Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sheaffer Prelude

Sheaffer is one of the oldest and most respected pen manufactures in the world.  Walter A Sheaffer created a revolution of sorts in 1907 when he invented a new system of filling ink in pens using a unique lever system. Born as the son of a Jeweler from Bloomsfield Iowa, Walter purchased a jewelry shop on his own in Fort Madison, Iowa in 1906 and started working on a fountain pen ink filling system improving upon the already popular Conklin crescent filler system. Though He obtained the patent for the system in 1907, it was not until 1912 that he started production and WA Sheaffer Pen Company was incorporated in 1913. Celebrating Centenary in two years!

This flare for innovation and seeking novel designs in a bid to constantly improve its products are hallmarks of Sheaffer Pens even till date. As a kid, growing up in Kerala one saw many Sheaffer pens brought home by expats returning from the Gulf. While parker was the other most popular pen among the well heeled in Kerala of those days, Sheaffer stood out with its uniquely embedded and handsome nibs.  It was indeed the envy of every student and a dream gift, which alas, seldom came one’s way!

My first Sheaffer was  a brushed steel cap Imperial handed over to me by a relative returning from Saudi Arabia in the late Seventies. Unfortunately, I have lost it. I have though come in to another pen of the same model and even the same dark blue colour gifted to me by my sister.

This Sheaffer Prelude is my second pen of the same model, though the other has a black resin cap with Chrome trimmings.

The pen is 13.3 CM (5.2”) closed, 12.2 (4.8”) open and 15.6 CM (6.1”) posted, making it marginally longer than the Imperial (13 CM closed).

The real difference, however is in the heft. The Prelude feels heavy at xxxx gm. The increased weight is mostly due to the heavier gauge metal cap and the sturdier and more durable resin used for the body.

Once you uncap the pen, it seldom reminds you of the classic embedded nibs, made so famous by Sheaffer. The nib is conventional two-tone, gold plated stainless steel Medium point one. The nib is a little broad and stubby.

Once you post the cap and hold the pen in your hand, you appreciate the perfect balance and the feeling of holding to a very well made writing instrument. The indentations on the section for holding the pen between fingers are good for my style of gripping, but I wonder how the left-handed and those who hold the pen differently might feel.

The filling mechanism is a converter, but you can easily get the classic filler or the Sheaffer patented cartridge.

The writing is very smooth and the nib glides over the paper with no effort. By the way, I like the nib to offer a bit more resistance. Being a lazy writer, I tend to write fast with a smooth nib; a bit too fast for good handwriting. But then that is my personal choice.

Most medium pens tend to have a good amount of ink flowing from the nib. If the paper is not very good, there is always a tendency to feather. Needless to say, if the ink itself is known to be a good flooder, then most medium nibs give out a fair amount of ink. I have filled Parker blue Quink, which is known for moderate flow. I find that the Sheaffer Prelude with a Medium nib writes wetter than I would like. I intend to try a Fine nib with this pen just to compare the two.

At Rs. 4250(US $ 95) retailing at William Penn India stores, it is not a cheap pen, especially when compared to the prices at which these pens are available on ebay or Amazon.

Am I happy with this pen. Well I like it. I have a sentimental attachment for all Sheaffers. But at this price? Probably not much. The pen is overpriced, both in terms of international price and in terms of the bang for buck. At $100 I have a wide choice of excellent pens.


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