Sheaffer Fountain Pens, Rollerball, Ballpoint Pen, Pencils Review-Guide
Sheaffer's history as a fountain pen company is destined to be linked with its filling systems. While most writing instruments the brand offers today utilize ink cartridges, it is the Snorkel, Touchdown, and Vacuum filling systems – that will be considered more and more exotic with time – that made Sheaffer pens particularly fascinating, and still makes them such for contemporary vintage collectors.
Ink is important, but doesn't comprise the whole story: two other quintessential Sheaffer components, the inlaid nib and the white dot, reflect, respectively, the technological and design aspects of this American company. Appearing on either the cap or the clip, the iconic white dot distinguishes without fault a Sheaffer item from competitors; the inlaid nib was featured first in the Made For Men collection, since then defining a range of fountain pen collections: Imperial, Targa, Legacy, Intrigue, and Valor.
Sheaffer main difference from the more luxury or collector oriented Waterman, Cartier, and Montblanc lies in its clearly formulated purpose: utility and duty, much more casual than refined for its own sake. Indeed, most collections reflect this approach in design and materials getting closer to such names as Parker and Pelikan than the ones mention above.
Sheaffer were among the first writing instrument enterprises to develop dedicated plastics and alloys for its products (Phileas represents a similar Waterman outing), rendering them affordable and efficient.
Besides the casual creations, the company offers two high-end lines (limited edition): Stars of Egypt and Roaring Twenties – featuring palladium, 18K and 22K white and yellow gold, sterling silver, and diamonds, detailed engraving on the body and the cap, and accompanied by a range of matching accessories. Other lines also incorporate luxury elements, including precious metals and stones.
Prelude is a versatile collection that includes a fountain pen, a ballpoint, a roller ball and a mechanical pencil mode; exhibiting a classic cigar shape, it comes trimmed with nickel, chrome, laque, or even onyx and palladium. Ladies pens present pink, magenta, and green colored bodies and caps. Single or two-tone nibs, and a gripping pad for the section in separate models.
Agio demonstrates a nib that will immediately alert Waterman fans – the linear engraving on the gold plating is reminiscent of the Perspective collection. This line arrives in compact and regular designs, the latter offering ladies lilac and pink variants, and generally notably slimmer bodies. Compact pens extend to normal size when posted, resembling the vintage Tuckaway; gold and nickel trims.
Legacy displays a generous body complemented by the classic inlaid 18K gold nib (can be palladium plated): it's a luxurious collection that incorporates gold, palladium, and sterling silver, the metal trims carrying distinctive fluted, barleycorn, or Victorian inspired patterns. Ballpoint pen and roller-ball modes.
Valor, also arriving in three main modes and an inlaid nib, hosts some Legacy and Agio features: it's relatively slim, like the latter, and classically elegant, like the former. One of the most complex Sheaffer lines in terms of design, Valor pens transpose sharply from the section to the body, and reveal an unusual clip design.
100/300/500 – a series of casual, function oriented designs that effectively represent Sheaffer core principles of utility and straightforward design, the counterpart to Waterman Sheaffer. Includes all four modes, including the mechanical pencil; men's and ladies' items, and nickel and chrome trims.
We dedicate two reviews to Sheaffer vintage selection: Targa and Imperial, possibly the most popular lines the brand manufactured that are out of production today. Though both bear the iconic inlaid nib, these writing instruments are quite different in body and cap design, and represent a significant portion of the brand's history.