Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sheaffer Pens Launch in Manila

One of the first things I ever bought with my first ever paycheck in the early 1990s was a Sheaffer No-Nonsense fountain pen. It was translucent purple, it had a fine nib, and best of all, I could afford it. I bought it at National Bookstore, whose Sheaffer kiosk shared space with Parker, Waterman and Cross pens. I still have this pen, and it still writes as well as ever. I also now have a handful of vintage Sheaffer pens, thanks to eBay and my pen group, Fountain Pen Network-Philippines.
In those two decades or so, fountain pen use and sales seriously declined, since Sheaffer disappeared from the stores, to be followed by Rotring and Waterman brands. Imagine my pleasant surprise one day when I read an email that 20 of us FPN-P members could sign up to attend the Sheaffer Pens Launch (held last February 21)!
Jeweler Walter A. Sheaffer started the W. A. Sheaffer Pen Company in 1912, in Fort Madison, Iowa. He wanted to create attractive fountain pens that wrote well and were easy to refill, and successfully came up with lever-filler pens. From the 1920s to the 1940s the Sheaffer lever-filler became the US industry standard; some of these pens came with a lifetime guarantee symbolized by a white dot. Sheaffer also trailblazed with revolutionary and innovative designs in nibs (the conical “Triumph” nib, the inlaid nib) and other filling systems (the Snorkel, the Touchdown). Many iconic pen models were produced throughout the years: the Balance, the Pen for Men, the Imperial, the Targa, the No-Nonsense. Since the 1960s the company has changed owners. In 1997 it was bought by its current owner, Bic USA, the American subsidiary of the French ballpoint pen manufacturer. Click here and here for a detailed history of the Sheaffer Pen Company.

So, after about 25 years, National Bookstore returns Sheaffer to its stores. Sheaffer pens are marketed from Singapore by BIC Product (Asia) Pte. Ltd. They held the launch party at The Gallery in Greenbelt 5, last February 21. The program was hosted by the lovely Daphne Osena-Paez. They borrowed fountain pens from the collections of Jose “Butch” Dalisay, Jr. and Clement Dionglay to create a historical exhibit. Daphne took the audience on a tour of the historical Sheaffer pens, to today’s current product offerings. She interviewed Butch and Clem about their how their collections started, and why they choose to write with fountain pens. There was also a raffle, at which I was one of the lucky winners. There was a confusion between the announced prize and the awarded prize, which led to me being presented a pricey Legacy Heritage instead of a Prelude. Fellow FPN-P member Caloy Abad Santos, who won the Legacy and got the Prelude instead, graciously allowed me to keep the pen. Another lucky gentleman won the Valor.
After the raffle we got to chat with Alejandro Rodriguez Tabo, General Manager for Asia. He told us that the Sheaffer pens were now manufactured in different countries (although no longer at the Fort Madison plant, which closed down in 2006), with the Valor being manufactured in Italy.


I inked the Legacy Heritage at once when I got home. It was a black lacque metal-bodied model (inspired by the Pen for Men design) with palladium plate trim, and filled via a converter. It sported a very smooth and juicy 18k medium nib. It was quite solidly built and well-balanced in the hand. I was very glad to see that this particular modern Sheaffer pen was a well-made pen worthy of Sheaffer’s long history of fine writing instruments. In fact, I made up my mind to get myself the more affordable Prelude next…

National Bookstore is the exclusive distributor of Sheaffer pens and inks in the Philippines. This blog is not affiliated with National Bookstore.