I was at an antiques trade fair recently, and a few of the sellers had the odd fountain pen here and there. Nothing that caught my eye. But one had a reasonable collection and amongst them I spied a Sheaffer.
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I’ve been keeping an eye on eBay for more fountain pens recently, and picked up a few bargains (to a greater or lesser extent).
I visited my parents recently and, as I mentioned in my previous post, there were some fountain pens involved in the visit.
I had brought my fountain pen collection with me, and showed them to my parents, talking about the detective work I had done on some of them to determine their age and provenance. And it spurred my parents into going looking for other pens that they might have for me.
One of the amusing things about buying cheap Chinese pens is that the 6-8 weeks delivery time means by the time they arrive you’ve almost forgotten that you ordered them.
Yesterday a pair of Jinhao 992 pens arrived in the post, one in solid black and the other in transparent brown, which I had bought at the tail-end of April for £1.60 each, which included postage.
After a wait of almost a month, some new pens have just arrived from China. I’ve mainly bought Jinhao and Hero up until now, so the Baoer is a new one on me.
This is the Baoer 801 in “Black Shimmering Aurora Borealis” finish. It’s quite a nice pen and a little bit different.
Looks-wise, it is very similar to the Parker 88 / Rialto.
I was at the Monthly Maltings Market at Farnham a few weeks ago, and was tempted by some fountain pens that a seller had. He is there every month, and I had previously looked at his pens but not bought any. I had been somewhat tempted by a Parker 61 Flighter as I had liked the inlaid arrow on the nib section, but the nib itself was in very poor condition so I passed.
However, this time I got into conversation with him, and we talked at length about pens in general, and a few specifics.
I had brought my Sheaffer Targa set to show him (show not sell), and he liked it. He had a boxed Targa two pen set in stainless steel which was £65. Interestingly, he said steel pens are less popular these days. He also had a Sheaffer Cartridge (looks similar to the 440 but has an arrow head cutout rather than diamond) but I figured that was too close to what I had already, plus I’m not so keen on that nib shape.
He had a collection of Parker 51 pens there, and I asked for one that would write, so he suggested a Teal one that had a converter, rather than the Vacumatic to the left of it since that one needed restoration.
I also mentioned that would like a Parker 61 but didn’t fancy his Flighter set due to the nib damage, and he showed me another 61 which he had, which was an early 61 capillary.
I enquired as to the price of the 51 and 61, and he wanted £35 and £45 respectively. I asked for a package price and he suggested £70, I countered with £65, and he accepted. It was rather more than I had intended to spend on pens, but I was taken by the moment.
I visited my parents recently, and had a bit of a pen-fest.
First off, my dad gave me his old Sheaffer pen. Some might see this as worn out and beaten up, but to me it is gorgeous wear and patination, and I love it. There is a matching rollerball, which he also gave to me.
I’ve always loved the design of the inlaid nib Sheaffer pens, so this was really big deal for me to own one.
He thinks he first started using it in the late 1950’s, but I think he is mistaken. Looking online, this is without a doubt a “Targa by Sheaffer” which was first introduced in 1976. After some research on sheaffertarga.com I have narrowed it down to the Matte Black GT 1st Edition Classic (model number 1003) which was produced from 1980-1988. I believe it to be a 1st Edition as the cap end is the same colour as the cap and body, whereas the 2nd Edition has a gold cap end.
But regardless of its age and provenance, it is a lovely pen and I love it to bits. The wear and patina make it very special, and the brass showing through lends it a slightly Steampunk vibe.
Having inked it up, it writes absolutely beautifully. It’s a cartridge pen with converter, so I filled it with Parker Quink Permanent Black bottled ink.
He also gave me another Sheaffer, but doesn’t know where it came from or whose it was. Having done my research online, I have narrowed it down to being a Sheaffer Connaisseur Black 2nd Edition (model number 810), being the 2nd Edition because it has Sheaffer stamped on the cap band rather than the clip. This pen was produced from 1989 to 1996, and has an 18k gold oblique nib. It writes well, although runs a little wet.
Next is a nondescript green Parker 45 which was my grandmother’s, and whose only notable feature is the fact that the system has been worn into an odd shape presumably from years of writing. My mum said I could have it.
What I couldn’t have was my grandmother’s other pen which is a Parker 51 in deep blue, missing its clip and cap end, and whose nib is bent right over to the left like a banana through years of use. It writes really beautifully, and my mum writes with it regularly which is why I can’t have it. 🙂
Another pen they gave (back to) me was an old Osmiroid which I had as a kid and which I had forgotten that I had even owned. It’s pretty unremarkable.
There was also a very cheap Parker which had corporate branding on it which was obviously a freebie, and a couple of nondescript unnamed fountain pens that were similarly freebies, and I left those.
Finally, my dad also let me have a look at (and take a picture of) his Mont Blanc pen set. What immediately struck me about it is how heavily its design has influenced the Jinhao X450, and to some extent the X750.
Naturally I can’t have his Mont Blanc just yet as he still uses it. But I am sure that one day it will be added to my collection (although obviously I hope that day is a long way off).
