Pelikan Graphos Pen with Nibs

<< >>
This 4-5/16" black plastic pen has a metal pocket clip and is marked in script: Pelikan Graphos GERMANY. The end is unscrewed from one side, revealing a metal holder for a pen nib, and screwed to the other side. The tip of the holder is marked: 3. Nineteen different nibs may be attached to the pen. They each are marked: MADE IN GERMANY. They are also marked: Pelikan (/) GRAPHOS (/) GÜNT . . . NER. They are also marked: IMPORTE D'ALLEMAGNE. Each nib is marked with its size; brass inlays indicate the width for seven of the nibs (those for drawing fine lines).
The set is in a wooden bar-lock case covered in black leather and lined with dark blue velvet. The top of the case is marked: Pelikan (/) Graphos. The bottom of the case is marked: MADE IN GERMANY (/) IMPORTE D'ALLEMAGNE.
Carl Hornemann opened a color and ink factory in Hanover, Germany, in 1838. The company began using a pelican as its trademark in 1863 and first offered a fountain pen in 1929. The Graphos was manufactured in the form illustrated by this object between 1934 and 1957. This set was probably made in the early part of this time frame. The nibs were designed for technical drawing and lettering. Rotring took over the Graphos brand in 1978, but Pelikan remains in operation as of 2013.
References: Pelikan, "History,"; Annina and Andreas Schenk, "Pelikan Graphos,"
Currently not on view
date made
place made
Deutschland: Niedersachsen, Hanover
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
wood (overall material)
leather (overall material)
case: 16 cm x 6 cm x 2.3 cm; 6 5/16 in x 2 3/8 in x 29/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of LaVerne Watkins
Drafting, Engineering
Drawing Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Pens and Pencils
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Your description of this article refers to "The tip of the holder is marked: 3". This was because there were three different sizes of the inner section of the holder (which is the ink delivery channel mechanism, the ink reservoir being inside the handle). "1" meant a very restricted delivery rate of ink, "2" a more freely flowing setting and - of course! - "3" meant the most generous rate of ink flow.
The Pelikan Graphos helped solve the hand-letterer's perennial problem of having to constantly stop writing and fill the pen with a few drops of ink. It held enough ink inside itself to write for half an hour and more. You still had to empty and rinse it at the end of the day.

Add a comment about this object