Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bought myself a new old fountain pen: Sheaffer Thin Model Touchdown Pen, circa 1950

Vintage Sheaffer Statesman

My 2nd most recent acquisition. A Sheaffer Statesman fountain pen, circa 1950.

Vintage Sheaffer Statesman

I've been back and forth on my thoughts on vintage pens. Part of me wants to write with an unused pen - to inject it with my own creative energy, and another part of me thinks it's just so darn cool to use something that's been around for 60 years... Who used it? How did they use it? There's also a part of me that doesn't want to buy/use a vintage pen for fear of damaging it in a way that would render it useless because they are not so easy to replace.

Vintage Sheaffer Statesman

I absolutely love the curves on this nib...

I've tried a few other vintage pens, in fact paid a small fortune to have a Parker 51 restored only to find out that I couldn't get it to write nor could I easily flush/fill it. (My inability to get it to write may have had to do with my writing angle and the way it was set up.) The filling mechanism was beyond my comprehension. I could not for the life of me get ink into that pen.

Vintage Sheaffer Statesman

Most modern fountain pens use either a cartridge/converter system or a piston filling system. Older pens utilized a number of different filling mechanisms such as lever fill, vac fill, or in this case, a touchdown filler. Screw off the blind cap at the end of the pen and a plunger mechanism is exposed. You simply place the nib into a bottle of ink and press down on the plunger. Viola! Pen filled. Screw the blind cap closed and you are ready to go. (Wipe pen nib first.)

Vintage Sheaffer Statesman

This is an extremely thin and lightweight pen- more so than any other I currently own. It's a smooth writer, and the sac seems to hold a reasonable amount of ink. The F (fine) nib seems to write fairly true to it's size - maybe just a little wider and wetter when filled with certain inks. (I have Diamine Imperial Purple in it right now, or I should say had.... It needs to be refilled.) Flushing is easier with this pen than with my other piston fillers.

I included this last picture because I wanted to show off the heart shaped breather hole. Love that!

I paid $30 for this pen from another pen enthusiast on the Fountain Pen Network. He had replaced the sac (commonly needed in older pens) and it was ready to go. The plastic was a bit scratched from normal use, and I was able to smooth it out somewhat with some light grit sanding paper.

I'm happy with it, and it's going to stay in my stable for at least a little while. :o)

Read more about Sheaffer Touchdown Fountain Pens Here

More pictures from this set can be found Here.


Ontheroad said...

Congratz. Looks mighty fine.

Nrepose said...

What a lovely pen. Thanks for sharing. Nr

Reginleif said...

Yes yes yes! *does a little dance*

Vintage Sheaffer Touchdowns, Snorkels, and Triumphs are my favoritest pens EVER. Look at that nib! If you've truly been bitten by the bug, you might find yourself looking for some of the rarer colors and models. I think I have six or seven across all three lines, all told, and all different. They're amazing pens. Like the P51 and any other pen that has an internal ink holding mechanism and where you can't screw the nib out, they're a pain in the tuckus to clean if you ever want to switch inks, but I think that's a small price to pay for what I consider a true pleasurable writing experience.

Congrats a nice acquisition and I hope you get as much joy out of yours as I do mine. :)

Anne said...

Oh, that is just so cool! It's beautiful. I, too would be wondering what had been written with it.

inkophile said...

Love those Triumph nibs! Mine writes a little wide but like yours that seems to be due to ink flow rather than the width of the nib. Hmmm. Might try a Sheaffer ink just to see if that controls the line width better...

zquilts said...

These are one of my absolute favorite "vintage" pens. Love the way they write and think the nib is one of the loveliest ever made! I have a sage one that I really enjoy! COngratulations!

Felyne said...

Gorgeous! I have this (it's the Sentinel, I think?) in the normal and the TM. Awesome nibs! They are my little babies, I love them so much.

Welcome to the Sheaffer Vintage Club *passes you a badge* *does a little dance*

Biffybeans said...

Ontheroad & Nrepose - thank you!

Reginleif - thanks for the comments! I've flushed this pen once already, I didn't have too much difficulty with that - maybe because I had run it dry first... I just kept pumping the piston to flush.

Anne - I know - it's odd, vintage things are too cool when you start to think about their history. 60 years is such a very long time!

Hi Margana - I've tried Herbin's Orange and Diamine's purple in it and they both flowed pretty well.

Thanks Marie!

Felyne - thank you for my badge! Do I get my secret decoder ring soon as well? LOL

fcpguru@mac.com said...

I've recently re-discovered fountain pens. A drawer of art supplies unexpectedly issued forth some old Sheaffers. I put some new turquoise, violet, brown, and red inks in them and have since been filling molies with rambling nonsense just for the stupid joy of writing with them. (As a child, I destoryed several of my father's fountain pens by filing them with India ink.)
Researching Sheaffer's pens has been a blast and, of course, this Biffybeans blog entry floated up on Google.
Quick summary of my experience and knowledge so far:
The legendary $2-$10 school models of Sheaffer's cartridge fountain pens have been out of production for a l-o-n-g time. So have the "No Nonsense" entry level pens I remember from the 60s-80s. Those old style nib systems have been adapted to the Scheaffer calligraphy cartridge pen sets. An excellent value and great fun but shop carefully, you don't want to pay more than $25 for the large 3-pen set and some art stores try to get as much as $50.
Buying/bidding for old Sheaffers on eBay is not for the casual shopper. Too many cut throat collectors and resellers gobbling up the bargains with their bidding robots.
If you want a classic Sheaffer, I suggest you buy one from a reputable pen or antique dealer but only if you can be certain the old pen has been cleaned and refurbished.
If treated properly, fountain pens from any of the major makers will continue to write beautifully for more than 100 years. But you will likely pay dearly for them.

david boise ID

Anonymous said...

I have a 1930s Sheaffer Employee Badge. Does anyone know the value of these?

Laura K. Curtis said...

My first fountain pen was one of the typical "schoolchild" Sheaffers. If they're gone, as David says, that's a real shame. There are disposable fountain pens now (and those are definitely fun) and retractable ones, but those Shaeffers were...important. You really felt like you were writing something of value, which is probably why I first started writing with fountain pens. I've never stopped.

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