Sheaffer Snorkel, The Two Triumphs c1955-1959
by Jim Mamoulides, August 20, 2016
For some reason the Sheaffer Snorkel Triumph pens don't get a lot of press. The Triumph is a handsome pen, all gold filled with long engraved lines in sets of five running the length of the streamlined cap and barrel. Only the solid gold Masterpiece Snorkel stands above it. What makes the Triumph particularly interesting is that Sheaffer made two versions, distinguished by where the blank engraving band appears, either at the base of the cap or the top of the barrel. Both versions also have a long rectangular cartouche for engraving on the barrel.
Sheaffer Snorkel Triumph 112SKYB, open
According to the 1962 Sheaffer's Service Manual, model 112SKY has the engraving band on the bottom of the cap, and model 112SKYB has it on the top of the barrel. The previous Triumph TM Touchdown has it only on the cap, as do all of the solid gold Snorkels I've seen. Don't know why there is an extra Triumph, but there it is!
Sheaffer 1957 advertisement, showing Snorkel Triumph 112SKYB
Discovering two versions of the Triumph begs the question, "which one came first?" I don't think it's likely Sheaffer started out with two versions day one, and when was day one anyway? The Triumph is absent from the first Snorkel catalog, dated August 1953. Not having a 1954 catalog or price list, the first selling reference I found for the Triumph is the July, 1955 catalog, showing both the pen and pencil. The illustration shows the pencil having the engraving band on the cap, but the pen is shown with no engraving band at all. The previous Sheaffer line, the TM Touchdown, had a Triumph model, and the engraving band appears on the cap.
Sheaffer Repair Manual description of Sheaffer Snorkel Triumph
An ad appearing on the back cover of the November, 1957 National Geographic magazine shows the Triumph with the engraving band on the barrel. The Triumph rarely appears in advertisements, and this is the only clear and dated copy I was able to find. Two 1959 Sheaffer dealer sell sheets, one is undated, show line drawings of the Triumph pen also showing the engraving band on the barrel.
Sheaffer Snorkel Triumph 112SKY, open
If there's any conclusion to be made from the bits of catalog, price list and advertisement information, the Snorkel Triumph appeared after 1953 and no later than 1955 and continued through the 1959 sunset of the Snorkel line. The second version was model 112SKYB, with the engraving band on the barrel, introduced at least by 1957, as evidenced in advertising and dealer sell sheets, leaving model 112SKY, with the engraving band on the cap, as the first model by default. The order of the two models is also obviated by the added "B" to the the base 112SKY model number, but having actual dated information certainly helps.
Identification guide and features:
The Snorkel Triumph is the penultimate Snorkel in terms of price, second only to the Masterpiece. There are two versions of the all gold fill pen, one with the engraving blank at the base of the cap, most likely the earlier model, and one with the engraving blank at the top of the barrel, nearest the section.
- Gold filled cap and barrel with repeating 5 parallel lines pattern on the cap and barrel
- Model 112SKY has engraving blank at base of cap, Model 112SKYB has engraving blank at top of barrel, near section
- Cartouche on barrel for engraving
- Screw on cap
- Gold plated spring loaded clip
- White Dot in cap above clip
- Two-tone palladium plated 14 karat gold Triumph nib
- Model 112SKY has cap lip stamped "SHEAFFER'S" and "MADE IN U.S.A.", Model 112SKYB has the stamping at top of barrel , near section
- 16 available nib grades: fine, extra fine, flexible fine, flexible extra fine, medium, flexible medium, accountant, shorthand, coarse, flexible coarse, stub, broad stub, left oblique stub, flexible left oblique stub, flexible stub, music
- About 5 5/8 inches long capped and 6 3/8 inches with the cap posted on the end of the barrel - posting not recommended
- Touchdown filling mechanism with Snorkel ink fill
- Retail price was US $30.00
- Matching pencil was US $12.50
The Sheaffer Snorkel Triumph pens may be the same size as the Snorkels with plastic barrels, but these pens definitely feel heftier. I particularly like the way the cap and barrel come together, making the closed pen a golden torpedo. Even the clip shape plays into that look. The fit and finish on my sample pens is excellent. The innerspring clip would hold on tightly to any pocket.
It may be slender, but the Triumph pen is impressive. Sheaffer pitched these to dealers as "ideal for public awards, anniversaries, retirements." I would have to agree. The lines on the cap and barrel are engraved deeply enough to give a nice tactile feel. The added length of the Snorkel pen gives it more visual impact than the shorter TM Touchdown pens.
Sheaffer Snorkel Triumph 112SKY left, closed, 112SKYB right, open
Opening the pen and filling it reminds me of why I like Snorkels. Unscrewing the barrel cap extends the Snorkel tube and pulling out the Touchdown tube readies the pen for filling. Dunking only the end of the Snorkel tube in the ink bottle and pushing down one quick stroke fills the pen after a 10 count. Retracting the Snorkel tube by twisting the end cap and the pen is ready to write with no wiping. The Snorkel may be very complicated on the inside, but filling is easy.
Writing with the pen reminds how Sheaffer nibs feel on paper. They tend to have a more pencil-like feel rather than the extreme smoothness of some other brands. I like feedback when I write and I find this to be a good quality. The nib on my test pen, the 112SKY version, is a fine point and lays a really even and not too wet line. Writing starts with the nib touches paper and it glides.
I don't recommend posting Snorkel Triumph pens. This would be a metal on metal equation that would eventually wear off the gold fill on the barrel.
Sheaffer Snorkel Triumph 112SKYB left, 112SKY right, nib detail
Triumph Snorkels currently show a value above the common color Snorkels and below the highly valued colors, such as Fern Green. I find this a little odd as Triumph Snorkels in really nice condition are not that easy to come by. This is a pen near the top of the Sheaffer Snorkel line and would have sold in lower quantities. Definitely recommended, especially as a daily user, if you find a nice one, definitely get it serviced and use it!
National Geographic, November, 1957
Sheaffer Catalog, August, 1953
Sheaffer Catalog, July, 1955
Sheaffer dealer price list, October 1, 1955
Sheaffer dealer sell sheet, August, 1959
Sheaffer dealer sell sheet, Undated, c1959
Sheaffer's Service Manual, 1962, page B36, dated 3/1/60