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First Year Sheaffer's - 1913


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#1 diplomat

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 12:09

I am curious to see how a first-year Sheaffer'S looks like.

I understand WA Sheaffer sold lever fountain pens in 1912 but they were redesigned in 1913 for a weakness in the original lever concept (single bar lever). So in 1913 a new model was launched with a new design (or at least a new double bar lever). My understanding is that the 1912 model is kind of difficult to find (was the pen called back from the manufacturer because of the fault?). Further on, penhero.com makes a difference between 1913 "First Lever Fillers" and 1914-28 "Flat Top" eras. From here my curiosity around a "first year" Sheaffer'S. Is anyone able to describe it or to post a picture or a reference?

A second question would be: how did the range look like at times? Were the pens sold in different sizes/materials (I suppose BHR/Overlay)?

Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

Best, Andre

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#2 Roger W.

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 18:32

Andre;

I would not differentiate the early 1913-late 1914 (your "first" year) from the rest of the flattops. This is the "Oval" imprint which is fairly common. Sheaffer testified that the single bar was quite functional but of the appoximately 35,000 made (testimony) very few are known. The 1912's are quite different from the later flattops having the "S" with arrow imprint and the wide lever lower down the body of the pen. Sheaffer's first pens were all catalogued as he was from the jewelry store background he realized how important a catalogue would be. Of interest from this are the overlays (of which are unknown to my knowledge) and the largest pen is a 6 and not an 8 otherwise this line of pens continues with few changes thru the teens.

Roger W.

Posted Image
1912 Sheaffer from Dan Reppert's collection note the threads on the end of the barrel for posting

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The imprint side of the 1912

#3 diplomat

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 20:04

Thank you Roger, I knew you were the man!
This is what I was looking for. I am reading second time the WAS bio and I'm getting more interested in early stuff. That imprint is great, the 1908 patent! It's a "6" but the lever seems huge nonetheless.
Do you happen to know if the cap was just a flat top or did recall the rim at the bottom? And the clip was already with a ball? Any chased model is known?

Thank you for your patience with me, Roger, it is appreciated from this side of the pond (a dark side for all the things Sheaffer'S!)

I get from what you say that that you don't have a specimen of this model? I wish you luck for the future.

Grazie, Andre

#4 Roger W.

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 22:02

Andre;

OK, took some pictures. Most pens do not have clips, it cost extra. The 1913/14 bands extended to the end of the cap and were tapered - this feature was dropped after this series (so if it isn't a 1913/14 and the cap ends at the band it is broken or has been cut short for chips). The "turn hand" for the cap was common but, I think continued, I haven't looked. Chasing was common for pens of this era. While Sheaffer indicates that the caps turn, screw caps had been in use for a number of years.

Roger W.

Posted Image
1913/14 Imprint

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Tapered bands ending with the cap lip

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"Hand" to indicate that the cap is threaded

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All of the 1913/14 Sheaffers that I have, except for one or two in boxes. #3 couldn't swear it's the right cap, #4 missing derby

#5 diplomat

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 15:43

I've seen some ebay auction with cut cap ends. The tapered cap lip gives some kind of modern touch on these exemplares.

What's the best way to tell a post 1913/14 pen if there's no cap band? The imprint? I know there is a fancy imprint with two big "S" on sides (like this) and one with a big curved "S" on centre. And both should be pre-radite pens. Are they useful to date the post pens between 1915 and 1924?

Thanks

#6 diplomat

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 11:36

I'd love a 1912. This is the first imprint shown in David N's archives (vintagepens.com). There were 35,000 made according to the testimony and they all worked great according to Walter. I think they we[re] failing miserably (the single bar was failing) in the first year and Sheaffer bought back as many as they could find. I know of two and I suspect there are a few more.

[...]

Roger W.


Hello.
I found the above statement in the forum and I thought to resurrect it for (resurrecting) this thread on the "first year" models.

The point I'd like to discuss is the first year production figure:
  • as per the 1948 "Annual Report" the net sales on the fiscal year ending the 1913 December 31st were $85K. Considering an average price of $2.5 (please challenge this hypothesis) that makes 34.000 pens in that year.
  • now, that was the first year that the company was incorporated and looking at the growth rate of the following year (+118% in 1914), I think that the 1913 sales should have exceeded the 1912 by far.
  • in addition to that, that only two specimen are known is another oddity, if we consider that 35.000 were made
  • finally, "Walter" in his biography says that in 1912 they start to sell pens in June, and by the first of January 1913 the first fiscal year of the incorporated company started. This left only six months for the 1912 production.

My point: is there a possibility that the 35.000 figure for the 1912 production is wrong and overestimated? What is this testimony of the 35K number? Is it trustable source?

Thank you for the patience in reading.

Andre

#7 Roger W.

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 15:54

[quote]The point I'd like to discuss is the first year production figure:
as per the 1948 "Annual Report" the net sales on the fiscal year ending the 1913 December 31st were $85K. Considering an average price of $2.5 (please challenge this hypothesis) that makes 34.000 pens in that year.
now, that was the first year that the company was incorporated and looking at the growth rate of the following year (+118% in 1914), I think that the 1913 sales should have exceeded the 1912 by far.
in addition to that, that only two specimen are known is another oddity, if we consider that 35.000 were made
finally, "Walter" in his biography says that in 1912 they start to sell pens in June, and by the first of January 1913 the first fiscal year of the incorporated company started. This left only six months for the 1912 production.


My point: is there a possibility that the 35.000 figure for the 1912 production is wrong and overestimated? What is this testimony of the 35K number? Is it trustable source?
/quote]

I'm going to have to look at the '48 I didn't know they had that.

The financial information is tricky as Sheaffer is mostly on a February 28 year end for most years (I don't know how early). As to the testimony of the 35,000 pens that is Walter giving the testimony in what is called the "Kraker" case so there is little doubt to its accuracy. Why aren't there more 1912's? I've said it before but, essentially Walter lied and the 1912 single bar lever stunk! Essentially, the lever depended on the resiliency of the sac to keep it closed. Within a few months the sacs started to sag and the levers became floppy. I'm sure he bought back or replaced all he could find. Yes production started in the middle of 1912 but it did not end in 1912 for the single bar. The double bar does not go into production until April 1913 (I think I've taken that date from testimony though, the patent was applied for on Feb 19 so, regardless, the single bar was made for two to four months into 1913). Also, if all you have to go on is Net Sales you don't know a heck of a lot that went on to get there. What I have for gross sales is $100,927 for 1913 and an increase of 207.4% in 1914 to $209,280. So your thought of Net Sales equals $2.5 per pen yields 34,000 pens doesn't work as this is Net Sales. If you take $2.5 per pen on gross sales you'd get 83,712 for 1914 and 40,371 for 1913. I'm not saying your $2.5 is correct as that is only Sheaffer's cheapest pen in the 1912 catalogue. Also, Walter testifies that from inception until the end of 1914 they make 200,000 pens. We've only accounted for 124,000 in '13 and '14 with 35,000 single bars in there somewhere and some pens in inventory maybe we're in the ballpark of 200,000.

Roger W.

#8 diplomat

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 17:50

I see, that testimony can't be wrong. What surprises me however is the difference between gross and net sales in 1913: 35K versus 100K is a lot and I can't justify it.

The 1948 Financial Report is a nice document because I find it matches with the WAS bio:
- fiscal year was from Jan to Dec from 1913 to 1928 (and the bio says the company was incorporated the first of January)
- in the bio WAS says that for the first year (company year, 1913) they got some 17.500 net profit. But then says "or a comparable number". In the 1948 report the net profit for 1913 is registered as 17,300 (I do not have the copy now, so it's a rounded number).

This last thing is something I cannot match with your figures: the bio says 17,5K is a 50% return on investment, which would not match with the 100K gross sales...

However, the 200K pens produced until 1914 would be a nice piece of info. As it is your information on the average price: I din't know 2,5 was the lower price in the 1912 catalogue. I'd change it accordingly in my tables (I made a table where I can try to figure out the "items" produced starting from the net sales and making hypothesis on the average price per year).

Where did you get the gross sales info? Still from the Kraker testimony?

