Anyway, these are my general impressions of the Sheaffer Prelude fountain pen after over three weeks of daily usage. For the record, I'm a college junior and I use this pen for jotting down notes as well as writing random poetry, not to mention the one Slender Man fan fiction I've been working on over the past few days... but I digress.
As you may have surmised, this pen has gone through hell and back with constant use. Aside from actually writing with it, I've gotten addicted to pointlessly scribbling in the margins of my notebooks with this pen. Apart from that being an unfortunate waste of ink, it also speaks volumes of how pleasurable a pen it is to write with. Take note that this is my first fountain pen, however; I've no FPs to compare it to, save for the Lamys (Safari, Al-Star, Logo) and Sheaffers (VFM, Intensity) I tried out for maybe 5 minutes apiece on the day I bought the Prelude.
First up is the appearance.
This is a simple, yet elegant pen. My taste leans towards the Victorian-style ostentatious when it comes to accessories and the like (think something along the lines of the Lard-O-Led Viceroy), yet I still find this pen to be extremely attractive. The fact that I'm fond of the colour blue helps, too.
As you may have noticed, I had the audacity to engrave my name on the barrel of the pen. I personally think that it doesn't much detract from its charm, but there are many photos of the Prelude available online should you want to see it with an unaltered appearance.
Going back to the colour, you may have also noticed that, depending on the lighting, it shifts from blue to purple (or maroon, or magenta— I'm not very educated in differentiating colours). On the day that I first unboxed the pen, I'd actually thought that I'd picked up the wrong one instead. It really is quite beautiful though, and adds a certain flair to an otherwise bare design.
On the tip of the pen is a small disc made of what appears to be mother-of-pearl, though it could just as well be excellently made plastic. It actually goes rather well with Sheaffer's iconic White Dot, here located near the top of the pen's clip.
The clip itself is a simple rounded rectangle, with a long hole running lengthwise through it (I'd forgotten the proper term for the perforation; any ideas?). It's a bit utilitarian for my tastes, but nevertheless it jives with the not-quite minimalistic design of the pen. Also, at the bottom-most edge of the cap, there is a simple steel band that runs the circumference of the opening with the name “SHEAFFER” engraved four times in succession. Now, normally I'd be against such self-aggrandizement, but the branding isn't really all that imposing, and is actually quite tasteful.
The grip is made of plastic, and offers fairly decent hold with minimal slipping; I say minimal because although glossy plastic isn't really all that appropriate for gripping, I've rarely found myself struggling to keep the pen in place despite it's considerable weight. Also, there are two ribbed indentations in the grip for the index finger and thumb. I'm well aware of the fact that most people on the FPN aren't exactly fans of grips such as this, but all things considered, they don't hinder my writing very much, and actually help with orienting my hold on the pen. You'd think that the rather huge engraving I'd commissioned would've sufficed, wouldn't you?
From what I've observed of people borrowing my Prelude, those with awkward (i.e. unorthodox) pen holds don't really suffer much difficulty in writing, supporting my idea that the grip isn't really all that imposing.
Going off on a bit of a tangent: Some of the people who tried borrowing my pen wrote with the nib facing downwards, or facing off to the side. Naturally, I had to intervene and teach them how to hold the pen properly. I somehow managed to avoid laughing, though it made for an interesting experience.
Now, to the nib.
The design of the nib is in keeping with the overall concept of an entry-level fountain pen; it is mostly utilitarian, with only a few subtle markings to help the pen stand out from amongst the crowd. Moving the base to the tip of the tines: You get the size of the nib, which in this case is M. Moving on, you get Sheaffer's name emblazoned across the width of the nib in a manner resembling that of a ribbon stretched taut by the wind. Sorry, that's my being poetic again. Then you get a line on either side that looks like a profile view of a scroll being unfurled, with rigidly straight lines extending from the base of the nib to the tip, running across the gap between the tines.
On the whole, it's a well-designed thing with no more bells and whistles than is appropriate for the somewhat plain design of the rest of the body. The appearance of the whole is generally cohesive and no one part stands out too much. Well, there is the nib, but that's only yo be expected in a fountain pen.
Given the entry-level price, this pen is exceedingly beautiful; even for one such as myself who is fond of grandiose designs, I stilll find myself appreciating the pen's aesthetics even after nearly a month of use. My only real complaint is that the pen doesn't look all that impressive unless capped or posted, as many of the design elements are focused on the cap.
As I've previously mentioned, the ribbed hold on the grip of the pen helps with proper orientation, and also instructs in the proper way of holding a pen. In the event that one is already well-versed in proper pentiquette however (“pen etiquette”; please humor my crappy naming skills), they do not unduly hinder your writing.
The reason behind my not giving a higher score is the weight of the thing.
Now, a lot of people have mentioned this to be a heavy pen, but even then the heft of the thing took me by surprise. Again, though, this is my first quality pen (excepting two Pilot Jotters, that excellent and well-renown ballpoint), so I've yet to really accustom myself to anything with a substantial feel to it.
Or at least, that was my initial impression; in the weeks since I've first gotten this pen (I'd planned on uploading this review approximately a month ago, but was kept busy with exams, theses, and such), I've gotten used to handling it, and find it comfortable to use now, even when posting the cap. Still, it's not a pen I'd recommend for someone used to the feather-light of most disposable pens or FPs the like of Lamy's Safari or Al-star.
… And that's about as much as I can say about the ergonomics of the pen. If I've overlooked something, please blame that on my lack of knowledge.
On the whole, this is an exceptionally smooth writer, with only the mildest of whispering (or is it more “talking” than whispering?) present. The only reason that I'm giving this a 7 is that there is intermittent skipping.
Now, I realize that this is something of a cardinal sin for any self-respecting fountain pen, but the issue's not really as bad as I may have made it out to be. Rather than the problem lying in the nib or feed of the pen, I believe it has something more to do with the converter (though I've yet to verify this); during long writing sessions, the flow suddenly stops, despite the converter still having a significant amount of ink within, leaving me with no choice except to either shake the pen until the ink starts flowing again, with me looking like the antagonist from Psycho during that infamous shower scene, or unscrewing the body of the pen (which takes ten full
Here's a picture of the thread, for those of you who still think I'm joking about the unscrewing taking ten
It's a pain in the rear, but I suppose it helps keep the pen from falling apart. In any case, the above is the only real issue I have with the pen's performance.
Generally, the Prelude is a very wet writer, laying down a consistent line with little to no variation, save for when applying exceptional force while writing. There is a definite sweet spot, and a narrow one it is at that. Then again, my writing style is just a wee bit unorthodox, so I doubt that many people will experience problems writing with it.
Overall, it's an excellent entry level pen. Doubtless, more people would opt for the Lamy Safari because of its fun aesthetics and insane durability, not to mention the fact that you're free to change nibs as often as you want (to the best of my knowledge, the nib on the Sheaffer Prelude is fixed, and one risks damaging the feed as well as the nib should they try to change it). Nevertheless, for those looking for a weightier alternative at a similar price point, not to mention one that looks a bit more reserved, the the Sheaffer Prelude is a great alternative.
Edited by Lyander0012, 26 October 2012 - 09:17.