When I was very young, I remember being in a flea market with my crazy aunt and seeing an old Sheaffer advertisement, touting the latest, greatest pen- the PFM.
Well, I still don't own a PFM. But that moment sort of defined when I started thinking fountain pens were cool, particularly fountain pens with inlaid nibs.
Fast forward to this past Monday night, and that idea was confirmed in a big way. After some random trolling around, I discovered Peyton Street Pens through this site, though I forget where in particular I saw the link. No affiliation, but I can now say I'm an incredibly pleased customer.
I scored a "seconds" NOS Sheaffer Imperial 440 in dark blue with a fine nib for $28, with free shipping. I ordered it early in the evening on Thursday, it was on my doorstep Monday. Not bad for cross-country shipping.
I'm ecstatic about this pen, though not without some reservations. So let's dig around a little and talk about the details. It should be noted that I don't give scores- I'm not experienced enough with pens to do so, and I don't really feel it's fair for myself to rank a pen. All I can do is give my opinion, and opinions are very vague things.
Design and Appearance -
This pen is classy. It's also slick. It's also cool. You know what? Let's be honest; I think this pen is downright sexy. It arrived at my door with the original manufacturer's sticker on the cap, and for being listed as having "imperfections," I'm hard pressed to call them such. There's a small scratch on the barrel and a mark from the cap sitting on the pen for so long. There's a few scratches on the cap. Nothing beyond what this pen would get over the course of daily use with me at all.
And that nib. Oh man. It looks good- not just decent, or good in the sense that it appears to be a good nib. It would look good if it weren't a nib at all. It's just a great design, unusual without being ridiculous.
The pen itself is light- very light. Almost uncomfortably so. Like the Parker 51 that I own, most of its weight comes from the cap.
Speaking of the cap, it's a pretty hefty little guy. It slips snugly onto the pen (honestly, a little too snugly- I'd be happier hearing a little click), and the clip is just excellent with its spring-loaded smoothness. The only time I have trouble with it is at work, where I stick it into the placket of my work polo. But slipping it into the pocket of a buttondown shirt or into a pen loop? Flawless every single time. Love it.
While the body is plastic, it doesn't feel cheap. It feels like a good quality plastic, and it is very easy for me to grip.
Size and Weight -
Unfortunately, you won't be getting any precise measurements from me, nor any carefully determined weights. I don't have a caliper, and I don't have a good scale. But I can tell you that the length is maybe five millimeters or so short of the Parker 51 uncapped, and maybe 3 millimeters or so longer than the 51 when capped. With caps posted, the Sheaffer is again about 3 millimeters or so longer. The weight between the two is virtually identical, with the Sheaffer coming in just a hair lighter (by my reckoning) uncapped and unposted.
Filling and Capacity-
This pen, dating from the 70s, is a cartridge/converter pen. I don't use cartridges, which leaves me with the NOS converter that came with the pen. In regards to the converter, I'm just going to go ahead and say it- I have squeeze fillers of any and all types. Sure they may offer a good capacity. But (1) I can't really see the ink levels, (2) I always have a hard time filling them because of the size of my hands and (3) it just feels cheap. I'll take piston and vac any day over a squeeze filler, thank you very much. I realize that some people like them, and others don't care so long as their pen reliably holds ink. But I just hate the little things, and will be digging around to see if I have any alternatives open to me.
But the ink capacity is good. I've been writing with it every single chance I have gotten since Monday night (it's now Thursday afternoon), and I've used maybe 1/3 of this pen's capacity. The combination of its capacity and its fine nib make this pen an excellent workhorse.
Oh man. This little guy performs extremely well. I'll go ahead and mention that line variation doesn't really exist with this nib- what variation you do get will come at the cost of intense pressure. I probably could get more out of this pen, but I'd rather not because I rather like the way the nib looks without being sprung.
It's a nail. For many that's a down side, but for me that's perfectly fine- I don't like flex. I don't place any pressure on my nibs, either, so even if the nib did have any flex it would never be utilized, unfortunately.
Even though it's a nail, though, anyone would be impressed with its performance. It is incredibly smooth while also providing a little feedback- there's not a hint of scratchiness, but there's a wonderful sense of feeling absolutely everything the pen is doing, and it's fantastic. On cheaper papers the feedback is more intense (think Staples copy paper), while on higher grade papers (Clairefontaine, Apica), this baby just flies.
It lays down a very controllable, wet line. Even with Liberty's Elysium (I'll be ordering some Kon-Peki specifically for this pen soon enough), I have very few issues with feathering, and shading can definitely happen when you slow down though the fine nib makes it very hard to detect. Especially with my spidery handwriting which is, frankly, appalling.
Overall Impression -
I really love this little pen. And yes, it is extremely little for me. With my hand size, it's next to impossible to hold it unposted- a Lamy Al-Star is just barely long enough unposted. But when posted I find that it's well balanced and just long enough. I wish, of course, that the body were a little thicker, but it is still comfortable for shorter writing sessions at this point. I suspect that ergonomic grips and big pens have hindered my form, so maybe I just need to let this little guy straighten out my flaws. But the feel of the nib, for the price and "quality" of the pen in comparison with other pens in the same like (Imperials), is simply outrageously nice.
I've noticed that this pen is available in at least 6 other colors. It looks like I'll be getting at least 6 more.
Images here - Sorry for the low quality!
Edited by H.M. Murdock, 30 October 2014 - 19:41.