The 520 was a semi-luxury version of Pelikan’s iconic 400, with a rolled gold metal cap and barrel cladding (the full-on luxury model was the 700, which looked the same but was solid gold). Since I don’t at the moment have a page for the 400 to fall back upon, I’m going to essentially profile it on this page to avoid mere hand-waving.
The 400 was introduced as a successor to Pelikans 100N model, which had been in production since before the Second World War, although there was an overlap of a couple of years. It was not a huge update in styling, but one might say that it had less continuity of style to the pre-war production than Sheaffer’s Thin Model had with the Balance. The clip was much closer to the top of the can, and the 400 introduced the bird-face clip which has been present most of the company’s subsequent models; the word “iconic” is more than usually applicable. It became the underpinning for a range of escalating trim levels, of which the 520 occupies a rung a couple below the pinnacle
There were a couple of redesigns in the course of the pen’s production, which were indicated by appending an N to the model number in the first instance, and NN in the second. The main point of obvious change was the shape of the filling knob, which became progressively rounder; the modern Souverän is based upon the relatively square early model of the pen, when can lead to some confusion over the difference between a 400 and a M400 (the latter has a more complex point impression, for one thing).
The line was phased out in favour of a line with modern styling in 1965. There was a brief revival of the 400 in the early 1970s, with production contracted out to Merz & Krell, and as mentioned above the Souverän line was inspired directly by the 400 to the point that it is sometimes hard to tell old from new.
These pens are profoundly reliable, at least from the introduction of the clear piston seals in 1953. The points are, unless of a specific grade meant for writing through carbons, very vintage in their feel, willing to give at least a little flex in most cases and frequently they’re downright floppy. The modern writer should be careful when using one for the first time, because they can be damaged by an amount of force most recent pens would resist easily.
Production Run: The original 520 was introduced in 1951, the 520N in 1956, and the 520NN in 1958. They went out of production in 1963. This is earlier than the 400, but it appears most of the upper end models ceased production about the same time, possibly to give stocks a time to clear before the new designs were introduced.
Cost When New: In the 1955 catalogue the advertised price for the 520 was 62.00DM, which converted at the time to just a little under $15.00 (for modern value, try this calculator). The price was the same in the 1963 catalogue for the 520NN, when it converted to just a little over $15.00. Note: I have been told, without any details, that the Deutschmark was artificially undervalued for a long time after the war; prices on exported pens were probably more in line with those of similarly-featured competitors, but the price and exchange right above are more or less right in Germany.
Size: 13.0 cm long capped, 15.3 cm posted, 12.4 cm uncapped (520N; the other models may vary slightly).
Point: 14k gold.
Body: Plastic under gold-clad brass.
Filler: Piston, capacity approx. 1.7 ml
If you are relying on the preceding information to win a bet or impress a teacher, you should read the site’s scholarly caveat. Remember, this is the internet, and it’s full of bad information.