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Archive for March 21st, 2011

My Viewpoint

Posted by Dirck on 21 March, 2011

I’m already lying to you, as it’s my wife’s Viewpoint I’m considering.  Viewpoints, in fact, as she has several, and the reason I’m thinking about them at all is that she’s lost some of them.  She has not lost her Perspective, as that’s a rather more expensive pen and she’s never had one to lose.  The Viewpoint is the bottom of Sheaffer’s barrel at the moment, a “mere” calligraphy pen costing about ten dollars.  She has several which are her habitual writing tools, and in the latter part of last week she mislaid a case containing three of them.  This eventuality moved me to buy her a replacement, by way of invoking the power of sympathetic magic to find the missing ones– spending money to replace things tends to make them appear, after all (perhaps I should have said unsympathetic magic).

A new one, though, means a mere approximation.  The last time my wife bought a pen, Sheaffer was still making pens at the old plant in Fort Madison, and since then the production has moved to China.  What I bought might be a “transitional” item of sorts, using up left-over parts from the old plant, as the package said “writing unit produced in USA”.  Whether there are some old-style parts involved, the new pens are rather different animals than the previous ones.  Let’s have a look:

The one at the top is a No Nonsense, the progenitor of the Viewpoint, and it’s useful to see the lineage.  Carrying over from the old Viewpoint is a squishy section, although you see that the trim item at the top of the section is red.  This is colour-coded on the new one to a size sticker on the sloped top of the cap.  That sticker is one of the first things I quite dislike about this latest incarnation, as the print-faces used and the mere fact that it is a sticker put one powerfully in mind of lipstick.  The White Dot of Dishonesty on the clip also bugs me, even if it stopped being a mark of guarantee a long time ago. 

My real issue with the new model is the barrel.  The old one is clear (thus, more or less, the name), allowing one to see that there is a cartridge fitted– the new cartridges being nearly opaque, peering at it to check ink level is pointless.  The new item has a cut-out in the opaque barrel for the same purpose, and this cut-out makes for a much worse pen.  To start, it is razor sharp, which is not a big issue while using the pen but extremely annoying when handling it otherwise.  The real villainy here is that the two older pens could be easily converted to use as an eyedropper with a little silicon grease at the joint, freeing the user of the over-priced cartridges (the less charming aspects of that mode of filling are all but done away with by Sheaffer’s well-developed feeds).  One can still get a converter for the new pen, but it holds less ink than the cartridge.  I despise this development, and all the moreso because it may be done merely with an eye towards using less of a cheaper plastic.  Bah.

The “writing unit” at least works as well at the previous… but consider my previous pondering about that.  This is generally a prime example of bottom-lining as an affliction of modern life– “cheaper” is not, emphatically not the same as “better”, no matter how much of a big box retailer’s advertising budget is directed to make you think that it is.  It’s things like this that undermine fountain pens as something Joe Everyman considers using, being either grossly expensive or working its way into being a shoddy toy.  It’s things like this that point out what a wonder the TWSBI is, and the Phileas was.

I will mention that Sheaffer is currently owned by BIC.  This treatment becomes obvious in that light.

Today’s pen, speaking of cheap:  Hero 616 (and it shouldn’t be– I’ll tell you a funny story tomorrow)
Today’s ink: Pelikan 4001 black

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