It is no secret that I adore vintage fountain pens, especially vintage Parkers. My Parker Duofold with a stub nib is one of my favourites because it gives such a deliciously smooth writing experience, which also goes for my Parker 51 and Parker 61, as well as a very pretty marbled Parkette in my collection. But I also own some pens manufactured by their arch-rivals, Sheaffer.
There’s something about the sleek design of two of my Sheaffer Lifetimes that attract me, because I like green and gold. I suffer from an incurable case of ‘Oooh! Shiny!’
When I received the pens, they were in need of a good clean, inside and out. The clips were grubby, there was dried ink on the nibs, and a chemical smell surrounding them both that could only mean ancient ink inside, or else a somewhat unpleasantly pungent modern one. I started work on the small Sheaffer first (commonly called a Tucky or Tuckaway).
It is part of a pen and pencil set, but since I don’t own any pencil leads at the moment, I focused on the pen. I was, in fact, forced to focus on it very hard indeed, as the Filling Mechanism Was Hidden.
I stared at it, firmly and at great length, until I figured out that there was a blind cap on the end of the pen, which unscrews anti-clockwise. You then have to pull it, like a plunger. Then you dip the nib in some ink, push the plunger back down and screw the blind cap back on. Count to ten slowly, and the pen fills with ink, as it is drawn in on the down stroke.
It took me a long time to flush out all the old ink with water, but I did it and removed the unpleasant chemical smell in the process. The nib was still dirty, so I used a microfibre cloth and cotton buds to return it to a clean and shiny state that only 14k gold can achieve. I admit that there is still a thin line of ink around the bottom of the nib that refuses to be removed by anything.
It haunts me.
The grip section is black, so you can’t actually see the ink without looking closely, for which I’m thankful.
The only thing left to do now was to polish the barrel and cap. Again, prolonged application of a microfibre cloth and elbow grease was all that was needed, and the stripy green of the barrel shone like new.
I inked the pen and started writing. Wow – the nib felt like butter over the pages! It lays down a medium-thick, firm line. I use it posted because the barrel is so short, and it fits comfortably in my hand.
Now I turned my attention to its longer sibling. I won’t go through the whole process again, as it was exactly the same as for the Tucky, except this one has a gold clip and band which needed extra attention.
After I had returned it to its former glory, I inked it. I held it up to the light, as you can see through the barrel to gauge the ink level, and I saw that it was nice and full.
Then I wrote.
I have to say, I prefer the medium nib of the Tucky, as opposed to the fine nib of the larger Sheaffer. This isn’t the fault of the pen, as it writes smoothly and is a perfect example of a fine nib. I just prefer medium nibs in general. I do like to draw with my fountain pens, so I will probably be using it for this purpose, because it is a gorgeous pen and I feel happy when I use it. Or maybe I’ll write with it until I get used to using smaller nib sizes!
These vintage Sheaffers are both a great blend of beauty and functionality. The stripy green design is fun whilst still retaining a suitable level of formality, and the smaller pen would fit perfectly into the pocket of a polo shirt. A two-coloured nib is a pretty feature that I appreciate, and both caps are crowned with the white dot characteristic of a Sheaffer Lifetime pen. Even though these pens were manufactured in the 1930s, they are still almost as good as new.
If you see any old Sheaffer pens in an online or in-person auction, you should definitely consider adding one to your collection. They are quality pens!
Chloé Stott is a blogger, freelance writer and reviewer with a fountain pen obsession. She is the founder of KraftyCats, where she blogs about pen restorations, guitars, cats and coffee, and publishes reviews for companies all over the world.
11 thoughts on “A Guest Article from Chloé”
Thank you, Chloe, for your article about two pens that are close to the top of my ‘Wanted List’.
I have a Triumph Touchdown desk set that I use every day, and I think it’s faultless as a writing instrument. The quality is first-rate and the nib, while objectively stiff, is one of the easiest writers in my collection.
Remember, whenever you tire of your two, just send them to me for safekeeping.
Cheers from Oz.
These two were sent to me at Christmas by a friend in 2021, so I’ll probably be hanging on to them for a while longer yet 😆 bit you might want to check if you can pick up one in good condition on the Internet because I’ve seen some pretty nice ones for sale at reasonable prices, and was thinking of trying to buy one with a medium nib at some point in the future.
Ironically, a desk set is high on my wanted list too! I’ll find the perfect one some day. They are beautiful pieces of craftsmanship!
Autocorrupt. Gotta love it.
But is bit? Great, just great.
The day after your reply a parcel arrived at my door: a Sheaffer Targa desk set (M nib) now filled with ‘Ancient Copper’ for highlighting; a very easy writer. A happy acquisition, though the older Touchdown is of noticeably superior quality.
I must Google Sheaffer Targa now – a few bloggers seem to have them and I am curious! Thanks for the note about quality, I’ll keep that in mind!
The Targa’s a well-made pen with a gorgeous inlaid nib. It was a huge seller and therefor not expensive on eBay.
Ha ha, loved this comment I suffer from an incurable case of ‘Oooh! Shiny! Vintage Electric guitars, use the same Cellulose Nitrate coating that vintage fountain pens were made from, I use a black can of this for vintage Montblanc and Sheaffer demonstrator pens have had the original colour “rubbed/worn” off. KR Eric
On Sat, 22 Jan 2022 at 15:46, Goodwriterspens’s Blog wrote:
> goodwriterspens posted: ” It is no secret that I adore vintage fountain > pens, especially vintage Parkers. My Parker Duofold with a stub nib is one > of my favourites because it gives such a deliciously smooth writing > experience, which also goes for my Parker 51 and Parker 61, as we” >
Oh no, Eric, look what you’ve just done, you’ve found a combination of guitar and fountain pens! (Holds head in hands and groans).
If I buy a vintage electric guitar now, it is your fault entirely 🤣🤣🤣
I should stick to the acoustic and acoustic/electric I have for now, methinks!
Good to know about the Targa. I’ll have a browse online!
Gosh, the Targa is pretty. I think I might buy one myself when I can!