Sheaffer Vac-Fil (c. 1942)

Sheaffer pens, like many other consumer goods, were hard to get hold of during the fight against der Führer, il Duce, and Tojo-san (what Studs Terkel called 'the Good War'), mainly because they were working round the clock in Fort Madison on bomber parts. This pen bears both the blessing and the curse of topsy-turvy World War II economics: Its trim (including the new rigid internally-sprung clip) is actually silver, rather than a gold filled base metal (while brass, steel, and aluminum were badly needed elsewhere, gold and silver were not considered strategic materials). On the other hand, the barrel and cap are made from The Incredible Shrinking Celluloid, which has tightened over the internal parts of the pen to form palpable undulations in the surface.

Two innovations worth noting here: the Triumph point (Sheaffer's answer to the highly fashionable Parker 51), and the Vac-Fil pneumatic filler system, which was an answer to the Parker Vacumatic but works on a somewhat different pneumatic plunger principle that is otherwise most often associated with UK-made Onotos from the mid-1920s (it both expels old ink and takes in new ink on the downstroke of the long filling rod). The Vac-Fil was very popular, and sold alongside the lever filler for many years, but is not as highly regarded by today's collectors due to the difficulty of repair.

The Triumph point, introduced in 1942 (a year after Parker's hooded-nib 51), completed the streamlining treatment that Sheaffer had begun with the original Balance pens of the early '30s. It was originally welded up, but Sheaffer would later devise a means to cast it in a single piece.

Sheaffer has by this time dispensed with the serial numbers for the Lifetime points. Also gone is the Visulated section, replaced by a knurled black grip, because of the different constructions of the Triumph point pens, and of the Vac-Fil pens in particular.

The Triumph points were very strong and rigid, so these pens don't have the "personality" of vintage flex points, but they do allow more efficient writing on a variety of surfaces.

This file last posted on:
2005-Jan-20 17:50:26 CST
MCMVIII, the red network