despite this small number of parts and clear function, there are a few things to note about the cap.

  1. It began in 1929 with a cap made of ebonite. The cap top is adorned with Pelikan's 4-chick logo and "Pelikan PATENT Pelikan PATENT" written all around it.
    The cap had two opposing air holes for pressure equalization when screwing on and off in the area of the sealing surfaces. When the cap was screwed on, the nib was sealed so that the ink did not dry out.
    (1st cap from the left in the photo)
  2. In 1930, the first change was the addition of two gold-plated decorative rings.
    (not shown in the photo)
  3. Later in 1930, the cap received two more air holes for the ventilation of the grip section, thus this cap has two holes arranged one below the other with a distance of approx. 6 mm, which can be found identically on the opposite side of the cap. In total there are 4 air holes in the cap, the two new, deeper air holes were used for the ventilation of the grip section.
    (not shown on the photo)
  4. The cylindrical cap head was replaced by a conical one in mid 1931. The cap shown still has the 4 air holes in the cap sleeve. The same combination (conical cap head, cap sleeve with 4 air holes, can also be found on a Pelikan 110 in white gold doubles, with this fountain pen a later replacement is almost impossible). In previous information, it is mostly assumed that with the introduction of conical cap heads, the number of air holes was reduced again to 2. In this respect, the detailed examination of the changes to the caps shows very impressively how diverse the combinations are. Due to this variety, it hardly seems reasonable to divide this flowing further development into "fountain pen generations".  
    (2nd cap from the left in the photo)
  5. In mid 1933, the cap sleeve is again reduced to 2 opposite air holes. Furthermore, the caps are made of ebonite.
    (3rd cap from the left on the photo)
  6. Pelikan introduces a new logo shortly before the company's 100th anniversary in 1938. This 2-chick logo was introduced in 1937 and can thus still be found on ebonite caps.
    (not shown in the photo)
  7. A significant change is the change of the material used for caps from ebonite to celluloid. This change was also made in 1938. It is common to find fountain pens where the cap barrel is made of celluloid, but the cap head is made of ebonite. This fact can usually be seen today by a discoloration of the ebonite over the years. When new from the factory, it was not obvious that these caps were made of two materials.
    (4th cap from the left in the photo)
  8. The cap, often referred to as "wartime production", is injection molded and does not have cap rings, instead a knurl is placed in the material at the point. It is widely reported that this solution was introduced due to the shortage of materials caused by the war. The extent to which the omission of the cap rings was not introduced due to the new method of manufacture or the new material is unclear. The cap still has 2 opposite air holes.
    (2nd cap from the right on the photo)
  9. In previous accounts, the chronology ends with the cap from "war production". However, it is not uncommon to find Pelikan 100 with one-piece (late) acrylic barrel, smooth filling knob of the mechanism (late production) and a cap made of injection molding without air holes, but with decorative rings. The combination and number of such pens strongly suggests that these pieces were made later than "wartime production". Spare parts for the Pelikan 100 were also produced after the war, so all parts are listed in the 1949 price list 70 A, which provides a possible explanation for such caps. On the other hand, the material used for cap rings and gilding is very small, so earlier production is also a possibility. 
    Switching to knurling on the wartime production cap could also have been done for production reasons when switching to injection molding. In the course of time, the rings could then also be injection molded. The "official" explanation for missing cap rings due to the war economy, has been understandable in the sense of the time.
    (1st cap from the right in the photo).
    Any information that helps to clarify or correct this chronicle and its assumptions is most welcome. Please simply contact me.

The clip

A detail which is not immediately obvious; the clip on the first year Pelikan is wider at the base and has a different shape than the fountain pens offered under the model number 100.

These are not production deviations, they are undoubtedly present in the clip, but the differences shown in the photo are too clear and consistent. The photos are meant to illustrate this.

From 1930, the clip could be omitted, this is explained by the fact that the fountain pen would be better to carry in a ladies handbag. Instead of the clip, a ring then had to be inserted between the cap head and the cap sleeve. This meant that the structure and dimensions of the cap remained unchanged. The space is needed exactly for the sealed accommodation of the nib. Thus, a position for a clamp (clip) or ladies' ring can still be found in the spare parts lists from 1949.  

The clip was used as a design element on the Toledo model, too. So the silhouette of a pelican head was embossed on the surface.

