Review by Laura Cameron
A short while back, I received the Anderson Pens Newsletter promoting the Sheaffer VFM in a gorgeous blue. When I clicked through to see what it was, I was surprised that it was a very affordable fountain pen ($17.50). It reminded me quite a bit of the Pilot Metropolitan that I so love. So I ordered what they had in stock: a Medium Nib in the Peacock Blue.
The Sheaffer VFM is so named as a “vibrant, fun and modern” pen in Sheaffer’s pen line. It features a slim body with a brushed satin finish, nickel plated trim, and a stainless steel nib. A postable, snap cap complements the body.
When it arrived I had high hopes. I went ahead and filled the VFM with the cartridge that came with it, notably not a Sheaffer cartridge, but a short international standard black. And then I took it out for a spin.
I was surprised to find that I didn’t like the VFM much at all. In the last few months I’ve been meandering towards finer nibs, but I still do enjoy medium nibs. However, this pen had a western medium nib which is actually quite a bit larger than those I had been using. The pen let down a LOT of ink and on most kinds of paper I got a lot of bleeding and feathering. My sample for this post, on my trusty Maruman Mnemosyne N182A Inspiration Notebook A5, looks pretty good, but when I tried to use the pen at the office (legal pads, copy paper) it just looked incredibly messy.
The finish was beautiful, but I was dismayed that it got scratched almost immediately. I had put it in my pen case and taken it with me to show off to some friends, and by the end of the night, just in being handled around the table, it came back to me with big scratches. Since then, still in the protected pen case, it has gotten many more scratches. The snap cap is still very stiff, despite my use, and frankly I’m not so sure about posting it as I’m afraid it will add more damage to the body.
Overall, I found this pen to be pretty disappointing. Maybe I shouldn’t have expected so much from a pen that is at the lower end of the price range, but the Pilot Metropolitans just knock it out of the park at the same price point. If you’re looking for an inexpensive fun pen, I’d start there instead.
Laura is a tech editor, podcaster, knitter, spinner and recent pen addict. You can learn more about her knitting and tea adventures on her website, The Corner of Knit & Tea and can find her on Instagram as Fluffykira.
4 comments / Add your comment below
I have used this pen, 2012, when it first came out. Orange and red. It was, like you said, okay at first. But one stopped writing and the other rolled off my desk onto the floor and quit too. I have found sheaffer pens disappointing in recent years and now like Chinese pens more.
Another great American brand down the drain…
The Sheaffer Pen Corporation, based in Fort Madison, Iowa, was an innovator in quality stationary products for over a century. In 1997 Sheaffer was taken over by the French company BIC. BIC gradually shut down Sheaffer’s U.S. facilities, eventually moving almost all production to Europe and China.
In 2014 BIC sold what was left of the Sheaffer (essentially the brand name) to the A.T. Cross Company for a pittance. A.T. Cross is still (for now) a U.S. based company, but I suspect almost all of its manufacturing is currently done in China.
I think it’s only a question of time before Cross/Sheaffer gets gobbled-up by the insatiable behemoth Newell Brands Incorporated, the owner of Rubbermaid as well as (according to Wikipedia)…
Sharpie, Expo Markers, PaperMate, Dymo, Elmer’s, Krazy Glue, Mr. Sketch, Parker Pens, Mitsubisi/Uni-ball, Prismacolor, Rotring, Xacto, Waterman, and Berol stationery brands – and Gawd only knows what else!
Once Newell Brands gets a hold of Cross/Sheaffer, you can be sure almost all the the remaining U.S. jobs will be off-shored to China.
The Pilot Metropolitan is a tough act to follow at any price point. The barrel is aluminum, they come in a wide array of colours and nib sizes, and they come with a converter! What’s more is I’ve personally found Pilot nibs to be ridiculously smooth, even the 1.1mm stub I use in my Metropolitan.
This VFM looks pretty and I may get one eventually despite its seeming drawbacks. I love ready these less than stellar reviews too. Despite wanting every pen to be pure magic it’s nice to be reminded that I don’t need to buy every pen in sight.