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Pelikan Holding AG[1]
Pelikan Logo.jpg
Founded: 28 April 1832
Founder: Carl Hornemann
Headquarters: Schindellegi,[1] Switzerland
Key People: Hooi Keat Loo (CEO)[1]
Products: Writing instruments, Art supplies, Stationery

Pelikan is a German manufacturer of fountain pens and other writing, office and art equipment. Credited with the invention of the differential-piston filling method, the original company was founded in Hanover in 1832 before it went bankrupt and restarted. Pelikan A.G. is now a Swiss incorporated subsidiary of Pelikan International.[2]


19th Century[edit]

In 1832 chemist Carl Hornemann founded his own colour and ink factory in Hanover Germany. Here at Pelikan though we tend to consider the 28th of April 1838 as the founding date, as it was the date on the very first price list. All company anniversaries are therefore based on this date. [3]

On the 15 June, 1842 Hornemann purchased some property in the Hainholz area of Hanover. The idea was to start production on a larger scale after previously having to cook and press the ink in a farmyard 30 km away from Hanover. [3]

In 1863 Günther Wagner obtained the position of chemist and plant manager. He took over the company in 1871 and registered his family emblem, which showed a Pelican, as the companies logo in 1878. It was one of the first German trademarks ever. In order be able to deliver to Austria, which at the time controlled parts of northern Italy, the Czech republic, Hungary and Croatia, a factory was built in Eger that at a later stage then moved to Vienna.[3]

In 1881 the production halls were enlarged. The company employed an additional 39 people and Fritz Beindorff. It was his job to visit customers in Austria, Russia and Italy.[3]

In 1895 Fritz Beindorff then married Günther Wagner’s oldest daughter in 1888 and took over the company. Office products for copying, stamping, sticking and erasing were added to the assortment of the time. Due to the vast additions to the assortment, the production halls underwent large expansion.[3]

In 1896 Pelikan started to produce Indian ink. The foreign companies that were at that stage dominating this market segment could not compete.[3]

20th Century[edit]

1901 saw the birth of Pelikan’s ink series 4001. In the previous year the companies 236 strong workforce achieved an amazing turnover of 1 million Gold Marks. 1904 saw the introduction of “Pelikanol” – a white adhesive paste. Up to the 1960’s this Product was a revolution in sticking paper.[3]

In 1906 the company purchased property on the Podbielskistrasse. The area provided 13,000 m2 of office and production space. The then modern building, that is now a historically protected monument of the city of Hanover, was built after no further extensions were possible on the previous facilities. The turnover had now reached 2 million Gold Marks.[3]

Pelikan has been supporting the preparation of Art classes for many years now, as documented in the magazine entitled “Der Pelikan” that appeared for the first time in 1912. In this magazine, the opinions and ideas of well-known artists and teachers from Germany and abroad were published in the opening column of each edition. It showcased art lessons, techniques, materials and different art experiences. The magazine was published up to 1971.[3]

1913 was the company’s 75th anniversary. The factories size was doubled and 1057 people were now employed. The turnover increased to 4.4 million Goldmark. [3]

1929 was the year in which the Pelikan fountain pen was born. It was well known for its trademark Green shaft, technically innovative ink flow and transparent ink window. The differential piston mechanism was a true revolution of its time. [3]

Pelikan released its first water colour paint box under the description 735 D/12 in 1931. It was the first time that opaque watercolours became available to school pupils. It replaced the then popular transparent watercolours. The paint box was first Yellow on the outside with a coloured stripe and White on the inside. This was slightly modified in 1950 (see picture). It was Pelikan’s water colour paint box that has accompanied most German pupils through their school days. [3]

In 1934 a cheaper version of the Pelikan fountain pen, now known as “model 100”, was released under the product description “Rappen”. A mechanical pencil was also released carrying the Pelikan brand name. In addition, this year saw the first release of PLAKA – the hobby/decoration paint that has remained popular until now. [3]

In 1938 the 100 year anniversary catalogue was designed by professor O.H.W. Hadank, the same man who redesigned the Pelikan logo to the shape that it would remain for the next 60 years. 3700 employees celebrated in Pelikan factories in Hanover, Vienna, Danzig, Milan, Barcelona, Bucharest, Sofia, Warsaw, Budapest, Zagreb, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile as in many of the delivery facilities abroad. The Pelikan fountain pen model 100N was released. [3]

In 1950 the post war trauma came to an end. The big German industrial boom started. At this time Pelikan released the fountain pen model 400. It is easily recognised due to its Black and Green striped shaft. This model was to become the most popular fountain pen in its price range. [3]

In 1960 the Pelikan school fountain pen “Pelikano” was introduced into the marketplace. This Product was developed with the assistance of handwriting educators and expertise fountain pen constructors. The advantages of its ink cartridge filling system and ergonomic form were so popular, that in months it became the most popular school fountain pen - always finding recommendation from teachers. [3]

In 1972 Pelikan produced its first ink eradicator under the name “Tintentiger”. It was praised because it was an easy and clean method of erasing Royal Blue ink. In 1974 the name was changed to “Pelikan Tintenblitz” and in 1977 it became “Super-Pirat”. It is the most sold ink eradicator in Germany. [3]

In 1973 the Podbielskistasse facilities in Hanover reached the stage where could no longer be expanded. The writing instrument production was moved to Peine/Voehrum which is approximately 30 km to the east of Hanover. Up until today, Pelikan pens, painting and office Products are still produced there.[3]

In 1974 Pelikan developed the simplified Handwriting for beginners in collaboration with educators from this field of expertise. It was here where the company first displayed its educational competence regarding Handwriting. Due to this, the role of the Pelikano fountain pen became even more vital.[3]

In 1978 the company'S legal form is changed from a GmbH into a AG (= with shares). The shares were divided within the Beindorff family and 46 other owners. The company’s balance sheet added up to DM 607.8 million. The company’s assortment was extended adding a wide range of Hobby and Game Products. There were also subsidiary companies producing office printers, projectors, data carriers, technical drawing aids and cosmetic products.[3]

In 1982 the excessive expansion of the assortment and a take over of the Photocopier Company Lumoprint in Hamburg finally resulted in insolvency. A reverse split of the shares in a ratio of 10:1 took place and Pelikan was taken over by Condorpart (Switzerland) in 1984. The company based mainly in Hanover was separated into various sub companies and parts were sold. Operations were from then onwards run by Pelikan International (later Pelikan Holding) in Switzerland. The Pelikan Holding AG – Zug/ Switzerland started trading on the Swiss stock exchange in 1986. [3]

In Autumn 1993 Pelikan’s first Limited Edition (based on the 800 series) is released under the name “Blue Ocean”. It was made in a Blue transparent colouring. A total of 5000 fountain pens were produced – 1000 were sold in an set with an additional ballpoint pen.[3]

In 1995 the assortment of printing Products, inkjet cartridges etc. ended up becoming a separate division of distribution in 1994 which was then eventually sold to the American company Nucote in 1995.[3]

In 1996 GOODACE SDN BHD, a company owned by Hooi Keat Loo from Malaysia, took over the majority of Pelikan Holding shares. Two years later the XVI Commonwealth games took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. To mark the occasion, the Pelikan Limited Edition Kuala Lumpur was released.[3]

Being one of the largest suppliers for retailers and superstores in Germany, Pelikan resumed the distribution of Products from Pelikan Hardcopy in 2000. In doing so, Pelikan yet again began selling Products representing all individual areas of its core competence.[3]

21st Century[edit]

On the 17th of March 2003 the company moved to its new office building on the Werftstrasse in Hanover. At around the same time, 125 years after its initial registration – the design of the Pelikan Logo has been altered and modified.[3]

Further Information[edit]

The notable history of Pelikan began with the model "100" and the modified 100N (both fountain pens), which sparked the genesis of the company's distinctive styling.

Pelikan still manufactures many of their expensive pens using Cellulose acetate, instead of the more modern plastics used by most other major pen makers.

Pelikan fountain pen

Pelikan also makes entry-level fountain pens and fountain pens for school pupils, for example "Pelikano" and "Future,". The Griffix 'Learn to Write' system was released in 2009 and starts at a wax crayon up to a fountain pen with right and left handed grip profiles.

Pelikan also manufactures several grades of ink for use in fountain pens and dip pens.

In 2009 Pelikan purchased its rival Herlitz.


Current Pelikan product lines are:[4]

Type Range of Products
Writing instruments Fountain pens, ballpoint pens, mechanical pencils, pen refills,
inks, erasers, marker pens, highlighters
Arts and crafts Graphite and colored pencils, brushes, wax crayons, oil pastels,
moulding clay, chalks, drawing inks, erasers, papers
Printers cartridges, papers, fax papers and accessories

Discontinued products[edit]

  • Pelikanol — a white glue first made in 1904, similar in composition to today's glue sticks with a distinct marzipan scent.

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]