Tag: vintage

When Good Repairs Happen to Good Pens

lady sheaffer gold

I wanted to do a follow-up to what happened to my Parker Duofold in Atlanta. I wanted to share a GOOD repair story that happened at the Chicago Pen Show. I bought a low-priced Lady Sheaffer Skripsert on Thursday night on a vendor’s table only to discover that there was a crack in the nib plastic a couple days later. Now, I didn’t look closely enough when I purchased it to discover the crack so I know this was my fault.

I mentioned the crack to someone at the show on Sunday and was told that Ron Zorn at Main Street Pens was the man to see and that he might have parts to fix a Lady Sheaffer Skripsert. Later, he happened to come by the Vanness table while I was working and I mentioned my broken Lady Sheaffer and he told me to come by he table right then. I followed him into the ballroom and was able to watch him disassemble the complicated assembly of the partially hooded nib from the cracked housing. He had a spare housing and even had new-old-stock nibs and housings so I purchased a spare fine nib as well as having him replace the housing for the original nib.

lady sheaffer gold fine nib

He did the work quickly and talked me through the procedure. He even told me he had a lot of additional  parts for Lady Sheaffers and that if I had any others that needed repairs to let him know.

lady sheaffer gold

I thought it was interesting to see that the dolphin nose angle of the nib is less severe on the X-Fine nib than on the medium nib. They are both 14K nibs and very smooth.

I thought it would be good to share a repair story with a happy ending.

lady sheaffer gold fine nib writing sample

When I got back to Kansas City, I put a turquoise Sheaffer cartridge in it and was actually quite pleased with the color of the ink. I noticed a little bit a a red halo to it which was a pleasant surprise. I plan to use up the ink and then refill the cartridges because finding a converter to fit the Lady Sheaffers is kind of a challenging. The X-Fine writes beautifully and I love it!

the lady sheaffer brigade

The “new” gold Lady Sheaffer Skripsert came with a little carrying case but I thought I’d show the whole collection together — two Lady Sheaffer Skripserts and the Sheaffer Imperial plus the extra nib unit. Now to find some of those exotic Lady Sheaffer beauties in blue and red!

Vintage Fountain Pens: Lady Sheaffer Skripsert and Sheaffer Imperial

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial

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.

 photo skripserts_penworld-1.jpg

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.

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial

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.

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial Nibs

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.

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert Sticker

The Lady Sheaffer Skripsert was NOS (new old stock), complete with its original sticker, so really how could I pass it up?

Sheaffer Imperial Band

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!

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial widths

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.

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial Writing Samples

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:

When Bad Repairs Happen To Good Pens

Parker Duofold

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week trying to decide the best way to talk about what was the saddest part of my Atlanta Pen Show experience. I mentioned to a vendor that I had a beloved vintage Parker Duofold vac filler but that the vacuum-filler didn’t work and he said “Oh, there’s a guy here who specializes in fixes those. You should take it over and have him look at it.”

I was very excited at the possibility of getting my pen in full working order so I hopped over to the repairman and he seemed fairly convinced that for a reasonable fee and a couple of hours he could get my pen in working order. I left him my pen and my phone number and headed off to lunch.

This is where things went sideways and I should have probably talked to people with more experience getting pens repaired to know what questions to ask and what outcomes I could expect.

Parker Duofold

I dropped off my pen around noon and did not hear back from the repairman by 4pm. I started to get concerned but didn’t want to pester him. I know how busy tables can get and the potential to get backed up but I also knew that the show floor closed up at 5pm and if he was not going to get time to work on my pen, I wanted to be retrieve before 5pm and either bring it back next year or make arrangements for shipping.

When I got to his table, he informed me that the prior owner of the pen must have epoxied the vac into the end of the pen and, as a result, when he attempted to remove it, the barrel of the pen melted and warped. In other words, my pen was returned to me more damaged than when I left it with him and I only received a cursory apology and a “these things sometimes happen”.  I was not charged for the mishap but I was not compensated in anyway for the damage either.

As one of my first vintage fountain pens and a thrift store score at that, I have a lot of sentimental attachment to the pen. Yes, most of my love is a result of the pen having a beautiful, slightly flexible gold nib but still!

Parker Duofold nib

So, from my cautionary tale, I want to provide some advice to anyone seeking pen repairs, nib tuning or other manipulations from someone, either at a pen show or online:

  • Be sure to ask is there a possibility that the pen might sustain additional damage?
  • If so, whose responsibility is it? (Go into the transaction knowing ahead of time if the repairman is not held responsible for someone else’s janky repair work like epoxy so you are not taken by surprise like I was)
  • Does the repairman have spare parts on site should the pen need to be modified due to breakage or damage? At a show, he might not have all his spare parts but might be able to take the pen back to his shop and finish repairs and mail the pen back to you.
  • Get good cost estimates up front. If the repairman want payment up front, verify what refund policy he has should he be unable to complete the repairs.

In the end, it can’t hurt to ask all the questions and if a repairman (or person) is unwilling to answer them, feel free to share my experience as the reason you’re asking. Not that you distrust them but you know that bad things have happened to good pens.

Parker Duofold

Art of the Day: Paper-Mate poster from 1956

Paper-Mate pen, Sioux boy with a sioux war bonnet made of pens instead of real eagle-feather. Beautifully printed in stone-lithography. Herbert Leupin was one of the leader of the Basel school and the hyperrealism style, also called "SachPlakat".
Paper-Mate pen, Sioux boy with a sioux war bonnet made of pens instead of real eagle-feather. Beautifully printed in stone-lithography. Herbert Leupin was one of the leader of the Basel school and the hyperrealism style, also called “SachPlakat”.

Original Vintage Posters keeps a fabulous assortment of vintage posters including vintage typewriter images and other vintage pens. Does your office need some art on the wall?

His (or Her) Majesty’s Stationery Office

Collage of images from H.M.S.O.

This is a fascinating collection of vintage office supplies from the official Stationery Office of the King or Queen of England. The office was in existence for over 200 years providing office supplies to civil servants. Each item is marked with the letters “S.O.” and a crown. Lito has collected and beautifully photographed dozens of products from the S.O. Check out her Flickr Album to see and read more about the items.

(via Lito Apostolakou of Palimpest and Inklinks)

Kickstarter: Qwerkywriter

Qwerkywriter

Even typewriter lovers among us occasionally have to use a modern-day computer. Why not experience the beauty and feel of a vintage typewriter while you pound out your emails or Twitter missives? That’s where the new Kickstarter Project, the Qwerkywriter comes in. Its a USB keyboard (though there are plans for a Bluetooth adaptation if they exceed funding) that has a 88-key mechanical keyboard with the classic good-looks of a vintage glass-key typewriter. The “paper feed” doubles as a tablet stand for your iPad or Android tablet.

At the $289/$299 funding level, you can receive this unique keyboard. The developer is about a third of the way to his funding goal so if you’d like to see this project come to fruition, support it today. The funding period end July 3.

Qwerkywriter with tablet