Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen, Blue Cedar, XXF

(Sold) This is a 1946 Blue Diamond Parker 51 Vacumatic fountain pen in Blue Cedar, with a stainless steel cap, gold-filled trim, and a 14k gold XXF nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). This is a full-size pen, measuring about 5.3" capped (135 mm).

Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen, Blue Cedar, XXF, uncapped

The Parker 51 is not only "the world's most wanted pen," but it is also, in my opinion, a writer's pen, a pen for people who love to write. No, it's not made of fancy, colorful acrylic; no, it's not finished in Maki-e; no, it's not adorned with a snowflake. However, it's a beautifully designed, very well-made, highly comfortable, stylish writing machine. A pen that accommodates a variety of grips, angles, and rotation. With a dependable slip cap, ready to deploy, ready to write, this is one of the most reliable writing instruments that I have ever tried. Parker's solution to the age-old problem of fluid expansion and contraction under different conditions, is perhaps the most foolproof, resulting in a pen that has silky-smooth, consistent flow of ink, a pen that glides across the page, but without making a messy line. A crisp and precise writer, just when you need it the most.

This particular pen is in excellent condition, without any flaws or defects. The filling mechanism works efficiently and holds a lot of ink (up to 1.8 ml). The cap is in equally great shape, as is the gold-filled trim. The imprint is strong. Quite honestly, this is a gorgeous specimen of this iconic pen. The Blue Diamond indicates the pen's extreme durability, and you can be sure that this pen will give you years of dependable service. A true XXF writer, you'd be hard-pressed to find an equally great factory nib that writes so fine so well today.

Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen, Blue Cedar, XXF, posted

Sheaffer Triumph Statesman Fountain Pen, Golden Brown, XXF

(Sold) This is a mid-1940s White Dot Sheaffer Triumph Statesman fountain pen in striated Golden Brown celluloid, with a gold-filled trim, and a 14k gold, two-tone, Triumph Lifetime XXF nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth. This is a medium-size pen, measuring around 5" capped and 0.46" in diameter. It posts very nicely, so it should be comfortable to hold for most people.

Sheaffer Triumph Statesman Fountain Pen, Golden Brown, XXF, uncapped, with the plunger partially extended

I thought it important to start the new year with a great pen. I am so thrilled to be offering this gorgeous Sheaffer Statesman from the mid-1940s. Made while Sheaffer were at the peak of their technological prowess, the Statesman has all of the goodness the Iowa company developed in the early 1940s, including the gleaming, shimmering celluloid, the efficient, high-capacity vacuum filling mechanism, and the famous Triumph nib. The phrase I wrote comes from a Sheaffer advertisement at the time, and, quite frankly, I cannot think of a way to introduce the pen. This is a real treat for people who love to write.

Sheaffer Triumph Statesman Fountain Pen, Golden Brown, XXF, nib profiles, showing excellent tines alignment and tipping geometry. Also, note the clear ink window.

The nib is a rare XXF, laying down a consistent monoline of about 0.3 mm (on my paper). Today, XXF nibs are rather hard to come by. Realistically, your only option is a Japanese XXF nib, but then you're dealing with the usual limitations of a conventional, open nib, plus, the fact that it was developed primarily for logographic handwriting, where short downward strokes are most common. Such nibs are, therefore, somewhat problematic for traditional cursive handwriting, which requires rapid strokes in virtually all directions, including curves. 

The Triumph nib writes a super fine line, but without the usual sensation of "toothiness," without skipping, and never catching the paper. Whether you write with your arm, wrist, or fingers, the nib will continue performing at the highest level, with Sheaffer's signature willingness to write the instant you put it to paper. It's a super fine point that feels like a much broader nib on paper, thanks to its ingenious "rocker" design. A superb tool for the discerning writer!

The pen is in fantastic condition. The celluloid has such depth, such vibrant color, such chatoyancy. The gold-filled trim is in equally great shape. The imprint is strong. Quite frankly, the pen looks virtually as good as new.

Sheaffer Triumph Statesman Fountain Pen, Golden Brown, XXF, capped

Sheaffer Snorkel Admiral Fountain Pen and Pencil Set, XXF

(On Hold) This is a 1950s Sheaffer Snorkel Admiral Fountain Pen and Pencil set in the original box, in Black, with gold-filled trim, and a 14k gold XXF (needlepoint) nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth. The pencil has been restored to proper functionality. It takes standard 0.9 mm refills.

Sheaffer Snorkel Admiral Fountain Pen and Pencil Set, XXF, uncapped

To most fountain pen enthusiasts, the name "Snorkel" evokes this incredibly sophisticated, somewhat obscure filling mechanism, and an altogether odd pen. While that might be true, the pen's most important feature, its incredible writing performance, is often overlooked. Whether it's the Triumph or the conventional open nib, the Snorkel can write! The pen I'm offering today comes with a fantastic XXF (needlepoint) nib that writes a consistent monoline of about 0.2 mm (on my paper) in virtually all directions, without ever catching the paper or feeling scratchy. 

If you love writing small, if you write a business cursive, or if you simply need a great office pen to perform very well on all kinds of unfriendly paper, this pen will be a great fit for you. And, if you need to use a great mechanical pencil, it's right there, in the same box.

There's one detail that I must disclose. The set came to me from the original owner, who had the cap replaced at some point. The cap appears to be from the Triumph model, which makes no difference other than the presence of the White Dot. Otherwise, the set is in excellent condition.

Sheaffer Snorkel Admiral Fountain Pen and Pencil Set, XXF, in box

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Golden Pearl, XXF

(Sold) This is a 1944 Blue Diamond Parker Vacumatic Major in Golden Pearl celluloid, gold-filled trim, and a 14k gold XXF (needlepoint) nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). The pen measures about 5.1" capped and 0.48" in diameter.

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Golden Pearl, XXF, uncapped, with the blind cap off

The quote I wrote comes from a Parker wartime advertisement, showing a mother with a daughter, looking  at a photograph of their husband/father in a U.S. Army officer's uniform. Today, such an ad would probably face a lot of criticism, but, regardless, one must appreciate the fact that the Vacumatic was designed to be a daily "workhorse" kind of pen to be used in all kinds of environments, including out in the field, at sea, and in the air, and it proved to be a reliable tool for tens of thousands of American servicemen.

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Golden Pearl, XXF, nib profile showing excellent tipping geometry and alignment

What makes the Vacumatic such a good daily writer? Bearing the Blue Diamond lifetime warranty, the pen was designed from ground up to be a tough, dependable writing instrument. I've restored countless Vacs, and I rarely come across any cracks or material malformations. The celluloid of which the pens were made, is of the highest quality, stable, suitable for machining, resilient against environmental challenges, and, most importantly, drop-dead gorgeous. The filling mechanism, despite having some plastic parts, is equally dependable as the pen's body. It's an ingenious mechanism, and it has definitely stood the test of time. I must point out, though, that the pen is meant for heavy daily use, rather than for frequent ink changes and sporadic, quick note type of scenarios. Finally, the 14k gold nib. Though it's not as huge and thick as its competition (e.g., Sheaffer's Lifetime), it's, nevertheless, a reliable gold point, with just the right amount of tipping material, and of excellent geometry.

In the hand, the Vacumatic is supremely comfortable, it becomes an extension of your hand, and, hence, your thoughts. Writing with the Vac is such a pleasant experience. It's so effortless, gliding across the page, as if hovering above it.

This particular nib is a rare needlepoint, writing a line of about 0.2 mm (on my paper) with light pressure. Despite being very fine, it's also incredibly smooth, writing confident rapid strokes in virtually all directions, without feeling scratchy or catching the paper. Today, if you want a needlepoint nib, your only option is a custom grind. Yes, you can buy a Japanese XXF nib, but such nibs are designed to be used primarily with Japanese handwriting where short, downward strokes are required. If you have small handwriting, if you need to write a lot on poor-quality paper, or if you write a business cursive (e.g., Spencerian penmanship, Palmer Method, etc.), this nib is likely to become one of your top performers.

Cosmetically, the pen is in great shape! There are no defects or flaws, just very minor surface wear, difficult to see with the naked eye. The gold-filled trim is in equally great condition. The imprint is strong.

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Golden Pearl, XXF, capped, the red hues indicate barrel transparency

Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen, Dove Gray, XXF

(Sold) This is a 1947 Blue Diamond Parker 51 Vacumatic full-size fountain pen  in Dove Gray, with a 14k gold XXF nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand).

Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen, Dove Gray, XXF, uncapped, with the blind cap off, showing the plunger

I'm often asked for recommendations regarding pens that are most suitable for cursive handwriting. While it's rather difficult to make broad recommendations that would suit everybody, I think it's fair to say that some pens are more suitable for the task than others. First, of all, the pen must be extremely comfortable, which means a long, slightly tapered section, without a sharp step-down from the threads, or without threads altogether. Next, the pen must have excellent balance, posted or not. It's important for such a pen to have a small nib, so that it's easy to maneuver, especially for beginners. The nib must be very fine, at least an extra-fine, possibly, an XXF. It's always great if the nib has a large "sweet spot" and allows for strokes of equal width and ease in virtually all directions. Cursive requires rapid strokes, including curves, long, short, and everything in-between. Finally, the pen must be tuned to write at the lightest pressure, under its own weight, but it should also be able to take increased pressure without increasing line width, which is particularly important for beginners. Other features, such as a large ink capacity, good looks, etc., are a bonus.

Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen, Dove Gray, XXF, cap detail

If you want a modern pen to meet these criteria, realistically, your only option is a Japanese XXF pen, such as Platinum #3776, or Sailor 1911. The only problem with these pens is that they are tuned specifically for Japanese handwriting, which requires short, rapid strokes, mostly downward. These pens sometimes struggle with long curves, esp., upstrokes, and have a somewhat narrow sweet spot. Your best bet is buying a modern pen you like and sending it off to a nib meister to grind an XXF nib for Western cursive handwriting. Or, better yet, buy a restored vintage pen.

Many vintage fountain pens, esp. the Parker 51, were designed specifically for cursive handwriting, such as the Palmer Method. As a result, they should be good to go, out-of-the-box, or, rather, straight from the restorer's bench. The pen I'm offering today is a fantastic business cursive writer, and it's ready for your favorite ink. It writes a gorgeous XXF line of about 0.2 mm (on my paper), with a smooth feel, and a large sweet spot (relatively speaking). And, it writes under the lightest touch, which is required for cursive.

Cosmetically, the pen is in excellent condition, except for some fading. Parker's plastic, however resilient it turned out to be, is susceptible to fading, and you can see it most clearly on the lighter colors, such as Dove Gray. The fading is slight, difficult to see with the naked eye, in normal light, but you can see it more clearly in a high-resolution digital image. Therefore, I am offering this pen at a 25% discount.

Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen, Dove Gray, XXF, capped

Sheaffer Triumph Valiant Oversize Fountain Pen, Carmine, XXF

(On hold) This is a 1942 White Dot Sheaffer Triumph Valiant Oversize fountain pen in striated Carmine celluloid, with a 14k gold, two-tone Triumph Lifetime XXF nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). This was the largest pen in Sheaffer's Triumph line-up, measuring 5.1" capped and 0.48" in diameter.

Sheaffer Triumph Valiant Oversize Fountain Pen, Carmine, XXF, uncapped, with the plunger partially extended

Sheaffer's wartime manufacturing capability was among the best in the entire U.S. precision industry. The Iowa company ran an extensive R&D program, with laboratories that were at least a decade ahead of other pen makers. Sheaffer implemented a sophisticated testing and quality control program, including machine testing of all of the pen's features, including how well it would fit into a breast pocket of a business suit, without doing any long-term damage to the fabric. Such attention to detail is one of the important reasons why we can enjoy 1940s Sheaffer pens today. If restored well, these pens are going to give joy and awesome performance to even the most discerning fountain pen enthusiasts. 

Sheaffer Triumph Valiant Oversize Fountain Pen, Carmine, XXF, nib close-up

The Valiant was Sheaffer's pride and joy. A pen that was truly as beautiful as it was functional. Made of the vibrant, complex striated Carmine celluloid, the pen I'm offering today looks as classy as some of the modern Italian celluloid pens, yet you can have it for a fraction of the price of a Montegrappa or a Visconti. Celluloid is the royalty of fountain pen materials, visually stunning and extremely pleasant to the touch. It's been described as warm and inviting, even luscious. The pen has a semi-transparent barrel, which adds complexity to the material and offers an important functional advantage. The gold-filled trim complements the streamlined design, with a touch of luxury. There's one small scratch on the cap, but otherwise, the pen is in excellent shape, including flawless trim and a strong imprint.

Sheaffer Triumph Valiant Oversize Fountain Pen, Carmine, XXF, nib profile showing excellent tipping geometry and alignment. Also note the transparent barrel and strong imprint

The pen comes vested with the awesome "wrap-around" Triumph XXF nib. The nib lays down a consistent line of about 0.2 mm, which puts it in the needlepoint vicinity, yet it feels smooth on paper and writes rapid upstrokes without ever catching the paper. For a point that fine, the nib has a large sweet spot. It would be an ideal tool with which to write a business cursive, the Palmer Method, or any of the modern logographic writing systems. You're not going to find a modern XXF nib that will come even close to the Triumph in terms of performance with a light hand and rapid strokes. Did I mention it is a beautiful, huge chunk of gold? 

Sheaffer Triumph Valiant Oversize Fountain Pen, Carmine, XXF, capped

The pen is priced at $169. Please, contact me if you're interested in buying it and I will email you a PayPal invoice. Shipping fees are listed on this page. Thanks!

Sheaffer Balance "Vigilant" Fountain Pen, Marine Green, XXF

(Sold) This is an early 1940s White Dot Sheaffer Balance "Vigilant" fountain pen in Marine Green striated celluloid, with gold-filled trim, and a 14k gold, two-tone Lifetime nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). The pen measures 5.1" capped and 0.42" in diameter.

Sheaffer Balance "Vigilant" Fountain Pen, Marine Green, XXF, uncapped

Sheaffer's "White Dot," usually found on the cap, and the designation "Lifetime," stamped onto the nib, indicated an unconditional warranty for the lifetime of the original owner. Sheaffer claimed that "the total cost of a Sheaffer Lifetime is its original price," as all repairs and tune-ups would have been done free of charge. It's not surprising, these pens were built tough. The might look dainty or frail by the standards of today's all-metal, tactical, EDC, and other overbuilt pens, but don't let the gentle looks deceive you. The pen I am offering you today is going to be an excellent daily "workhorse" writer. It would make an ideal "first vintage pen" for a fountain pen novice, but it would also be a perfect pen for an experienced pen enthusiast, particularly for journaling, sketching, business writing, and other situations where a dependable, XXF writer is needed. Did I mention this pen was meant to be used by U.S. Armed Forces? Yes, it's that durable and dependable. If you've been thinking of ordering another Pilot Custom 74 or Sailor Pro Gear, I encourage you to give this affordable "Vigilant" a chance.

Sheaffer Balance "Vigilant" Fountain Pen, Marine Green, XXF, nib profile

The Lifetime nib writes a line of about 0.2 mm (on my paper), which puts it in the needlepoint vicinity. Yet, it does not feel scratchy, it doesn't catch the paper, and, most importantly, it writes confident strokes in virtually all directions, without varying line width, which can be a problem (or a feature) for modern Japanese XXF nibs.

Cosmetically, the pen is free from any flaws or defects. The celluloid has a rich, and vibrant color, with some minor surface wear present. The gold-filled trim is in excellent condition, the imprint is not terribly strong, and there's some "ambering" (darkening) of the ink window. 

Sheaffer Balance "Vigilant" Fountain Pen, Marine Green, XXF, capped

Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen in Cordovan Brown, XXF

(SOLD) This is a 1947 Blue Diamond Parker 51 Vacumatic in Cordovan Brown with a stainless steel cap, a gold-filled clip, and a 14k gold XXF nib. This is a rare, "last year" Parker 51 Vacumatic. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand).

Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen in Cordovan Brown, XXF, uncapped

This is a beautiful, rare, "last year" Parker 51 Vacumatic, made in 1947, as the Janesville company began its transition away from the Blue Diamond lifetime warranty and toward the Aerometric filling mechanism. The gorgeous Cordovan Brown makes it a particularly desirable model, not to mention, the XXF nib. Here's your chance to own this timeless classic, in excellent condition, functioning as good as new.

Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen in Cordovan Brown, XXF, nib profile

The Parker 51 is a pen that epitomizes the American pen industry of the 1940s perfectly. In my opinion, all four of the major U.S. brands, Parker, Sheaffer, Wahl-Eversharp, and Waterman, were at the peak of their technological capabilities, bringing their customers exceptional writing instrument during a very difficult time in history. Parker was a mighty brand, with a worldwide reach, its name, in many countries, synonymous with the fountain pen. A superb tool for the discerning writer, even today, a restored Parker 51 is unique in its dependable performance, day in, day out. If you've never tried a 51 or have had a mediocre experience with one of uncertain provenance, I encourage you to give it another chance. A well restored 51 is likely to become one of your favorite daily writers.

This particular 51 has a phenomenal XXF nib. The nib lays down a confident line of about 0.2 mm on my paper, which puts it easily in the needlepoint vicinity, yet it does not have any of the typical "toothiness" and paper catching of conventional, modern needlepoints. The nib is smooth, with an excellent ability to absorb vibrations, and an ability to write equally well in virtually all directions. That makes it an excellent pen for cursive handwriting. Your strokes will feel effortless and dependable. You will not experience any hard-starts, ink starvation, or flow irregularities that plague modern needlepoint nibs.

Cosmetically, the pen is simply outstanding, without any flaws or defects. A beautiful, vibrant color, along with a flawless cap and gold-filled trim, this is one handsome pen, yet without being gaudy. A rare pen that is as beautiful as it is functional. The Vacumatic filling mechanism is easy to use, reliable, and holds up to 1.8 ml of ink.

Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen in Cordovan Brown, XXF, capped

Parker Vacumatic Major, Gray Pearl, XXF

(SOLD) This is a 1945 Blue Diamond Parker Vacumatic Major in Gray Pearl celluloid, with a 14k gold XXF nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle but thorough cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). This is a full-size pen, measuring 5.1" capped, and 0.48" in diameter.

Parker Vacumatic Major, Gray Pearl, XXF, uncapped, with the blind cap removed

The Fountain Pen Day Week Special continues, and I bring you another wonderful, rare pen at a reasonable price. While Parker Vacumatics are relatively easy to come by on the collector circuit, the Gray Pearl is relatively rare. It's eve more difficult to find one with the nickel-plated trim in such good shape. The pen is beautiful, free from any flaws or defects, with smooth, deep, and rich celluloid and very good barrel transparency. If you've been wanting a Vacumatic in a stealthy color scheme, look no further. 

Parker Vacumatic Major, Gray Pearl, XXF, nib profile showing excellent tipping geometry and alignment, also note excellent barrel transparency, with the light brown background showing through

The pen writes a gorgeous XXF line (about 0.3 mm on my paper). It probably sold as an Extra-Fine, but, by modern standards, I'd rank this nib as an XXF, on dry paper (e.g., Rhodia) even close to a needlepoint. Yet, it is smooth and forgiving. It's not a flexible nib, but it will reward you with a pleasant "spring" in its step and a cushioned, comfortable ride across your favorite paper. A reliable writer, it springs to action the instant you put it to paper and performs at its best with light pressure. If you bear down on it, it might give you a hint of line variation, adding character to your handwriting. This would be an ideal pen with which to write a business cursive, the Palmer Method, Spencerian penmanship, and Michael Sull's American Cursive Handwriting. It will also make an excellent office pen, performing well even on ordinary copy paper.

Parker Vacumatic Major, Gray Pearl, XXF, capped

Sheaffer "Fat" Touchdown, Black, XXF

(On hold) This is a 1949 White Dot Sheaffer "Fat" Touchdown fountain pen in Black, with a 14k gold, two-tone Triumph XXF nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a through but gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, nib tuning, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). This is the largest Touchdown model, measuring 5.25" capped and 0.45" in diameter. This pen probably sold as an XF, but. by today's standards, it is an XXF (0.3 mm line on paper).

Sheaffer "Fat" Touchdown, Black, XXF, uncapped

Today, we use fountain pens mostly for fun, for the joy they give us. However, some of us still use fountain pens for work purposes, in the office, at school, taking notes in meetings, writing in our journals, and other purposes that require a fine, controlled, and consistent line that will not make a mess of poor quality paper. If you are in need of such a pen, look no further than this Sheaffer Touchdown.

Sheaffer "Fat" Touchdown, Black, XXF, nib profile showing excellent tipping geometry and alignment

This is the "first-year" model, also known as the "Fat" touchdown. It's significantly larger than the later TD and Snorkel models, and yet it has the excellent ergonomics and the reliable, easy to use Touchdown filing mechanism of its successors. Sheaffer claimed it was the "easiest pen to fill," and I completely agree with that. One stroke fills the ink reservoir to capacity, holding as much ink as modern piston-fillers. The Triumph nib writes a gorgeous, dependable 0.3 mm line, which puts in in the XXF category. However, thanks to its ingenious design, the nib is virtually free from the toothiness typically associated with conventional XXF nibs. Moreover, it will write rapid strokes in all directions without catching the paper. It's an ideal pen with which to write a business cursive or Spencerian penmanship (without swells).

Sheaffer "Fat" Touchdown, Black, XXF, nib close-up

This pen came to me in poor cosmetic condition. Because of the awesome nib, I decided to restore the pen, and I think I brought it close to my usual standards. However, some of the surface wear is still present, especially on the cap. Therefore, I am offering this pen at a significant discount. Why buy another TWSBI if you can have this fantastic vintage pen?

Sheaffer "Fat" Touchdown, Black, XXF, capped

Sheaffer Balance "Lady" Carmine, XXF

(On Hold) This is a mid-1930s Sheaffer Balance "Lady" (a.k.a., "350") fountain pen in striated Carmine celluloid, a lever-filler, with a 14k gold XXF nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle but thorough cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, adjustment of ink flow, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). The pen measures 4.7" capped and 0.42" in diameter.

Sheaffer Balance "Lady" Carmine, XXF, uncapped

Last time I posted a Carmine Sheaffer Balance, I received a lot of inquires and some of you missed out on that pen. I am happy to report that I have just restored another beautiful "Lady" Sheaffer Balance in the gorgeous striated Carmine celluloid, with a smooth, precise 14k gold XXF nib.

Sheaffer Balance "Lady" Carmine, XXF, nib profile showing excellent tipping geometry and alignment. Also, note a nice ink view window.

The pen is as gorgeous as it gets, in my opinion. It's probably my favorite fountain pen material of the 1930s. Sheaffer was a major innovator in the area of material science, and the striated celluloid came out of its laboratories, following years of research, trying to replace hard rubber as the main pen material. Obviously, the Iowa company succeeded, and the Carmine celluloid is among the most sought after materials in the vintage world today. The pen is in excellent condition, without any flaws or defects, with only very minor surface wear, excellent gold-filled trim, and a perfectly usable ink view window in the section. A handsome pen, it will make a perfect companion on your travels or a faithful friend on your visits to a coffee shop. It'll make your journaling that much more enjoyable. Once you hold it in your hand, put it to paper, you'll want to write, write, write.

Sheaffer Balance "Lady" Carmine, XXF, nib close-up

The nib is, once again, one of my frequently requested points. A true XXF, it lays down a consistent line of about 0.3 mm, and if you write on very dry paper, such as Rhodia, you might easily get it down to a needlepoint width (0.2 mm). However, the nib is free of most of the unpleasant toothiness associated with modern XXF nibs. That's thanks to the nib's incredible ability to absorb vibrations coming from the roughness of the paper, also known as "feedback." You will still feel connected to the paper, the pen being an extension of your hand, and, in turn, of your thoughts, but the experience will be full of joy. I do want to point out that the nib performs at its best if you write with a light hand. It will reward you with consistent performance in strokes in virtually all directions, including long curves, without ever catching the paper. However, if you write with a heavy hand, this pen is probably not for you.

Sheaffer Balance "Lady" Carmine, XXF, capped

Sheaffer Balance "Vigilant" Military Golden Brown, XXF

(On hold) This is an early 1940s Sheaffer Balance "Vigilant" Vac fountain pen in striated Golden Brown celluloid, with a 14k gold, two-tone Lifetime XXF nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a thorough, but gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, nib tuning, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). The pen measures 5.1" capped and 0.42" in diameter.

Sheaffer Balance "Vigilant" Military Golden Brown, XXF, uncapped, with the plunger partially extended

I think it's fair to say that Apple and Google are today's Parker and Sheaffer. The two pen companies were among the greatest innovators of their respective era. They both created incredible, timeless fountain pens, built around sophisticated technologies. The pen I am offering today is a great example of a 1940s pen. It's beautiful, ergonomically sound, performs very well, and was built to withstand "the hardest of pen ordeals." The pen came to me with a broken nib, so I replaced it with a better, Lifetime nib, which is correct for the "White Dot" version of the pen.

Sheaffer Balance "Vigilant" Military Golden Brown, XXF, nib profile showing excellent tipping geometry and alignment

If you're thinking of buying the new Pelikan M400 Tortoise, may I suggest an alternative. This Sheaffer pen is about the same size, made of similarly beautiful material, has an even greater ink capacity, and comes with a fantastic gold nib that writes a much finer line (about 0.2 mm on my paper) than the Pelikan XF nib. And, it has some really interesting history behind it. A pen designed specifically for the US Armed Forces, it was meant to be used in the field, at sea, and in the air. A beautiful, sturdy, and dependable writer, at a fraction of the M400 price!

Sheaffer Balance "Vigilant" Military Golden Brown, XXF, nib close-up

The pen is free from any flaws or defects. The celluloid has a deep, rich, and vibrant color, with excellent barrel transparency. You can watch the pen getting filled and gauge remaining ink level with ease. The clip is known as the "Military" clip, and it's rather unique. Why buy a modern pen that thousands of other people already have, if you have have this beauty for a lot less?

The Lifetime nib is a fantastic performer. It writes an XXF line (bordering on a needlepoint), but without the typical "toothiness" of modern XXF nibs. It allows you to write rapid strokes in all directions (including curves) without catching the paper, and a generous, yet controlled flow of ink. A perfect pen for business cursive, a great journaling pen, a travel companion. This pen was meant to be used on the road. It'll fit in your journal's pen loop and will bring a smile to your face every time you reach for it to write down your thoughts. An extension of your hand.

Sheaffer Balance "Vigilant" Military Golden Brown, XXF, capped

Sheaffer "Fat" Touchdown Sentinel Deluxe, Needlepoint (NOS)

(SOLD) This is a rare 1949 Sheaffer "Fat" Touchdown Sentinel Deluxe in Pastel Green with a 14k gold, two-tone Triumph needlepoint nib and a stainless steel cap. The pen is in a new-old-stock (NOS) condition. However, since the internal components have hardened over time, I restored the pen's filling mechanism, adjusted ink flow, did a nib tune-up, and polished the pen gently with a soft cloth. The pen came with original Sheaffer stickers, but I removed them, as they were unsightly.

Sheaffer "Fat" Touchdown Sentinel Deluxe, Needlepoint, uncapped, with the plunger partially extended

The pen is a very rare, "first year" Touchdown, also know as the "Fat" Touchdown. It was in production for only a year, and later replaced by the Thin Model (TM) and the Snorkel. Sheaffer replaced the venerable Vac filler with the Fat Touchdown, as the former proved expensive to manufacture and service. The Touchdown filling mechanism really is the simplest way to fill a pen (the phrase I wrote comes from a Sheaffer ad). In a one-stroke operation, the pen gets filled to capacity. It holds more ink than the Snorkel and most modern C/C pens. It's reliable and enjoyable. The mechanism is making a small but significant comeback with the Edison Beaumont and Wahl-Eversharp Decoband.

This is a beautiful pen, yes, but it is also an extremely good tool for the calligrapher or anyone wishing to write with an excellent needlepoint nib. The problem with most modern needlepoint nibs is that they are designed for short downward strokes, as needed for Japanese handwriting. They are not as good for rapid upstrokes and long, curved cross-strokes. The other option is to buy an  XF nib and send it off to a nib meister to regrind it into a needlepoint. It's probably your best way to go, though it tends to increase the total cost of your pen.

