PenHero 365: Sheaffer Legacy Heritage Look of Leather Formal Black

by Jim Mamoulides, January 2, 2010

Some pens just have a habit of returning to my pocket over an over again. Since my primary collecting focus is Sheaffer pens, it should be no surprise that most of the pens in my personal collection are Sheaffers. Sheaffer has created many iconic pen designs since the company was established in 1913. You'll see samples of all of them over the course of this year, from the jade colored flat-top pens of the 1920s, the Balance pens of the 1930s, the Triumph pens of the 1940s, the Snorkels of the 1950s and the Inlaid nib pens of the 1950s through today.

Sheaffer Legacy
Sheaffer Legacy Heritage Look of Leather Formal Black fountain pen

Sheaffer introduced the inlaid nib in 1959 with the release of the Pen For Men, or PFM. This new nib is cut from flat sheet gold in a diamond shaped with a tab on the opposite end from the nib tip. The nib is tipped, slit, ground, and molded into the section shell, creating a smooth conical surface from the base of the section all the way to the nib tip, concealing the feed inside. Making the nib part of the section itself is completely the opposite thinking from the hooded nib unit introduced with the Parker 51, where the nib is a tiny unit inside the nib section with only the tip extending out. Sheaffer's Inlaid design incorporates the large gold nib onto the section surface itself, creating a striking visual.

Sheaffer Legacy
Sheaffer Legacy Heritage Look of Leather Formal Black fountain pen nib and cap detail

The PFM was a large plastic pen, introduced at a time when thin slender pens ruled the market. Sheaffer was very aware of market trends and introduced the more slender and smaller Imperial and Compact lines immediately afterward, each with their own, smaller versions of the new Inlaid nib. The Imperial, in various forms and model names was produced almost continuously from the early 1960s through the late 1990s, but the PFM lasted only a few years after its introduction.

Sheaffer Legacy
Sheaffer Legacy Heritage Look of Leather Formal Black fountain pen open

In 1995, with the market looking for larger and more status oriented pens, Sheaffer revived the PFM design in an all metal pen called the Legacy. As the PFM was a Snorkel filling pen, Sheaffer gave that original filling system a hat-tip by giving the new Legacy line a removable version of the Touchdown filling system, giving the new Legacy line a look and feel a lot like the original PFM. Sheaffer later dropped the Touchdown filling system, as it was complex and expensive to manufacture, introducing a new version of the line in 2003, called Legacy Heritage, using a traditional cartridge / converter system. In 2004, Sheaffer introduced four pens with the look of tooled leather using high relief enamel finishes on the Legacy Heritage, called "Look of Leather". My personal favorite is the Formal Black finish shown here, and it is the only remaining finish of the four still in production.

Sheaffer Legacy
Sheaffer Legacy Heritage Look of Leather Formal Black fountain pen nib detail

I actually got the inspiration for today's pen going through old photos. I've been trying to catalog the literally thousands of images I've taken over the last 10 years so I can locate and use the many that have never been published. If you have a lot of personal photos on your computer, you are aware of the chore it is to sort through and find what you are looking for. In this case, as I was working, I kept stopping when I saw a shot I had made of the Legacy Heritage Look of Leather Formal Black pens for the article I did in 2004. When I take photos for an article or for paid work, I always have a lot of unused extra shots that don't get used for a variety of reasons. I selected several from those sessions for today's article.

Sheaffer Legacy
Sheaffer Legacy Heritage Look of Leather Formal Black fountain pen open

The Sheaffer Legacy Heritage Look of Leather pen I have is the original one I photographed for the article. It came direct from Sheaffer before the pen line was released. The finish is actually done in two steps. First a matte black base coat is sprayed on the cap and barrel and then the undercoated pen is topped with a thick, high gloss black lacquer coat in a high relief tooled leather pattern. The trim and 18 karat gold nib is palladium plated, giving the pen that colder look that was popular in the 2000s. The Sheaffer Legacy Heritage is a large, moderately heavy pen, weighing 1.4 oz. The fountain pen and rollerball pens are about 5 1/2 inches long capped and 6 inches posted.

What you get when you pull the cap off is the big visual impact of the palladium plated 18 karat gold Inlaid nib. My pen has a smooth, wet writing medium nib that writes with the Sheaffer touch, a feeling almost like writing with a Number 2 pencil. I can feel my writing, and I like the positive feedback, another reason I like Sheaffer pens in particular. I like the way they write. This pen travels with me a lot. It's reliable and a great everyday pen. The finish is very forgiving of daily use. I also have the rollerball and I'm thinking it will be on hand tomorrow. I have several more Legacy Heritage and Legacy Touchdown pens of my own, and I suspect some will show up on these pages this year.

You can read more about this pen in the full article here: Sheaffer Legacy Heritage Look of Leather 2004

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