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Thread: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

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    Default An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Part 1:Introduction and 1910's-1930 or so:

    North American users and collectors of modern pens are blessed with access to a cornucopia of products from across the world. Often forgotten though is that the blossoming of pen collecting in the USA owes much to a First Fandom from the 1970's-1980's, collectors who looked back to old pens at a time when modern fountain pen offerings in the USA were somewhat limited.

    Some 35 years or so ago, collectors of old pens wrote the first books about the hobby and founded the first pen conventions. The expanding collector base created a milieu which in turn permitted the growth of modern fountain collecting in the USA. Indeed, today some of the big pen shows see more modern than old pens. This flood of modern pens perhaps threatens to swamp the presence of old pens, which offered a more limited range back in the day, though probably with more pens made, as pretty well all writers had to have one. And of course only a modest fraction of those pens survive to modern times.

    Sheaffer was one of the Big Five pen makers during the popular-with-collectors 1920's-1950's, along with Parker, Wahl-Eversharp, LE Waterman and Conklin. With its first pens offered sometime from 1908-1912, Sheaffer subsequently manufactured pens continuously in the USA for about a century, closing its Fort Madison, Iowa factory only within the last couple years, moving operations abroad. By the mid 1950's USA prestige fountain pen production really had been whittled down to Parker and Sheaffer.

    I date the origin of pen collecting as an organized, national-scale hobby
    to the publication of Cliff Lawrence's first book in 1977
    .

    Sheaffer Balance and Parker Vacumatic pens-- including oversized models-- were valued $10-30.


    Sheaffer's high quality products and successful marketing resulted in the survival to today of many nice examples of even 70-90 year old pens. This prevalence and arguably conservative styling have left old Sheaffers quite affordable compared to similar pens by the competition or to most modern fountain pens of similar market niche.

    Several key developments have been attributed (with varying degrees of accuracy) to Sheaffer: the lever filling system, the use of Celluloid in pen manufacture, the guarantee symbol (White Dot, for Sheaffer), and streamlined shape.

    As fountain pens evolved from the 1880's, most companies saw a progression (with overlap) from eye-dropper (external) filling to self-filling, from slip cap to threaded cap, from hard rubber to Celluloid to injection plastic, from cylindrical ("flat top") shape to streamlined. Sheaffer, late topen manufacture compared to Waterman, Parker and Conklin, started out with threaded caps and with a self-filling system.

    If we peek at Sheaffer's early "flat top" era, we see pens catalogued from the 1910's through 1930, though evidence exists that the flat-end pens continued production perhaps a decade after their last catalogue appearance. Prior to 1920 the overwhelming majority of pens were produced in basic black, the most common hard rubber color. Hard Rubber orange and mottled (black/red) pens are known. With the introduction of Celluloid in 1924, plastic pens began to appear in green, orange, black-and-pearl, red, even blue.

    A remarkable array of 1910s-1930's Sheaffer "flat-tops", a light sample of my early Sheaffers.
    Details below


    1. Sterling Silver Overlay Slotted, a better pattern
    2. Gold Filled Overlay Scroll, a better pattern
    3. Craig sub-brand pen from ~ 1920. "Craig" for... Craig Sheaffer, Walter's son.
    4. Cherry Red Pigmy. Might it really have been made of casein rather than Celluloid?
    5. 46 Special Long-Standard size in Red Chased Hard Rubber.
    6. Black and Pearl oversized Lifetime (White Dot).
    7. Cherry Red oversized Secretary.
    8. Orange Celluloid called Coral by Sheaffer. Off-catalogue bandless pen with chrome trim
    9. Jade Celluloid with black ends. Did pens such as this represent Sheaffer's insecurity regarding the black-end pens of the Evil Competition?
    10. Quite scarce Blue Pigmy, this one a bit rough.
    11. Rare large gold-filled flat-top. Most of this sort were well more slender.
    12. Scarce mottled Hard Rubber (black/red) pen of decent size.



