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Sheaffer Compact I (circa 1960)


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11 replies to this topic

#1 Catsmelt

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 02:56

1) FIRST IMPRESSIONS
This is a cool-looking small pen! That, basically, was my first impression. I've always wanted a pen with an inlaid nib and I came across this at an antique shop (well, I've got one of those "right of first refusal" relationships with the shop's owner...).

It was pretty beat up and without knowing its history, I got the impression it was an odd school pen pretending to be a PFM. After purchasing it in tandem with an actual Sheaffer school pen (one of those 304s with a translucent body), I did some research and found out there was a little something special about the pen.

2) APPEARANCE AND FINISH
Black resin body, stainless trim. Very conservative. Looks very much like a miniature PFM. Jim Mamoulides lays out the history of the Compact, which I find very interesting.

The pen looked pretty beaten when I purchased it. Ron Zorn took care of most aesthetic (as well as nib) improvements after the fact.

3) DESIGN / SIZE / WEIGHT
If I understand Jim's research correctly, this is a first year (1960) "Compact I" due to the 1 inch clip and visualated barrel (to determine ink level). As mentioned previously, the design of the pen is based on the PFM and is part of a lineage connecting the PFM to the Legacy. For those interested, I suggest reading the informative link above.

This is a relatively "petite" pen, although there are some workarounds for those of hammy fist. The dimensions of the pen:

Capped: 4 1/2"
Unposted: 4"
Posted: 5 1/2"

I have to say that if the posted length of the pen wasn't 5 1/2", then I wouldn't be able to write with it at all. As the following images show, in comparison to an 80s-era Pelikan M400, it is smaller in all respects with the exception of being posted. The M400 is my benchmark for a pen being "almost too small to be worthwhile." This particular Compact has the short clip on it; as such it has sort of a "Tucky" vibe to it.

I have no idea the exact weight of the pen, but it is very light. I doubt the weight would increase proportionally to pen size. I like light pens.


4) NIB DESIGN AND PERFORMANCE
This is an inlaid nib. I never paid much attention to inlaid nib types, but this is apparently an "arrowhead" design. I believe this is unique to the Compact models (as opposed to the diamond or dolphin designs). Being inlaid, there is a certain amount of "swoop" which I initially found disorienting. It is almost the polar opposite of those experiencing the "center" orientation of some Cross nibs. The "swoop" brings the nib's point out toward the perimeter of the pen's barrel. As such it sits in a slightly unfamiliar (to me) fashion in the hand while writing.

Regarding the nib's performance, I have Ron Zorn to thank. I've got no idea how an out-of-the-box Compact would perform. I bought the pen with a damaged nib -- it looked as if it was dropped nib-down, with one tine pushed drastically into the other. Ron repaired the nib and it is extremely smooth. After looking at the nib through a loupe, I have nothing but admiration for Ron's abilities. One tine is thicker than the other, and the "ball" of one nib's point is slightly larger than the other. Nonetheless, Ron turned it into a very smooth and moderately wet writer. I don't know if it's my imagination, but I get the feeling that while the nib is neither "nail" like nor flexible, it may very well be easily sprung. A light hand seems to treat the nib well.

5) FILLING SYSTEM
The entire Compact line are cartridge pens. As explained by Jim Mamoulides, the Compacts came about prior to converters. Not to worry, if Skrip inks aren't your thing. So long as you have an empty Skrip cartridge handy and a syringe, any ink may be used (and Skrip cartridges carry quite a bit of ink).

6) COST / VALUE
I bought this together with a "304" school pen for $20. Another $25 repaired the nib on the Compact, so I would amortize the total cost of the Compact to be $35 (The "304" pen that came along with this is an unbelievably smooth pen).

So, at $35, I would say it was worth it to me. If I considered myself a collector in any way, it would be to try to collect all different types of pens rather than going overboard on a specific type. This may very well be my only "inlaid nib" acquisition. In addition to that, I'd say the Compact has a fairly interesting and fairly short history (two to three year run). On top of that, my Compact is of the first-year variety, albeit the less expensive variety (stainless trim, no white dot). On the other hand, it has the shorter clip (1" as opposed to the 1 1/8"), so it is a bit unusual.

7) OVERALL OPINION / CONCLUSION
I'm glad I bought the pen. I'm glad I can write with the pen comfortably. If you see one, buy one!

Edited by Catsmelt, 22 December 2007 - 03:08.


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#2 Catsmelt

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 02:57

The pen, capped.

#3 Catsmelt

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 02:58

The visualated windows on the barrel...

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#4 Catsmelt

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 02:59

The "arrowhead" design of the inlaid nib...

#5 Catsmelt

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 03:00

Unposted -- in comparison with an 80s era M400...

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#6 Catsmelt

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 03:01

Posted -- in comparison with an 80s era M400...

#7 Catsmelt

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 03:02

An oddity -- a double-imprint of the "Sheaffer's" logo.

Should I dream of upside down airplanes? Or does this actually work against the value of the pen?

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#8 artaddict

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 03:26

Nice review & pictures, thanks! Always glad to see a vintage pen reviewed and this is a very cute one.
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#9 Catsmelt

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 04:22

QUOTE(artaddict @ Dec 21 2007, 10:26 PM) View Post
Nice review & pictures, thanks! Always glad to see a vintage pen reviewed and this is a very cute one.


Cute... Hmm. I guess this one certainly isn't the PFM!


#10 Brian

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 06:49

I have three of these really neat pens and have never seen anyone else with one until now. They are quite interesting in design and I like the cold war origins since they were made during a time with two superpowers at odds. They make a great companion to the PFM and I think, are a unique and cool design. Thanks very much for the post.

#11 Catsmelt

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 17:55

QUOTE(Brian @ Dec 22 2007, 01:49 AM) View Post
I have three of these really neat pens and have never seen anyone else with one until now. They are quite interesting in design and I like the cold war origins since they were made during a time with two superpowers at odds. They make a great companion to the PFM and I think, are a unique and cool design. Thanks very much for the post.


I've seen only one, and it's the one I've got. I agree they're unique.

#12 Maja

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 06:27

QUOTE(Catsmelt @ Dec 21 2007, 07:02 PM) View Post
An oddity -- a double-imprint of the "Sheaffer's" logo.

Should I dream of upside down airplanes?

laugh.gif laugh.gif

Excellent review, Catsmelt!
(and sorry, I don't know the answer to your question....)

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