How the baby bird got into the nest, and how many when

The established, iconic Pelikan company is celebrating the 175th anniversary of its foundation. To mark the occasion a book is to be published which traces the development of the PELIKAN trademark and brand.

The elaborately designed and copiously illustrated volume is available on Amazon.

Take a look inside the book

An excerpt with carefully chosen sample pages of the book can be downloaded in PDF format.

New discoveries from the Pelikan archive

Previously unknown letters from the originator of the brand, Günther Wagner, to his successor Fritz Beindorff have been discovered in the company archives. Also among the discoveries was the original Wagner family coat of arms, which was probably used as an indentifying mark on honey paints for children even before 1873.

It was Günther Wagner himself who, on the basis of his family coat of arms, designed the PELIKAN pictorial trademark for his “Small Honey Paints”. Günther Wagner took the number of three chicks in the nest for the PELIKAN pictorial trademark. Honey paints were a type of watercolour, common at the time, in which honey was used as a binder. According to an 1873 price list, small round pans of honey paint were offered in tin boxes containing 12, 18 or 24 different colours, the paint pans being glued to the metal of the box. In designing the trademark, Günther Wagner abandoned what he called the “oval” shape of the shield on which the pelican was displayed in his family coat of arms.

After the birth of a fourth Wagner child a further chick appeared in the nest – as can be seen in the oldest PELIKAN trademark known until now, which was registered on 27 November 1878.

Famous artists and their work for the brand

Drawing in particular on a unique collection of historical art nouveau and object posters, the book shows up interrelationships with aspects of the contemporary scene whose cultural significance extends far beyond their importance in the history of the company.

In later periods too, famous artists such as Kurt Schwitters, El Lissitzky and Wilhelm Wagenfeld were deeply involved with the Pelikan brand, and helped to shape it.

The brand changes with the times

The Pelikan brand tells an entire story, compressed into a single sign. It is the story of the mother pelican’s love and affection for her chick, which, as we know, will one day open its wings and fly. Thus the Pelikan brand, from its beginnings right down to today, can be understood as being symbolic of the success story of this old-established German company, a company of global importance.

Concise details of the book and its appearance

The elaborately designed and copiously illustrated volume is available on Amazon.

Title: PELIKAN – THE BRAND
Subtitle: How the baby bird got into the nest, and how many when
Author: Dr. Detmar Schäfer
Translator: Anthony Mellor-Stapelberg
Format: 240 x 285 mm
Presentation: Hardcover, thread-stitched, 4/4 colour
Pages: 168
ISBN: 978-3-923976-90-4
Price: 29,99 €
Date of publication: 28 April 2013
Produced by: Pelikan Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG