Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Review: Sheaffer calligraphy pens

Sheaffer calligraphy pen
I confess to owning several of these now. I vastly prefer my handwriting using a calligraphy pen - perhaps because I write more slowly; perhaps because the broad edge just makes my writing better - and possibly at least a third and closer to half of my pens are calligraphy ones. Of those, 5 are Sheaffer (NONE are Lamy Joyless - the one I had (and hated; see here) got sent away to someone else!).

So why do I keep coming back to them?

Well, I can't deny it, they're cheap! They are fairly easy to find online with a price tag of between £4 and £10. I also bought converters to use mine with bottled ink. They are perhaps less easy to get, but Cult Pens for one sells them (no affiliation).

The Sheaffers also have pretty decent nibs, considering the price tag! I've never had one that skipped or dried out. They write more smoothly than some of my Parker italics (which can gouge into the paper sometimes) and there is always good shading with the inks.

They're never going to win any beauty prizes though.

The pens come in three nib sizes and the barrel of the pen are colour-coded: red for fine (1.0mm), yellow for medium (1.3mm) and orange for broad (1.8mm). It used to be that the barrel was black and there was a colour-coded sticker on the end that said what nib was in the pen. They are now 'new, improved' versions and the whole of the barrel changes colour (and the colours are not the same as the old coding...). Thankfully, the nib size I like to write with is 'fine' and that's the red one. I'm not sure I would want either the yellow or the orange.

There is a 'viewing window' in the barrel so you can see how much ink is left. This is essentially a hole in the barrel and it does have quite harsh edges which can dig in. I just either tighten or unscrew the barrel slightly so that the holes are rotated away from my hand.

At the writing end, there is a rubberised grip which I find very comfortable. I'm not a fan of pens with a ridge just before the nib and even less of a fan of a moulded grip! All of my favourite pens are just round at the grip, with no ridge.
The rubberised grip can slide up and down a bit, but is easy to slide back if it moves when you're changing ink/cartridge etc. When the pen is assembled, the grip doesn't move at all; it's only when you're changing ink to be honest.

I don't know what the 'improvements' are, other than making them look worse by changing the black barrel for red, yellow and orange. The nibs feel the same to me.

The packs I bought were also supposed to contain two cartridges - one black and one blue, but when they arrived, one pack was missing the black cartridge. I don't mind at all as I don't use the cartridges! I contacted the seller and they have promised to pop a 'goodie' in for me as compensation, next time I order from them. (I did tell them that I wasn't bothered by the lack of the cartridge - I was only telling them so that they could check their other stock and contact their supplier if there were more occurrences).

No black cartridge
Both cartridges present and correct
Anyway, the main reason that I bought another two pens was because I have also succumbed to the J Herbin 1670 sparkly inks (post still to come on them!) and wanted to have a couple of cheap pens that I liked as dedicated 'sparkly ink' pens in case the gold/silver dust in the pens jammed anything up. The Sheaffers are perfect for this as they show the shading well and have a good ink flow. And if the sparkles clog them up, it won't break the bank to replace them!

Do others have a favourite brand they return to again and again? And does anyone else have 'dedicated pens' like this (whether dedicated to sparkly inks or anything else)?

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