I’m about to commit an act of fiction. I want to make that very clear, because so many people will treat as a firm authority “something I read once” and these internet synapses are crammed with arguments based on such ephemeral things. I’m just pursuing a whimsy which struck me over the weekend and which I had a few pre-plummet minutes to lay the groundwork for. I’m not devoting enough time to my fiction lately, and the pressure is building up and causing a distortion of my parietal membranes, so I’m letting a pointless exercise out in public. You may point and laugh.
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At the end of the 1950s, Pelikan was basking in the glow of the warm German economy. That warmth was kindled in the late 1940s by the Marshall Plan, but the cozy bed of coals laid down since took the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union in 1958 as a dashed bucket of gasoline. That collapse, founded in the mutinies and public uprisings which spread from the failed Hungary intervention in 1956, saw the failure also of the Socialist Unity Party in the DDR, and general desire on both sides of Germany for reunion brought quick results; a large, technologically well-found nation with what appeared a general urge to prove to the world that they were now a productive member of the international community.
This same period was once of economic downturn in the United States. The collapse of the Soviets and the installation of what appeared at the time a republic was generally hailed as a very good turn of events, but Wall Street will frequently go its own way. With the sudden removal of the only real enemy in the offing (China, while communist since 1949 and having been the nominal source of support for North Korea in the conflict there was viewed mainly as a proxy for the now-deflated Soviet Union), there was a marked bursting of whatever bubbles the arms industry had enjoyed, with associated industries leaning in sympathy until the whole US and indeed North American economy stumbled.
One of the companies which suffered in this disruption was Parker. Having just spent substantially on the remains of Wahl-Eversharp and seeing little return on that or the expenditures associated with the introduction of its 61 model, the Parker family decided to court buyers for their company. Amongst those receiving the invitation, Pelikan proved to be most interested and most able to pay an acceptable price.
It is from this foundation that one of Pelikan’s most popular and long-lived models appeared, the PK45. Lifted essentially intact from the Parker drawing boards (where it had landed after a similar lifting from Wahl), this cartridge filling model was aimed initially at students but eventually saw versions directed at all markets. Debuting in 1961, it was marketed in North America and England under the Parker label (those markets being, at that time, somewhat xenophobic), while in continental Europe it was impressed with the Pelikan logo. After 1975, when the Parker brand was entirely closed off, all examples of the PK45 bore the Pelikan imprints and bird-face clips, so there is a slight inclination in collectors to prefer the shorter-lived Parker variant. The PK45 remained in production until 1996.
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I have in mind do more of this sort of thing when the mood strikes. Sometimes it’s very freeing to just make stuff up.