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Maker: Pelikan

The Pelikano was introduced in 1960 as a specifically for-youth marque.  The earliest pens of this line was the nearly the same shape as the contemporary adult Pelikan, the P1, which carried a hooded point, with the youthful aspect conveyed mainly by rather festive colours and the fact that they’re cartridge pens rather than piston-fillers.  The precise mode of cartridge use was a little unusual in the Pelikano, with the joint about half-way along the body.  This allowed swapping of spent and fresh cartridges without any thought of removing the hood, for cleaner fingers.  The early Pelikanos were also marketed with a little pouch in which was also a pencil, a pack of cartridges, and a fold-away desk-stand trumpet. These pens proved so popular, even among adults that the same pattern of pen was fitted with a gold point to become the first “grown up” cartridge-filled Pelikans.

With a re-design of the main line of Pelikans in 1965, the Pelikano also changed shape to a more streamlined profile.  Since then, changes mainly manifested initially in a slow reduction of a hood over the point, ending with a fully exposed point, while from 1980 to 2010 the changes mainly involved the cosmetics of the cap and barrel.  The pre-1980 changes included the appearance of a textured section in 1969 to help keep young fingers from the point, while in 1973 the more familiar grip-directing molded section put in its initial appearance.  With the model’s fiftieth anniversary, the design was amended radically into something quite unlike other Pelikan models, in what might be an attempt to meet the Lamy Safari in the areas of odd modernistic looks and alarming colours.

UPDATE: In 2017, Pelikan introduced the Pelikano UP, which offers slightly more sober colour schemes and metal clips, while retaining the odd shape of the P480.

Production Run: 1960 – present.

Cost When New: The original P1-shaped version was DM6.90, or about $1.75 (remembering that the DM was highly and artificially undervalued at this time, so export versions would cost more– for modern values, with that proviso, try this calculator). $25.00 in 2016


  • P460 (1973 – 1979): 13.4 cm long capped, 14.6 cm posted.
  • P460 (2003 – 2010): 13.9 cm capped, 15.1 cm posted, 12.6 cm uncapped.
  • P480 (2010 – present): 13.5 cm capped, 15.3 cm posted (for as long as it lasts), 12.4 cm uncapped.

Point: Steel.

Body: Polystyrene.

Filler: Cartridges, capacity approx. 0.6 or 1.4 ml.

Pelikano P460 (not to scale with other portraits); this is the 1973 – 1979 incarnation of the model with the first of the grip-training shaped sections.  Update: a reader points out that the shape and markings of the clip are right for the previous (1969 – 1972) version; it seems that my example had swapped caps at some point in its life.  The correct cap would have an untapered clip and the company logo on its shoulder. Update again: Another reader writes in to say their example is precisely like this; it may be that there was a time in which older caps were in use on newer bodies, a long tradition of using up available stock which vexes people like me to no end.

ALSO a P460, this is the shape of the Pelikano from 2003 to 2010.  The translucent barrel does away with the call for an ink window.

Pelikano P480, which one might call the

Pelikano P480, which one might call the 50th anniversary version of the pen.  The clip is very tight to the cap, and while functional is rather more like a clothes-pin than a pen-clip.



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