Sheaffer "Fat" Touchdown Sentinel Deluxe, Needlepoint, nib profile showing excellent tipping geometry and alignment

Thankfully, we can still find the Sheaffer Triumph XXF nibs, and, if restored well, these nibs are wonderful performers for Spencerian penmanship, business cursive, the Palmer Method, M. Sull's American Cursive Handwriting, etc. The Triumph writes a very fine line (0.2 mm on my paper) but without the toothiness or paper catching, typically associated with a conventional XXF nib. Thanks to Triumph's "rocker" design, the nib never feels scratchy and writes equally well in virtually all directions, producing consistent strokes and flowing lines, as required by cursive handwriting. The nib is extremely consistent, tuned to lay down a somewhat wet line, so you can experience that effortless gliding sensation, but without losing control of your writing. A very precise tool. If you want an even finer line, you can flip the nib upside down.

So what's so special about the "Fat" Touchdown? Well, in addition to it being rare, the pen is significantly larger than the TM and the Snorkel. Today, people appreciate larger pens, and there aren't that many large pens among Parker's and Sheaffer's vintage catalogs. The pen measures 5 1/4" capped, with a barrel diameter of 0.45 barrel diameter, which puts it in the vicinity of the Montblac 146 (LeGrand), so it should feel comfortable even for people with large hands. This is the only Sentinel Deluxe I've restored that has gold-plated cap threads. It's a detail, but it's rather cool.

Sheaffer "Fat" Touchdown Sentinel Deluxe, Needlepoint, capped

Cosmetically, the pen is in excellent condition. Being an NOS item, that's what you'd expect. Still, the pen spent over sixty five years in storage, so there's some really minor surface "handling" wear, but it's difficult to see it with the naked eye. The gold-filled trim and the cap are both in excellent condition. The ink window is clear, the imprint strong. Here's a chance to own this rare, beautiful pen that's as good as new.

Sheaffer Snorkel Statesman Pastel Blue, XF

(SOLD) This is a mid-1950s Sheaffer Snorkel Statesman fountain pen in Pastel Blue with a palladium silver Extra-Fine Triumph nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, thorough cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, nib tuning, and a gentle polish by hand. 

Sheaffer Snorkel Statesman Pastel Blue, XF, with the cap off

The Snorkel was made with a number of different nib options, including two materials (gold and palladium silver) and various grinds. The most common nibs are Fine and Medium. The mid-1950s were a transitional era in fountain pen history, where a lot of production was automated, taking advantage of economies of scale. In that spirit, more unusual nib options were usually special-order items and are exceedingly rare today.

This particular nib sold as an Extra-Fine, but I'd rank it closer to a modern XXF, laying down a smooth and consistent line of about 0.3 mm on paper. If you write a dry paper, such as Rhodia, you're going to get a finer line still. An ideal nib with which to write and learn to write a business cursive, American Cursive Handwriting, even Spencerian penmanship (without shading). You have heard me say it before, you would be hard-pressed to find a modern nib that writes as fine as smoothly. That's thanks to the Triumph nib design and Sheaffer's expertise in grinding nibs so that they are smooth, but without inhibiting flow.

Sheaffer Snorkel Statesman Pastel Blue, XF, nib profile showing perfect geometry and alignment

I take nib smoothness very seriously. To me, smoothness is achieved when the tipping geometry and alignment are as close to what the manufacturer intended as possible, so that you can enjoy a pleasant writing sensation but without sacrificing performance. I optimize nibs for light-pressure writing. so that the pen writes a smooth line under its own weight. I do not apply aggressive smoothing techniques, as I do not believe in changing a vintage nib's character. Also, perceived nib smoothness (as achieved by polishing the writing surface with an extremely fine-grit abrasive) is inversely proportional to writing ability. The smoother then nib, the harder you're going to have to press to get a consistent line. Interestingly, the harder you press, the less smooth the nib will feel, as you will inevitably open up the tines so that you will be "catching" the paper with the inner surface of the tines. It's a kind of a vicious cycle.

Sheaffer Snorkel Statesman Pastel Blue, XF, capped

This pen pen is excellent condition, though it does have some "handling wear." There are no signs that the pen had been used a lot, just that it's been handled. Perhaps it was in a drawer, rubbing against other pens, but it had not been abused. There are two small scratches on the pen body. Because of that, I am discounting this pen by 20%.