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Review-Sheaffer School Pen


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21 replies to this topic

#1 johnr55

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 04:07

Running through EBay, I came across many sales of 'Sheaffer School Pen' auctions, still in their wrappers, in various colors and all at very low prices. As I'd grown up in the 60's using Sheaffer cartridge pens, I bought a fistful of these. I decided to put a brief review on here, should others be curious about these.

I unwrapped a fine nib and medium nib example, one yellow and one green.

Body: unashamed plastic, and fortunately not disguised as anything else. The only metal, chromed, is a band surrounding the bottom of the cap, and a simple clip in the traditional Sheaffer shape. The pen bears a passing similarity to the Balance series. Being designed as a simple cartridge pen for students, the body of the pen has a window where the user can easily check the ink supply. I would expect a converter would fit, though I haven't tried one. This pen works like the ones I grew up with: drop a Skrip cartridge in the body and just screw the nib part onto it. Unlike the old cartridge pens of my youth, this appears to be a more flexible plastic--ours just shattered. Additionally, there is a very positive snap to the cap when capped, and it will spin freely--ours just had a metal friction cap that, with time, would come uncapped with disastrous results. This snap feature should save many little shirts! The size of the pen is virtually identical to my Esterbrook J models, and somewhat greater in diameter than their older cartridge pens. There are finger grips molded into the nib section, but unlike a Parker 75, there is no provision for rotating the nib should the finger grips not fit one's hand.

Nib: a short steel Sheaffer nib, though it will be familiar to anyone using their other and older cartridge school pens. The fine nib is more to my preference, hardly fine by the standards of more expensive pens, certainly wider than my Pelikan or Lamy fine nibs. However, even the medium nib is not prone to too much feathering on any paper. I have used the fine nib on many different papers. It is a consistently smooth writer, with a good balance between wet and dry. This is with a blue Skrip cartridge--the Slovenian one.

Workmanship: excellent for a pen of such modest price and pretension. Neither of the pens I've used constantly over the past month have shown any inclination to leak. The threads on the body and nib section are not coarse, and would be difficult to strip. The snap-on cap is eminently practical and a real comfort for those who've lost caps in pockets accidentally. The cap posts well and without wobbles, but the pen is well-balanced either posted or not.

Summary: unless one is a pen snob, this pen can serve very well for day-to-day use, and at a very minimal price. The durability and reliability of this pen appears to match the Sheaffer cartridge pens I grew up with, and they were also superb buys. I'd encourage anyone with a sense of adventure to pick up one or more of these and be surprised at the quality that can be offered for a song! Also, should make a great first pen for younger hands.

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#2 Maja

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 20:31

Thanks for the review, johnr55! I think the pen you are talking about is this model


(image from Pendemonium.com)

if I am correct....

I have a red one and with some pure silicone grease, it works very well as an eyedropper. Good to practice one's nib grinding techniques, too!
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#3 johnr55

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 23:35

Yes, this is the matching ballpoint model to the FP's I bought.

#4 psfred

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 02:49

Ah, memories!

I'm glad Sheaffer is still making a school pen. I have any number of them floating about (all but a few fines, I can't write well with their mediums). I have one No-nonsense with an Italic nib (likely I have a caligraphy set somewhere, I bought several over the years) with more points.

The ones I have are between a J and and SJ in size, and the same thickness as the SJ. These also turn up by the dozen on eBay for next to nothing.

For an inexpensive steel nib, they write wonderfully, fully the equal of my Snorkel Triumphs. They don't work as well upside-down (I use most pens upside down for a finer line) as the Snorks, but for the price they are unbeatable.

They will take a Sheaffer standard converter, or you can do what I did for years -- simply refill the cartridges with your choice of ink.

The only drawback is the use of Sheaffer cartridges, limiting your selection to Sheaffers mostly non-waterproof inks (the blue-black is pretty water resistant).

Peter

#5 Maja

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 08:06

QUOTE(johnr55 @ Nov 10 2006, 03:35 PM)
Yes, this is the matching ballpoint model to the FP's I bought.

:doh: blush.gif
Oh Gee....I didn't notice they were ballpoints...Thanks for pointing that out!

