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Bent Out of Shape

Posted by Dirck on 13 September, 2012

Pursuing yesterday’s theme of Sheaffers, although in a lower octave and a darker tone, I want to get straight to the point.

Wait.  No.  I want to get to the point by a slight deviation.  Let us travel in our imaginations back to the late 1930s, when fountain pens were the lords of writing.  Sheaffer appears to have happened upon an old notion for rendering metal pen points more smooth of writing by introducing a slight upward bend at the tip of the tines– a better explanation of the affair lies in the hands of the eminent Richard Binder, for those who want to pursue it.  This was such a successful ploy that it has appeared on various models and in various degrees of exaggeration until this very day (although in the Legacy it’s a little vestigial).  Roughly seventy years, then, of points with slight bends in them, from open points in the original appearance, to the diverse sizes of Triumph point, and on to the inlaid points of PFMs, Imperials, and other inlaid types.

…and it seems for almost as long, people have been looking at these bends and thinking, “Blimey, that don’t look right!  I’d best fetch my pliers!”  Every time I take the cap off a Sheaffer of the appropriate sort, I have an inward tremor of anticipation.  The Imperial which I mentioned on Monday had, in addition to the catastrophic cracks in the barrel, a flattened point.  My first Snorkel had its point hideously mangled in an effort to remove the “offensive” bend, and it was the labour of a great while to return it to the original shape without snapping anything off.  What gets me going on this point of points is the point of yesterday’s arrival, my first Targa.  Check this out.

A steel point, so not an expensive model… but a big fat stub point, which makes more horror and calling out against cosmic injustice.

The terrible thing is that this has come to me not from some anonymous eBay lurker, but from a self-declared fountain pen fancier.  It wasn’t a very expensive purchase, and it’s something that I can put right, so I neither publicly shame not privately berate the seller, but disappointing.  I have to put off the satisfaction of using the pen until I can put that right.  To make clear the magnitude of the problem, I have doctored this previous photo a little.  The tip should, more or less, touch the plane defined by the face of the feed, which I’ve helpfully indicated below:

Yeah, that will just buff right out.

..and as you can see, it rather doesn’t.  It will come right, as the Imperial of last weekend did, with only a load of carefully applied force and careful tine realignment, along with constant prayers to the appropriate forces that it’s not something that will call for drawing the feed to give more room to work.  I’ve done this on a couple of Targas, and it’s a similar amount of fun to a trip to the dentist.

What is the point underlying all this point talk?  As in other entries, it’s a call to think before doing.  Is it meant to be like that?  Are you sure it isn’t?  Then check.  Fixing something that isn’t broken is frequently just well-intentioned breaking.  If there’s a curve in the point, it may have a point, and removing curves unbidden can leave to trouble.  Try it on a person, and see what kind of response you get.

Today’s pen: Parker “51″
Today’s ink: Pelikan black

8 Responses to “Bent Out of Shape”

  1. Maja said

    I think I saw that sales ad…The seller only had one photo of the pen, and it was an “overhead” shot?? Shame about the nib—those Sheaffer inlaid nibs are glued on, so you can only work on them when they are attached to the section, IIRC… Best of luck straightening it out, and please do post the results!

  2. […] Let me make a montage of before and after: Droopy before Upright after That plane I mentioned in the complaint phase of the […]

  3. […] “dunce cap” point.  The last would have been the queen of the lot, if not for yet another mutilation of an inlaid point, which is so very corrugated that I’m not sure I can recover it.  However, as it turned out […]

  4. […] that’s not a thought I’m frequently given to, these days.  Fixing bends in inlaid points is, to a certain extent, all in a day’s work for me.  So, I gave a good hard think about how […]

  5. […] an example of that odd sub-breed that I didn’t even raise the subject of the point.  It was very carefully bent downwards.  Sigh.  It was at least not kinked, and so was easily put right– I didn’t even have […]

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