And welcome back to another fountain pen post! …I have yet to come up with a catchy, snazzy name.
In any case, today I present to you the set that I bought for my birthday:
It is a Triumph nib 1500 with matching 500 pencil. It comes presented in a rather nice case. It doesn’t have the original papers and the bottom portion doesn’t come out easily so I imagine it isn’t meant to come out. What I didn’t notice until I started to take pictures was the barely visible “Sheaffer’S” on the front of the case. I thought that was a neat little addition to the case.
This set is actually being a total pain to ID, but I do love doing detective work. That’s half the fun of collecting things like this. You are often presented with something and if you want to find out more about it, you have to dig around a bit to find information. Let’s start with the filling mechanism:
This pen fills with the venerable vacuum filling system. The blind cap (also known as a plunger cap) unscrews and when pulled back reveals a rod. This rod is connected to a disk within the body of the fountain pen. Very simple method of filling — but also very delicate. If too much force is applied in either direction, ink can force its way out between seams between the nib section and body! This mechanism was put into the Sheaffer line-up in 1934 and remained in use until the Touchdown filling mechanism was introduced in 1949.
There is our first window: 1934-1949.
What about the nib? Well, the Triumph nib — which is worth an article on its own — was introduced in 1942.
Initially the nibs had the full hallmarks of the older non-Triumph nibs which included the “Lifetime” imprint. But approximately in the spring of 1948 that hallmark was mostly dropped then entirely in 1949 with the full roll-out of the Touchdown pens. In the same year a new method for making the nibs was devised and pushed into service.
Our updated window: 1948-1949. Getting pretty tight there…
This pen is a white dot model. And you wouldn’t notice that unless you looked at the tip of the plunger cap:
Sheaffer had a beast of a time trying to get the white dot on metal caps for the longest time. They always kind of just settled to put it somewhere else on the body of the pen. But by 1949 they had figured out how to put it onto metal caps. This was applied to all white dot models from 1950 onwards. Since the pen still has a dot on the plunger cap… we know for a fact this pen was made pre-1950.
Well, that didn’t really help too much beyond really cementing the 1950 date. Needless to say, we can probably say with some confidence that this pen was manufactured within 1948-49.
Pictorial research suggests that the “1500” imprint is the price: $15.00. And this is a Sentinel set.
I cannot find an example of this color with a vacuum fill at all. Even if it were exposed to sunlight and the color aged from a burgundy, the portions that are protected from UV should remain unchanged. Not to mention that UV discoloration is fading not darkening.
With the release of the Touchdown model, however, new colors were added. Though this is not the Crest (characteristic gold cap), we can use it for some information. At first the Crest was released with striated colorations and solid black plastic. However, in the late 1940s many of Sheaffer’s pens were going into injection molded solid colored plastics. The Crest was available in black, blue, green, and burgundy. The Touchdown Sentinel, when released in 1949, was released with black, burgundy, evergreen green, Persian blue, and burnt umber brown. This pen, when compared against a 1949/50 burnt umber brown Touchdown Statesman, matches that brown. (Link is from Vacumania’s Sold Sheaffer pens section.)
A theory, that comes from that tidbit of information, is this pen was produced in 1949 and is a late model/bridge between several things: 1) the transfer out of the vacuum fill and into the Touchdown, 2) the transfer into a new color set, and 3) the transfer from dots on the plunger cap/blind cap to dots on metal caps. If that is really true, then this is a pretty neat pen!
The other theory is this is all gibberish. Which might be the case and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. As with typewriters, manufacturing history is hard to come by and is often riddled with cross overs, brand takeovers, and the like. But still… it would be neat. Haha!
Performance wise, the pen is absolutely fantastic. Ultra smooth and just feels great in the paw. It’s much lighter than what one would expect. It can be used with the cap unposted, but the cap does add some balance. The nib is far broader than what I normally write with and forces me to write larger than what I’m accustomed to.
The pencil has the original eraser and lead — both are hard as rock. I’ll be needing to replace both… Easy fix. The lead will be replaced with B softness and the eraser can be home manufactured easily enough. Thickness wise, it is, again, broader than what I’m used to at 0.9mm.
The set sits well in the pocket and the caps look simply stunning. I rather enjoy the plain face of them without the “Sheaffer’S” engraving that is present on my Touchdown TM Admiral’s clip. The absent white dot on the metal cap doesn’t bother me either as it’s absence adds to the simplicity. It’s almost a kind of sleeper pen: most would think it’s a cheap office supply store set until the cap comes off and reveals something totally unexpected and different.
All in all, I’m definitely going to be giving this set it’s chance in the sun — something that it’s probably been waiting for, for a long time. I will, however, been sending it in for some refinements. The filling mechanism, I feel, needs some love and I might even risk getting the nib modified a wee-bit. This pen would be fantastic with an 0.5mm or 0.7mm stub!
Until next time, I hope you have a great day and be safe out there! 🙂