The branch of the Günther Wagner company in Gdansk is credited with its own fountain pen production, whose fountain pens are externally recognizable by a diamond clip and a cap ring (instead of two rings). However, caution is advised at this point, as the diamond shape was very typical at the time and was also used as a spare part.

The production of fountain pens in wartime had to deal with material shortages, from this time you can find fountain pens whose clip is only very thinly gilded, as well as non-gilded, chrome colored clips.

front; original Pelikan, rear; Pelikan 100left; Pelikan 100; right Ur-Pelikan

Short cap head

Short cap tops were designed to be worn in shirt pockets with flaps. It is easy to imagine that the shirt pocket with the long cap head was difficult to close or a bulge could be seen. 
In this form of cap, the clip is the same length as in standard caps, which at first glance looks unusually proportioned. For the function of the cap, the cap sleeve was extended accordingly.

Cap logo

left; old 4-chick logo, right; 2-chick logo as of 1937

The cap logo has already been addressed in the detailed presentation of the changes to the caps. Here it is shown again. In the 4-chick variant that was used until 1937 and the new 2-chick logo, designed by O.H.W. Hadank and used from 1937.

Cap engravings

In addition to the logo, caps also had a circumferential engraving that usually had "Pelikan PATENT" embossed twice. However, different engravings can be found on individual fountain pens. Unfortunately, no more precise information is known about their dating. 


Pelikan PATENT Pelikan PATENT

Pelican PATENT Pelican PATENT

Pelican Pelican Pelican (101 coral red)

Pelikan PATENT ฝลิบกน PATENT (Thai - "Belikan" (? corrections are welcome)

Pelikan D.R.P. Pelikan D.R.P.


GÜNTHER WAGNER Pelikan GERMANY (101 coral red, jade green)

Pelikan Günther Wagner (This engraving is found on a late plastic cap top)

The body (grip section and barrel)

A nice example of changes due to technical progress we can see on the body (grip sections and barrel). Some of the changes to the caps have already been addressed in that other materials were used and sealing surfaces and air holes were added, which also correspond to the grip.

Bakelite - symmetrical

Bakelite grip section

Body: Made from one piece of Bakelite - sealing with cork

The grip section and barrel of Pelikan's first fountain pen were made of Bakelite. Ebonite was used for the cap and mechanism.


Ebonite or hard rubber - they are two terms for the same material - is a mixture of natural rubber and sulfur, the material is deep black it is processed among other things as a piece on a lathe. However, ebonite discolors over time when in contact with water and UV radiation. Today, ebonite materials are therefore often easily distinguishable from celluloid or resin, for example. In Pelikan Model 100 caps, it is not uncommon to find both materials, the cap sleeve made of plastic and the cap head made of ebonite, and also vice versa. When new from the factory, this material mix was not apparent.

Ebonite - symmetrical

Griffstück aus Ebonit

Body: grip section made of ebonite - barrel made of celluloid - sealing with cork

In June 1931, the young fountain pen model underwent its first change in the materials used. Now, the barrel was made of celluloid and the grip section was made of ebonite. It was threaded and screwed into the barrel. The seam is clearly visible in the photo and indicates this change.

Ebonite - tapered (brown body)

Ebonite tapered grip section

Body: grip section made of ebonite - barrel made of celluloid - sealing with cork

The change in shape of the grip section was implemented in mid-1933. Thus, the grip section has a curved shape which also brings changes to the sealing surface located in the cap. We still have the combination of ebonite and celluloid, as well as the proven connection between the grip and the barrel by means of a screw connection.  

Ebonite - tapered (green body)

Grip section and body made from celluloid

Body: Celluloid grip section - Celluloid barrel - sealing with cork

This fountain pen has a PD nib, which makes it easier to date. The other features also show a Pelikan 100 just before the switch to injection molding.

There was major discussion about the barrels of the Model 100, as there are both brown sight windows and green sight windows here, even before the introduction of injection molding. The materials used are now over 80 years old and are subject to many influences that also affect the material and could cause discoloration.

It already starts with the first Pelikan fountain pen from 1929 which was advertised as "transparent" and today we can only look through the dark violet window with a strong light source. The Bakelite has discolored over time. With the celluloid used, this effect is not as pronounced, but it can be assumed that the dark brown viewing windows have darkened here as well; old photos show a better view through. Contact with ink and UV radiation will also play its part, so there are barrels that show a different coloration under the bandage. 

The fountain pen shown here was apparently never filled and has a dark green viewing window. 

Injection molded - celluloid barrel

Grip section made of plastic

Body: Injection molded grip section - Celluloid barrel - plastic seal - filling knob with ribbing

Technical progress also offers opportunities to simplify fountain pen production, so injection molding can be used to produce almost any shape in a single operation.


Arthur Eichengrün patented injection molding with plasticized cellulose acetate in 1939. Whether this material was used at Pelikan is not known, but the grip shown here is injection molded, it does not seem to be acrylic - see next photo. 

Acrylic - One Piece

Body: acrylic grip section and barrel - one piece - plastic seal - filling knob is smooth

Using the injection molding technique, the entire barrel including the grip section is made of acrylic. The previously black grip section is colored black from the inside. On the photo, remnants of this can be seen at the bottom left, often the color is still well preserved and the grip piece appears green transparent only at the edges (see foto on the right).  

Through the transparent grip piece, the thread inside for screwing in the nib unit is easy to see. 

AcrylicAcrylic - colored black from the inside

Barrel with armor

As early as mid-1931, the thread at the end of the barrel was reinforced. It lies invisibly under the bandage. When unscrewing the piston mechanism, the material could easily break, this is still the most common reason for filled spare parts boxes. A brass-colored steel ring reduces the probability of breakage. When exactly this armoring was dropped again, I do not know. 

The cap sealing

A fountain pen should always be ready to write, even if it has not been used for a long time. For this to succeed, the ink must be protected from drying out. The nib with ink feed must be sealed tightly to the fountain pen. How this was implemented in the Pelikan of 1929 and the subsequent Pelikan 100 variants, and how it was changed over time, is described here.

This point is often unnoticed, also because the function is not obvious, this finally takes place behind closed caps.

The first photo already shows the fundamental "secret", the sealing takes place between the end of the cap top and the grip section.

In the labeled photo, the sealing surfaces are marked in color. The red marked sealing - as mentioned before - between the cap top and the grip section, the blue sealing surface is made between the grip section and the inner wall of the cap sleeve.

The green arrow shows the position of the air hole, which of course has no connection to the sealed space where the nib is protected from drying out. 

Sealing variants

This seal was also changed several times during the production period. Essentially, there are four variants. In the first variant until mid-1931, there was a flat surface at the end of the grip section (front side). Here, an equally flat surface of the cap top was placed on top. This design is found in both of the first models from 1929 and the early model 100 with 2 and 4 air holes of the cap. 

We will come back to the cap holes at another point.

The second variant shows the sealing surfaces on fountain pens until mid 1933. Here, the outer shape of the grip section is unchanged, but when viewed from the front, you can see that the flat surface is slanted inwards. 
Accordingly, the counterpart, i.e. the cap top, had to change. The photos above are based on this variant. An overview of the different variants is illustrated in the photos below. 

The third variant came with the revision of the model in mid-1933, when the grip section was also waisted. From this point on, the side seal was abandoned.

A fourth variant came with the introduction of injection molding technology from around 1940. Here, the sealing surface is again flat when viewed from the front. This flat sealing surface is also retained when acrylic is used.

1st version 1929-1931

2nd version 1931-1933

3rd version from 1933

4th version from 1940

Cap top

The sealing function of the cap top did not yet play a role in the first changes. The change from cylindrical to conical cap shape occurred independently of the sealing surfaces. However, the design change in the sealing surface of the grip section had to be changed to match the sealing surface on the cap top. The photo should also show the changed outside diameter at this point.

For the implementation of short cap top, it was necessary to ensure that the sealing function was maintained. Thus, the cap sleeve was lengthened and the visible part of the cap top was reduced accordingly. Since the sealing surface had to remain in its previous position, both cap heads are the same length.

Air holes

The air holes in the caps had the function of ensuring that no overpressure or underpressure was created when screwing the cap on and off, which could cause it to seize up, for example. This was conceivable because the grip section also seals laterally against the inner wall of the cap sleeve. An overpressure or underpressure was also feared during warming or cooling. In addition, the air holes effectively eliminated the possibility of condensation.

You can see the nib through the (top) hole in the photo, but of course the nib itself was sealed airtight in the cap top, so the air hole is in the area between the end of the cap top and the beginning of the thread of the cap top (see the green marked boxes).

Caps with 4 air holes were produced only in the period from mid-1931 to mid-1933. The additional pair of opposite air holes of the lower position ventilates the grip section. between the threads on the fountain pen and the lateral sealing of the grip section against the cap inner sleeve could also be another airtight space, where ink residues then easily lead to blue fingers.

In mid-1933, the grip section was modified to dispense with the lateral sealing surface, and additional air holes were no longer necessary.

When the grip section was injection molded, the sealing surface was flat again, in the course of which it was apparently found that air holes were no longer necessary. These are therefore no longer to be found in the latest injection molded caps.

The filling mechanism

A more detailed description of the parts and operation of an early Pelikan 100.

Piston filling mechanism

The piston mechanism was the innovation of Günther Wagner's "Transparent Fountain Pen" with the pelican in the nest.

A compact design leaves enough room for the ink. A cork seal closes tightly in the barrel, so that the vacuum created when the plunger is pulled open draws the ink into the ink chamber via the ink feed. The necessary precision in manufacturing is also used by Pelikan for advertising purposes. 1/100 millimeter precision manufacturing.

When switching to injection molding, a change was made from a single-start to a double-start spindle. The pitch remains unchanged, so that the "gear ratio" also remains identical. 

The double-threaded spindle engages the piston rod at two points, making it easier to assemble the mechanism and it is reducing attrition.

Optimization of the production steps

The piston mechanism is made of ebonite in the early years. The guide nose ("wart / Warze" according to the drawing), which engages in the guide groove, results in a form-fitting anti-rotation device.

Verson 1: This anti-rotation device is manufactured at the beginning with a high production effort. A short piece of ebonite is inserted into a hole drilled for this purpose. See photo.

Version 2: This manufacturing process is modified while ebonite is still in use in such a way, that the corresponding recess or internal guide lug is formed by heating the material using a mold.
The time determination of the use of this manufacturing method can be done with regard to the model 100N. In the time of the production of ebonite mechanics (approx. 1937 - 1940) the versions 1 and 2 can be found. A conversion must have taken place during this period.

Version 3: When the changeover to injection molding took place, this guide lug could be produced directly in one operation. (This can be seen on the right mechanism on the photo).


The aforementioned cork gasket was the chosen, reliable means of sealing the Model 100 from 1929 to 1942. Experiments with new plastic gaskets are first tried in the inexpensive Model IBIS. 

The cork gasket in the photo (1st from left) is discolored from contact with ink. In the middle and on the right are plastic seals from the 1940s.

The nib

Then as now, Pelikan's piston fillers use a nib assembly consisting of a nib, ink feed and bush. Of course, not without change and even in the model 100 there are several changes to list in detail here.

Gold nibs in 14 carat were the standard, in order to be allowed to call the nibs of Pelikan pens gold nibs abroad (France), the gold content had to be 18 carat.

The changes of the air hole, the imprints and the used materials are explained at the respective nibs. 

Heart hole nib

Pelikan has purchased the first nibs. They correspond in size and shape to the nib Montblanc No 4. 
They had an air hole in the shape of a heart. Today, these nibs are very rare to find and are correspondingly sought after. 

In the early years, there are nibs with and without embossed marking for the nib width.


Heart hole nib without nib size imprintHeart hole nib with nib size imprint

Round air hole

The heart hole was replaced by a round air hole as early as 1930. The nibs continued to be purchased. Also like the nibs of the first year, they continue to exist with and without embossed nib width.

In the commemorative publication for the 100th anniversary of the company "Günther Wagner 1838 - 1938" it is mentioned that the production of gold nibs was started in 1934. 

Pelikan 100 nib without nib size imprintPelikan 100 nib with nib size imprint

Nib embossing

Before we get to the more noticeable changes in the embossing of the nibs, we also see differences in the unchanged Pelikan font - the design by Karl Schulpig from 1926. Here we see hyphens ( - 14 - ) before the number 14 for the carat indication. We find markers that give no indication of the nib width, but served as a reference to the material supplier (left photo with the 0).

Pelikan lettering

In 1934, Pelikan was given a lettering that had been changed in detail. However, you have to compare very closely to see that the k is different and the i-dot is drawn somewhat differently. 
This change in the lettering is also found on the nibs of the Model 100, but it can be assumed that this did not happen immediately after the new lettering was introduced. The tools that produce the imprint during nib production are long-lasting and expensive. So, even after the introduction of the 1-chick logo in 2003, new fountain pens with nibs of the 2-chick logo were still produced for some years.

