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15 and 25

Maker: Pelikan.

The path from the P1 to the 15 and 25 should be a fairly straight one, but it actually takes a bit of a jog.  The P1 was, of course, a new and modern shape for Pelikan, and it makes sense that they would want to introduce a cartridge-filled version of it to pursue the segment of the market which wanted that form of convenience.  However, I suspect that there was a conservative faction in the company that could not accept the idea of a pen without a built-in filler as one that would appeal to serious adults who would spend serious adult money on a pen.  It was clear from the popularity of cartridge pens in other markets that it was worth at least looking at the engineering challenge, and even a stodgy pen executive will agree that children should not be trusted with whole bottles of ink.  Thus, the cartridge pen which developed out of the P1 was… the Pelikano.

…and it was very popular.  If I am right about this conservative faction keeping the brakes on developing cartridge pen for the adult market, then it quickly had its mind changed by the piles of money the Pelikano was shoveling into the company’s vaults, and the year after the Pelikano hit the market, it was followed by its upscale siblings.  The only real differences between the 15 and the initial Pelikano are a gold point, a “new silver” (whatever that may be) cap rather than an aluminum one and slightly more sober colours of plastic.  The only difference between the 15 and the 25 was the material of the cap, with the latter reveling in rolled gold.  It is actually easier to tell the difference between a P1 and a 15 than between a 15 and a Pelikano, as the treatment at the top of the P1′s cap is radically different, and the cartridge pens lack the piston-filler’s portholes.

I would say that it is generally better to think of these pens as upscale Pelikanos than as cartridge-filling P1s.  Apart from being closer in looks, these are priced to reflect the absence of guts; the 15 cost the same as the 140, which was certainly intended as a moderate-cost option in Pelikan’s line-up, and only the steel-pointed 120 and Pelikano cost less.

To a modern user, there is a definite strangeness in the anatomy of these pens.  Unlike just about everything else in the world, these don’t unscrew near the front for replacement of the cartridges, but rather have a joint about two-thirds the way down toward the tail.  The advantage of this arrangement is to allow the swapping of cartridges without exposing the point or having the cap rattling around somewhere on its own.  This is obviously more of a nod towards the clumsiness of the intended Pelikano user, but it can be appreciated by a businessman who finds he has to reload mid-meeting.  The downside is that it is actually hard to discover how much ink is left in the current cartridge, because not only is there not a window but opening the pen only exposes about 5mm of the active reservoir.  I should also say that the mounting of the cartridge on its nipple is not very positive, at least in my example– it would be unwise to not have a second one inside the blind cap, pressing it home.

The writing performance of this new pen is pretty much identical to that of the P1; smooth,  with an unexpectedly semi-flexible point allowing rather more expression than one usually finds in a pen this shape.  It was, in fact, an extra-cost option to have these pens with a firm point, or as the catalogue had it, a “through-writing-point” (durchschreibefeder); if you wanted to get through carbons, you had to pay more.

Production Run: 1961 – 1965.

Cost When New:  In the 1962 catalogue, the retail price was DM15.- for the 15 and DM23.50 for the 25 (roughly $3.75 and $5.80, respectively).  In 1964, they had rose to DM16.50 and DM25.- ($4.20 and $6.30– for modern values, try this calculator).  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 in Germany one would get this relative bargain (unless one lived there and got paid in DM, in which case it still hit the pocket book like a similarly-featured competitor would affect someone in it’s home market).  Where I know the original cost of a given model, it will appear below.

Size:  13.1 cm long capped, 14.4 cm posted, 12.6 cm uncapped.

Point: 14K.

Body: Plastic.

Filler: Cartridge , capacity approx. 0.6 ml X 2 (international short).

Pelikan 25.  The catalogue described this colour as "sapphire blue", with "diamond black" as the other possibility.

Pelikan 25. The catalogue described this colour as “sapphire blue”, with “diamond black” as the other possibility.

With the cap on the front end, you get a better sense of the funny anatomy. You can also make out a little vent hole in the barrel, which we may assume is an extra insurance against thermal expansion problems

The mere scrap of metal which passes for the point in these pens. This picture and the anatomy are courtesy of the very nice German person who sold me mine, and who insisted upon anonymity.

The P25 reduced to its components. The feed is long, yes, but there’s not much too it otherwise; it claims to be good for air travel, but I harbour doubts.



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