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Sheaffer Viewpoint Calligraphy (2000 production).
A review
from the fountain pen of Robert Leone

I am a cheap modern Sheaffer fan, as long-suffering snailmailers who've gotten my letters know. I recently had to replace a catastrophically broken Platignum Silverline (old style) with another calligraphy pen, so I bought a Sheaffer Viewpoint Calligraphy, fine nib, in the new "Style for Life" blister-packaging that seems to be a mark of production under the Bic aegis.

For $4.50, plus $4.00 for a squeeze type converter, it's a good buy, and it writes well, but I'm not happy with it. The problem is the pen doesn't match with my many other Sheaffer calligraphy and writing pens in the "No Nonesense" or "Viewpoint" styles.

It starts at the top, with the cap. It's a snap cap instead of a screw cap. This could be a good thing. Anyone who has ever lost a pen by the old story of "Hey, I'm borrowing your pen YANK YANK SNAP it was kind of tough to open" can see how a snap cap may be a necessity, especially as up-and-coming gnerations of writers are less and less familar with screwcaps. The cap itself is one-piece: There's no inner cap. This is also a good thing, because through the clear plastic cap one can see if there's been a recent unsightly ink event.

It is the section that really raises my ire! It's roughly wice a long as the sections of older pens. This increased length accomodated a dimpled rubber sleeve for a gripping area. It's not in the "Sensa" class, let me tell you! In fact, I'm not sure it makes a significnt difference in writing comfort at all -- this after a couple of multiple-hour snailing sessions. However, rubber sections may be a marketing requirement on a pen that costs more than four bucks! After all, refillable gel pens that write great and have a rubberized grip can cost less than half that. What I DO know about the rubber sleeve is it's a great place for ink to lodge when the nib is dipped (in Waterman green, in case you were wondering).

Another problem with the section, from a quality and durability point of view, is the ink tube that cuts into the cartridges, if you're a cartridge user (and I often am). It's solid plastic, instead of the metal tube surrounding a plastic channelized feed that had been a staple of the inexpensive Sheaffer line for decades.

Finally, there is the barrel, which is a little shorter than old production barrels.. As far as I can tell, it does its job as wel as anyone could expect, except for one little thing. Old production Sheaffer sections don't screw in all the way! I admit I have tried only one bare old section, and one old section with a piston converter (don't know what type of piston filler). The bare section didn't screw in all the way. The piston converter equipped section didn't screw in at all -- the piston converter made contact with the rear of the barrel before the threads engaged! The new production section, bearing a squeeze converter, does screw into old barrels, but the cap doesn't fit on it. And that stupid free-rotating dimpled rubber grip doesn't aid in the screwing and unscrewing of sections.

How to spot the pen type: Old production has a deep round straight-sided depression in the top of the cap, while the new production pens have a flush cap with inset slits (almost like a breathable cap, but it isn't, at least on the fountain pen). Old production has a decorative steel band about four millimeters wide on the bottom of the cap, while new production has a decorative steel band about two millimeters wide at the bottom of the cap. Old production has a screw cap and a smooth section, while new production has a snap cap and a dimpled rubber gripping section (that can slide off the section if you want a narrower pen).

The Sheaffer Viewpoint Calligraphy is still a great starter pen for budding calligraphers and fountain pen enthusiasts, but it's a bit harder to use it with as wide a range of fountain pen activities.

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