Introduced somewhat after the 400 and 140, the 120 is essentially the same as the latter with slightly less expensive trim. While the 140 was available in a range of colours, the 120 appeared only in green or black barrels, with the cap and tail only ever appearing in black. It also mounted a steel rather than a gold point; while the 140 was meant to be a reasonably priced model, the 120 was apparently meant for the slightly impecunious and the post-secondary school user.
With the introduction of the new trim designs in the 1960s, production was discontinued on the 120 (after a brief run as one of the new models, visually identical to the MK10), but it was resurrected by the company about eight years later. Strangely co-incident with the amendment of its numbering system and re-modeling of the pen line-up, Pelikan commissioned an outside company, Merz & Krell (now known as Senator), to produce a new run of the 120. What prompted this move is a mystery; some of the motivation may have been a mood of nostalgia which was definitely abroad in the western world at the time, which produced some other throwback pen styles, although a throwback not to Dad’s pen but to Big Brother’s is unusually shallow nostalgia. Another oddity is the failure to not include an indication of the filler mechanism in the number– by the rules Pelikan put in place by 1973, if one may call them “rules”, it should have been known as the M120.
The new 120 was a slightly more streamlined affair than the previous, with a conical unflared section and a filler knob flush with the barrel. The cap is also amended, lacking the Pelikan logo on the derby and having a beveled band similar to that seen on the MK10, for which this pen might well have been meant as a replacement… although the MK10 had a more literal descendant in the 1970s under the name of M480.
I can only comment on the later 120, having not had a chance to examine the earlier. If it was indeed meant to step into the place of the MK10, it’s an interesting balance; the pen’s looks are of course olden-tymey compared to the MK10′s, but the feed is far better at controlling the flow of ink when it offers to run amok. The feel of the point in use is actually softer than the MK10′s, edging towards what one might with charity call a firm semi-flex.
A known problem with the later group of 120s is a tendency of the components of the cap to crack. They are not good pens for a rough and tumble lifestyle.
Production Run: 1955 – 1965, 1973 – 1977.
Cost When New: In 1955, the advertised price was 7.60DM, which at the time was worth a bit less than $2.00 (for modern value, try this calculator)– bear in mind that the deutschmark was artificially undervalued at this time so export versions likely cost more, if there were indeed export versions. I can’t be even this precise about the second series.
Size: M&K variant; 13.1 cm long capped, 15.1 cm posted, 11.8 cm uncapped. The earlier one was shorter.
Point: 14k gold.
Filler: Piston, capacity approx. 0.7 ml (M&K version).
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.