Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Featured Pen - Sheaffer Statesman Snorkel

The pen is a lovely Statesman Snorkel, which was obtained on my behalf by my friend and fellow blogger over at Bleubug who has knowledge of the Snorkel.

History from Penpedia:

The Statesman is the lifetime warranted equivalent of the Special. Like the Special, it uses a PdAg nib, which has been upgraded to a Triumph model instead of the cheaper open nibs. It also has a wider 3/8" GF cap band with parallel lines running around the top and bottom circumference of the band. These pens were just over twice the price of the Specials at $15.50. And as is customary with the white dot models, we see a smooth GF clip with no imprint.

The Sheaffer Snorkel is hailed as one of the most complex filling mechanisms used in fountain pens. Sheaffer created the Snorkel by modifying the Sheaffer Touchdown TM line and released the new pen in 1952. Strong marketing backed the pen, which was featured as cleaner than competing nibs, because the nib did not have to be submerged and wiped off when filling. This habit was becoming cumbersome in lieu of emerging ball point pens, making the Snorkel very appealing versus competitors.
Despite their complex mechanism, the Snorkel pens can be some of the most reliable and consistent performing of vintage fountain pens. The pen line survived several years before being retired in 1959, however the snorkel filler lived on until 1963 in the Sheaffer Pen For Men Line.

In addition to the brief history of this pen above, there is a wonderful detailed history of the Sheaffer Pen Company by Rick Conner here at Penspotters and even more information on the Snorkel line.

I’m trying a little bit of a different format for my reviews, please let me know if you like or dislike it.

The Statesman is a solidly built but light pen and is a pleasure to hold in your hand.

Appearance & Design, 9 out of 10 - Burgundy, with a good deep imprint and still retaining most of the chalk marked price of $15.50

Construction & Quality, 9 of out 10 - This is a sturdy well built pen typical of the Sheaffer pens of its day

Weight & Dimensions, 9 of out 10 - Slender and lightweight this pen measures 5 ½ inches capped, 5 inches unposted and 6 ½ inches posted. It weighs in at 16 gms

Nib & Performance, 9 of out 10 - P4 Fine PdAg Triump nib, Wet and smooth, but well controlled

Filling System & Maintenance, 9 of out 10 - Snorkel filler, the mechanism on this pen is a little stiff but it performs admirably, afterall it is at least 50 years old (it’s also a lot of fun to fill)

Cost & Value, 10 of out 10 – this pen was very inexpensive compared to many of the other pens that I own and about the same as an inexpensive modern pen

Conclusion Final score: 9.17

Paper is Rhodia Bloc No 16 - click on image to enlarge:

Many of you requested that I provide more detail on the mechanism of this pen, please see my followup post here: Sheaffer Statesman - Followup.


bengkia said...

wow. that looks like an incredible find. i am now thinking i will need to get a snorkel too, after reading what you wrote on the Rhodia paper. smooth, you say? sounds good to me. :)

also? the retained chalk-mark is incredibly cool. i actually like to keep the price sticker on the books i buy, so that 50 years from now, i or whoever is the next owner will still remember (or discover) what i paid for it in local currency. the price printed on the book is usually in USD or £ and i like to see how prices have changed.

Sam said...

Lovely pen! I really fancy one of those myself. said...

Happy to have been able to spread Snorkel love. :D

Julie (Okami) said...

And after seeing the rest of the herd, I would love to add more Snorkel's to my stable.

phonelady said...

yes they look ust snarky LOL pardon the pun .

ravensmarch said...

Snorkels are super-cool; I'd use one more frequently if I weren't an ink butterfly, because they're at least as unhandy as a Vacumatic to get properly clean. If you've got the right 100% pure silicon grease on hand, a touch on the inboard side of the snorkel and the merest molecular hint on the filler tube will probably cure the stiffness (and keep the seals happy longer).

SirCram said...

I like the review, but could you plzz show the filling mechanism?

Gentian said...

It's beautiful! Seems like a very nice pen. I am writing with Yama-Budo at the moment too :D

journalingarts said...

Makes me want to try snorkeling myself. Where do you find these treasures? Nice review, I like the new rating format!

JoniB said...

I'd love to see more on the filling mechanism, too! Please post a followup set of pics on that.

Many thanks!

Julie (Okami) said...

I will try to post photos of the filling system as soon as I can - the pen has ink in it at the moment -

You can go to this link to see more details in the meantime:

Julie (Okami) said...

The requested follow up on the filling system is scheduled to be posted on Jan 20 - mark your calendars.

Tumblemoose said...

Hi Julie,

Very nice review. Helpful and the pen itself is beautiful!

George said...

I almost had forgot how stylish these Sheaffer nibs are. They have certainly contributed to the fountain pen development with their innovative nibs like this cone shaped nib or the inlaid diamond nib. Is there a notable difference writing with a silver nib compared to gold or steel?
Thanks for a very fine review!

Knittipina said...

Wonderful Statesman! Bleubug is my go-to guy for Sheaffer info. At the moment my only Sheaffer snorkel is a PFM III, and I love love love it. Looking forward to getting a regular Snorkel model one day soon. Enjoy yours!

Bill Smith said...

Nice pen, I am usually a Parker 51 fan but the Sheaffer Statesman Snorkel has me intrigued.

jankes said...

Very good brand Sheaffer pens!

Anonymous said...

nice review, I have one myself

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