PenHero 365: Sheaffer Snorkel Sentinel Mandarin Orange

by Jim Mamoulides, January 5, 2012

Eversharp Symphony
Sheaffer Snorkel Sentinel in Mandarin Orange open

Collecting Sheaffer Snorkels can be both easy and difficult. The pens are generally fairly easy to find and many models and colors are not terribly expensive to acquire. Although they are not a simple restoration, given the complex filling mechanism, it's not hard to find pen repair people to service them and they are very good every day pens once restored to working order. One might think that a very popular pen line in production from 1952 to 1959, spanning only 13 models and 13 colors, not counting the demonstrator and desk pen, would make a complete collection fairly attainable.

Even though the Snorkel was a very popular pen line and very heavily advertised, most of the easier and less expensive models are the non precious metal pens so we will exclude the less common solid gold Masterpiece, sold gold cap band Autograph and Signature, gold filled cap and barrel Triumph, and gold filled cap Crest. The remaining models, Special, Admiral, Saratoga, Sovereign, Statesman, Clipper, Valiant and Sentinel are actually quite easy to find in the five most common colors: black, pastel blue, pastel green, burgundy and gray.

This is where things get interesting. Of the six remaining colors, all are considered uncommon: fern green, periwinkle, peacock blue, mandarin orange, fiesta red, and vermillion. Unlike the five common colors, which were available on all models, save the precious metal pens, five, fern green, periwinkle, peacock blue, mandarin orange, and fiesta red were available only on the top line White Dot Snorkel pens, while vermillion was only available on the non-White Dot models. These six colors are the most difficult colors to find. It's not clear, as I don't have actual production numbers, how many pens were made in a particular color, but it leads one to believe that this less common six color palette was either a shorter or later run from the other colors, leading to fewer pens made, and therefore less common today. This would not surprise me, as in most cases with most pens even today, the most commonly purchased color is black.

Also interesting is that overall, Sheaffer made Snorkels in threes: three shades of blue, three shades of green, three shades of red, and three neutral colors: black, gray and buckskin tan. This would make the thirteenth and only standalone color Mandarin Orange.

Eversharp Symphony
Sheaffer Snorkel Sentinel in Mandarin Orange open

In terms of accepted rarity, Mandarin Orange ranks below fern green, periwinkle, peacock blue Snorkels, but they all have complementary pens in shades of the same color, green and blue. If you want an orange Snorkel, this is your only choice! Mandarin Orange limits one's choices to the most common White Dot models, Statesman, Clipper, Valiant and Sentinel. I have not personally seen a Mandarin Orange with a same color section, but that would make the pen more uncommon and collectible.

Snorkel pens are all a common size, shape and proportion, about 5 5/8 inches long capped and 6 3/8 inches posted, and they are quite light, being all plastic, plastic with a metal cap or all lightweight metal. Snorkel pens are well balanced in the hand, whether the cap is posted or not, and because they are lightweight, there is not a real perceptible difference either way.

This particular Snorkel is a Sentinel model, which means it has a stainless steel cap with gold plated trim and a two-tone 14 karat Triumph nib.

Snorkel pens are easy and clean filling with a single downward stroke. When restored, Snorkels are solid everyday user pens. Even though this particular Snorkel was a loaner to be photographed, I would find no problem using this less common color pen every day.

You can read more about these great pens in the article, Sheaffer Snorkel 1952-1959.

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