The beautiful M101N tortoiseshell brown

I try to keep the number of fountain pen posts low, but I guess every month or so a blog post about fountain pens is ok without diluting the pencil theme of this blog.

There’s one fountain pen I’ve been keen on ever since I first saw it in 2011. Pencil Talk even mentioned it – and I mentioned that Pencil Talk mentioned it ;^) The Pelikan M101N tortoise brown. A reissue of a fountain pen from the 1930s.

I once saw a real one in Papier Pfeiffer (a brick and mortar shop you might remember from this post), but the brown plastic didn’t look so good in the strong light in the shop, but anyway, I was very tempted to buy this pen. There was also an online shop in the UK that sold it for a very good price, lower than what I’ve seen in any other country (it might have been The Writing Desk – I’m not sure), but I somehow thought I can’t justify paying that much, mainly because I already have a tortoise fountain pen, a white M400 you might have seen in several of my previous posts – and I thought having two beautiful fountain pens will mean that I can’t treasure each of them enough.

…but I kept thinking about that beautiful tortoise M101N. There was a M101N that was released after the tortoise brown version:  the Lizard Special Edition, but I didn’t like the look at all – plus the retail price was much more expensive. Rumours have it that there’ll be a red tortoise version soon. I fear it will be even more expensive than the Lizard version.

Recently I got lucky and got a tortoise M101N for a good price from a seller in Japan. I think I paid  more than what I would have paid at the cheap UK online shop back when it was new – but for 2014 it was a good price. I really wasn’t sure whether I should spend that much, but anyway, now it’s done. I might sell some other pens soon to compensate.

The M101N the most beautiful, but also the most expensive fountain pen I own. It’s a shame it’s so expensive. I know they call it resin, but in reality that’s not so different to plastic, is it? What a shame that these pens aren’t mass produced and sold for a cheap price. Pelikan had a go at cheap piston fillers in the past with their Pelikan Go!. Too bad that didn’t work out.

Wouldn’t it be nice if these beautiful pens were easily affordable? Then I’d love them even more, but I guess the less common fountain pens become, the more expensive they’ll become. Ink is also getting more expensive.

This reminds me of a time when this was quite different. The following is from Herbert Rosendorfer’s book Das Messingherz, p. 508. The book was first published 1979.

In a small stationery shop (…) [he] bought a little bottle of ink. It cost one Mark and fifteen Pfennig, despite being the most expensive kind of ink. (…) How do ink manufacturers get rich? [he] thought. A little bottle of the luxurious type is one Mark fifteen Pfennig, and since I’ve been writing I’ve only used up one. Ok, Heinrich Böll wrote more than me, let’s say – if he didn’t use a type writer or a ballpoint pen – that he used up six bottles of ink. No – [he] calculated all the things Heinrich Böll wrote – no: eight. eight times one fifteen. (…) Ten Mark twenty.

Based on purchasing power (see Kaufkraft article ) DM 1.15 in 1979 is about €1.23 today (~$1.70; £1.00) – I guess even when adjusting for purchasing power, ink was still cheaper in the past.

5 thoughts on “The beautiful M101N tortoiseshell brown”

  1. Beautiful!

    I’m sure it’s better in life, but the depth and the way the light plays over the material of the pen really shine out.

    As for cheap self fillers (if not piston fillers) I can remember taking an inexpensive aerometric filling Parker to school in the late 1970s/early ’80s. I think it was changed for a cartridge filling Osmiroid when we were asked to use italic nibs.

  2. John, it’s a real beauty!

    Was that a Parker 51? I heard they were produced until the 1970s.

    Were you asked to use italic nibs for everyday writing? Or was that for a specific class (e.g. arts)?

  3. Lovely.
    What is the similar but green Pelikan in the last photo, next to the brown one? Also beautiful.

  4. Hi Matthias,

    I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a 51, as it didn’t have a hooded nib – I remember it was burgundy and the aerometric filling system. It had a smooth, medium-ish nib, I think. The pen most like it in my collection is a Slimfold, but I can’t imagine that I was taking a Duofold to school!

    My recollection is that we used the italic nibs (although not very wide ones) for everyday writing – we had quite an old fashioned headmaster, who taught a cursive handwriting class to pupils himself. He decreed italic nibs on the basis that they made the cursive look better, I think, once we became “juniors” at the school.

  5. Adair, it’s a Pelikan 100N, produced between 1938 and 1951, I got it used for a very good price. It features a rare nib with the letters GW stamped on it. There’s isn’t much information available about this nib at all. I even believe that my nib was the first GW nib to be shown on the Internet. At the moment I think that the GW nib was either used for the British market and/or was made by Pelikan Italy in Milan, but this is more speculation than anything. The nib is fine and flexible. You can find a bit more about the nib in the pen and nib in these two blog posts and
    It is a beautiful pen, like you say, and you can get the 100N for a very good price if you keep looking.

    John, hmm. I wonder what fountain pen that was… I heard that ink was provided by the school in the UK. Was it still like that when you went to school? I agree, Italic nibs usually make cursive look better (but I like the look of cursive written with flexible nibs with, with wide lines for down strokes and thin lines for going up, even more). Did you keep using fountain pens in school afterwards?

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