One of the pens I was hoping to find at the Atlanta Pen Show was a vintage Lady Sheaffer Skripsert. A friend of mine showed me hers and I fell in love with it so I knew it was definitely a pen style I wanted to keep my eye out for.
The story behind the Lady Sheaffer Skripserts were that they were pens (and pencils) designed specifically for ladies in decorative patterns and posh finishes as fashion accessories from the late 50s into the 70s. They were available with either steel or gold nibs and some of the designs included raised, jeweled bands around the middle of the pen for an even more glamorous look.
This ad for the Lady Sheaffer, lovingly known to collectors as “the shopping list” was published in Pen World magazine in 1994 and posted to the Fountain Pen Network Forum in a thread titled “Ladies in Tulle!” back in 2008.
Well,I totally lucked out because I found a vendor who had several different models to choose from including a very rare Christmas patterned one with holly berries on the cap (not to my taste but in retrospect, its incredibly rare!). I had a hard time picking just one of the many designs and he made me a deal on two different models, both with 14K nibs.
From what I understand, the later the Lady Sheaffer was produced, the more likely the ends are to be flat instead of rounded. So my guess is that the two I purchased are probably late 60s or early 70s.
Once I got home and could start doing more detailed research, I was able to determine that the black pen with gold “tulle” is definitely a Lady Sheaffer. The nib is referred to as a Stylpoint nib as it partially hooded. There’s also a bit of a flip up at the end of the nib which if you didn’t know that was how the nibs were designed might make you think the nib had been sprung. But its not. They were designed that way.
Upon further study, the gold pen with black diamond pattern is actually a Sheaffer Imperial Sovereign rather than a Lady Sheaffer Skripsert. The inlay nib should have been the givaway but I did not know enough about the long history of the Skripsert line to know all the nib variation so I took a chance because it was beautiful. I ended up with a great pen regardless.
The Lady Sheaffer Skripsert was NOS (new old stock), complete with its original sticker, so really how could I pass it up?
And the Sheaffer Imperial was hallmarked on the barrel with a crown and “14K G.F. Sheaffer U.S.A.” So I think the barrel and cap are gold plated as well as the nib. Swank!
What should have also been the give away that Imperial was a different beast is that the barrel is a bit wider than the Lady Sheaffer. They are the same length but the Lady Sheaffer is a little bit more tapered overall for a slightly more diminutive silhouette. Its not good or bad but it shows that doing your homework prior to a show is important. I ended up with a happy surprise and learning more about vintage Sheaffers in general but more research would have made me better informed overall.
Both the Lady Sheaffer and the Imperial wrote beautifully. The Lady Sheaffer had a medium nib which wrote pretty wet and its flip up angle took a bit of getting used to. I had heard the flip was designed to enable writing at more angles but could not find any information on the internet to corroborate that so I’m not sure. If you know why the Stylpoint nibs were designed with a flip, please leave a note in the comments. I theorize that it is a bit like the Fude de Mannen Japanese nibs that allow for a wider range of stroke widths at a wider range of angle but again, I don’t have any proof nor have I used the pen long enough to prove my theory.
The Imperial has a fine nib that is perfect! It writes beautifully and as soon as I get cartridges or converters for these two pens, I have a feeling that they will end up in regular rotation. They are both comfortable in my hand, lovely to look and and beautiful writers. How can you beat that?
In the end, I’m pleased with my vintage Sheaffer purchases but I would have been happier with myself if I’d been better informed before I got to the show. But knowledge comes with time and asking the right questions.
For more information about Lady Sheaffer Skripserts: