Return to Sheaffer


Maker: Sheaffer.

Is that not an odd name for a pen?  Not only an odd name, but one which the pen had some trouble living down; substantial nonsense was perpetrated with it.

When it was introduced, the NoNonsense was simply a popular-market pen with extremely old styling.  There was a bit of a nostalgia trend in the 1970s, harking back to the 1920s, and Sheaffer appears to have seen it coming.  The external appearance of this pen is very similar to that of the earliest pens in Sheaffer’s line-up (particularly the larger ones), to the point that when buying pens from online sources extreme attention needs be paid to the tells that distingish old from new(er).  These include a depression in the tail and top of the cap, a rather different shape to the section, and a different face on the clip imprint.

Functionally, these pens are no different from the more slender cartridge pens that Sheaffer had been making for more than a decade; the same points and feeds were mounted in a differently shaped section, which means that they have the same outstanding average in functionality.  There were also italic points available in pens meant for calligraphy; these frequently appeared in sets offering a single body and a three sections.

The nonsense aspect of these pens is somewhat bound up in the fact that they do follow the styling of the 1920s.  Even then, people thought pens were somewhat boring and there were efforts to add decoration.  As an inherently cheap pen with broad, unencumbered sides, the NoNonsense was also a great platform for advertising imprints.  Between these two factors, there is an infinity of variation to the model, which I’m hardly even going to hint at with the documentation which follows, but rather stick to what I have encountered.

Kaleidoscope:  This name was used to differentiate pens with various fashionable prints applied to the cap of the pen.  They also cost a little more than the base model.

Stainless: I slightly suspect this as a sub-model name, as it’s too straightforward and descriptive (see previous paragraph); a steel cladding over the standard plastic pen.

Vintage:  A name guaranteed to sow confusion amongst collectors, as it is now possible to use the words “Vintage NoNonsense” to mean one that was made early in the run or the specific sub-set of NoNonsense.  These have a marbled plastic body, gold plating on the point and cap hardware, and the cap depression houses a flat metal jewel.

Old Timer: Less confusing than the Vintage variant in name, these things can cause some serious mental strife when appearing on online auction sites.  They are rather good replicas of chased hard-rubber pens, having gold furniture, chased impressions on the bodies, and completely flat ends.  Those bidding on what they believe are extremely pristine vintage pens would do well to compare the clips carefully.  To help with that, here’s a link to a picture of an 8C flat-top, to compare with my Old Timer below.

Production Run: 1969 – c. 2003

Cost When New: I have at the moment data for 1978 only, when the basic model of this pen cost $1.98 (for modern value, try this calculator).   The cartridge pen of the same time was $1.49, and it’s not unreasonable to expect a similar relationship throughout the run.  More decorated models cost more, of course.

Size: 13.0 cm long capped, 15.4 cm posted, 12.1cm uncapped (all somewhat approximate’ depending on age and trim, these measurements can be ±0.4cm).

Point: Steel, in some examples plated

Body: Polystyrene, occasionally metal-clad.

Filler: Cartridge, capacity approx. 1.1 ml.  This pen is easily adapted to use as an eyedropper with just a little silicone grease on the threads of the section, holding 3.6 ml.  Most models will also accept Sheaffer’s various converters; the Old Timer’s barrel cavity is rather shallower than normal, and the modern screw-piston converter cannot be used..

Sheaffer NoNonsense – this is a rather early example, with the name imprinted near the joint and a rubber feed.

This is a relatively late example – hard to tell the difference, eh?

With other pens, I sometimes try to list all the different colours they come in; with the NoNonsense, “all the different colours” IS the list.

The “Vintage” variant

The Old Timer version of the NoNonsense. You can see how it might fool even a not entirely casual observer.  This is one of at least six different chasing patterns.

Stainless NoNonsense; a very spiffy and functional variant

Sheaffer Kaleidoscope… which is just a NoNonsense with a paint job



This tray was part of a larger kit – the instruction manual refers only to “your Sheaffer NoNonsense pen”



If you are relying on the preceding information to win a bet or impress a teacher, you should read the site’s scholarly caveat. Remember, this is the internet, and it’s full of bad information.

Permanent link to this article: