At the Scriptus Pen Show on Sunday I bought a vintage pen: a black Sheaffer Snorkel Admiral. It’s light and slender; at 12 cm long it’s the same as a Lamy Safari but weighs noticeably less.
(That’s not a very good picture, I know, but it’s night time and I don’t have one of those little photo boxes. A Duck Duck Go image search will turn up a lot of much better photos.)
There were three other very nice vintage pens I had my eye on, but this one fit my budget ($80, though apparently it was $10 USD when it was new sixty years ago) and the filling mechanism is so strange I couldn’t pass it up.
Sheaffer Snorkel 1952-1959 has all the details about it, with pictures.
In 1952 Sheaffer introduced the Snorkel pen line, which is recognized today as one of the most complex filling mechanisms ever made. The pen was supported with a heavy advertising campaign, proclaiming its clean “dunk free” filling and ease of use. Sheaffer’s early advertisements focus on the filling system, often showing the Snorkel extended and comparing it with hummingbirds or straws to get the point across. Later in the 1950s Sheaffer enlisted celebrities to sell the pen: famous actors such as Jackie Gleason, sports figures such as Jack Dempsey, and cartoonists such as Al Capp.
The insides of this thing are very complex! This video shows how it works.
I bought it from Fifteen Pens, which is Scott Newman, up in Ottawa. He explained all about how it worked inside. He’d restored the pen and guarantees it for a year, so I couldn’t pass it up. I think this pen will become a regular for me when I need a fine nib.