Monday, September 1, 2014

Search and Rescue: Sheaffer Desk Pen

The other day I was over at my parents' home, helping my mother with computer stuff. She was making a few notes, using the ballpoint from a service-award desk set she'd gotten from her employer some 20 years ago (she's now retired). I happened to glance at it while she was writing, and saw a telltale White Dot on a black pen. Hmm.

When I said something profound like,"Hey! That's a Sheaffer White Dot pen!" she pulled out the matching fountain pen and handed it to me. It was the typical 90's Sheaffer inlaid steel nib, encrusted with ink - very much so in fact. There was so much dried ink and schmutz I was afraid I'd find corrosion on the nib when I got it cleaned off. There was an empty black Skrip cartridge in the pen, which I presume was the one and only cartridge that came with the desk set, and it was put in to check it out and then left.

This is after cleaning...

I don't blame my mother for this - most people do things like that. Otherwise, how could you account for all the vintage and antique pens we all find that are full of dried ink? They get put in a drawer and forgotten about. Such is life.

I told her I'd take the pen home and clean it up a bit for her.

We put the nib and section to soak in plain water when I got home, and between Joe and me we changed the water out about six times by mid-morning the next day - a lot of ink came out! Half a dozen passes through with an ear syringe, and then I grabbed a Sheaffer squeeze converter and we washed it with Goulet's pen flush, then a lot more water, and then let it dry out. No residual issues that I can see; whew! I did a quick polish with a Sunshine cloth for microscratches, and then filled it with Waterman Blue, my standard test ink.

Frankly, I'm a bit impressed. The nib is smooth, firm but springy; it's labeled M but is finer than most contemporary Western medium nibs. On reflection, this is true of most Sheaffers of the time; I recall thinking the school pen I picked up for nostalgia's sake that's roughly the same vintage (probably a bit older) was also finer than I anticipated it would be. And the fine Sheaffer Balance Aspen I have (again, about the same vintage) is really fine.

It's interesting to compare nib feel between this and the 1996 Sheaffer Christmas pen I have, which has a very similar nib, only gold-plated; the Christmas pen is a much firmer one. Both pens' feeds bear style similarities to the feed in my No Nonsense pen as well, also a Sheaffer product of roughly the same vintage.

It's interesting to note I had a bit of a time finding any new desk pen sets available; Cross offers a set with the only option being a ballpoint and matching pencil, most others I found were designed to match a suite of desk accessories to give the desk that "executive" look - black leather desk blotter, etc. Of the few sets I found available, none offered a fountain pen any more.

Suddenly I'm feeling a bit outdated.

At least I got my Mom's pen cleaned, up and running before I got so old so fast.

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