Tuckaway Exploded View

Sheaffer Triumph Fountain Pen


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This November 23, 1942, adver­tise­ment (on the inside of Life magazine’s front cover) is selling “TRIUMPH” pens as gifts for Christmas, but it also speaks to the loneliness of the troops at war.

Immediately before the United States entered World War II, Sheaffer had been developing a new nib design, unlike anything that had been seen before. This new nib (U.S. Patent No D130, 997) was large and conical in shape; its size and structure gave it great strength and a very positive alignment with its feed, a new design that that was much larger and more effective at flow buffering than earlier feeds. In May 1942, just five months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor plunged the U.S.A. into World War II, the company produced a short motion picture for its dealers, to announce Sheaffer’s “TRIUMPH” — the new line of pens the company had created for its conical nib. The new pens all bore the White Dot, symbol of Sheaffer’s Lifetime warranty, and for this reason the venerable Balance appears to have remained in production for a brief period, reduced to a limited selection of non-Lifetime models and the military-clip versions, both Lifetime and non-Lifetime.

Because Sheaffer used the “TRIUMPH” point on many models from the 1940s to the 1990s, the most immediately obvious distinguishing feature of the “TRIUMPH” pens themselves is their extravagantly broad cap band, as illustrated below.

This band (the principal element of U.S. Patent No 2, 314, 563) allowed the pen’s designers to create a very slender profile, trimmer even than the sweeping modern lines of the Parker “51”, which was at that time enjoying tremendous popularity. The broad band extends the slim barrel silhouette to the cap without a visible step while still allowing the use of a threaded cap — and by adding a threaded metal ring between the nib section and the barrel, Sheaffer bumped up the “bling” a little while at the same time eliminating the possibility that the metal threads in the cap might damage celluloid barrel threads.

The black “TRIUMPH” below, without the distraction of Sheaffer’s striated celluloid, shows the design’s elegantly slender profile to great advantage. (If there is a magnifying-glass symbol next to an image, click the magnifying glass to view a zoomed version for more detail.)

“TRIUMPH” point, 1942

Caps: Getting Personal

One of Sheaffer’s prestige models for many years was the Autograph, which featured a solid 14K gold cap band intended to be engraved with the signature of the pen’s owner. Here is an Autograph in the black color that so many of these distinguished pens wore. This pen also displays fairly good barrel transparency.

Caps: Celluloid and Metal

There is some question as to why Sheaffer did not simply give the “TRIUMPH” an all-metal cap like that on the Parker “51”. The likely answer is that such a design would have increased the pen’s cost; and, in view of wartime restrictions on the use of brass and steel, the increase would have been a substantial one. (When Eversharp introduced the Fifth Avenue in late 1943, that pen’s cap was gold filled — but it was gold over sterling silver, not gold over the more economical and better suited brass.) The wartime restrictions on metals did cause Sheaffer to choose silver for the base metal in its pen furniture, and that choice has led to an interesting situation for collectors. Over the years, silver ions have migrated upward through the gold alloy layer, appearing on the surface as a distinct layer that has tarnished to a dark gunmetal-like gray color (but can be removed easily without harm to the pen). This phenomenon, which is not unique to Sheaffer’s pens, is a good marker for pens that were manufactured during the war.

Metal caps were not altogether absent from the “TRIUMPH” line. The Crest, introduced in 1937 and initially referred to as the Model 47, continued in production. Unchanged externally from its open-nib predecessor except for subtleties in the line pattern on the cap, the “TRIUMPH” version revealed its new identity only when uncapped:

Although the “TRIUMPH” Crest’s cap looks like the cap of the older open-nib Crest,
the two caps are not interchangeable because the thread location has changed.
(The White Dot on the this pen is at the tip of the filler knob/blind cap.)

Sheaffer apparently considered the Crest a more “dignified” model, and the company made the “TRIUMPH” Crest only in Jet Black (shown above) and Golden Brown.



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