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Although Wagner was late to enter the field, they revolutionized the manufacture of German fountain pens with the first piston filler.Today, collectors from around the world put huge amounts of money, time, and energy into collecting what began as a homely little expression of German modernist pen design.
How long that relationship lasted, whether for only the first year, or until the mid-1930s is not clear.
Today, the early Pelikan nibs, whoever made them, are most highly prized by collectors.
Compared to most fountain pens of the 1920s, the original eyedropper-filler had been highly efficient with only two moving parts and a large capacity. As early as 1905 Evelyn Andros de la Rue developed a piston filler but, according to Andreas Lambrou, it was a cumbersome device that did not catch on beyond the firm’s own products.
By the mid 1910s, the sac and the various devices used to compress it had become the dominant filling system in England and America.
There was the so-called cone which was a keeper for the filler itself consisting of a hollow shaft and piston.
The piston then telescoped into a solid shaft attached to the knurled filler knob stamped with an arrow to indicate the direction to turn at the other. The only decoration came with the distinctive barrel band (in German, the Binde), to this day a feature of the top-line Pelikans.
[Note: This is by no means meant to be a complete history of the Pelikan pen or the Günther Wagner firm.
Readers seeking the fullest account of Pelikan should consult Jürgen Dittmer and Martin Lehmann’s The history of Pelikan begins with Germany's industrial revolution in the early nineteenth century and continues into the global economy of today.
During that period, the firm has consistently been a technological leader, even as its fortunes rose and fell.
In 1863 Günther Wagner became partner in a business founded by Carl Hornemann of Hannover, a member of the newly empowered German parliament.
Those nibs, especially the flexible obliques, define the Pelikan pen.