    One can collect 80 year old flat-top Sheaffers for decades and have difficulty acquiring many of the pens shown above. The challenge transcends simple finances. Perhaps just three pens above today cost more than the retail price of a Montblanc 149, and many are far cheaper. I could fill the tray with MB 149's just by writing a check, but some of the pens above might see just a single example hit the market every few years. This demonstrates both the greater-rarity-for-the-buck that old pens offer compared to modern and the charm/challenge of hunting old pens.


    regards

    david
    Last edited by david i; May 23rd, 2014 at 09:33 AM.
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    7500 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Part 2: Focus on the 1930s:

    Sheaffer's aggressive marketing back when has blessed us with a plethora of catalogues and adverts with which to identify pens, that same paper offering appealing challenges to collectors given the prevalence of anomalous and off-catalogue pens, spice for the collecting soup, no doubt.

    One might call the 1930s Sheaffer's "Decade of the Balance". Sheaffer's new streamlined pen, Balance, took the industry by storm and-- as noted in my Gold Bond Fountain Pen article appearing in the May 2014 PENnant Magazine-- forced other pen makers to take steps to embrace the move from the plain cylinders that had dominated pendom for thirty years or more, a move made more difficult by Sheaffer's litigious nature. Patents and industry notices for Balance appeared in 1928, adverts and sales commenced apparently in 1929, catalogues persisted through 1941 and some adverts and production continued perhaps even further into the 1940's.

    Sheaffer Balance late 1930s. Rare Variant with Off-Catalogue Cap-Band.
    Possibly the only one known in this color/size

    Besides Balance, the 1930's saw a marked growth of Sheaffer's sub-brand lines, with late Craig pens yielding to Univer pens and to various items marked "WASP" or embracing the word "Vacuum". These lower priced lines offered lovely plastics, often a bit more outré then those offered by the more conservative and upmarket Balance. They generally had good quality plastic, but often featured weak trim and small nibs. Sheaffer sub-brand collecting has blossomed during the last ten years.

    Sheaffer's 1930s was rounded out by the appearance in 1937 of a series of pens that would gain the name Crest in 1938, that name used intermittently by Sheaffer for another 60 years at times for individual models at times for entire series of pens. Original Crest was notable for use of a flush metal cap on plastic barrel, embracing a curved gripping section with distal threads and allowing for a pen even more streamlined than Balance, while avoiding the aggressively stepped down gripping found on some of the straight-cap and taper-cap pens of the 1880's-1910's. Original Crest offered an early model (scarce today) with sterling cap on gray striped barrel, more common brown-stripe and solid black pens both with gold-filled caps, and black pens with solid gold caps-- Crest Masterpiece-- including an uber-rare "Honor" model with special and elegant cartouche on back of cap for engraving. Roger Wooten seems to be the only fellow known to have one those monsters. The Honor pen appeared at the tail end of the '30s, 1940 to be precise, the last variant to appear among the original Crests.

    After about 20 years of offering lever filling pens with opaque barrels, Sheaffer in 1934 began to offer transparent barrel pens with its plunger-fill system, a rather rare case in which Sheaffer lagged its competition on the innovation front. Besides the lever and plunger systems, some of the sub-brand pens in the USA (in Canada including some fully marked Sheaffer-branded items) offered what Sheaffer described as twist-sac pens, a term that might cause some readers to cringe.

    1930's Sheaffers including Balance, late flat-end pens, Sheaffer Junior, sub-brand pens and Crest
    Details below

    1. Oversized Balance Black-and-Pearl rare with solid gold Autograph trim. Serious Sheaffer Collectors have tried to pry this one from my collection
    2. 1931-2 (at least) Blue Petite Balance
    3. Oversized Balance Carmine, 1938-41
    4. A late-issue oversized flat-top in Jade Celluloid. Killer color
    5. Sheaffer Junior in black with huge ink window
    6. Sub-brand Vacuum-Fil, a lever-filler done in spiral-pattern
    7. Screaming Souls in Purgatory Celluloid in Gray, a sub-brand WASP Vacuum-Fil with twist-sac filler.
    8. Sub-brand Vacuum in brown Lahn Celluloid. I was pleased to contribute to the hobby a few years back the discovery of the Lahn name
    9. WASP Clipper (yes, another sub-brand pen) in Celluloid known to collectors as Circuit-Board
    10. 1937 Crest set in Gray/Sterling, a quite uncommon variant.
    11. Lady Crest in more common gold-filled/brown.


    Though I am a but a wee dabbler in things Sheaffer, Balance is the second most prevalent series in my own collection, following Parker's Vacumatic. I must have 250-300 of 'em. About 18 months ago I acquired the only publicly acknowledged example of what many consider the most significant Balance variant, but that's a tale for another day.

    regards

    David
    Last edited by david i; June 5th, 2014 at 02:00 AM.
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    7500 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Part 3: Sheaffer in the 1940's

    If there can be such a thing as an interregnum-in-retrospect, Sheaffer in the 1940's is it, a skip period for current collectors even though Sheaffer itself had been quite active that decade offering a large range of attractive and high quality pens. These pens fell distressingly below our radar for most of collectable pendom's 35 years, starting to come into the light just during just the past decade, and still incompletely explored. The 1930's Balance always had been highly collectable. The 1950's Snorkel long had been popular, an affordable high quality pen, with collector interest growing more recently with the appreciation of scarce colors and special nibs to be found with that series. But Sheaffers from the 1940's? Black Hole, baby.

    WWII-era Sheaffer Triumph in Marine Green Celluloid, Plunger-fill

    1940's Sheaffer pens offered a couple challenges to collectors, accounting for longtime collector disinterest. Most of the pens from 1942-1948 employed Sheaffer's plunger-fill system which had been a bear to restore, often sold by collectors as non-functioning place holders, even today seeing some brutal conversions to "eye-dropper-fill". However, repair techniques pioneered by Nathan Tardiff back when he was a major force in restoration-- before he started... uhhh... Noodling... with ink-- were a game changer. There are a number of pen restorers now doing excellent work with plunger-fill Sheaffers, generally at cost of about $40 per pen.

    Another challenge to collecting 1940's Sheaffers had been a startling lack of period catalogues. Sheaffer period catalogue info from the 1930's and 1950's long had been prevalent. Not so for the 1940's. One assumes that with World War II in play, Sheaffer was distracted. Even now I have not seen period catalogues for the WWII-era pens or for 1945-6 post-War Celluloid pens. With many pens of generally similar appearance, and with frequent model evolution, Sheaffer's 1940's pens for most of the last 30 years just did not lend themselves to easy identification. However, with numerous adverts to be found, and with the happy discovery of Sheaffer Workbooks from 1947 and 1948 which featured not only catalogues from those two years but also helpful retrospective descriptions of pens from 1942-1946, collecting this Sheaffer decade has grown much easier of late.

    With a huge range of striking pens including solid gold Masterpiece models, with solid restoration techniques now in play, and with easier model identification available compared to even a decade ago, collector interest has surged for 1940's Sheaffers.

    War Era pens, Post-War Celluloid and the first of the injection-plastic (Forticel) pens of 1948 were dominated by the plunger-fill system, though lever-filling pens were made as well. 1949-1950 introduced Sheaffer's original Touchdown (TD) pens. Some call these "fat" Touchdowns, to differentiate them from the 1951 Thin Model Touchdown (TM TD)


    A top-flight selection of 1940's Sheaffer Fountain Pens
    Details below:



    1. WWII-era Crest Masterpiece Triumph (solid gold cap)
    2. WWII-era Triumph Autograph (solid gold cap-band), unusual in brown*
    3. WWII-era Triumph Masterpiece (solid gold pen)
    4. WWII-era Triumph Crest Tuckaway
    5. Post-War Statesman in Carmine Celluloid, less commonly seen with lever-filler
    6. Rather outrageous post-War Demonstrator, in clear Celluloid
    7. Post-War beadband-style Admiral in Marine Green Celluloid
    8. Post-War (likely pre-mid-1948) Masterpiece (solid gold pen)
    9. Touchdown (1949-50) Statesmen, rare with reverse trim (chrome instead of gold-filled on black pen). Forticel injection plastic
    10. 1949-50 Touchdown style Tuckaway pen, Green Forticel
    11. 1949-1950, rare Touchdown Demonstrator


    One could hunt at length and not easily find many of the pens shown above, though all shown are relatively affordable by modern standards, particularly the gold pens. Imagine Montblanc today offering a solid 14-k gold 146 or 149 for $1000 or so. Not likely. Old pens often remain bargains.

    Great room remains for personal contribution to pendom's knowledge base for these pens. A few years ago I was pleased to introduce to the hobby the first publicly acknowledged WWII-era Autograph (solid gold cap-band pen) done in a color other than black (see pen #2 above). I have three or four now. As recently as Sept. 2010, as seen over at Fountain Pen Board, serious Sheaffer collector Daniel Kirchheimer had noted,

    " 'I've not seen 14K-banded "TRIUMPH" items in colors other than black, but given the apparently off-catalog Autograph Balance items that turn up, I wouldn't rule it out completely.'

    --Daniel"


    Don't give up on making pen discoveries. They are out there.

    Regards

    David
    Last edited by david i; June 1st, 2014 at 03:14 AM.
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    7500 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Part 4: The 1950's

    1951 saw the switch to a more slender form of Sheaffer's popular 1949-50 Touchdown series, a pen called- perhaps rather concretely- Thin Model Touchdown. It yielded in 1952 to Snorkel, which ran through the end of the decade. Later in the 1950's, Sheaffer introduced cartridge pens, today somewhat dissed by collectors who lean toward self-filling pens, but Skripsert and Lady Skripsert were not cheap or poor quality pens, and Lady Skripsert today has a growing following, in no small part due to the unusual (for Sheaffer) and pretty finishes offered. 1959 saw a desk set series in which the Walter A. Sheaffer Pen Company partnered with a company founded by another Walter- Lenox China- to release a series of desk sets featuring Lenox's classic white-with-gold-trim bases and Sheaffer's stunning Golden Moire desk pens. I'm fond of 'em, as I had written an article about them for PENnant Magazine a couple years ago. 1959 saw the release of PFM-- Pen For Men (really!)-- an oversized pen that used the Snorkel's filling system but which did not resemble Snorkel.

    Sheaffer's Snorkel Fountain Pen

    Sheaffer's dominant pen this decade was Snorkel, issued from 1952-9 (later?); it battled fiercely with the "51", the premier offering of the other surviving USA-based pen maker, Parker. The 1950's saw the reeling Wahl-Eversharp purchased by Parker and saw Waterman relocate its major efforts abroad.

    Snorkel was a modified Touchdown, its highly (over?) engineered filling system adding a tube that extended beyond the nib to allow one stroke Touchdown filling while in theory avoiding dipping the nib ink, thus eliminating the need to wipe the nib after filling.

    Snorkel collecting has come into its own during the last decade, with scarce high-cachet colors and uncommonly found flexible, stub, oblique and even triple-tine music nibs adding some oomph to the collecting process.

    I have a very detailed profile of Snorkel hosted at the Vacumania site, still a bit Beta as I need to add a few pics and pare down the text.


    Snorkel offers a wide range of pens to collectors with 13+ colors offered in up to, oh, 13 or so models.

    PFM offered five commonly seen models in five colors, as well as an Autograph model with solid gold trim in at least Black and in Burgundy, perhaps in more colors as well. Let's not talk about the ultra rare English solid 9 karat gold PFM (essentially a "PFM Masterpiece", but perhaps not so-named by Sheaffer). Oh, look. There is one at the right of my collection tray below

    A selection of 1950's Sheaffers from my collection:
    details below


    1. Sheaffer Thin Model Touchdown, point-of-sale "Rule of Four" pen.
    2. Snorkel Demonstrator, superb condition
    3. Snorkel in high-cachet Peacock, prize pen marked for the Ed Sullivan Show
    4. Snorkel in high-cachet Mandarin
    5. Snorkel in high-cachet Periwinkle
    6. Snorkel in high-cachet Fern
    7. Snorkel in high-cachet Vermilion
    8. Snorkel in high-cachet Fiesta
    9. Snorkel very scarce with reverse trim, chrome trim instead of the expected gold-filled
    10. Snorkel, a monster English pen in solid 9k gold, barley pattern
    11. Pen For Men in high-cachet Gray
    12. Pen for Men, one of just a couple known today in solid 9k gold, English

    Though I collect some series (Parker Vacumatic) and various focused sub-groups of pens in completist fashion, I do not seek to collect all the 100+ Sheaffer Snorkels, though it would not be unreasonable to approach Snorkel in that fashion. There are just a few variants that are frighteningly difficult to find. I'm content to have about fifteen of the most significant pens from that series, including one that has just a few known examples. I stumbled into Snorkel collecting after nearly a decade owning just one (a user purchased from Nathan) when I bought a couple large collections laden with relatively scarce variants. Today my website does hefty business offering Snorks to collectors across the world. Weird how niche interests sometimes just happen.


    regards,

    -David
    Last edited by david i; May 16th, 2014 at 04:58 AM.
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    7500 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Part 5: 1960's-Present

    Lumping the last 55 years of Sheaffer into one post no doubt does a bit of disservice to the pens from that period, though this probably reflects my interest level. I do far less with these pens than I do with earlier pens, through no fault of the pens; I just favor older stuff. But, I find I'm stocking them on my website more often, as they are turning up more often in collections I purchase, and because general collector interest in them appears to be growing as they transition from modern to near-modern to vintage. I've still a lot to learn.

    Sheaffer offered a hefty number of series during the last fifty years, often with significant overlap in production eras. The 1960's started out with the ongoing 1959-1963 (1968 in some models/colors?) Pen For Men. Imperial and similar appearing Lifetime pens, most of both owing appearance to PFM, also started out around the turn of the decade. Imperial offered some lovely metal finishes.. The Compact was a related short pen. Nostalgia-- released in 1970-- was a throwback to the metal overlay pens of the 1920's (see Part 1, above). Connaisseur, with a roughly 15 year run starting in the mid 1980's, evoked the "Flat Tops" of yore and included a couple neat series of translucent-plastic pens for Levengers. A modern incarnation of Balance was offered, and of Crest, the latter channeling the World War II Triumph family of pens. Legacy indeed was a legacy of the Sheaffer PFM, borrowing contour, though not filling system, and offering many finishes.

    I can offer some rough-ish date ranges and series names:

    • Imperial/Lifetime pens: 1959-1960 or so through ~1995
    • Nostalgia: 1970-1990 or so, maybe with gaps
    • Targa: 1976-1990
    • Lady Sheaffer: 1980s?
    • Connaisseur: 1986-2000 or so, maybe with gaps
    • (modern) Crest: 1989-1998
    • (modern) Balance: 1997-2003
    • Legacy and Legacy II: 1995-??
    • Intrigue: 2000-2009
    • Valor:



    Sheaffer 1960's-current
    Details below


    1. Compact II: A short cartridge-only Imperial/Lifetime-related pen, early 1960's. Barrel ink-view windows add some charm.
    2. Imperial/Lifetime Masterpiece: Solid 14k finish
    3. Nostalgia: This one in a quite scarce two two-tone Vermeil-and-Sterling finish
    4. Targa: An off-catalogue/prototype finish
    5. Lady Sheaffer
    6. Connaisseur. Transparent series made for Levengers
    7. (modern) Crest: Off-catalogue/prototype finish
    8. Legacy II: Burgundy with two-tone metal cap. note the similarity to the early 1960's Pen-for-Men.
    9. Balance II (modern Balance): Limited Edition lever filler.
    10. Valor




    regards

    David
    Last edited by david i; June 9th, 2014 at 01:25 PM.
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    7500 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Part 6: Nuts n' Bolts:

    The five trays of Sheaffers shown above cover a huge range of pens. Realize that any era- even any series- provides enough material for a multi-page article or even a book. Individual models or even single pens can offer enough subject matter for hefty online discussions. The early era featuring flat-end cylindrical pens contains numerous series, based on color, finish, price point, etc. and alone offers material for many articles. The 1930's Balance series alone comprises hundreds of variants, many not shown in any of the many company catalogues. The 1940's remain woefully under-explored in articles.


    An outrageous selection of Sheaffer Balance 1930's pens with off-catalogue cap-bands:
    double, triple, fish-scale bands instead of the usual smooth single cap-band).



    Sheaffer pens can offer a lifetime (some pun intended?) of collecting interest, whether one likes to hoard pens, write about them, photograph them, sell them, or what have you.

    My involvement goes back about 16 years to my start in collectable pendom. I consider myself even today a cheerful Hack-Amateur-Newbie. Did I coin that term? Dunno, but I do seem to dominate the first page of Google for it, particularly when it is placed in quotations marks. H-A-N offers perspective, recognizing the more we know, there more we find we need to learn. It has served me well, though I get some grief for it, as I suppose I now am a pretty seasoned newbie.

    I'd promised to post some vintage-oriented content here at FPG. A fair bit of it is taken from conversations next door at the message board I host, Fountain Pen Board ( easy access as FPnuts.com, as well). Spreading the word about collecting old pens always is a good thing. Perhaps I'll try this style thread next here at FPG with Parker and with Wahl. I'll try to address questions raised here, and of course I invite you next door to Fountain Pen Board (link also in my signature space, below) to see hundreds of articles on the nuances of Sheaffer collecting.

    regards

    -David
    Last edited by david i; June 1st, 2014 at 03:22 AM.
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    7500 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Part 7: Collecting Tips


    I cannot teach all you need to know about collecting old pens in a paragraph, though the general guidelines apply to most old Sheaffers, no doubt. Knowledge is power. Wisdom transcends facts and book learning. Those who rise to power (so to speak) in the hobby generally have interacted with other collectors, engaging in classic mentor-apprentice relationships. One can learn different aspects of collecting from different people. But, limiting oneself to reading books and-- in this internet era-- to reading online will limit one's skill set and the depth of one's hobby wisdom.

    I can make some suggestions:

    • Learn to grade carefully, particularly for pre-1960 pens.
    • Watch in particular for cracks and for hidden repairs
    • Watch for parts mixes, pens cobbled together from a couple or more different style pens. These can be... subtle.
    • Collect what you want, but do it with knowledge. Read articles and books. Find original catalogues.
    • Go to pen shows. Go to pen shows. Did I mention? Go to pen shows. Connect with experienced collectors. Reading is fine, but most in our hobby have benefited from that ol' apprentice-mentor thing
    • Join the Pen Collectors of America. You'll get three issues of PENnant each year and have access to a massive downloadable library, including hundreds of original bits of company paperwork and catalogues as well as back issues of The PENnant and of Pen World International.
    • Learn at least the basics of pen restoration. Even if you ultimately do not do your own work, you will gain insight into the process, helping you know when it is OK to purchase "problem" pens.

    regards

    -david
    Last edited by david i; June 1st, 2014 at 03:30 AM.
    David R. Isaacson, MD

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Part 8: Sources of Collectible Sheaffer Pens

    Sources for collectible old Sheaffers might be quite obvious to many readers, but less obvious to some. The various pen message boards offer sales fora. One often can find collector-to-collectors sales in play, sometimes announcements of dealer offerings. Obviously it helps to know general market prices, grading, and return options.

    Internet auction sites offer some nice opportunities for bargains, but also present risks. Keep in mind that for many pens, professional restoration can run $25-45 and that pens can break during restoration. An auction pen that turns out to have a bad part can incur even greater expense. Condition counts. A "very good" raw pen at $150 from an auction often is not a better deal than an "excellent", restored and guaranteed $250 pen from a dealer. Of course, if you learn how to restore your own pens, you can save some cash and enjoy yet another aspect of the hobby.

    The large-scale flea markets, antiques fairs, and estate sales offer opportunities, but tend to require a very hefty effort for each pen found.

    There are a few retail sites that focus on old pens and which often offer nice old Sheaffer pens. I probably offer more Snorks online than anyone these days, and am competitive with Balance. Gary Lehrer, David Nishimura, Bob Novak and Richard (or is it his brother Rob) Lott also have solid retail sites for old pens. Richard Binder often has some in his monthly email newsletter, and Ron Zorn often has many old Sheaffers available. Martin Ferguson focuses on Snorkels, offering a nice sales selection and restoration services.

    I'll be a bit mercenary and invite you to my website, Vacumania, named in tribute to the Parker Vacumatic (I really must add a more general name) to see current Sheaffer offerings.



    regards

    -david
    Last edited by david i; June 1st, 2014 at 03:30 AM.
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    7500 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Part 9: Davey's Sheaffer Bibliography:

    My approach to teaching pen collecting is similar to my approach teaching Medicine to Residents and Medical Students. In the latter case, I don't do bench research or design large studies, but I use knowledge base and observation to organize information and insight to present (in some cases) practical approaches to problem solving. No Nobels are in the the offing, but a hell of a lot of people have been taught clinical/practical Medicine. Of course, I'll accept that at this point I'm not a hack-amateur-newbie teaching doc. Have i had the same success teaching clinical/practical pen collecting? Who knows...

    A few years ago I offered an overview of Sheaffer Balance to Stylus Magazine, for its last-or-so Annual, part of a series editor Nancy Olson named Nitty Gritty, due to heavy focus on collecting details, and an article to The PENnant on the niche subject of a Sheaffer-Lenox desk set series from 1959. Subsequent discussion with friend Paul Erano (Author of Fountain Pens: Past and Present, and Editor of PENnant Magazine), touched on the difficulty getting active/advanced Sheaffer collectors to contribute Sheaffer information, though a subsequent article by Roger Wooten about early rubber Sheaffers happily put that worry somewhat to rest. With some of the serious Sheafferers a bit tight-lipped, I figured I'd offer PENnant some articles about niche topics in Sheaffer collecting, focusing mainly on the 1930's, my prime focus for Sheaffer collecting.

    Do hunt the following articles. PDF's for PENnant Magazine are available free to Pen Collectors of America members usually a couple years after articles appear.

    1. Isaacson D.R, A Galaxy of Sheaffers (centerfold 2-page photo illustration), The PENnant (publication of PCA), possibly Summer 2002
    2. Isaacson D.R, A Tale of Two Walters - The 1959 Sheaffer-Lenox Desk Sets, The PENnant (publication of PCA), Spring 2011
    3. Isaacson D.R, Collecting Sheaffer's 1930's Balance, 2012 Stylus Pen Annual, pp. 226-231
    4. Isaacson D.R., Septuagenarian Mutant Canadian Sheaffers, The PENnant (publication of PCA), Spring 2012, pp. 15-19, 32-33
    5. Isaacson D.R, Cap Banditry: Hunting Off-Catalogue Sheaffer Balance Cap-Bands, The PENnant (publication of PCA), Summer 2012, pp. 24-33
    6. Isaacson D.R., Sheaffer's Screaming Souls in Purgatory , The PENnant (publication of PCA), Fall 2012, pp. 24-31



    There are of course additional benefits to articles such as this one and to the cited magazine efforts. Collector interest is increased. Discussion grows. New information and even newly identified pens emerge. Personal emails are sent to me expanding upon and critiquing the articles.

    And, weirdly enough, given the hyper-competitive nature of some collectors, some of those advanced collectors generally more shy about sharing-- whether we view the effect of my posts/articles on them as instigation, provocation, stimulation or even just encouragement-- respond by offering up with even more info. Indeed, perhaps by coincidence within a couple days of my offering this Introduction to Sheaffer Collecting in the Sheaffer forum, a neat little treatise was offered by another collector about Sheaffer nib number sequences, albeit via a link to an external article. Happy David

    regards

    -david
    Last edited by david i; June 1st, 2014 at 03:33 AM.
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    7500 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Excellent work David and a big thank you for doing it, I look forward the the next chapters

    Paul

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Amazing write up, David. Thank you. Also, stickied.

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Quote Originally Posted by dannzeman View Post
    Amazing write up, David. Thank you. Also, stickied.
    Thanks as well to you for presenting this as a serialized article on FPG's main page. For those who peeked in earlier, the series of posts now is essentially complete. A couple typos remain, but compared to initial version the syntax has been tightened and descriptions of the images have been added.

    regards

    -david
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    7500 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    A neat overview David. As an aside I'll mention that Sheaffer also operated factories in Canada and Australia as well as being made under license in Brazil. These would make interesting area to dabble in as well.

    Regards
    Hugh

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Quote Originally Posted by HughC View Post
    A neat overview David. As an aside I'll mention that Sheaffer also operated factories in Canada and Australia as well as being made under license in Brazil. These would make interesting area to dabble in as well.

    Regards
    Hugh
    Hi Hugh,

    International Sheaffer manufacture certainly is a relevant area of study. Currently showing at the very top of the archive for The PENnant is an issue to which I contributed article and cover a couple years ago. Two Sheaffer articles in it, mine- covering Canadian Sheaffers during the late 1930's- and another by Roger Wooten addressing early hard Rubber Sheaffers. Downloads of old issues are free with the modest cost of annual membership.

    https://www.pencollectorsofamerica.c...ennant-archive

    regards

    david
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    7500 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Just amazing !

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Part 10: Collecting in a focused fashion:

    The collecting of Sheaffer pens, or any pens, or anything really is subject to the whims of the collector. Some like eclectic collections, hunting isolated examples of diverse series. Others want to focus intensively on a niche arena. Some collectors want primarily pristine examples, others readily seek worn and more affordable "users". Some want the rare of the rare, others go for common. Some limit collections to ten spectacular items, others want thousands. There is no right or wrong to any of this, though one wants to collect well, with wisdom and insight, not paying for a "gem" that in fact is a wreck.

    I collect the 1930s Sheaffer Balance in broad enough fashion that if I were to break the series into focused sub-collections, I would have many rather comprehensive sub-collections. Yet, I don't collect Balance in completist fashion. I'm not trying to get the hundreds of possible examples to be found. But, I suppose I do collect some aspects of that series in that fashion. Some Balance niches lend themselves to such things, the six Balance pens and pencils offered in Blue, for example. Some are more open ended-- the off-catalogue cap-bands excluding the Jeweler's lined band-- as oodles of pens might be found, the saving grace being that even as perhaps the most aggressive hunter out there for such pens, I've managed to score just about 40 pens in more than ten years hunting.

    One niche within Balance I've chosen to hunt aggressively is the color Rose Glow. That "late" color, part of the striated-pattern pens that ran 1936-1941, is a bit different from other striped colors, using a pale gray instead of black for the non-dominant color. Oversize Rose Glow generally is considered by collectors the king of the series, at least among catalogued pens. In fact some solid gold Balance Masterpiece pens trump OS Rose Glow for advanced collectors, though most collectors have never seen never mind owned one of those.

    So, roseglo offers a fair spread of catalogued variants. Supplementing these are the well known (formally off-catalogue) wide and lined cap-band ("jeweler's" cap-band) variants. I own the only example of seen of a Rose Glow with fish-scale cap-band (#14 below).

    So, here's what happens when one salts away each fresh variant he finds of 1930's Sheaffer Balance in high-cachet Rose Glow plastic.

    Sheaffer Balance in roseglo Celluloid
    Front Row: Oversize, then Long Standard, then Short Standard (stubby), then Long Slender
    Back Row: Short Slender
    Within each size, left to right tends to track higher original price to lower, with some exceptions when cachet today trumps original price/position


    regards

    d
    Last edited by david i; June 12th, 2014 at 06:24 PM.
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    7500 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Why do you say rose glow ran to '41?

    Roger W.

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Hi Roger,

    Read the sentence (copied below) carefully, then ask again if you still need to do so.

    That "late" color, part of the striated-pattern pens that ran 1936-1941, is a bit different from other striped colors...
    regards

    David
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    7500 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    David;

    I see now - you present a spread of rose glow but, you are only speaking of striated generally.

    Roger W.

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    Default Re: An Intro to Collecting Sheaffer (Photos!) by David Isaacson

    Roger,

    My sentence in fact was not strongly structured and left some ambiguity. Yeah, Rose Glow is part of the striated pens style, that style pen offered from 1936-1941 in Balance, though, yeah, not all colors in all years. Without catalogues in front of me, recollection has it that a more-or-less full range of Rose Glow pens including oversized was offered 1936 and 1937, maybe 1938, but the last year or two of RG's catalogue appearance might have been just small pens. Need to double check even that, as I might be mixing up a straggling appearance of small pens with Ebonized Pearl, which was offered "late" in some of the small models.

    regards

    d
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    7500 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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