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The Craftsman Fallacy

Posted by Dirck on 7 March, 2013

I was recently involved in a bit of a circular discussion on a forum, which reminded me of a very common error people fall into while staggering around the error-laden fields of Sheaffer history.  This is a particular hole I’ve had a foot in, and while I am about to get a little pedantic on the topic I don’t mean to belittle anyone who has yet to realize that they’re astray (and tarred with a mixed metaphor to boot).  Let’s start with a picture:

This is a Sheaffer Craftsman

How do I know it’s a Craftsman?  There are many who will say at this point, “Look at the cap– that sort of  thin band is the sign of a Craftsman model.”  This is not entirely incorrect, but it’s in the same family of logical error that would suggest that you know a man to have black hair because he’s wearing a hat.  Craftsmans do indeed have wire-mouth caps… if they were made after about 1941 and before 1952.  Observe:

Yes, it is a Craftsman, but it’s from before the window under consideration.

Compare this to the shape of the green one I start with– it’s from the early 1940s.

After 1952, the shape remained similar, especially in Canada and Australia; US versions had steel points and caps, and were more obviously a change of pattern.

There is, then, a chronological component to saying “That band therefore a Craftsman,” but it’s not as wide a window as you might think.  You see, within that more-or-less decade of wire-rim Craftsmans, there were also these:

You might think this was a Craftsman…

…but you wouldn’t mistake this for one.

Before the introduction of the Touchdown filler in 1949, that attractive understated cap treatment was present in three other models– the Admiral and the Sovereign shown above, and an earlier incarnation of Cadet which I haven’t a picture of.  I’ve played a little unfair, as the Admiral in its US production also had a two-tone point (see below), so the difference is less obvious.  However, even in these two there is a point of differentiation.  On Craftsmans, the point’s impression contains 33, while on Admirals one finds 5 and on Cadets 23.  Assuming all the parts currently in the pen are original, this point-marking is a far safer for making definitive model identification than the cap.

However, during the very brief period of the Thin Model Touchdown pens, which is apparently the only time during which the Craftsman carried the Touchdown filler (as opposed to the very slightly different TipDip rig), the Cadet bowed out for a short time (returning as a TipDip with rather different trim in 1953) and the Admiral and models more expensive lost the wire-band:

There’s the pretty US-style “Feathertouch” point. The blue item above is a dour Canadian.

…which means that for a Touchdown Craftsman, one is certainly free to say “wire cap = Craftsman”.  Which is probably where the misunderstanding started.  Since I don’t have a perfect grip on when the various models of the 1940s appeared, it may also be possible that it’s true for a small pre-1945 slice of time.  However, I’d still advise attending to the point rather than the cap, as it’s a lot harder to swap points than caps.

Have I convinced you?  Will you spread the word?  Be gentle in doing so– as I said at the top, it’s only one of the legion of easily-adopted mistakes that hang about Sheaffers, and no one is believing in it out of wickedness.

Today’s pen (because I’m a bit of a masochist): Parker “51″ Fantasy Demo
Today’s ink: Pelikan black

…and by the way, it was indeed a huge struggle to not write “Craftsmen” each and every time.  The preceding it goofy-looking, but grammatically appropriate.


2 Responses to “The Craftsman Fallacy”

  1. Maja said

    Colour me confused…I thought the all-red pen was a Sheaffer “Cadet”!

    • The Canadian/Australian versions are almost the exact same thing as the US Cadet 23, which ALSO had a gold point. The difference there lies in the point; 33 for the Craftsmans, 23 for Cadets. It took a quantity of sifting to find that out.

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