Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 321

Well, if you believe (the majority of) this year's Groundhog Day predictions, it looks like we're in for a few more weeks of winter, so here's a very shiny vintage pen to brighten your day!

Christopher writes: "It is always great to find a pen of major historical interest, and such was the case the other day when a near mint first model Sheaffer RA1 Stratowriter ballpoint came my way. This is one amazing pen with an equally fascinating provenance. As the story goes, just prior to the mid 1940s, a number of companies were in the process of introducing what was to become the revolutionary ‘Ballpoint pen’. It was the wave of the future and it seemed that whoever could bring it out first, stood a good chance of cornering the international pen market. There were a number of contenders. Some with no interest in quality, while others were investing a great deal of time and money on advanced high-end design. The first ballpoint to hit the market in 1945 was brought out by Milton Reynolds, a Chicago businessman and promoter. Unfortunately, his ballpoint pen was more of a gimmick which really didn’t work. But just behind Reynolds, the Eversharp Company had invested millions on their design of a quality ballpoint pen which did work. Still, being second at home plate did not guarantee success and Eversharp ended up losing as much as it gained with the exercise.

During the following year, Sheaffer saw its turn up to bat. Actually two years earlier, the US War Department had approached the Sheaffer company to develop a ballpoint pen for military use. So Sheaffer knew there was a good market if they could come up with a reliable, good ballpoint. Subsequently, in late 1946, Sheaffer introduced the RA1 Stratowriter which came with a ‘Miro-Crafted’ ink cartridge. And, unlike the competition, when this ink cartridge was empty, it could be easily removed and replaced. Also, the new Stratowriter had a retractable tip, operated by a button at the top of the cap. It was a press and twist mechanism to get the point out and the reverse to bring the point back into the barrel."

 (photo courtesy of Christopher ~ please click on image to enlarge)

Christopher continues: "And Sheaffer had decided to enter this new pen market with outstanding quality rendering their new Stratowriter with a 14K Gold Filled finish from stem to stern over the entire pen. There was even consideration given to a special presentation Stratowriter box but, within several months, it was evident that some of these fine pens had a slight tendency to leak. So to offset this problem, Sheaffer introduced the ‘White Shirt Guard’. This was a matching 14K Gold Filled cap that slipped over the business end of the pen when not in use. Plus, when the pen was in use, this guard cap had been cut out on two sides so that it could be posted over the cap end of the pen, but the cut out would allow for this guard to slip around the cap clip. The Stratowriter sold well for Sheaffer in its first couple of years, then was adapted to a good number of the other Sheaffer models to appear in sets.

Although the Sheaffer Stratowriter Micro-Crafter ink cartridge is long gone, there are refill solutions available for this pen on the internet. For me, this wonderful item ticks all the boxes and although I have not leaned toward ballpoint pens, the Sheaffer Stratowriter is definitely the exception."

I love vintage ballpoints :) Congratulations on your latest find, Christopher, and thanks for sharing it with us!

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