I have done quite well over the past three months at resisting temptation to buy another fountain pen. However I cheated slightly and opened one from my small stockpile of pens bought long ago as possible gifts or for a rainy day. This one I bought in October 2017 in a sale, reduced from around £18.00 to £9.00.
This is the Sheaffer Pop, Glossy Red, or Sheaffer 9207 according to a sticker on the blister pack. It does not say “Pop” anywhere on the packaging or on the pen, but this is the name on the company’s website, Sheaffer.com. It is available in a range of colours including some Star Wars themed designs.
Thus we are dealing with an entry level type of pen, presumably targeted mainly at school students and so it is not appropriate to be overly detailed or critical in a review. I am fond of Sheaffer fountain pens and like their steel nibs which are generally well finished. Nowadays the packaging also bears the name A.T. Cross Company and this model was made in China.
Construction and design.
This is a plastic pen, light weight and with a uniform diameter cylindrical barrel and cap, which snaps shut firmly to be completely flush with the barrel. The cap features a strong metal pocket clip with a cutaway and the easily recognised Sheaffer white dot.
Owing to the flush cap, the walls of which are quite thick, there is a significant step down to the section. This has a black rubber sleeve grip, which is soft and grippy to rest on your finger. Personally, I hold the pen with my thumb on the barrel and my first and second finger at the section. The cap can be posted if desired, where it sits very securely perched on the back of the pen and again, flush with the barrel. The downside is that the pen is then very long, although the cap is not heavy and so does not make the pen back heavy.
The stainless steel, medium nib was set up nicely and wrote, straight out of the box. I was delighted to see that the tines and tipping were even, with a glimpse of daylight between them signalling a good ink flow.
Filling and writing performance.
This is a cartridge converter pen, taking the proprietary Sheaffer Skrip ink cartridges, one black cartridge being included. A Sheaffer converter can be bought separately.
The medium nib on mine is firm and writes without any fuss, in all directions with no skips and no hard starts as yet. The nib writes smoothly and will improve after a few weeks once it has worn in to my angle of writing. The line is perhaps better described as a medium – fine. Ink flow from the supplied black cartridge is good, requiring no pressure. However, the black ink does have a tendency to bleed through on some papers and this might be a reason to get a converter and have a wider choice of inks.
Size and weight.
The Pop measures (approximately) 127mm closed, 121mm open and 166mm posted. It weighs approximately 16.5g in all of which around 5.0g is the cap.
Likes and dislikes.
To get the negative stuff out of the way first, the possible issues I noticed with this pen are as follows:-
- Very stiff snap cap. Also very stiff on posting; needs to be handled with care;
- Significant step down from barrel to grip section although not sharp, could be an issue for some;
- Rubber sleeve on the grip section can rotate (although it does not do so whilst writing); section needs to be squeezed tight when unscrewing the barrel, otherwise the grip will just rotate without the section unscrewing;
- The cap makes a loud pop, especially when being removed after posting; could become irritating or embarrassing in quiet surroundings;
- Plastic cap appears thick walled but could eventually crack;
- No inner cap present, although I have not yet experienced any hard starts.
- Nib performs well;
- Comfortable wide girth of around 12-13mm, similar to a Montblanc 146; much larger than a Parker Vector;
- Soft rubber grip;
- Very secure snap cap. Good for an every day carry;
- Simple design with attractive cylindrical shape and metal fittings.
I have been pleasantly surprised by this inexpensive pen. There are certain design elements which have both positive and negative impacts: the flush cap and barrel means a significant step down from barrel to section; the very secure capping (with no rattle, wobble or play at all when the pen is capped or when the cap is posted) makes for a safe every day carry and perhaps avoids nib dry out, but the downside is a very stiff and noisy cap to remove (especially after posting).
Overall however, aside from the stiff cap, I like the pen and am much happier with this girth than that of the Parker Vector. I imagine that competition between brands is fierce at this price level. Having bought mine at half price, I got a bargain here.