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Maker: Sheaffer.

Unlike the PFM, this pen’s name is not an excursion into sexism; according to the company’s ads, the letters stand for “Vibrant, Fun, and Modern,” which makes up for the lack of offensive chauvinism with raw silliness.  Brought into production in 2011, it is the latest effort by the company to appeal to the popular pen market.  It is a hopeful entry in that department, as it has the right sort of combination of low price, decent writing performance and (apparent) durability to fill this niche handsomely; there is some chance that the initials meant “Value for Money” before the marketing department started in on it.

I hedge on the matter of durability merely because the model hasn’t been around long enough to prove out one way or another.  The two likely failure points augur well.  The clip, while merely tabbed into the cap, has great big tabs and gives a sense of sturdiness.  The finish on the barrel, which comes in ten colours, is matte, which may conceal scratches, and quite hard, so it may also resist them.

There are some problems with this pen.  The cap posts oddly, standing well away from the barrel.  While good for the finish, it presents the thin lip of the cap to the side of the writing finger, which is not altogether comfortable.  If the cap is left aside, the pen is short enough that it may cause some writers with larger hands to give up on it.  The step at the joint is also something that may cause irritation in a long writing session, although one can adjust the hold to avoid it.

The point of real concern about this pen is the cartridge.  It holds a single short cartridge, the International pattern rather than the long-standing Sheaffer proprietary model.  This makes for a very small reserve of ink, and has caused a little bit of mental disturbance amongst Sheaffer fans.  Alarmists worry that this is a first step in Sheaffer giving up on their own cartridge, which is bad in as much as there’s several decades of pen production that relies upon those cartridges.  More level heads suggest that this is merely a matter of having a single model made out-of-house to a set of specifications at the lowest cost possible, and the factory to which the bid went is using parts already in production, which happen to be compatible to the International pattern.

Production Run: Current; introduced in late 2011.

Cost When New: $15.00.

Size: 13.7 cm long capped, 15.2 cm posted, 12.1 cm uncapped.

Point: Steel.

Body: Brass.

Filler: Cartridge , capacity approx. 0.6 ml (International Short).  If you can find a squeeze converter of the same length of that sort of cartridge, you may be able to fit a converter to this pen, but most informed opinion rates it as converter-resistant.

Sheaffer VFM; the box declares this one to be “Maximum Orange”, which seems fair.

The uncomfortable step on the section makes for a very smooth body-line when the cap is on.  It also gives a silhouette very similar to the earlier versions of the Balance, although that’s likely a mere coincidence.



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