Tuesday, March 10, 2015

An unusual Touchdown

Even though I have written my share of articles, I have spent a lot more time collecting during the last 25-odd years than organizing and photographing. This pen is one I had never gotten around to sharing, though I did ask a few Sheaffer specialists over the years if they had seen anything like it. They had not.

At first glance it is an ordinary first-year (1949) Sheaffer Touchdown Sentinel Deluxe, unusual chiefly for having been made in Canada. And in fact, I did not notice anything else out of the ordinary until it was on the workbench, and I realized that the tool marks on the filling knob weren't tool marks at all.

Yes, the knob is deeply imprinted, "TouchDown". An experiment, a market test? Who knows?

UPDATE: A few other examples now reported, all Canadian. Raising a big question: why Canada? It seems most improbable that these specially-imprinted knobs were released after the regular ribbed knobs; that they were an initial design that was abandoned almost immediately is far more plausible -- and given their rarity, that they never went into full production. Is it possible, then, that these knobs were a feature of very early pens made for market testing, testing that was done in Canada?
Unfortunately, while we know quite a bit about how Parker did market testing, we know next to nothing about Sheaffer's practices. Testing acceptance of a radically new filling system in Canada before launching it in the USA, however, certainly makes sense. Looking back, we don't make all that much of Sheaffer's adoption of the Touchdown filling system in 1949, but in fact it was a major leap that could easily have gone disastrously wrong.

1 comment:

jonro said...

That’s cool. Nice to find something out of the ordinary like that.