Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fountain Pen Review: Sheaffer Intrigue

I decided to purchased a couple of NOS Sheaffer Intrigues after reading about its new-fangled filling system. I had heard several people comment that the complexity of the filling system contributed to the pen's demise in the marketplace, so I had to see what the fuss was about. It is the first Sheaffer fountain pen I've ever had, although I have owned other varieties of Sheaffer pens in the past.

I received the pens yesterday afternoon. Both are the "Silken Bark" pattern and are equipped with Sheaffer's very nice looking medium sized 14K gold inlaid nib. So far, my overall impressions have been quite positive.

Before I inked one of the pens, I gave it the old visual "once over." The packaging was a little on the chintzy side. Futuristic looking, but an overabundance of flimsy plastic. The pen itself is solid-looking and it has the heft to back up its appearance. It is a heavy pen for its size and is fairly top heavy when posted. Removing the cap from the barrel end cures that problem, and the pen feels much better balanced when writing unposted. But it's still no lightweight.

The fit and finish are good. The seams are visible where Sheaffer attached the cartridge/converter drawer (blind cap?) and the "piston" knob, but they're not obtrusive. I do wish that Sheaffer had taken more care to align the lines of the "bark" on the barrel with their counterparts on the knob where the drawer unscrews. No matter how I try to align them, they're still a bit off. But that's a pet peeve of mine with several pen lines and odds are I'm the only one who'll ever notice or care.

The inlaid 14K nib looks great. I really like the streamlined look such a nib gives a pen and I'm glad that Sheaffer has continued that look with its recent Valor pen as well.

The section is smooth and provides a fairly comfortable grip, with no slippage. It is a hair fat for my smallish hands, though, and I felt my hand becoming a little fatigued as I wrote my review.

But you all want to know how it writes, don't you?

Exceptionally well! I understand MSRP was around $140.00 for this pen. It can be had for considerably less if you look around. So far it has written better, smoother and more consistently than several pens costing several times as much.

I filled the pen with Lake Placid Blue from Private Reserve, my current favorite blue ink. A word about the the filling system. Despite what I'd heard, it really wasn't that complicated - You just insert the converter through the drawer that slides out of the top of the pen instead of by removing the section. And, rather than have the twisty-knob built into the converter, Sheaffer put it on the pen itself so it works and looks more like a traditional piston-filler. Pull out the little knob on the end and twist. Snap it back into place when you're done. Nothing to it!

The pen lays down a smooth and somewhat wet line. After I inked the pen last night, I scribbled a few lines and let it sit in my pen tray overnight (capped, of course). When I picked it up this morning, it started right up with out a moment's hesitation. I even left the pen uncapped for 40 minutes this morning and the pen performed without missing a beat. Well, actually there was a brief skip on the down stroke of my first letter, but the Intrigue recovered quickly.

The nib is rigid - there's nary a hint of flex here, and the line is completely uniform - this isn't the pen for you if you're looking for line variation. Although I'd be willing to bet that a qualified nib meister can make this nib quite expressive.

Overall, I'd have to give this pen good marks. It looks good and writes even better. The filling system worked without a problem. It is a bit on the heavy side, so if you're sensitive to that, this pen may not be for you. But otherwise, I'd suggest looking into picking one up, especially since they seem to be going for around half of their original MSRP.

NB: The Pear Tree Pen Company is not a retailer of Sheaffer pens.

Thanks for stopping by!


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