I have a weakness for Sheaffer Snorkels and I’ve already talked a bit about one in an earlier post. They were from that writing era between fountain pens with expressive nibs and the evil empire of the ball point pen. The precise lines of nail like fine and medium point pens were the hallmark of this period. Even if most people were happy with this dull situation Sheaffer still offered a wide variety of Snorkel nibs with flair. Those special order nibs, as well as some made in Canada, England, and Australia which catered to those markets less uniform tastes, offer a real treat for the collector today.
Determining if you have found an oddball nib is by the numbers. Well, actually numbers and letters since Snorkel nibs were marked on the front or back with a code. I’m not going to discuss Sheaffer’s elaborate numbering system for their Snorkel fountain pen nibs since places like PenHero.com have great articles on the subject. What I’m going to do here is show my interesting nibs so you can see a few examples and in later posts some will get a more thorough review.
If you want to find one of these great nibs keeping your eyes open is the first rule. Not all of them have retained their grade markings since wiping, polishing, and just normal wear can remove them over time. If those codes are gone look for tell-tale signs such as the flat edge of a stub point or the lack of an impressed grove between the silver and gold on a two tone flex nib. In general they are the proverbial needle in the haystack so obtaining one comes down to luck or enough loot for a purchase from a vintage pen seller.
Here are a few larger images where the nib grade codes can be clearly seen:
This flexible fine nib captures some of the essence of the “wet noodles” from the early part of the 20th century.
Able to put down a line as bold as a thick Sharpie this flexible stub is quite amazing. This single-tone nib was the least expensive one Sheaffer sold in solid gold but was still offered in all the usual variations.
“Right Oblique Stub Point Palladium-Silver Triumph Nib” is a long moniker. The obliques are hard to use since the pen really needs to be held at the right angle.