Inside this box is something I stumbled upon on Ebay. It contains a NOS (that’s New Old Stock) Sheaffer Cadet fountain pen. So, NOS the white lettering printed on the body is still visible.
I don’t mean to gloat but I don’t tend to score the good deals on Ebay and this time, I hit the motherlode!
The Sheaffer Cadet line was sold for about 10 years in the 50s and into the early 60s and featured the replaceable nib units similar to their competitor, Esterbrook. The nibs had additional air holes on the underside and were known as “Tip Dip” nibs. These were the entry level, academic grade pens and were available as the Cadet which was all plastic and the Craftsman which had a metal cap. Pen Hero has a good article about the history of this pen.
The model I won on Ebay is burgundy with a standard M1 medium nib unit. It has a pneumatic filler which uses a plunger to fill. Amazingly, it still works with its original sac.
Shown above is the plunger portion at the top with the ink reservoir in the middle. There is a hole at the end of the reservoir that the plunger pushes through to squash up the sac to create the vacuum to pull ink up. It looks a little more high tech than the lever fillers but its essentially the same mechanism.
The Cadet is not a large pen. Its 5.25″ long capped and 4.5″ long uncapped. The cap will post creating a long length of 5.75″. The body of the pen is a comfortable diameter for my hands, not too bulky for my small hands. It weighs in, fully loaded with ink at 13 gms, which for me is perfect — right in there with the Kaweco Sport. Nicely balanced but light.
The big boon of this whole purchase was that I also found an almost full set of the nib units sold for the Cadet and Craftsmen pens — also new and unused — including a stub and a flexible. One of the tubes was labelled as a flexible nib but actually contained a M1 medium nib so someone must have swapped out their nibs along the way and put the medium in the tube for safe keeping.
These are not my finest writing examples, for sure. I wanted to see how each wrote but was short on time. Based on my research, the codes on the nibs help to clarify what each is supposed to be. The G is for Gregg, a stiff shorthand nib, F indicates that a nib is flexible, X is for extra fine and M is medium. The one that left me scratching my head was the SM1, it was a very wet nib, not flexible and sort of broad but I can’t figure out what the code translates to mean. Stub medium?
I did not take the nibs off the cards to test since I already had a medium to test so I didn’t test how the fine performed compared to the XF and M but I bet it will also be a favorite. I guess I’ll have to start looking for more Cadets and Craftsmen pens so I can utilize all the nibs.
I think my favorite nibs for this pen are the medium, the extra fine and the Gregg shorthand. Sadly, the stub is a bit too wide for this left-hander to use comfortably. The fine flexible is fun and will require a bit more practice to use well. It is very wet so I probably need to use a better paper with it.
With the medium nib, which is not too broad, installed this will make a very good everyday pen.
More info about Sheaffer Cadet: