I was lucky enough to have been born and grow up before the days of Interstate Highways and if you wanted to go west then you went around the mountains to the south in Georgia or through the Cumberland Gap on US Route 40 in my day, following the same route that was once the National Road (or Pike) which was the very first major improved Federal Highway in the US. Back then it was the connection between the Ohio river, the Potomac River and connecting to the Port of Baltimore and the rail hubs there.
The mountain ranges beginning only about 100 miles or less in from the Atlantic Ocean were a major barrier, old old stumps of what had once been a mighty range worn down over time to a series of sinuous ridges that were like a series of snakes crawling up the Eastern Coast from Georgia to Maine.
The ones that relate to this story are the Catoctins (a small range that shelters two small towns of note; Gettysburg and Emmitsburg), the Alleghenies and the Shenandoah range.
The area covered by these two pens sits on a plain with the Atlantic ocean to the east and the barrier of those mountains to the west. Whoever could control access to the ocean and the few passages through the gaps in the mountains would win the war.
While the Washington pen was designed with those straight linear lines defining borders and containing the deep "Vague" pattern guilloche symbolizing the technological and industrial north, the Richmond pen is more gentle, with long running valleys held between serpentine high points that run the length of the pen much as the south depended on agriculture and was hemmed in by the barriers of mountains and sea.
But enough of my prattling, where are the pictures?
The Sheaffer Classic Pens CP4 Washington and Richmond come in a bright outer box with a line drawing map of the area against a red, white and blue abstract background.
Inside you find a certificate for the individual pen, a brochure with some of the history of the US Civil War and a faux leather box, Blue for the Washington pen and Grey for the Richmond.
Inside is a simple pen tray and the pen and another line drawing of the area in the lid of the box.
The Richmond pen exhibits the same characteristics as the Washington, it just plain feels perfect in hand and the deep guilloche circular engraving warms quickly and is soft to the touch. These pens seem a perfect combination of tactile feedback and constantly change appearance as they sparkle in the light. They really call out to be used.
The nib on my Richmond is a rounded broad nib, moderately wet and a joy to use.
Finally, here is a view of the two pens side by side where you can see some of the play that light causes in how the patterns appear. The Washington is on the right, the Richmond on the left, and look at the variation in patterning as light reflects on different parts of the pens.
If you ever get a chance to see one of these in person, to hold it in your hand, be sure to jump at the opportunity.
Edited by jar, 06 April 2012 - 15:17.