Now, on the nib shown, you can find the newer writing with the 14 carat indication.

By the way, the next change of the "Pelikan" lettering, which is introduced in 1937 in a completely revised form and resembles the Pelikan lettering, which is still used today, will not find its way on the nibs for a while. Even the model 400 starts with the Pelikan lettering shown here and only CN nib in model 140 and later the "Tannenbaumfeder" around 1954 then carry the new lettering.



From about 1937, the fineness (585) is indicated on the nibs at 14 carat gold. It is not known for what reason this information was not to be found on the nibs earlier or why the change was made then. Already since 1888 the law about the fineness of gold and silver goods is in force in Germany, which knows the indication of a fineness (585 for 14 carat gold).

Palladium nibs

Today, the price of palladium is higher than that of gold. However, this was different in the days of the conversion to the precious metal palladium. Gold was scarce and valuable, so alternatives were sought. Palladium for the manufacture of nibs had already been tested in the IBIS model and was also used in the Model 100 between May 1938 and February 1940.

Steel nibs

The experiments with other materials continued, so that in the end no precious metal was necessary. The time had come for steel springs, which were marked (CN) because chromium and nickel were alloyed to the carbon steel (not stainless).

These nibs were used for the domestic market. There were nibs with and without slots in the form of semicircles. These are found above or through the air hole and testify to the fact that the engineers and nib masters of the time were also concerned with giving the nibs flexibility.  

The nib unit

Only on the first Pelikan fountain pen the nib bushing, which holds the ink feed and the nib together, 17mm long. So in 1930, when the first changes were made, a change was also made here in secret. The nib bush shrank to 12mm.

Ink feed and nib bush of the first Pelikannib section of a Pelikan 100

Ink feed

The ebonite ink feed has three fins that create spaces for excess ink. The Model 100N was also introduced with three fins, but late examples were made with 4 fins. Around the time the Model 100N was introduced, however, there was also a change in the Model 100 ink feed. Although it remained with three fins, until then the middle fin was shortened (see upper model in photo), then in 1937 it became continuous (see lower model in photo).

Marking the width of the nib

With the nibs, we have already seen that the nib width can be stamped on them - but this is not always the case.
For example, on August 30, 1935, it was informed that the nib width would be stamped on the side of the ink feed. This was discontinued by mid-1938 at the latest. Why a clearly visible marking of the nib width was applied to the mechanism for the German market cannot be read in the notice of September 9, 1936. This marking was no longer made at this point from mid-1941.

The credits - the stars

The main actors of this detail page should be briefly in the picture here. The year is given as an approximate guide.

Ur-Pelikan Jade Series Production Color Details
Production: 1929Nib: 14 ct gold
Logo: Logo as of 1924 (four chicken) Series Production
Barrel Color: jadeCap Color: blackTrim: gold plated

In the Pelikan "Blätter" dated October 1929 the Pelikan fountain pen is presented in detail.

100 Olive green Series Production Color
Production: 1931Nib: 14 ct gold
Logo: Logo as of 1924 (four chicken) Series Production
Barrel Color: olive greenCap Color: blackTrim: gold plated
100 Green marbled Series Production Color
Production: 1933Nib: 14 ct gold
Logo: Logo as of 1924 (four chicken) Series Production
Barrel Color: greenCap Color: blackTrim: gold plated
100 Green marbled Series Production Color
Production: 1934Nib: 14 ct gold
Logo: Logo as of 1924 (four chicken) Series Production
Barrel Color: greenCap Color: blackTrim: gold plated
100 Green marbled Series Production Color
Production: 1938Nib: PD
Logo: Logo as of 1938 (two chicken) Series Production
Barrel Color: greenCap Color: blackTrim: gold plated
100 Green marbled Series Production Color
Production: 1942Nib: CN
Logo: Logo as of 1938 (two chicken) Series Production
Barrel Color: greenCap Color: blackTrim: gold plated
100 Green marbled Series Production Color
Production: 1943Nib: CN
Logo: Logo as of 1938 (two chicken) Series Production
Barrel Color: greenCap Color: blackTrim: gold plated
Scroll Back to Top