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A Strangeness of Sheaffers

Posted by Dirck on 12 May, 2014

A post over EIGHT DAYS in the making!

…mainly because setting time aside for photography and image editing is tricky.  I think I will start to push for “strangeness” as the collective noun for Sheaffers, though, in the same way as crows come in murders, cats in clowders and politicians in plagues.  There is almost always something that’s a little off spec in any group of Sheaffer pens larger than one.  In the instant case, I have three of the blighters under consideration.

Not last weekend, but the previous, a friend who I have mentioned frequently stopped around.  I mentioned her because she habitually turns up wonderful pens at garage sales and presses them on me.  That was not the way of things this last visit, though.  She had turned up something as a church rummage sale, which is something else entirely.  Would you like a look?

Everything you need for a fantastic night on the town, c. 1964.

Everything you need for a fantastic night on the town, c. 1964.

The serious Sheaffer-spotters in the crowd are even now going “Hmmmmm.”  For those who are not quite as in the swing, I’ll explain.  It’s blindingly obvious that this is a pen, cuff-link and tie-tack set, as unlikely as that is to the modern sensibility.  Leaving the modern sensibility out of it for a moment, there’s a couple of things here that don’t quite line up.

The pen is a Canadian-made Imperial I (which necessitates a slight re-writing of the page down that link).  The jewellery could be meant to match an Imperial of some breed; it’s all simple silver squares, possibly reflecting the squared-off ends of the pens, but I have some serious doubts that the lowest of the low in the Imperial clan would be the companion to a set of cuff-links.  This is a class-ist way of looking at the thing, but it’s not without foundation.

The other thing that bugs me is the logo on the box.  The pen still has an apostrophe on it’s clip, something which fell away in about 1964.  SHEAFFER with a big gooney S marks the box as a post-buyout, 1966 or later item.  It’s not impossible for old stock to still be in circulation after the official end of use– heck, I’ve hardly ever seen a Parker “51” whose point and barrel date-codes matched– but combined with the low-end nature of that piece of old stock it strongly suggests to me that the original pen isn’t that one.  I’d be more inclined to believe a more splendid sort of Stylist or at least a higher-end Imperial/Lifetime.

…even if that one shows almost no sign whatever of being used, as one might expect in a gift pen.  “Oh, it’s so nice, I don’t dare use it!”  We’ve all heard it, even if the sensation hasn’t come over us.  I will use it, eventually, and the cuff-links, although I hesitate over tie-tacks.  I’m more of a tie-clip chap.  Perhaps next Fountain Pen Day I’ll take the whole ensemble out for a stroll, and damned to the hole in the tie.

The other strange thing is less strange for its attributes as its timing.  I’m changing my desk pen off schedule, and it is also a Sheaffer.  A year ago last September, I got an Imperial-style fountain pen, which I commented upon at the time as being “so very corrugated that I’m not sure I can recover it.”  Well, after some months of desultory poking at, I managed to bring it back to a functional shape; as is so often the case in my attempts on the horribly bent, there is some remaining deformity to hint at the extent of the original injury, but it works as it originally did.

The patient, post-recovery.

The patient, post-recovery.  You actually can’t make out the remaining deformation at this scale, which pleases me greatly.

All well and good, but without a base, a desk pen is a purely decorative object.  During the recent spate of tossing things at eBay, though, I found this which arrived last Thursday:

A good weekend for my camera to put aside sucking for a while.  Thanks, camera!

A good weekend for my camera to put aside sucking for a while. Thanks, camera!

And suddenly, I’ve got another desk pen!  There is a little bit of a strangeness inherent to the set, as both pen and base are from the narrow window in which there are Imperials and apostrophes in the impressions.  Something I hadn’t seen previously is the Imperial-style squaring off of the trumpet; that pleases me greatly.

To complete the strange Sheaffer effect, I decided to use today’s pen.  It’s a carnival of weird all on its own.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer 800 (aka The Dolphin)
Today’s ink: Pelikan violet (Pelikan inside a Dolphin?  Dada-esque!)


4 Responses to “A Strangeness of Sheaffers”

  1. Maja said

    First of all….Very nice photos, Dirck. Well don!

    I did a bit of digging and found another Sheaffer box with a mention of the jewellery designer “Stacy” here: http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-sheaffer-pen-gift-set-mens-jewelry-by
    It’s described as a “Vintage men’s gift set that has never been taken out of the case. Matching Sheaffer pen and pencil. Men’s jewelry set by Designer Stacy. Genuine 1/2″ diameter Mother-of-Pearl inset into cufflinks, tie clasp, money clip, and tie pin”

    Though I’m no Sheaffer expert, I tend to agree with you re: clip imprint and box mismatch; it’s a very nice find, nonetheless (I love the dark gray—or is it “grey” here in Canada??—colour of the fountain pen)

    • Maja said

      Ooops! Meant to say “Well done!”

      Curse these late-night typos……!!

    • What’s a silent E between friends?

      I thank you for the praise, but take no credit for the pictures; sometimes the camera is happy, sometimes it is not, and there’s no telling why. On the happy days, I don’t have to spend as much time messing with ENHANCE-SHARPEN LIGHTLY and SMOOTH-LIGHTLY until something half-way passable appear, and I appreciate it deeply. I’ve got another camera with more consistent and better resolution… but no capacity for close-ups. Not quite a Sisyphean level of frustration, but the sensation is present.

      That link (and another Bruce at FPN showed me with similar Waterman sets) leads me to think I’m rather out in my estimate of the relative pen worth in such set. I’ll still cling to the differential apostrophes, though, and also to the fact that it’s all in fantastic shape and a gift from a good friend. The mother-of-pearl ensemble down your link is quite spiffy, and enhances my curiosity as to who this Stacy person is.

      Of greys in pens, at least when celluloid isn’t involved, I do prefer Sheaffer’s tone of this era. The 800 I’m using currently is the same sort, and it has a richness to it that, for example, the Dove Grey found in Parker’s “51” doesn’t bring.

      My inner pedant commands that I write the rest– H.B.M Victoria, Imp. Ind., Def. Fid, &ct., would retire in dismay at “gray”– here in the Commonwealth, whether speaking of colours or the Coupe Grey Cup (which I almost never do), it’s the other fella. Sometimes inner pedant is a tedious creature, and I don’t doubt if I look back here I’ll find the place so full of “grays” it might as well be Roswell in the tourist season.

      • Maja said

        Well, I must congratulate you on resisting the oh-so-obvious “Fifty Shades of Grey” joke 😉

        Back to pens…and cameras.

        I, too, find myself thanking the Photography Gods the odd time I manage to take a passable photograph of a fountain pen. They are so difficult to photograph because of the glare coming off the metal parts, but I’ve managed to find the right amount (and quality) of light to take some decent photos. It can be a challenge finding adequate light here in rainy Vancouver 🙂

        If you do find more information on the Sheaffer jewellery set, please post an update. It’s a nice acquisition!

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