The Souverän is one who has sovereign power, as in to “be a sovereign “. It also refers to one who has a commanding knowledge of one’s field. There is, withour doubt a regal air about the term – its very phoenetics, is royal. The Souverän range of pens from Pelikan, I feel, could not have been better named, for there are a very few pens which fit its christening with so much elan.
The company dates itself back to 1838, when chemist Carl Hornemann founded a colour and ink factory in Hanover, Germany. As for its history of making fountain pens, it can be traced back to 1929, when Pelikan purchased the patent to the differential piston-filling mechanism from Hungarian inventor Theodor Kovàcs. There has been no looking back for Pelikan, and over the last many years it has painstakingly curved out a niche for itself as the manufacturer of some of the most iconic and sought-after fountain pens ever created.
In terms of built quality, Pelikan pens are as German as it gets – they are built to last, incorporate a concern for quality that is hard to match, are engineered to perfection and have that stolid, stoic look that demands respect. They perform their task – writing – admirably, without even a murmur of dissent and are known to continue in their unique hassle-free way, all the way to eternity. If the people’s car is a Volkswagen, then surely the Pelikans would be the Volksfüller, fountain pens for the people!
I must confess that I have a soft corner for Pelikan pens and have been collecting them for so long that even I cannot put a date to it. The fact that needs to be underscored is that, all the Pelikans that I have, despite many of them being pre-loved pens, continue to carry themselves with a gait that is simply breath-taking in their beauty. As for the pleasure of writing with them, it is literally beyond words. Yes, the Pelikans, true to their German origin, write with thicker lines. Yes, they are so wet and smooth on the surface that some fountain pen lovers miss the feedback, just the hint – the feel of the nib scratching on the paper. But that I guess, is akin to searching for the human touch in something that is sheer divine.
I must confess another thing. I have this habit of dipping into my collection of Pelikans and taking one out for special occasions. I write for a living. But that does not mean that I do not enjoy the very act of writing. That I do not like to indulge myself as I get immersed in the act of seeing my thoughts crystallising on paper as the ink dries. It is invariably, in occasions like these that I seek out my Pelikans, as together we string words, creating for the posterity.
The Pelikan that I am now writing with, celebrating Durga Puja as it were, is a Vermeil Souverän. This is a particularly favourite piece of mine as it writes uncharacteristically thin, which somehow never fails to knock my senses away. As for the other characteristics – the wetness, the balance, the look and feel, the built quality, the filling system – everything is pristine Pelikan, shall we say, perfect!
The Vermeil Souverän for the uninitiated, were a series of special editions that were introduced by Pelikan in the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s. These writing instruments employed sterling silver components which were decorated with gold overlays. Now, vermeil (pronounced ver-may) is a French term which refers to the gilding of silver. However, it should not be mixed up with mere gold plating and the art of vermeil is often regulated strictly (as in the United States) where it is stipulated that “the base metal must be sterling silver with a gold coating of at least 10 carats or finer and with a thickness of 2.5 microns (1/10,000th of an inch)”.
My Vermeil Souverän stands out, is distinguishable, by its metal cap and a 18 carat nib. It sports a guilloche pattern of lines in the cap which also has a blank box for personalised engraving should the owner so desire. The cap end has a band of three lines etched around it and just above the cap lip is engraved “Pelikan Souverän Germany Ag925”, refurbishing the fact that the underlying material is sterling silver.
The nib of this particular pen seems as though it was made just for me. The point that I am trying to make here is that this series too comes from a time when Pelikan’s line of factory produced nibs offered a much wider spread, in terms of variety than what is available these days. And yes, it is my desire that someday, I will try out and if possible, possess all that were on offer, including the highly collectable light green tortoise!