I decided that I preferred the plastic cap models, but I wasn't sure about nib color/materials. It was a toss-up between the PFM I and the PFM III. I ended up choosing the PFM III.
I e-mailed Sherrell Tyree of ink-pen.com in February, and asked for a quote for the PFM I and the PFM III. The PFM III would cost a fair bit more, but I was pretty sure that's what I wanted. Sherrell was very accommodating and was able to identify a few pens she had in stock that she felt sure would meet my requests for nib width.
By early March, I'd gotten the funds together and pulled the trigger. Sherrell accommodated the fact that I was heading out of town for a business trip and timed her shipping so that it would arrive on the day I returned. Sure enough, it was waiting for me when I walked in the door after a long (and unexpected) drive back from Boston, MA.
First Impressions: 5/5
My OOBE (out-of-box experience) with this pen was phenomenal. I came home to find a much larger package than I expected. I opened the box and found a carefully wrapped Sheaffer box tied with a nicely bowed ribbon. Nice touch!
As I went to put the package aside, I was surprised to find that there was still quite a bit of heft. I poked around a little more and found a full bottle of old-school Sheaffer Skrip brown ink as well as an envelope. The envelope contained a payment receipt, filling instructions, and a hand-written note -- written with that pen -- detailing the history of the PFM III. Wonderful additions to the package -- very personal. I was blown away by this point, having not even gotten to the pen!
Inside its box, the pen was wrapped in tissue paper for the trip through the mail. It was obvious that tremendous care went into packing the pen and all of the accompanying materials. On to the pen itself....
Make no bones about it, the PFM III is a snappy pen. The black and gold contrast nicely, and the inlaid nib is a thing of beauty. The faceted knob for the snorkel plunger and the square-topped cap add a bit of character.
The only reason it gets a 4.5 from me is that it was a bit smaller than Iíd expected. As oversized pens go, it seems fairly ordinary-sized to me. Itís comparably sized to the Lamy 2000 and Sensa Meridian, and just a touch shorter than the Sailor 1911. Here, the PFM III suffers more from my expectations than it does from any real flaw.
Even though (from what I understand) it didnít sell well in its time, the PFM III has a fantastic design. Itís light, well-balanced (I write without posting the cap) and I can write with it for long stretches without fatigue. It seems like a good bit of thought went into designing the pen to be both attractive and usable.
As Iíve mentioned, the inlaid nib is, to me, quite beautiful. It also writes very nicely. Itís not the smoothest nib I own (that honor belongs to a Conway Stewart Shorthand that was tweaked by Richard Binder before it found its way into my possession, so the bar was already set pretty high), but it puts down a smooth and solid line without any hard-starting or skipping.
Filling System: 5/5
The snorkel filling mechanism is pure genius. It is smooth, reliable, and hassle-free. It does take some getting used to, however; I was glad the instructions were included. Itís obviously more complicated than a simple lever-fill, but it holds a good amount of ink and hasnít failed me yet.
Cost and Value 4.5/5
I bought my pen fully restored from Sherrell Tyree, who is generally recognized as one of the premier Sheaffer restorers. I paid more than I would have if Iíd gotten it off eBay or from the Marketplace, but the peace of mind associated with getting a guaranteed good pen was well worth the premium to me.
As you can tell, I love this pen. Itís become one of my regular daily users. I did find that it was a bit picky about inks. I first inked it with the included Skrip brown, and found it to be a bit of a dry-writer and somewhat toothy. After a flushing and refill with Waterman Blue-Black, I had the same results. I finally gave it a drink of modern Sheaffer Skrip Blue-Black and itís incredibly happy.
Now that the pen has found its soul-mate in ink, itís an absolute joy to use. Iíll be keeping an eye out for other PFM models, thatís for sure! I would also recommend Sherrell Tyree very highly for a fantastic purchasing experience, from the initial communications through the final delivery. Absolutely top-notch!
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Edited by dwmatteson, 07 May 2007 - 22:16.