So there we go – a nice little collection.
I think I might have to buy a pen case at this rate. 🙂
Following on from my previous post about fountain pens, I was at an Antiques and Collectors fair at Ripley in Surrey last month, and one of the sellers had some fountain pens.
He had several Jinhaos and also some Chinese knock-off versions of the Parker 51, which he invited me to try and they were impressively smooth I have to say. I subsequently found that was the Hero 616 which I ordered for £1.03 on Amazon Marketplace when I got home.
We had a chat and I told him about a Jinhao X750 I had on order (more on that in another post), and we chatted for a while about pens and how these cheap Chinese imports are such good value for money. It was a nice little chat.
I then noticed he had a Sheaffer, and asked if it was a Chinese copy too but he said it was genuine. He didn’t know the provenance or age, as it had come as a job lot from a house clearance. He was asking £15 for it so I decided to take a punt. I didn’t even haggle him on price as I thought £15 was fair.
The barrel is very lightly scuffed in one place, but the cap isn’t dented and it seems in very good condition.
Having done a little research and read this primer on nibs it would appear this is a left foot oblique nib, which is apparently very rare for this pen. The 30° slant suggests it might have been intended for a left-hander.
I then did a lot more research in order to try to determine what it was. The inlaid nib means it is in the Imperial or quasi-Imperial range. The “short diamond” inlay nib with rounded tip to the long edge of the cutout was going to be key to identifying it. That ruled out the PFM (Pen For Men) 1959-c1968 and the Imperial 1961-c1998, as they both have the “long diamond” nib, and it’s not a Lifetime as it doesn’t have “Lifetime” on the clip. It’s also not a Triumph as that had a V / Arrowhead cutout to the inlay nib, rather than a diamond one.
This site seemed to imply the Sheaffer Imperial Cartridge c1970-1975 but the description was rather vague and light on information.
This site makes me think it’s the Model 440 (a “quasi-Imperial”) but other sites confusingly show the 440 as having the Arrowhead cutout. But certainly from the pics in that link it is an exact match. And the more I googled the Sheaffer 440, the more convinced I was that this is what I have.
So, on balance of probabilities, it’s almost certainly 440, which is a pen dating from the 1970’s. So far I have not been able to find the exact production dates.
I’ve been getting back into fountain pens in a big way lately.
Well, that’s not entirely true – I have never really stopped using them. When working on client sites, I tend to keep a hand written day log and enjoy using a Parker 45 fountain pen to write it. It gives me a small amount of pleasure to do so.
I have two examples of the Parker 45 Flighter – one from the late 1980’s which was a present from my parents, and has a matching retractable ballpoint. The other is an almost identical Parker 45 Flighter which bought in the mid-2000’s a little before Parker ceased production of the 45 in 2008. I bought it because I had mislaid the original Parker 45, although fortunately I have now found it again.
The 1980’s pair are unfortunately engraved with a name I no longer use, which is a shame.
There are some interesting differences between the two, which you can see on the Parker 45 Flighter Timeline on Pen Collect. The earlier pens have a dimpled cap end, whilst the later pen has a small dome or jewel.
Recently I have been inspired by a thread on an internet forum to look into additional pens. There are some really good quality pens coming over from China now from Jinhao and Hero, which can be bought for as little as £2 or less, including postage, if you are prepared to buy from China on eBay and wait 2-3 weeks for them to arrive. I am also seeing vintage pens for sale in the various Antiques and Collectors fairs that I go to (which I am still going to as much as ever, but don’t really blog about it so much as it is probably getting a little boring for people).
Before that, though, I went looking for another pen which I had, which I had used at school in the mid 1970’s because back in those day you were expected to use a fountain pen. I never really liked this one as it was scratchy, and haven’t written with it in decades. It turns out it is a Parker 25. A little research on Pen Collect and More Engineering suggests it is a Mark III, since it has no nib breather hole, has a dimpled end, and is stamped “Made in England” on the cap. That implies it dates from 1979 onwards, but this confuses me as I’m almost certain I was using it at school in 1977. I changed schools in 1978 and I am sure I was using that pen at the school before rather than after.
Looking at the nib with a loupe, it looks like it is damaged, with a downward bend and too much of a gap between the tines (the two halves of the nib). However, amazingly, when inked it writes just fine. However, I don’t have a lot of love for this pen and I doubt I will be using it regularly. It has no resale value as, sadly, it is also engraved with my name.
Those were all of the fountain pens in my possession at the time. In subsequent posts I will mention acquisitions I have made since.
I have since learned how to read the date codes that some Parker pens have. In fact I hadn’t even noticed my pens had date codes!
The 1980’s Parker 45 Flighter fountain pen and ballpoint set both have “IN” stamped on them, which means they were manufactured the the 3rd quarter of 1989, whilst the 2000’s Parker 45 has “T.I” which makes it 3rd quarter of 2005.
The Parker 25 doesn’t have a date code.
You can read more about dating a Parker pen here.