Sheaffer'S Review Company Magazines
Sheaffer started publishing Reviews at the beginning of World War II. So many of their male employees went off to war, that the Reviews began as a way of keeping everyone in touch with fellow employees and family members during the war. The Sheaffer Review continued as an in house employee newsletter through the 1960s, sometime in the 1970s the title changed to Sheaffer Eaton Times for a brief period, then was re-named Face to Face. Sheaffer Ink replaced Face to Face sometime in the 1990s. One thing that we are always reminded of when we page through these old company magazines is how employee and family oriented Sheaffer Pen was. Picnics, sports teams and leagues, birthday celebrations - Sheaffer was indeed a huge family oriented organization. And we mustn't forget any special occasion was a reason for lots of good homemade food, indeed that tradition seems to continue in Fort Madison where food always pulls people together! All issues listed below are in very good condition unless otherwise noted.
Sheaffer Pen Co Employee Service Pins
Sheaffer always treated their employees well and one of the things they did was give each employee a Service Pin or medallion on five year anniversaries. Men received a lapel pin, women received a medallion for a necklace. Needless to say, the five and ten year pins are more common than the 20, 25 and higher year pins. I've only seen a couple of 45-Year pins and have been told there were two 50-Year pins awarded, but no firm proof of that. If you find a 50-Year pin, I'd love to see it! You might also find in our listings below some special Sheaffer award pins that were given to employees.
Sheaffer Advertising Tear Proofs
Sheaffer original advertising tear proof sheets from the Sheaffer archives in Fort Madison, Iowa. Unlike regular magazine advertisements, many of these have the name of the magazine and publish dates printed on them. Many are one sided instead of the usual two sided magazine ads. Colored ads are exceptionally brilliant. Great for framing and a neat little piece of history!
Sheaffer Brass adapter (Widget) for Stratowriter ballpoint pens
Turn your early Sheaffer Stratowriter style ballpoint pen into a working pen again! Early Sheaffer Stratowriter ballpoint pens used a large aluminum tube cartridge that was discontinued in the early 1950s. If your Sheaffer ballpoint has a refill in it that looks like the photo below, you have a Stratowriter.
For a short period of time, Sheaffer made brass adaptors so that the current style BP refills could be used. Those ran out years ago and there was no way to retrofit the older Sheaffer Ballpens with a new refill. We now have newly made solid brass Sheaffer BP widgets so you can turn your older BPs into working pens again.
1. Remove the old aluminum Stratowriter ballpoint refill that looks like the photo above.
2. Screw in the brass widgets
3. Add a spring in end of barrel opposite the point end, you may have to cut to size
4. Insert a current production Sheaffer Ballpoint refill.
It's that simple! It doesn't get much better than using a 1940s vintage ballpoint pen!
Additional notes below on using the Widget in a Sheaffer Stratowriter: The old Sheaffer Sratowriter ballpoint pens can be quirky! Sometimes you will need to make a minor modification to a current production Sheaffer ballpoint refill. The little rounded top plastic piece on the top of the current Sheaffer ballpoint refill sometimes gets hung up in the mechanism of the Stratowriter inside the clicker button. However, the winged piece on the previous style refills works very well. Just pry off the rounded plastic piece and replace with an older version winged piece.
The Sheaffer Crest was introduced in 1991, reminiscent of the Sheaffer Triumph series from the 1940s. The Crests were fitted with Sheaffer's famous "Triumph" conical wrap around nibs, some of the smoothest writing nibs made.
PFM - How to tell if you have a Sheaffer PFM Fountain Pen: Sheaffer PFM pens are ALWAYS Snorkel filling - a snorkel tube extends from the feed behind the nib. PFM's have Sheaffer inlaid nibs. If you think you have a PFM and it does not have a Snorkel tube in the nib OR if it it uses cartridges, then you most likely have a Sheaffer Imperial which has the overall look of a PFM, but is smaller in size. Imperials are touchdown or cartridge/converter filling.
- PFM I: Plastic cap and barrel, chrome trim, Pd-Ag (Palladium)inlaid nib.
- PFM II: Brushed steel cap, plastic barrel, Pd-Ag (Palladium) inlaid nib.
- PFM III: Plastic cap and barrel, gold filled trim, 14 KT gold inlaid nib.
