The Sheaffer Cadet Tip Dip Fountain Pen

Sheaffer Cadet Box

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!

Sheaffer Cadet M nib

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.

Sheaffer Cadet M nib

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.

Sheaffer Cadet

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.

Sheaffer Cadet writing sample

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.

Fountain Pen Weights

Sheaffer nibs

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.

Sheaffer Nibs

Nibs for Sheaffer Tip Dip screw thread

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.

Nibs for Sheaffer Tip Dip screw thread

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.

Sheaffer nibs

With the medium nib, which is not too broad, installed this will make a very good everyday pen.

More info about Sheaffer Cadet:

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5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. SM1 means SEMI-FLEX medium. I have one in new condition but I’d like a real flexible, with an F prefix. Anyone want to trade? (I also have two complete Cadets in NOS condition, plus one in used condition that I repaired myself with a new sac and rubber ring.)

  2. How do you refill it, and what ink is recommended? I found one in my grandmother’s old furniture -burgundy with the M1 nib.

    1. The very end of the pen has some grooves cut into it to aid gripping, twist counter-clockwise to release the Touchdown tube. The pen might release some ink when you do this so you’ll want to hold the pen over a sink, rag, or other jar, and pull the cap to extend tube. Do not the pen in ink while extending the tube. Wait until the tube is fully extended and then put the nib (up to the breather hole) and feed into ink. Press down smoothly on the cap, compressing the tube. Wait 10 seconds. Remove pen from ink and screw cap to secure tube. For more detailed instructions, check out Richard Binder’s Fillers Page. If the ink sac is damaged, you will need to have it replaced however but it will require trying to fill it to determine that.

      As for inks, I recommend starting with any of Sheaffer’s current bottled inks as well as any of the other major bottled ink brands like Parker, Pilot Iroshizuku, Sailor Jentle, Waterman or Montblanc. Most Diamine inks would work well but some might stain. I’d just avoid any fountain pen inks listed as permanent from any manfacturer nor would I leave inks in a vintage pen long term in cae they stain. Good luck!

  3. Great post! I came across this researching for a restored Craftsman I recently got. I have the F1 nib, and it’s really good. I found you can get replacements, but I was wondering what is compatible. You have some of the Fineline nibs; do they have the tip dip feature? So many of the auctions annoyingly do not show that part of the nib in photos.

    I’m also trying to find where to get replacements for the gasket that’s in the nib unit or if I need to worry about it.

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