I picked up this Nova Red Sheaffer Crest in late June from Anderson Pens. It’s always dangerous watching (or listening to) their podcast and following them on twitter. I forget which hooked me, podcast or twitter, but they announced some new-old-stock (NOS) Sheaffers so I went to their site to take a look. The Crest was one of two pens that caught my eye and were traded for a reasonable amount of money. The pen was even more beautiful than the photos led me to believe. I’ve had this pen inked up ever since I got it.
Why I Got It
The pen looked great in the picture. Add to that the fact that it’s a Sheaffer with a 18K gold triumph style extra fine nib.
What I Got
A NOS pen that came in the original box with a couple black Sheaffer cartridges. No converter was included. The pen takes the Sheaffer vacuum converter, not the piston converter [Updated: Carlos added in the comments that he uses the piston converter with his Crests]. I already had a couple vacuum converters but I ordered a couple more in case I want to ink up all four of my vacuum only Sheaffers at once.
The Crest name dates back to the 1930’s but this pen is Sheaffer’s reboot of the name done in the 90’s. The Nova Red pens were produced between 1996 and 1998. The Laque finish is composed of 23 layers of laque over hand decoration. All this is over a brass cap and barrel. The pen is absolutely gorgeous and the finish has a nice depth to it. The clip is 23 kt. gold plated and has the iconic Sheaffer white dot. The iconic conical Triumph style nib is 18 kt. gold and it’s a two tone nib with palladium plating. The nib does not have the upturned bend at the end of the nib which the vintage Triumph nibs have.
The cap is a screw on cap that takes just over one full revolution to loosen or tighten. The gold trim works in this case and complements the red/black finish of the pen. I generally don’t like gold trim but it often works with red and brown pens. My grip does touch the threads a bit but they aren’t sharp and they don’t bother me. But the threads are metal so if you tend to grip the pen further from the nib and are sensitive to threads they may bother you.
The cap does post securely although I don’t use this pen posted.
There’s a metal collar around the spike that the converter slides over. This gives me a nice feeling of security by preventing snapping off the spike if I’m careless.
- Length Capped: 5.6110″ (142.52 mm)
- Length Uncapped: 4.9275″ (125.16 mm)
- Length Posted: 6.5″ (165.1 mm)
- Section Length: 0.6590″ (16.73 mm)
- Section Diameter (near nib): 0.3340″ (8.48 mm)
- Section Diameter (below threads): 0.3785″ (9.61 mm)
- Section Diameter (mid-section): 0.3620″ (9.19 mm)
- Cap Diameter: 0.4485″ (11.38 mm)
- Barrel Diameter: 0.4485″ (11.38 mm)
- Weight (w/vacuum converter): 0.9 oz. (26 g)
- Weight (body only – w/vacuum converter): 0.6 oz. (18 g)
Writing With The Pen
The pen uses either Sheaffer cartridges or a vacuum converter. I’ve only used the pen with a vacuum converter. Filling the pen is easy enough. Dip the nib in ink then press and release the metal bar on the vacuum converter. Leave the pen in the ink for an additional 10 to 20 seconds to give the sac time the fill. The sac is visible behind the pressure bar so you can see how much ink is in there. The sac itself is translucent enough to be able the see the ink level. Although it’s not visible the entire length of the converter, when the ink is low you can invert the pen to check the level.
Thanks to the brass barrel the pen is heavy for its size, especially when compared to the plastic Snorkels.
The pen is thinner than I would normally buy these days but that wasn’t enough to keep me from buying the pen. That’s the only negative about the pen and it’s a subjective one. Maybe it’s because I love the pen so much, but the thinness hasn’t bothered me. The nib is very smooth and the ink flows easily with a light touch. I don’t find myself subconsciously gripping the pen tightly as I do other thin pen. It helps that the weight of the pen gives it a substantial feel without being heavy enough to make my hand tired.
The pen holds a surprising amount of ink in the nib and feed. Even when the converter appeared empty the pen wrote for a couple days which included more than 3 full pages of writing.
The nib is everything I like about Sheaffer nibs. Aesthetically I usually don’t like two-tone nibs but I make an exception for Sheaffer. I always admire the nib just a bit when I uncap the pen. But this nib has more than looks going for it. The extra fine nib wrote great out of the box. It puts down a consistent, thin line. While it depends on the ink of course, I’d consider the nib flow to be about a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. There’s never any hint of skipping and the line never begins to thin out. I haven’t had any problems with the thin nib catching on the fibers of the paper. Despite being 18 kt gold the nib is very firm thanks to the conical shape.
As I’ve already mentioned, the slimness of the pen hasn’t bothered me and I’ve written contuously for over an hour without feeling fatigued. I’ve also used the pen all day, with several extended sessions during the day, without getting fatigued.
I’ve only used two inks and I’ve kept it in the family.
Sheaffer Red seems to be the perfect ink for this pen so it was the ink that got used the most. The bright red ink color is well suited for the pen. The only downside to the ink is that red is not a color that can be used in many cases. I’m lucky in that I can use any color I want for most of my writing so I can use this for some long form writing. The ink was problem free.
Sheaffer Peacock Blue was another ink that seemed like it should be used with this pen. The ink was probably made about the same time as the pen, although maybe a couple years later. Again, flow was excellent with no false starts or signs of skipping.
Cleaning The Pen
I always wrote the pen dry so there was never any excess ink to flush out. I removed the vacuum converter and gave feed a couple flushes with the bulb syringe followed by a couple “thermometer shakes” (mercury thermometer, not digital) into a tissue and the pen was good to go. I was always re-inking the pen so there was never a need for me to remove every last trace of ink. But I did one time and that took a bit longer before there was no trace of ink in the tissue.
I cleaned the vacuum converter separately which was relatively easy when I planned to refill. But it’s a bit more tedious to remove all traces of ink. I use a syringe to gently squirt water into the sac and then shake it to make sure the ink is off the sac in all the places I can’t see. I’m probably a bit more paranoid than I need to be when I put the converters into storage.
Not only is this Sheaffer Crest a keeper, it’s been inked up since I got it. It’s become one of my favorite fountain pens. I’ve noticed several Nova Red Sheaffer Crests on eBay for over twice what I paid. If I was to loose this pen I’d probably be willing to pay that to replace it, if I had to. I like it that much.
PenHero.com article about the modern Sheaffer Crest. This article provided most of the historical information I included in this review.
Carlos Cal Brandão commented below and added a link to his Sheaffer Crest post. There’s some beautiful photos of the various models there so I added the link here.
Despite all the writing I did with the pen I never grabbed a writing sample photo so I included the recent Sheaffer Red writing sample photo which included this pen.