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Sheaffer Pen Corporation [1]
Industry Writing instruments
Founded 1912
Founder Walter Sheaffer
Headquarters Shelton, Connecticut, US
Area served
Key people
Tim Williams (General Manager) [2]
Products Fountain and ballpoint pens
$ 36 million [1]
Number of employees
250 [1]
Parent Société Bic

Sheaffer Pen Corporation (ʃeɪfɜː) is a manufacturer of writing instruments, particularly luxury fountain pens. The company was founded by Walter A. Sheaffer in Fort Madison, Iowa, and incorporated in 1913 [3] to exploit his invention of a lever-filling fountain pen. The brand was sold by French parent company Bic to A. T. Cross Company in August, 2014.


In 1912, Walter A. Sheaffer took his idea of a pen-filling apparatus that utilized a lever system and, with his life savings, founded the W.A. Sheaffer Pen Company in Fort Madison, Iowa. The company was established in the backroom of Mr. Sheaffer's jewelry store with seven employees, and was incorporated a year later, in 1913. By the 1930s, Sheaffer fountain pens were being advertised as the pen that "fills instantly from any ink-well, with one touch of a finger. Cleans automatically when filling."

Sheaffer has manufactured fountain pens down to the present day. The original lever-filler mechanism remained in use through the end of the 1940s, though a sacless plunger design was introduced in the early 1930s.

In 1949 Sheaffer adopted the "Touchdown" pneumatic-filling mechanism for its top-line fountain pens. A development of the Touchdown design was the Snorkel, which added a small extendable tube underneath the nib to avoid the need to dip the nib into ink when operating the filler plunger. The last Snorkel pen was the oversize "Pen For Men," a fat-bodied model introduced in 1959 with the then-new "Inlaid Nib" which has since featured on all Sheaffer's top-of-the-line pens.

From the 1950s Sheaffer pens were designed to accept either ink cartridges or a converter to allow the use of bottled ink. The Targa was a popular premium model which came in around 80 different finishes and two sizes (classic and slim). Other popular Sheaffer fountain pens were the low-cost "School Pen" and "No-Nonsense" models. Current premium pens in the range include the Valor and the Legacy series, all of which retain the inlaid nib.

On July 31, 1997, Societe Bic S.A., known for its Bic pens and lighters, agreed to buy Sheaffer for less than $50 million. Bic, of France, bought Sheaffer from Gefinor S.A., a Geneva-based investment bank, according to Thierry Michels, communications director at Bic. Michels said Bic paid less than the $50 million that Sheaffer had achieved in current annual sales. At the time of the Bic purchase, Sheaffer had 550 employees, 450 of whom were based in North America.

In 2003, corporate officials announced their intention of closing Sheaffer's Fort Madison, Iowa, plant after nearly a century of making pens in the southeast Iowa city. At its peak, the company employed more than 1,000 people in Fort Madison. The shutdown of the factory was completed by the end of March 2008, affecting about 40 workers. Sheaffer's fountain pen point assembly department was moved to a third-party manufacturer in China. Customer service, purchasing, information technology, warehousing and distribution operations, packaging, and quality control were relocated to Slovakia.

Bought by BIC in 1997, Sheaffer was sold in August 2014 to A. T. Cross Company for $15 million (US).[4]


Sheaffer manufactures a variety of products, including rollerballs and mechanical pencils as well as luxury fountain and ballpoint pens.[5] Recently, in 2013, they have launched collection of Ferrari special edition ball point, fountain and roller ball pens.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Sheaffer at website
  2. ^ Sheaffer at Bloomberg Businessweek website
  3. ^ State of Iowa, Secretary of State April 21, 1913 Book I-5 page 380
  4. ^ Bic dit adieu aux stylos Sheaffer, Challenges, 21 août 2014
  5. ^ Products: Writing instruments - Sheaffer catalog

External links[edit]