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Maker: Wing Sung.

One of the fairly consistent elements in Chinese pens, especially the lower-end models, is that there is a western exemplar from which the shape is drawn.  One might in many cases defend this apparent practice in much the same was as one can say, “Well, most airplanes look much alike.”  Given the need for the same general parts and the same sort of action in the same sort of arena, there is apt to be a certain amount of overlap in the outline of pens.  Longer than wide, as a rule.  Inky at one end.

However, there are some pens that are quite distinctive in their specific attributes, and about which this sort of hand-waving, “Oh, of course it’s pen-shaped” dismissal will not suffice.  One of these extremely distinct attributes is the annular point which Sheaffer introduced in 1942 with the eponymous Triumph line, and which they continued to use with greater and lesser frequency right up to the end of the last century.

At this point, I’m going to start to actually consider the pen this page is putatively presenting.  While a lot of Chinese pens pursue with varying success the works of Parker, Wing Sung’s 233 is an uncommon foray into the world of Sheaffer.  I will not use the phrase “knock-off” relative to this pen, as the labelling is sound and there are some easily spotted differences, but there is clearly a high degree of emulation of the Sheaffer TM Snorkel, including a molding in the feed which stands in for the American pen’s extensible filler.  The differences that make this pen instantly visible as non-Sheaffer are the huge ink window with its trim ring and texturing which lies perpendicular to that on Sheaffers of the earlier Touchdown sort (and which doesn’t show up at all in the Snorkels), and the unbanded metal cap.  The monotone annular point and differently-shaped clip are also give-aways.

Once one gets over the disappointment of this not being a TM, though, it is a pen with some merits.  The filler, another example of the frequently pathetic Chinese press-bar, is surprisingly efficient.  The clip is spring-loaded, as on the inspiration, and seems secure.  The writing can be a little problematical, sadly, but this generally manifests as an over-tight slit which is relatively easy to address without taking the pen to bits, and once that is seen to the pen is a decent writer with the same power as the Sheaffers of this shape to handle multi-layer forms and other mild abuse.

Because the point is only plated steel, and steel of an unknown quality at that, I don’t think it will last for decades, but until the creeping dissolution that is the eventual fate of most steel points overtakes it, I expect this pen will serve quite well.

Production Run: I would like to say something like “c. 1955 – c. 1965″, but with the growth of the collectors’ market in the past couple of decades, I have a suspicion that they’re a more modern effort to play on the recent wave of interest in Snorkels rather than the original one.

Cost When New: Another point of mystery; they can be gotten unused via eBay for under $5, and that includes the shipping.

Size: 14.0 cm long capped, 15.3 cm posted, 12.1 cm uncapped.

Point: Plated steel.

Body: Polystyrene.

FillerPress-bar, capacity approx. 1.4 ml (which is remarkable, given the powers of most Chinese press-bars).

Wing Sung’s 233; there’s too much Chinese writing on it for it to be a Sheaffer TM.



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