Sunday, January 31, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 144

Looking for a classy-looking desk set with a ballpoint desk pen instead of a fountain pen? 

If so, you need look no further than the Sheaffer Pen Company.

Sheaffer made tons of desk sets with ballpoints and they are relatively easy to find on eBay and etsy (not to mention local thrift stores, antique shops and flea markets). Here's a nice clean example of one that Stuart picked up recently...

(all photos courtesy of Stuart ~ please click on images to enlarge)


Stuart: "The Sheaffer set has a beautiful green marble or onyx base, and a dark brown desk BP, with an original refill that still writes.  I’d date the set 70’s-80’s." 

Many thanks to Stuart for sharing his latest desk set with us! Now, here are my personal tips, from two decades of buying desk sets, both locally and online:

Tips for buying a vintage desk set :
  • If you're searching online, make sure you ask the seller about the condition of the base; it's not uncommon for desk set bases to have scratches and/or chipped edges/corners, some of which may not be visible in photos.
  • Desk pens can also be damaged, so look for chewed ends and warping. If you're buying in person, roll the desk pen across a hard surface to test for barrel warping.
  • Unless it's specifically mentioned, ask the seller if the desk pen has been restored-the phrase "Dip-tested" does not mean the filling mechanism actually works!
  • Ask about the condition of the nib. Some online sellers will claim a nib "is ok" if it's capable of laying down a line of ink... no matter how scratchy the nib is.
  • Make sure the desk pen matches the desk base--if the pen won't fit in the socket, it's probably the wrong one. If it does fit, it doesn't necessarily mean it's the correct one for the base. Do your homework (ie. check online) before buying/bidding. There's nothing sadder than spending a lot of money on a desk set only to find the base and pen don't match (if that sort of mismatch doesn't bother you, disregard this tip :)
  • If you're buying a desk set in person, check under the price sticker. Some unscrupulous sellers will attempt to hide flaws and/or damage by placing their price stickers over these areas (I found out the hard way).
Happy hunting!

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