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Sheaffer Pens Ink

Updated on April 20, 2010

I didn't discover Sheaffer fountain pens until high school. Fountain pens are one of the few area in which adding precious metals provides a functional benefit, since a gold nib is more flexible and thus writes better than a steel nib. When getting older, I got interested in history of fountain pens and accessories, which lead me to many discoveries in the world of fine writing instruments.

The Sheaffer Pen Company was founded by Walter A. Sheaffer, who was born in Ottumwa, Iowa in 1867. His father was the owner of a small town jewlery store, and Walter learned the value of good business sense early childhood. At 11 years old, he started his working career as a printer's helper.

In 1908, while studying an advertisement for the Conklin crescent filling pen, Sheaffer envisioned a better method of filling a fountain pen. On August 25, 1908 he was granted a patent for the first successful lever filling fountain pen, and soon thereafter he founded the Sheaffer Pen Company.

Sheaffer's first attempt at manufacturing ink revolved around an alkaline Prussian Blue based formula. The vast majority of competing inks at that time were of the acidic aniline types. Sheaffer's ink had beautiful color, was easy to get out of clothes. Tests showed the ink to be an excellent product and superior to anything else found on the market. The only drawback of the ink was that it couldn't be mized with acidic analine dye, or fountain pens were badly clogged.

Sheaffer had to buy back all the remaining stocks of the unsuccessful ink.

Two years of work passed, and Sheaffer's chemists devised the formula for Skrip ink, and the company returned to the writing fluid business. Needless to say, many retailers were less than happy to jump back into the selling of a Sheaffer ink product after the not forgotten Prussian Blue incident. It took some relentless and creative marketing on the part of Walter Sheaffer to reopen the doors for the Skrip line of inks. Now, over half a century later, the Skrip ink brand is still on the market.

In 2001, the giant French-based BIC pen company bought Sheaffer Pens manufacturer. It eventuated in the complete elimination of the US production of Skrip line of inks. The line of eleven inks has been replaced with eleven new inks made in Slovenia.

The production facilities in the USA were closed as well. That's how ended the 20th century story of Sheaffer pens.


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