Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

White-Dot Lifetime Flattop

Just in case you don’t know, welp I have a thing for black pens and a thing for flattop pens. Cigar or torpedo shape pens just don’t do it for me. Sheaffer introduced Lifetime pens in 1920. A couple years later came flattop pens but only in jade green. Eventually, black! Now they have my attention.

In 1924, Sheaffer introduced a flattop pen made of celluloid but the only color is Jade Green. They called this celluloid Jadite (makes sense). About the same time, they added the signature white dot to the center of Lifetime pen caps. By 1925, Sheaffer expanded the use of celluloid to include Jet Black, Coral Red, and Cherry Red and rebranded the Jadite to Radite.

The imprint on the clip changed in 1922 to compliment the company logo and it was mounted slightly lower on the cap. The clip is straight, ending in a round ball. Another clip design mounted even lower on the cap and with a slight bend or hump was introduced in late 1928. The ball at the end of the clip is flattened. This design did not replace the prior straight clip, both designs coexisted.

In 1926, Sheaffer began imprinting serial numbers on the dorsal and ventral sides of their nibs. This was to stop dealers (Katz Drug) from selling their pens below the retail price.

Early Flattops have a barrel imprint that includes patent dates. The patent date format went through a couple changes (this format is the latter). After 1927, the text style changed slightly and the patent dates were removed.

This original Lifetime pen sported a solid spear feed. The feed changed to a comb style sometime prior to 1926. In 1938, Sheaffer changed the feeds on the flattops giving them a more refined comb shape.

My Pen

Is a black Lifetime Radite Flattop lever filled, manufactured in 1926 or 1927. It has a couple minor tooth marks, scratches, and the cap doesn’t screw on as tightly as I’d prefer but otherwise, it is nice for a 95-year-old pen. The section is ebonite, there was some discoloration attributable to sun/water damage. The discoloration was minor and removed quickly with a Sunshine cloth.

Time to inked it up and gave it a go.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 116mm,
  • Uncapped length 104mm,
  • Barrel diameter 11.5mm,
  • Cap diameter 13.5mm,
  • Pen weighs in at 17g.
Posted in Pens, Restoration, Stories

The Lady Sheaffer “writes like a dream…refills like her lipstick”

The Back Story

“Extensive research” was conducted by Sheaffer to determine if there was a market for a pen designed exclusively for women.

Results showed that women generally considered pens made for them were nothing more than scaled down reproductions of men’s writing instruments while their fashion interests were centered in fabrics, costume jewelry and accessories. The results was a new line of cartridge pens named ‘The Lady Sheaffer’ developed to include all these features. The Lady Sheaffer Skripsert fountain pen debuts in April 1958, offering 19 models with patterns inspired by fine fabrics, like tweed, corduroy, paisley and tulle.

The Lady Sheaffer Skripsert VI is a periwinkle colored enamel over metal, with a gold basketweave that gives the pen a textured finish. The pattern was officially called “Paisley,” and fitted with a stainless steel Triumph wrap around nib. Unfortunately, the periwinkle enamel was prone to flaking off.

My Pen

Lady Sheaffer Skripsert VI

When I got my pen it was dirty and there was a big “stain” on the cap. I planned on cleaning it up but it got lost in the shuffle and my enthusiasm for it faded. After evaluating the direction my pen collection was headed I decide to sell off some pens and this one wasn’t making the grade, but it needed to be cleaned. I set about cleaning it and what a difference that made. The color became so vivid, I had a change of heart.

With the change of heart came a renewed interest in removing the “stain” on the pen cap. Assuming it was oil based, I washed the cap with Dawn dish soap which made the cap really shine but did not remove the stain. Next, I used the nylon circular brushes and the dental picks. This made some progress. Then I got the bright idea to let the cap soak over night in water. That morning I went over the stain again with the brush and removed the periwinkle enamel. F@&#.

It gets better, I’m not done. Since the Dawn soap did such a great job on the cap I used it on the barrel. A metal object covered in soap can be slippery when wet. It didn’t drop far but it landed nib first. F@&#, F@&#, F@&#. The damage isn’t too bad, but the nib is a Triumph circular nib and well ya need a special tool to remove it. OMG I was ready to scream. Doing the best I could with a 1.3 mm dapping punch tool, I managed to remove the majority of the damage.

As this is a cartridge only pen, I dipped the nib in some ink and gave it a go. Damn it looks good and I am impressed with how well it writes. Definitely keeping this pen. The question is can I save it from me?

Posted in Pens, Stories

Vintage Trendsetting Pens, the original “Influencers”

I was reading a blog the other day by Deb Gibson (of Goodwriterspens) where she was musing about pens that she thought were the primary influencers impacting the direction fountain pen appearance has taken over the years. I was considering a posting about the history of fountain pens and felt her blog was far more interesting and considered “reblogging” it. In her humble opinion, the following are the biggest influencers:

  • Parker Duofold
  • Sheaffer Balanced
  • Parker 51

I’m not going to go into great depth summarizing her thoughts, she does such a great job. I invite you all to read her blog; however, I would venture the Conklin Crescent should be on the list, replacing the Sheaffer Balance. But more on this later.

The Sheaffer Balanced, I’ll be honest I don’t know much about this pen, I honestly don’t like it, though Walt Disney was a big fan. It’s claim to fame is the torpedo shape and there are plenty of contemporary pens with the same shape.

I absolutely agree with her choice of the Duofold, clearly a landmark design and development. Many a contemporary pen is designed with the Duofold in mind. The Parker 51, I can see that as well. It’s influence is less pervasive because it came into being when the ballpoint pens were coming of age, but I feel the design impacted the appearance of all “clicker” ball point pens.

Missing from the list is the Conklin Crescent, why you may ask? I am getting a little off topic by adding this pen based on it’s self filling mechanism which impacted it’s appearance.

The Conklin Crescent is renowned for two firsts 1) first mass-produced self-filling pen and 2) the first mass-produced pen to use a flexible rubber ink sac. The crescent filling system employs an arch-shaped crescent attached to a rigid metal pressure bar, with the crescent portion protruding from the pen through a slot and the pressure bar inside the barrel. Which in turn compressed the internal rubber sac, creating a vacuum to force ink into the pen.

The crescent filling system is the basis for the Sheaffer introduction of the lever filling system in 1912, and the subsequent Parker button filler system. Clearly the pressure bar, and ink sac self filling system introduced by the crescent filling system became the primary direction of fountain pens for the next 60 years. In order to accomplish this, pen manufactures had to incorporate self fill levers, which petruded from a slot cut into the barrel – like the Crescent fill. Or they introduced a button under a blind cap which depressed a pressure bar. I know it is a stretch but it’s just my opinion which is the reason for the post.

So I ask, what are your thoughts? Do you agree, disagree, what pens do you think made a significant impact to fountain pen appearance over the years?

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