PenInHand: June, 2015
On a clear day you can see the ink!
by Jim Mamoulides, June 19, 2015
Pen shows are a great place to look for things on your "to do" list. As great as online sources are, there are a great many more pens and parts you will never see online. This is because, for many sellers, it just takes too much time to photograph and document everything they have for sale. Especially for unrestored pens and parts. It's much easier to put labels on them, haul the lot to a pen show, and dicker with potential buyers. Some sellers don't sell online at all and some of those have really nice stuff! Some don't label anything, either!
As a buyer, you have the opportunity to look over thousands of pens at one show. Much more than any online venue. You can handle, inspect, and make your own assessment on what to offer. I've personally found some of the harder to find items in my collection at pen shows.
I can see clearly now!
Top view of the Sheaffer Legacy 1 demonstrator nib unit
When I am at a pen show, I like to do a general walk through and get a sense of what's available before I make any buying decisions. I go to shows with a list of what I would like to find, and check off any items on it as I make my first pass. I saw this Legacy 1 nib unit at the 2015 Triangle Pen Show. It was in a display with several other nib units, but what caught my eye was the clear plastic shell. I've seen clear demonstrator nib sections on 1950s Sheaffer Snorkels and PFMs, but I have never seen any modern era Sheaffer demonstrator nib sections other than on the very rare Sheaffer Balance Limited Edition pen. This Legacy unit knocked my socks off!
From the early twentieth century through the early 1960s, many leading pen companies competed on technological advances with nibs, pencils, and filling systems. Some would make demonstrator writing instruments with clear parts or cutouts to show how the writing instrument worked. These would be sold or given to pen dealers for them to demonstrate to customers how innovative their products were. Fully working demonstrator pens are very uncommon. Many collectors seek them out and prices can be quite high, especially those in better condition.
Side view of the Sheaffer Legacy 1 demonstrator nib unit
The gripping part of the story
One thing that stands out when looking at this clear nib unit is you can see how the nib attaches to the section. I recall when I went to a Sheaffer factory tour a discussion on how these units were made and how difficult it was to make them so they would not leak. They are not glued. You can see in this photo how the tabs from the nib insert into the section.
Bottom view of the Sheaffer Legacy 1 demonstrator nib unit
One thing that is surprising is how large the feed is. With the size of the Legacy section, there is a lot of room for a long feed with very wide fins. It's clear how Sheaffer Legacy nibs write as wet and evenly as they do.
Yes, I know this is the wrong pen for this nib section
Ink it? Maybe not
I posted these pictures on several online forums and there were a few people who encouraged me to ink it up. I admit it would be really cool to see a lighter color ink flowing through the section and working its way to the nib. But I would worry that my joy might be extinguished if the section stained. I've decided to leave it clean for now.
Things like this don't come up often and they can be very pricey. If your focus is on nibs and filling systems, demonstrator versions of major brand pens are really cool finds. If you want something really cool in a demonstrator and don't want to shell out big bucks, definitely consider something like a TWSBI pen.