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Sheaffer Imperial Vintage Fountain Pen Review: Admiral, Sovereign, Other

Updated on January 9, 2015

Sheaffer Imperial

During the second half of the 20th century Imperial was Sheaffer's biggest, and most versatile collection – it evolved with each edition, presenting new models, some quite different from the original design, and offered fountain pens both in the casual and the high-end niche. Today Imperial writing instruments constitute a lively vintage and collectors market, several hundred items being listed daily on eBay.

The collection's breadth is rightfully notorious: it includes inset, classic and inlaid nibs, touchdown and cartridge filling mechanisms, stainless steel, gold, and palladium nibs and trims, standard and slim variations, and a range of colors to compliment the natural sheen of the metal. While earlier models resembled the fifties Pen For Men line, later offerings appeared like the precursors of Legacy, or even modern (recent) Waterman Edson.

Sheaffer Imperial Pen
Sheaffer Imperial Pen


Gold and sterling silver trims appear on the high-end pens, giving them a distinct luxurious look (and weight). Both precious metals display some sort of textural ornament: marquetry, diamonds, fluted, and other; gold plated inlaid nibs carrying a “Sheaffer” engraving conclude the pens.

The more affordable items feature plastic body and cap, with chrome or steel appearing on familiar points: the ring, the cap, and the clip. Though not as lustrous, plastic allowed to introduce a palette of colors, an element that becomes particularly important to casual customers.

Imperial Desk

We dwell on the desk model because it differs significantly in size and shape from the rest – longer, and more voluminous towards the section – and because it resemble the Targa, another Sheaffer vintage classic. The body is usually plastic, the inlaid nib is 14K gold, the filling system is touchdown.

When slotted into the desk set, this pen appears like a spear that has just landed, piercing the surface – a dramatic (though stationary) placement that gives the portable fountain pen “something to think about:” after all, near the desk is the perfect location for a writing instrument.


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