The Award was a bottom-end pen introduced by Sheaffer in what appears to be an effort to fill a space at the bottom of their catalogue which had previously been filled by non-calligraphy versions of the NoNonsense. It may also have been something of a test-bed for the squishy section technology which would some years after its appearance here crop up on the Viewpoint and Javelin.
In use, this pen is quite reasonable. It uses the same point and feed rig as almost everything else Sheaffer has made since 1975 that doesn’t have an inlaid point, and the unusual girth and cushioned section make for a quite comfortable hand. The cap posts extremely well, looks good while there, and has decent balance.
The Award shows its less appealing aspects when it’s not in use. The obvious problem is that big cap receiver on the tail, which is not only a very large item but has channels in it which make one think of cheap consumer electronics of the 1980s. That big knob is a late development for the model, as earlier models are finished with tassie that roughly matched the clip-ring on the cap and which did not hold onto the cap particularly well for posting. One thus has a choice when seeking an Award between better looks or better function.
The less obvious problem is the worse, though, since unseen by the user, the cap does not seal well. There is no inner cap, and the snap mechanism is such as to defeat a seal at the cap’s mouth, so the cap is less there to prevent the point from drying out than it is to slow the process somewhat and reduce shirt stains. This is a big blow to the pen’s reliability, and is an odd failure from Sheaffer, who had known how to seal a cap for quite some time when they rolled this this out.
Update— The Award reappeared in the 2016 catalogue. This is an interesting development, suggesting that Sheaffer under Cross management is keeping an eye on the lower end of the fountain pen market. It appears to be the basis of a new model, the Pop (or possibly POP!) to be released in 2017, the name of which really suggests an effort to get into the school pen game. The re-released model has reverted to the earlier style of tail, which bodes ill for posting. Later update— The posting of the Pop is just fine, as the tail is shaped like the base of the section and the cap locks onto it firmly. The cap-grabbing mechanism seems to depend on the deformation of the cap itself, though, so my misgivings now turn toward how long the cap my last without cracking.
In fairness, though, the Pop is a good contestant in the school pen category, leaning more towards low price than rugged durability but not so far as to be flimsy.
Production Run: 1995 – c. 2003 (my resources don’t indicate the end of production clearly), and reintroduced in 2016
Cost When New: Approximately $30.00 to $50.00, which seems rather high given its overall attributes but the weight of anecdotal evidence supports it. If anyone has actual catalogue data to share, please let me know. (for current value, subject to the aforementioned uncertainy, try this calculator). The re-release price for the Award was $35.00, which seems a little more in keeping with its powers following a decade of inflation. Update— In the 2018 line-up, the Award appears to have been shoved out entirely by the Pop, which is advertised on the company site at $16.99. There are also some Star Wars tie-in models with an MSRP of $22.99
Size: Post-able version– 12.4 cm long capped, 15.4 cm posted, 11.7 cm uncapped. Pop– 12.7 cm long capped, 16.4 cm posted, 12.0 cm uncapped.
Body: Versions appeared in both plastic and brass with various finishes. The Pop seems to be only available in plastic.
Filler: Cartridge, capacity approx. 1.1 ml
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.