As for Peter's point about being limited to Sheaffer cartridges with some pens...I refill my Sheaffer proprietary cartridges with a syringe and bottled ink. smile.gif

Edited by Maja, 11 November 2006 - 08:06.

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#6 Univer

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 21:52

Hey johnr55,

Thanks so much for the review. It's nice to see these little pens take a turn in the spotlight.

I agree with all of your observations - these are darn good everyday writers, and they're soundly engineered pens.

I also have to say: I absolutely love the fact that somebody at Sheaffer was thinking about the company's history when they built this pen. I adore the side windows - an homage, maybe, to the little windows in the old Comp I/II? And - given that a generic straight clip would have been easier (and maybe cheaper) to design - I think it's great that Sheaffer opted for a mid-30s-Balance lookalike.

It's sad that so many modern companies - and not just pen companies! - are so disconnected from their own heritage. Sheaffer, under its new ownership, is destined to be the latest poster child for that phenomenon.

Cheers,

Jon

Edited by Univer, 13 November 2006 - 21:54.


#7 LapsangS

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 22:14

I had a couple of these pens but they leaked ink so badly... :doh: The nibs were smooth writers though.

#8 johnr55

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 22:16

Where did they leak from? The basic mechanism including nibs is the same one Sheaffer's used for the past 50 years and I've never known one to leak. Sorry to hear that--

#9 LapsangS

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 22:19

QUOTE(johnr55 @ Nov 13 2006, 10:16 PM)
Where did they leak from? The basic mechanism including nibs is the same one Sheaffer's used for the past 50 years and I've never known one to leak. Sorry to hear that--

From the nib into the cap. Each time when I opened the cap I found smeared nib and huge blobs of ink inside the cap. I always had to wipe the nib before starting to write.

#10 Armchop

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 22:32

sm_cat.gif
Bought loads of these in my angry cheapo phase. I'd had a spate of pens being "taken" by students. I lost a really excellent old version Vector before Stanford dumbed down the quality and put a rubbish nib on it. So I thought what's the point and went and got about 8 of these Sheaffer school pens. Good for anything except writing. Then I wnt even madder and bought six pens from ebay and so here I am today.
Honestly, if you see these anywhere I suggest you run away!
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#11 johnr55

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 02:10

Sorry to hear so many have had problems! I guess the several dozen I've owned have just been the good ones.

#12 sallylou56

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 11:43

I bought 4 of these - all different colors - from Ebay a year ago, and have had absolutely no problem with them; in fact, I'll probably be getting more at some time soon. I try to keep some of the cheaper pens like these and my Hero 329s around for students who want to try a fountain pen, since it's no major hardship to give them away. (Hint to fountain pen manufacturers: if you want to turn people into users, start by giving deep discounts to teachers; you'd be amazed at how many students watch what we write with!)

BTW, I've always been very partial to the Skrip cartridges, and think they're the best by far of any cartridges - just love knowing that I don't have to fight with them to get them to puncture and fit!

#13 travis71

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 01:26

I own two of these pens purchased on eBay earlier this year. I've only used one of the two but I've also experienced the problems with ink leaking out when the pen is capped. The pen feels nice in hand and the fine nib is quite smooth, and of course who can argue with the practicality of the see-through ink window, but I'm discouraged by having to wipe down the barrel of the pen after every use. I stopped carrying it in my bag because I thought all the movement was causing ink to come out through the nib, but the pen does just the same thing when it never leaves my desk at home. I don't know if this is something I can work on or fix, but any suggestions would be appreciated.

#14 OldGriz

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 13:40

I have purchase a l bunch of these... my daughter has one and she gave two to friends. Fantastic pens for starting a child on the road to FPs... they come in bright colors and none of the pens mentioned have given anyone a bit of trouble. IF a 7 yr old can't made a pen go bad, it is doubtful any of us will.
I bought a couple to the DC show with me and gave them away to a couple of kids who were with their parents. It started when I asked one childe if she wrote with a FP and she told me her Daddy won't let her use his pens... So I told her to pick her favorite color (after OKing it with Mommy)... she was soooo excited and I felt good... perfect exchange...
She later came back to me and handed me a thank you note she wrote with the pen... I still have it... the others went to kids the same way...
OH, BTW, the father did not purchase anything from me and I don't care.. there is another child out there enjoying a FP.

Armchop, I don't know what problems you had with these pens, but I don't think anyone should run from them.... they are great teaching pens. They obviously don't meet the standards of a Pelikan GO, but then again they are also a lot less expensive. But I have never heard anyone having major problems with them...
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#15 Armchop

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 16:47

sm_cat.gif
Ok - these might be just about ok to start sudents onto using FPs but only as an introduction. But then to encourage them graduate onto a £14 ($9) Lamy Safari as something they will keep longterm and be proud of is a good aim. Too many students do actually get put off FPs altoghether with cheapo school pens that are not so reliable and as dont write too smoothly give them wrist ache after doing all my HW! Then when they are older and have more cash can make own decisions about what to buy longterm.

Armchop

PS Maybe the UK supplied ones have different spec nibs. That could explain my expereience of them?

Edited by Armchop, 26 November 2006 - 16:49.


#16 Maja

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 19:18

QUOTE(Armchop @ Nov 26 2006, 08:47 AM)
sm_cat.gif
Ok - these might be just about ok to start sudents onto using FPs but only as an introduction. But then to encourage them graduate onto a £14 ($9) Lamy Safari as something they will keep longterm and be proud of is a good aim.

It is a good aim, Armchop....and I really wish that I could get a new Safari for $9 USD wink.gif (I think you meant "£14 ($27"), perhaps?)

But seriously....
The modern Sheaffer School Pen reviewed here is miles away from the Lamy Safari in terms of quality (for you newbies reading this, that means I think the Safari is much *better* wink.gif ). The Sheaffer isn't the greatest writer in the world, but it's cheap and if someone loses one, there won't be any tears. I think there must be better school pens available in Europe, though. The 2nd fountain pen I ever bought was an inexpensive Pelikan Culture pen in a Vienna grocery store and it writes much better than my Sheaffer School Pen.
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#17 arbatrmwc

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 00:09

I got a Sheaffer school pen about a year ago on Ebay, though it must be a slightly different model as the body is transparent. But this has been a great pen to start me off on the FP way of life - I look forward to taking notes with it. I have had the same problem of ink leaking into the cap, which happens if the pen is jostled. Since the cap is transparent, it does admitedly look unsightly. But otherwise, it is great performer in its own niche.

#18 No nonsense

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 09:06

Got a couple of these pens recently and am very satisfied with the quality of the writing they can provide. Though the plastic parts of this pen don't reach the quality of other low-cost Sheaffer pens like the USA made No-nonsense and the Cartridge pens, their nibs are really good. I have one School pen with fine and another one with medium nib  but so far have tried the first only. The particular «F» size was matching perfectly my own need.  I would like to know if this series was all made in China or there have been items made in the USA. 



#19 ac12

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Posted 09 September 2015 - 20:05

I just got one of these School pens.  Just like the ones I used in grade school.  Demonstrators of the 1960s.

Cleaned it up and polished the barrel so it looks like new.

Filled the cartridge with Sheaffer blue, and the pen writes like a charm.  :D

I think it just joined my pool of outside the house carry pen.

 

Now to look for the other colors that I had in grade school.


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#20 bob_hayden

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 00:48

The one and only photo here does not load for me so I am not sure just which Sheaffer model is being discussed.  In fact, I think different posters may be talking about different models.  There are some photos here

 

http://www.fountainp...-2#entry3695882

 

of a wide variety of pens people call "Sheaffer school pens" and I know of a couple others not mentioned.

 

The only leaks I ever had with the inexpensive Sheaffers from Iowa (over roughly half a century) were all with the USA Sheaffer red ink.  That seemed to run out of the nib much too freely in these and other Sheaffer pens. Otherwise the old pens wrote at least as well as the several Lamy's I have owned, and are much more comfortable to hold and write with.  YMMV of course, but I think it would be rash to assume that everyone would prefer a Lamy -- or a Sheaffer;-)

 

Disclaimer: I have negligible experience with "Sheaffer" pens made in places other than Fort Madison, IA.  That experience indicated that the new pens may be fine pens but they are Sheaffers in name only.  Likewise for the Slovenian ink.  I actually prefer some of that ink to the old USA ink.  I just think it unwise to assume any experience with the USA products will tell you much about the newer pens or inks.








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