Early thoughts on the Sheaffer Prelude cobalt blue fountain pen.

Whenever I go to our local John Lewis department store, I always pay a visit to the friendly and helpful staff in the Stationery department and take a look at the displays of fountain pens in the glass counters.

These contain the usual suspects from Parker, Waterman, Cross and Sheaffer. But this time, although I must have seen them countless times before, my eyes were drawn to a tray of Sheaffer Prelude fountain pens. They were in several different colours, including some metallic finishes, but the only one I really noticed was a beautiful deep, dark blue, accentuated by rose gold plated furniture. It demanded a closer look.

Sheaffer Prelude, cobalt blue with rose gold PVD trim.

I am not a big fan of faceted grip sections, which this pen has. I do not generally like them because (a) they make the section narrower and (b) they do not cater for lefty overwriters such as myself, who may want to rotate the nib inwards a little, whereupon the facets are no longer under your thumb and forefinger and instead you find yourself gripping a sharp edge. However, I tried the Prelude and found that with the cap posted, I naturally gripped the pen higher up, at the join of the barrel and the section so that the facets were not a problem at all.

I do very much like the shape of Sheaffer nibs and the attractive scroll work on them. I took a close look at the nib with a loupe and was excited to see perfectly aligned tines and a nib slit, with light visible between the tines, narrowing perfectly to the tip. It promised to be a smooth and responsive writer. I have since read that the rose gold coating is a PVD, or Physical Vapour Deposition. The science is beyond me but it looks lovely.

The rather vintagey-looking nib of the Sheaffer Prelude.

I decided to liberate the pen and was pleased that it came with a converter as well as a proprietary Sheaffer cartridge in blue and black and a lifetime warranty.

At home I filled the pen via the converter, from a bottle of Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue ink, which I have decided is probably my favourite blue ink. It is a rich dark blue, like the traditional colour of a Guernsey woollen jumper (which had for two years been part of my school uniform in the early 1970’s).

Cobalt blue pen with Cobalt blue ink. Genius.

The medium nib wrote smoothly and effortlessly as I expected but produced a line that was closer to a Fine than a Medium. I was quite happy with that.

But this combination of Sheaffer Prelude, Cobalt Blue ink and a Leuchtturm A5 journal was so enjoyable that I could not stop writing with it and quickly filled 14 pages of my notebook. The smooth, fine, wet nib leaving a wake of deep dark blue ink emanating from the rose gold coated nib were so appealing that it was hard to put it down.

My favourite Prelude pic. Look at that paper texture!

I did eventually stop, but only to take some photos of the pen and a few comparison shots with similar pens. Then, like having a new baby, I came down in the middle of the night to test it for hard starts (none) and to write a little more with it.

The Sheaffer Prelude (right) beside a near equivalent, the Parker Sonnet. Both with steel nibs but each taking its own proprietary cartridge or converter.

The pen is a of metal build, with a lacquer coat. There is an attractive white inlay in the finial, which helps to distinguish the pen in the pen cup. The pocket clip (topped with the Sheaffer white dot) is very firm. The snap-on cap posts securely and closes with a reassuring click. The barrel has metal threads on the inside, which are extremely long. I counted fifteen twists to get to the end of the threads and remove the barrel. The section, with its two grip pads, has a black cylindrical plastic housing to support the cartridge or converter, which I liked as I have seen another Sheaffer, the 100, with no such side support and just a platform with the tube sticking up to puncture your cartridge.

Priced at £75.00, the Sheaffer Prelude is a superior model to the Sheaffer Sagaris, the 100 and the 300. In terms of its specification, it seems on a par with the steel nibbed Parker Sonnet which for a time was my best and costliest pen.

I am pleased to have discovered the Sheaffer Prelude and very glad that I stopped to give it a proper look. It is reliable, enjoyable, attractive and robust which all go to make it a great daily carry.

13 thoughts on “Early thoughts on the Sheaffer Prelude cobalt blue fountain pen.

