In 1912, Walter Sheaffer, an Iowa jeweler, founded the Sheaffer Pen Company based on an innovation eliminating the need to use an eye dropper to fill fountain pens. Sheaffer created the first commercial lever-fill pen in 1913, and during the 1920s released the Sheaffer Vacuum Filler, which used a long plunger to fill the pen with ink.
In 1920, the company introduced its successful premium-priced “lifetime” pen, which guaranteed the gold nib for the life of the owner. And in 1924, Sheaffer introduced its signature “white dot” and the first successful mass-produced plastic pen, the Sheaffer Jade, made of Radite.
The Sheaffer Balance, released in 1929, started a trend toward streamlined pens. This highly collectible cigar-shaped pen was produced for almost 20 years, in an array of colors including striped and marble. In the 1930s, Sheaffer released the WASP (for Walter A. Sheaffer Pen Company) as an affordable pen to be sold in dime stores. And in the 1940s, Sheaffer invented the Triumph nib, a conical-shaped nib that enhanced the end of the pen.
The Sheaffer Snorkel, one of Sheaffer’s most popular pens, was produced in the 1950s, and had approximately 12 different versions with a wide array of available colors. The PFM (Pen For Men) was released in the late 1950s, and although many collectors think of it as one of Sheaffer’s finest pens, it was not very successful. The PFM introduced an inlaid nib, which lays on top of the nib section.
In the 1970s, Sheaffer released the Targa, which featured a 1920s-style cylindrical look and was named after the Targa Florio race and the Porsche Targa. It was discontinued in the 1990s and has been highly collectible ever since. Sheaffer was bought by Bic in 1997.