Friday, 4 April 2014

Pick a Pen Series: Sheaffer Friends pen by Ryman

This contribution to Palimpsest's Pick-a-Pen Series comes from UK's renowned stationer Ryman. What office supplies' and stationery enthusiast hasn't spend some time amongst the shelves of one of Ryman's stores? And so it is appropriate that Mr Ryman's post comes in this of all weeks: National Stationery Week!

Sheaffer Friends by Ryman

It was, I realise with hindsight, a terrible faux-pas on my part.
It hadn’t even occurred to me that it could cause a problem. That was how oblivious I was. I’d been invited to the opening of an exhibition by Horace Panter to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Sheaffer pens. The company had started in 1913 with only seven employees, and over the last one hundred years has become one of the most respected pen manufacturers in the world.

I arrived at the gallery and started looking at the paintings. Before becoming an artist, Horace had played bass in The Specials, and the music influence was evident in his paintings. The gallery was quite small, and as I stopped to let another man pass on the narrow stairway, something caught his eye. In the lapel pocket of my jacket was a Parker Jotter. He pointed at the instantly recognisable Parker Arrow clip poking over the edge of my pocket and said “Hmmm, we need to do something about that.” He introduced himself as a member of the Sheaffer team and then reached inside his jacket. Arranged in the pocket inside were a series of very smart looking pens. “Rollerball, I think” he said. He pulled out a pen and placed it in my lapel pocket, removing the Parker and tucking it inside my pocket so the arrow clip was no longer visible. In its place was this new pen, with the white dot of Sheaffer proudly on display.

When I got home, I googled the pen to find out more about it. The bamboo design meant I was quickly able to identify it as one of the Sheaffer Friends of Winter range. It was around £30 of pen that man had slipped into my pocket. As someone more used to disposable ballpoints, to begin with the pen felt a little heavy, but it writes smoothly and the barrel and cap have a quality feel to them.

The Friends of Winter range comes in three designs – bamboo, plum and pine. These three plants are supposedly much hardier than the others, and continue to thrive all through the winter while other plants and trees lose their leaves. The three together are supposed to be a sign of friendship. It might be a tiny bit of an exaggeration to say I consider the man from Sheaffer to be a friend (considering the fact that I only ever spoke to him once for about a minute), but the pen does represent a kind of idea of generosity and thoughtfulness. And I’m much more careful about what pen I carry with me when I go somewhere now. 


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1 comment:

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