- PFM IV: Polished Steel cap, gold filled trim, plastic barrel, gold filled trim, 14 KT gold inlaid nib.
- PFM V: Gold filled cap, plastic barrel, 14 KT gold inlaid nib.
- PFM VI: Gold filled cap and barrel, 14 KT gold inlaid nib.
- PFM VII: 14 KT gold cap, plastic barrel, 14 KT gold inlaid nib.
- PFM VIII: 14 KT gold cap, barrel and inlaid nib.
- Masterpiece PFM Autograph: Plastic cap and barrel, 14 KT gold cap, trim and inlaid nib.
The Sheaffer Targa was named after Targa Florio, a sports car race held for many decades in Sicily. Many, many Targa models in a wide range of finishes were produced from 1976-1999.
No Nonsense & Related Pens
Sheaffer made No Nonsense Pens for many years with the threaded cap which many people find preferable to their newer style of Viewpoint with a friction fit cap. Designs ranged from plain black to some pretty wild designs. The nice thing about No Nonsense pens is that they truly are no nonsense pens and write first time, every time, very reliable. Also in the No Nonsense section you will find related pens such as Viewpoints and the Guys and Dolls series when they are available.
Reminder Clip Ballpoint Pens
We think one of Sheaffer's most practical inventions ever was the "Reminder Clip" ballpoint pen. Depress the clip and the point extends. But, you must click it again to make the point retract and open the clip back up in order to clip it in your pocket. No chance of an ink stain ever with this handy little invention. The clip doesn't open, unless the refill is retracted. Sadly, Reminder Clip ballpens are no longer made. We try to round these up whenever we can because they are still very popular today.
Casey's Nightmare and the invention of Skrip Writing Fluid
Back in 1922, Robert Casey, a Fort Madison inventor, was at home in his second story office and lab busily experimenting on behalf of the W.A. Sheaffer Pen Company. The new invention was Skrip Writing Fluid.
Fort Madison legend has it that Casey was quite a character and an eccentric inventor. He conducted his experiments in a small bedroom in his home that had been turned into a lab. The walls were still covered with ink samples in the late 1970s! A friend of mine here in Fort Madison now lives in the Casey home, and I hold him personally responsible for painting over those ink blots resulting in one more little piece of forever lost Sheaffer history.
Just think! He could have turned this into a pen collector's destination-The Casey Skrip Room, or he could have hung the room number RC-35 on the door! On a less pen fanatical note, I do understand that most people will not make a pilgrimage to the Casey home to see ink stained walls and I will allow that my friend's guest bedroom, the former Casey lab, looks pretty nice, even minus the ink stains.
Most of us quickly recognize the familiar Sheaffer Skrip bottle which for over five decades bore a yellow and blue label. Interspersed through the years, but never long lasting, were bright red labels and even the Skrip V-Mail red, white and black label. Sheaffer got a little creative in the late 1980s and in an apparent attempt to make our old favorite yellow and blue labeled Skrip more up to date, started putting Skrip into a burgundy box-the label was also burgundy and the lid was now gold; quite elegant! Throughout these package changes, the bottle stayed the same with the famous Skrip-Well on the inside for easy filling of your fountain pen.
In the early 1990s, Sheaffer shut down Plant No. 2 in Fort Madison, which held the ink manufacturing facility and sold off the old fifty gallon ceramic ink crocks, complete with huge porcelain spigots for draining off ink. After Plant No. 2 closed down, it remained somewhat of a mystery as to where Sheaffer was making Skrip. Most people seem to think the ink manufacturing was moved to the main Sheaffer factory, but as the last few years have passed, Sheaffer employees tell you that they don't know where the ink was being made.
Now, the Sheaffer factory is pretty big, but not so enormous that you'd miss ink making equipment! Just this past year, a former Sheaffer employee visiting our shop picked up a bottle of the burgundy boxed Skrip and said "Oh, this must be the German Skrip!" Eager to learn about German Skrip, which was totally new to me, I pelted her with questions. My only reasonable conclusion after evaluating answers was that this was most likely something she had heard or perhaps thought she heard. No one else I've spoken with has the foggiest idea what I'm talking about when I ask about German Skrip.
In July 2002, Sheaffer announced that Skrip was being re-formulated and would be available in new colors and packaged in (gasp!) a newly designed bottle. Sheaffer also took this opportunity to inform us that Skrip was now being manufactured in Slovenia! A mild panic set in amongst pen collecting Skrip fanatics - could it be true, would Sheaffer dare take away their beloved Skrip-Well? And just where is Slovenia? This time, it was no rumor, new Skrip now arrives in a cone shaped bottle which is vaguely reminiscent of ink bottles from the late 1800s. Favorite colors such as peacock blue went the way of the Skrip-Well. The label clearly states that Skrip is now made in Slovenia.
The truth of the matter is, I like the new Skrip bottle! It features a smaller black plastic screw on lid that is far easier to remove from the bottle than the flatter round lid ever was. Fewer ink spills result. No, there is not a traditional Skrip-Well, but there is an internal angle in the bottom of the bottle which makes it easy to fill our larger nibbed modern pens. Let's face it, as much as we loved that old Skrip-Well, it just wasn't deep enough to properly fill many large pens. I also like the fact that the wide base of the bottle makes it difficult to tip over. I'm a little disappointed that the color of the ink is not actually printed on the label, but is instead "colored" in on the label on top of the cap.
I can foresee that cap label becoming worn after repeated openings and closings, making it tough to know right off what color of ink is in the bottle. Currently, the new Skrip ink is not packed in an individual box; this makes it a little cumbersome for dealers trying to warehouse and display the ink, but shouldn't pose a problem for pen people with a bottle or two of Skrip to use. Also of note is the fact that the old 2 ounce capacity bottle has been replaced by with a bottle holding slightly less ink-1.69 ounces. The suggested retail price of $4.50 remains the same. The new Sheaffer Skrip cartridges are quite different than the old ones, although they still serve their functional purpose. Gone are the transparent cartridges where you could easily see how much ink was left. In their place are just very slightly translucent cartridges that appear opaque at first glance. The new cartridges are the same color as the ink inside them.
As for cartridge design, no longer can you could pop a Skrip cartridge in your pen from either identical end; now only one end can be pierced. The opposite end is indented. I have yet to figure out any logical purpose for this. Sheaffer claims this indented end is to improve transportability, but it seems to me that this design change has only decreased the ink capacity of the cartridge. Sheaffer just recently announced that they are making some design adjustments to the new cartridges and they will once again be transparent so that we can see how much ink is left in the cartridge. The old transparent plastic cartridges also seem to be far more durable than the new style, as I have had several of the new cartridges develop stress cracks from being squeezed to initiate ink flow in a pen. Hopefully Sheaffer will resolve this problem quickly.
Prior to the recent changeover to Slovenian Skrip, the available colors were: Jet Black, Blue, Blue Black, Green, Red, Brown, Lavender, Gray, Kings Gold, Burgundy and Peacock Blue. Sheaffer discontinued Lavender, Gray and Burgundy entirely. They replaced, or perhaps better said, renamed Kings Gold to Gold and Peacock Blue to Turquoise. Both of these colors have changed; the new turquoise is still definitely turquoise, but darker than the old Peacock Blue. The new Gold is not gold at all, but a brilliant canary yellow color.
In the old standby inks, where the color name was not changed, actual color differences are minor. Black, Blue and Blue Black may be just a tad darker, but the color difference is minimal. Both the new Brown and Red are darker. The red is a truer red with less pink than previously and the Brown is a nice choclate-y brown. The new Green ink qualifies as a holiday green color and is less washed out than the previous version.
Sheaffer, in a recently released FAQ, states that the inks were formulated to be as close to the original colors as possible. The new ink formulation offers an ink with less bleed through and less feathering. New Skrip still contains special ingredients to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
In this day and age of decreased fountain pen use, we should all be pleased that Sheaffer didn't decide to stop making Skrip entirely. It really isn't such a far fetched possibility; I would guess that sales of fountain pen inks have declined sharply in recent years. It's hard for us pen fanatics to understand; after all is there really anything more worthwhile to write with than a fountain pen? Robert Casey might be a little disappointed that his Skrip formula has been altered over the years, yet I'd like to think, that as an inventor, he would be pleased that Sheaffer is trying to keep Skrip in the marketplace. We can only hope that Casey is not suffering from too many nightmares!
©Copyright Sam Fiorella
All Rights Reserved
This article was originally published in Pen Tracks Volume 6, Issue 9, September 2002. Pen Tracks is published by The Southeast Pen Collectors' Club.