Thanks, Andre

#9 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 20:59

stunning collection of vintage sheaffers roger w :) they are very nice.

Edited by georges zaslavsky, 06 November 2009 - 21:00.

Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#10 Roger W.

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 21:11

My info for 1927 on is Moody's Industrial Manuals - if your stock was traded your in these. 1926 was the first year on 2/28/27 reporting date (the '48 report might have gotten it wrong). In '28 or '29 Sheaffer wanted to sell stock so they advertised gross sales figures from 1914 on (This is also in the Pen Fanciers of Nov. 1983).

ROI has to do with capital investment not gross sales figures. So Sheaffer capitalized with $35,000 and made $17,500 or a 50% ROI.

I wouldn't get hung up on Sales v. Net Sales as Sheaffer is never too clear with data here. The closest I can come is that in 1927 Sales were above $6,000,000 and Net Income was $1,075,618 in comparison. After that the highest grossed up number is pretax Operating Income (1928 on) and you don't get to know the level of sales that supports that level of income.

Roger W.

#11 Roger W.

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 05:51

I missed a couple of the big pens the first time. The slightly smaller one is an 8. I'm assuming it was caught in the transition from 6 being the big pen to the 8 or the barrel is mis marked as the nib is a 6. The other is a 5 with a clip.

Roger W.

Posted Image
8 on top though the nib is a 6, 5 on bottom.

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Closeup on 1913/14 imprint

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6 Self-Ffilling and 5 Self-Filling nibs

#12 diplomat

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 21:03

Thank you for these new photographs, they are welcome. A "self-filling" on the nib is a good indicator of the age? I have a #2 with this engraving.

As for the numbers, you are obviously right for the ROI. But I don't thing the sales data is misleading because there is the Earnst&Earnst advisor firm confirming the numbers and the same numbers are reported in other Financial Statements.
So if we consider a 3$ avg price, that brings to 28K the pens produced in 1913. I'm thinking now that the 35,000 production number mentioned in the Kraker testimony could be referred to a timespan that overlaps the 1913. Maybe it's from the start on June 1912 to the April 1913 you earlier mentioned as end date for the single bar models.

Thanks for your feedback on this matter.

Ciao,

#13 Roger W.

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Posted 08 November 2009 - 05:19

Diplomat;

Just a note, in financial statements CPA's are giving assurance over the past year(s) in which they were the auditor and probably not past about five years even if they were the same auditor. I'm a licensed CPA that conducts audits as the bulk of my business. Therefore, Ernst would not have given any assurance over 1926 let alone 1913. Anyway, Moody's industrial manuals first pick up Sheaffer's data at 2/28/27 for the fiscal year end and the audits would have supported this or Moody's would have reported 12/31 as they did for Wahl (who reported since 1918). Reporting (or actually having you stock traded) in Moody's is a prerequisite for being in the big four. All of them did including Waterman for a very short period of time. The only other firm to report in the period was Ingersoll.

You find self-filling on all nibs from 1912-1920. At this point you get such other markings as, Lifetime and later, 22 Student Special, 46 Special, Secretary. So all pre 1920 nibs have to be self-filling #'s 2,3,4,5,6 and 8.

Roger W.

Edited by Roger W., 08 November 2009 - 05:20.


#14 diplomat

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 14:25

You find self-filling on all nibs from 1912-1920. At this point you get such other markings as, Lifetime and later, 22 Student Special, 46 Special, Secretary. So all pre 1920 nibs have to be self-filling #'s 2,3,4,5,6 and 8.

Roger W.


Thanks for this info. I have a "29MC" ebony that I can positively date on 1920 because of a custom engraving, and I wondered if the nib was right. I got some doubts because the feed seems to me wrong (is a comb-like, as opposed to the spoon-like I expected for a 1920 pen).

Thank you for a pleasant and informative conversations.

A.

#15 Roger W.

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 20:48

Andre;

Could have always been repaired. Years ago I had someone swear that a pen was early but clearly had a later attribute. They were right and had documentation that it was earlier but, had failed to state that it had been repaired as they had been aware of that as well. So there is what we know should be the factory configuration and the pen that we have in our hand that isn't but, has good reason not to be.

Roger W.






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