  1. This was an enormously reassuring post to read, as an American who grew up when Parker and Sheaffer were known for their top-of-the-line fountain pens. The pen looks handsome and this one example, at least, wrote well out of the box. It gives me some hope that Sheaffer will not fade away to nothing after its acquisition by Cross.

    In the world of my childhood and youth, Parker was known as an upmarket brand, indeed as a world-leading upmarket brand. In more recent decades it seems to be known by many younger people for low-priced pens of increasingly negligible quality, except for the Duofold. So I am glad to learn that Sheaffer, at least, can mobilize itself to make a pen that seems to be well worth 75 sovereigns. Enjoy it and consider an update after some time has passed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I also grew up thinking of Parker and Sheaffer as high quality brands. Indeed as a child I remember having a rather distorted belief that owning a Parker pen was a sign of wealth and status, that having TWO Parker arrow clips in a top pocket meant untold wealth and that the gold nib in my first Parker pen would be my pension fund or see me through hard times. Now it is a relief when a new pen writes well out of the box.
      I had not given these Sheaffers a second glance before and was pleasantly surprised at the quality and performance.


  2. I owned, and loved, a chrome Sheaffer pen in the later part of the 1970s and I don’t know what happened to it but I still miss it! I know I dinged it pretty badly at some point because there was a dent in the metal barrel, but it still wrote well. As I recall, it had a hooded, or at least inset, nib; a black section; and was relatively girthy. I can’t recall where it came from, I think it must have been a present, and since I can’t remember where it went to, I like to believe that it was just making a short visit to Planet Earth on some whirlwind tour of the galaxy and chose to stay with me whilst it was here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a lovely story. I am sorry that you were parted. It should be possible to identify the model and maybe track one down at a pen show or online. But I know it wouldn’t be the same


  3. Had the same experience at a pen sale in John Lewis some months ago: this pen stood out, At a price of £18.90, I couldn’t resist. I agree with all your remarks about the pen. It worked so well that I got the gunmetal grey version a few days later, for the same sum. The early indications are that this will write drier and finer in use. I have still not filled it, but I’ll let you know how it goes when I do. In the meantime, I share your enthusiasm for the Sheaffer Prelude.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. As expected, the gunmetal grey medium nib does write finer; it writes like a Lamy fine nib. But it writes smoothly and consistently medium wet, even when the pen has been unused for quite a while. And so I remain pleased with my two ( very low priced) Sheaffer Preludes.
        It seems to me that John Lewis has now almost stopped selling Sheaffer fountain pens , and more generally I fear the once-great Sheaffer name will in future just market a few bubblepack student fountain pens and ballpoints.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for the update, Mark. I am glad to learn that the gunmetal grey Sheaffer Prelude writes so well. These were a bargain, given that they were usually sold at £75.00, as I recall. When I last visited John Lewis branches the pen counters were dominated by Cross pens, with few Sheaffer, Waterman and Parker pens on display too, but the display counters seem to be shrinking.


  4. I brought a Sheaffer Prelude (brushed chrome body) about 20 years ago, with a stainless broad nib and a converter. It is now as good as brand new, except that the gold plated portion tarnished a bit. Since it is a broad nib, it writes very smooth and wet. Compare to my Parker 45 with an extra broad 14K solid gold nib, this Sheaffer Prelude with a broad nib is even bolder than my Parker 45. This Sheaffer Prelude is quite heavy, it weights 33 grams with converter w/o ink. The ink for fountain pen is now very expensive, so I use the printer ink instead. I bought the generic black printer ink from an online shop for less than US$0.50 per 100 ml. The printer ink is very good for fountain pen, it won’t dry on the nib even the pen is stored for weeks unused, you will never get a hard starting like some fountain pen ink, and best of all, the printer ink will not damage your fountain pen.


      1. Glad to hear your response. Actually, a good quality fountain pen, no need to be expensive, can last longer than the life of the original owner. I have pens that I bought around 1960 when I was a grade school student, they are still working well. I have been using printer ink for my fountain pens for many years, and they work very well also, so don’t waste your money to buy expensive inks for the fountain pen. Good luck.

        Liked by 1 person

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