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New Classic

Maker: Pelikan.

This pen comes from the end of the bad times for fountain pens, which I might compare for historians to the early 11th century; there were still Vikings about, but they were starting to find places to settle down.  It is very much an example of that period, being a rather heavy metal-bodied pen so slender as to be slightly difficult to hold.

The weight and girth issues are a shame, as the business end of the pen is pretty brilliant; springy, comfortable and willing.  This pen’s production, relative to the company’s history, falls between the end of Pelikan’s crippling attempt to diversify and its second sale to far eastern investors, and I think it is fair to say that it represents a very fine recovery from the loss of focus.  It might be seen as an early announcement of the impending fountain pen renaissance, in fact.

There are several different sub-models, each of which has a model number of its own.  P370 has a steel point and brushed steel body, P371 a steel point and lacquered body, P380 a gold point (as do all those which follow) and steel sheel, P381 a lacquered body, P390 is silver-plated and P395 is gold-plated.  There’s not really a pattern to those number, but there is some sense of progression.  Also, if you have an ill-spent youth like me, you will now be thinking of Walther handguns; it’s quite aside the point, but that’s the way the brain works sometimes.

This pen represented my first exposure to a “real” Pelikan with a gold point, and I will admit a small degree of startle at how nice a point it is.  The only reservation I have is that it claims to be a medium-size point, but the marks it makes are fat.  I understand this is not uncommon in modern Pelikans, generally.

Production Run: 1992 – 1996.

Cost When New: An informant tells me that the P381 cost 190DM in 1994;  that’s about $117 then (for modern value, try this calculator).  The lower and higher trims will have had different prices, but I don’t have the data on them. Update: More data has appeared, also for 1994, confirming the informant. The low-end P370 was DM90.- and the P390 (the costliest) was DM285.-, which are roughly $60 and $188, respectively.

Size: 13.9 cm long capped, 16.6cm posted, 12.8 cm uncapped.

Point: 14k gold.

Body: Brass with various treatments.

Filler: Cartridge, capacity approx. 0.6 or 1.4 ml (international pattern).  Using a supplied converter, it takes in 0.7 ml.

Pelikan New Classic (p381) in burgundy.  If I have anything against the pen’s looks, it’s that screened-on maker’s mark under the clip.

The box it comes in is not extremely inspiring…

…but one feels assured that the pen will be safe.



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