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Was Sheaffer The Onlyones To Make As Snorkel?


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#1 MichelleStClaire

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 16:24

I have been buying and selling pens for years but I am not super knowedgeable about certain lines. I have always thought the snorkel was the most amazing invention of a lifetime but am wondering if anyone else either stole, or perfected this engineering masterpiece? And why did Sheaffer stop making them? Certainly the FP world has to recognize the beauty of not having to ink your entire nib.

I bought an old Montblanc years ago that was listed as a snorkel but it wasnt one when it arrived. Considering I only paid about $50 for it I wasnt upset but I was truly excited to get my first snorkel. Still to this day, I have not owned a snorkel. I think I need to make 2013 my snorkel year.

Can anyone provide any guidance to my first snorkel purchase and tell me what the Holy Grail would be?

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#2 mhosea

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 17:11

I agree with you about the merit of the invention. I do not know what else might exist. What I did was perhaps not the easiest approach. I got a snorkel off EBay for a low price that needed restoration, learned how to restore it, and restored it. The bad part of this is the risk of disappointment from various sources. The good part of is that I know a lot about the pen now. My preferred strategy was to pick up a nice restored one from one of a few favorite sellers, but the onset of Christmas shopping seemed to drive up the prices on the nice-looking and ready-to-write ones. I just didn't win those auctions.

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#3 ashbridg

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 19:12

I have been buying and selling pens for years but I am not super knowedgeable about certain lines. I have always thought the snorkel was the most amazing invention of a lifetime but am wondering if anyone else either stole, or perfected this engineering masterpiece? And why did Sheaffer stop making them? Certainly the FP world has to recognize the beauty of not having to ink your entire nib.

I bought an old Montblanc years ago that was listed as a snorkel but it wasnt one when it arrived. Considering I only paid about $50 for it I wasnt upset but I was truly excited to get my first snorkel. Still to this day, I have not owned a snorkel. I think I need to make 2013 my snorkel year.

Can anyone provide any guidance to my first snorkel purchase and tell me what the Holy Grail would be?

Michelle
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Most other companies, including Parker, tried to make their own Snorkel and couldn't do it. Sheaffer stopped making them due to the high cost of manufacturing. The Snorkel cost 10 times as much to make as the pen that replaced it--the cartridge pen.

The grail would probably be the solid gold model. Furniture and nib style determine value. The less expensive Snorkels write just as well as the more pricey ones. I would suggest you pick a color and nib style that appeals to you. They are all good. Be careful buying on ebay. Many of my ebay Snorkels turned out to be something else, including cartridge pens. To some sellers "Snorkel" is just a word they use to help sell a pen. Unrestored Snorkels sell cheaply. Knowledgeable dealers sell properly restored Snorkels, but they cost more.
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#4 JonSzanto

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 19:45

Unless you are *really* good and/or experienced in pen repair/restoration, I think the complexity of the Snorkel system is such that you should consider a first purchase be one that is already restored. There are a number of respected eBay sellers who have Snorkels often, I could make suggestions via PM. Also, it would be worth looking at a site like David Issacson's, because he mostly has high quality pens.

An interesting aspect of Snorkels is, like the Parker 51, they came at a time when tastes were changing. As a result, the pens that are valued these days by collectors (i.e. will go for more money) may be just a particular color of plastic. Frankly, some of the most sought-after aren't to my tastes! But a Snork in good condition is a really, really fine pen, and the nibs are among the very best that Sheaffer produced.

If you haven't already browsed Jim Mamoulide's site, you should (at the very least) look at his Snorkel feature; lots of other good Snorkel info in other areas there.

It's a great pen, hope you have fun finding your first.
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#5 mhosea

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 19:46

Be careful buying on ebay. Many of my ebay Snorkels turned out to be something else, including cartridge pens. To some sellers "Snorkel" is just a word they use to help sell a pen.


Isn't that the truth! My rule of thumb: show me the snorkel tube or it isn't.

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#6 wekiva98

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 20:57

Here's a link to David Nishimura's overview on the touchdown/snorkel era. Pen profile These are easy pens to identify once you know what to look for -- except for the squared-off PFMs, they are slim pens with rounded ends and, of course, a snorkel tube that extends from under the nib. There are lots of them out there, many of them relatively inexpensive. (Rare colors, metal caps and 14K trim are some of the factors that demand higher prices.) The thin touchdown pens look similar, but they are shorter and don't have the snorkel. Keep this in mind and you shouldn't have any problem sorting through any inaccurate eBay sales pitches. Unless the seller had your pen refurbished, expect your 50- to 60-year-old pen to need a new sac and seals. That's an extra expense, but not a huge one. That's about it. These are reliable, attractive pens that you can use every day. I've almost always got one of these inked up and ready to go.

To answer your question about pens with high cache, the all-14K pens (they also come in 9K and 18K), pens with 14K trim and the demonstrators top my list. I think a nice compromise is the Snorkel Triumph with a gold-filled cap and barrel. Looks very classy at a fraction of the cost of solid gold. Can't say I'd consider these metal pens for everyday use, such as at work, however. Wouldn't want to dent them.

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Edited by wekiva98, 13 January 2013 - 21:53.


#7 Roger W.

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 22:15

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The fifth is fiesta but, in the reasonably to be found Sentinel.

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9K, 14K, and Gold Filled

There are several hard to get sheaffers but, the hardest to find is the full fiesta red (Statesman or Valiant) easily worth over $1,000 and it isn't because of gold content. A demonstrator is a great one to get as the snorkel does a bit internally worth looking at - has varied widely to price but should be close to $3-400 currently.

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#8 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 22:34

the only snorks I have are two PFMs, one PFM II and one PFM III, I will add a green PFM I and a green PFM II which are my favorite snorkel pens
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#9 nxn96

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 20:06

The Snorkel was a heavily engineered pen that came about in the latter days of fountain pens before reliable ballpoints and cartridge/converter pens became the mainstay of the US pen market. The Snorkel itself derived from Sheaffer's Touchdown filling system, but did it one better in that it was only the small tube (thus "Snorkel") that actually got immersed in the ink. The competitive advantage was that it didn't require a tissue to wipe the nib after filling, thus meaning you were less likely to be "wearing" some ink on your fingertips after filling your pen if you were using a Snorkel.

Cartridge/converters, and more so, ballpoints, offered much the same "neatness" advantages, but with less complication. They were also easier to replicate and could be more easily marketed as the "new" way to write.

#10 kpyeoman

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 00:56

There is a new Visconti that attempts to mimic the Snorkel, but it is not as complex -- a needle point attachment is place on the nib and used to draw up ink from a custom inkwell (the pen is a vac, rather than a Touchdown-type mechanism). I think it's called the mosquito? FP Geeks did a review of it recently. It's super expensive and seems rather gimmicky to me.

#11 Harlequin

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 07:57

There is a new Visconti that attempts to mimic the Snorkel, but it is not as complex -- a needle point attachment is place on the nib and used to draw up ink from a custom inkwell (the pen is a vac, rather than a Touchdown-type mechanism). I think it's called the mosquito? FP Geeks did a review of it recently. It's super expensive and seems rather gimmicky to me.


Yeah, I just saw the Mosquito for the first time in the Fountain Pen Hospital catalogue. Thought it looked cool, but couldn't place exactly what it reminded me of. Now it dawned on me- the snorkel!


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#12 Florida Blue

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 22:22


There is a new Visconti that attempts to mimic the Snorkel, but it is not as complex -- a needle point attachment is place on the nib and used to draw up ink from a custom inkwell (the pen is a vac, rather than a Touchdown-type mechanism). I think it's called the mosquito? FP Geeks did a review of it recently. It's super expensive and seems rather gimmicky to me.


Yeah, I just saw the Mosquito for the first time in the Fountain Pen Hospital catalogue. Thought it looked cool, but couldn't place exactly what it reminded me of. Now it dawned on me- the snorkel!


I was going to mention the Visconti. The pen is actually a model Visconti has been making for quite awhile called the Opera. The Opera is the first model to have that "Mosquito" attachment come with it. It's just a metal cone that fits over the nib and the pen uses a piston-fill mechanism. When you operate the piston it draws up ink into the tube. The pen can fill with or without the cone so the practicality of the cone is on the low end and it does seem somewhat gimmicky.

The new "Dreamtouch" nib on the Visconti Opera also seems "inspired" by Sheaffer. It is a conical, upturned nib that looks very similar to a Sheaffer Triumph nib but it is made from chromium.

The new Opera Crystal and Typhoon sells (both are LEs of 1000) for $700 so I think most people would be better off buying a fully restored Snorkel for $100 or better yet a PFM for about 1/3 of the new Opera.

Edited by Florida Blue, 10 February 2013 - 22:24.

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