I'd rather have a 'Targa by Sheaffer'
Over the years pen manufacturers have produced literally thousands of pen models. Several hundreds of these have given pleasure to pen lovers. There are many amongst these models that have stood the test of time and are almost synonymous with the manufacturers who produce them.
The Montblanc Masterpiece, the Pelikan Souveran, the Omas Extra, the Aurora 88, the Pilot FK, the Sailor Profit just to name a few. And these models have been produced over a fairly long period of time, with many finishes, often in different sizes to satisfy a wider market.
The most notable of these models are loved by pen lovers world-wide, so much so that many actual collect the different finishes of any particular model. And the best examples are the Parker Duofold, the Parker 75 and the Sheaffer Targa - or more precisely the 'Targa by Sheaffer', this is the correct and registered model name.
Why 'Targa by Sheaffer'? Well, because the name had to be found by Sheaffer marketing fairly quickly - the one they had already chosen for this model was, 'Genesis'. And they got ready for launch, but had to rethink the name as someone suggested to them that if the pen was called Genesis, its success in some markets in the Middle East would be compromised.
So, Sheaffer came up with the name 'Targa by Sheaffer'. Targa Florio is a sports car race held in Sicily and which since 1912 has been a testing ground for the durability of high class cars such as Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, Mercedes and Jaguar. And of course there is a sports car by Porsche called Targa.
The name Targa by Sheaffer fits the pen well. And this model has proved its worth in the market place, having been produced for 18 years -- from 1976 to 1994. Both Sheaffer USA and Sheaffer UK developed a wide range of finishes and I believe the Targa by Sheaffer has been offered in more finishes than any other quality pen from any manufacturer. But perhaps someone will prove me wrong.
A worthy contest could be offered by the Parker 75, probably the hottest model in the last few years. While I love both the Parker 75 and the Targa by Sheaffer, in my view, the latter has over all the edge over the Parker product. Needless to say, many avid collectors of the 75 will disagree with me! It is not that one is better than the other, they are both very efficient pens, most of the finishes are within the pen lovers budgets, it is just that they are different and when you come down to it, personal appeal is the deciding factor. It is no different say, than trying to choose between BMW and Mercedes.
The Targa by Sheaffer has a long rectangular form, a rectangular clip to compliment the shape and it is mounted with the famous Sheaffer inlaid nib. The company enjoyed world-wide success in the 1970s and the new model enhanced its reputation as an innovative and forward-thinking organization.
The name 'Targa by Sheaffer' had a tone indelibly associated with the prestige of the motor industry - innovative and functional with high performance, strong engineering and superb quality. It made a new statement about Sheaffer which continuously built on its reputation for quality and prestige while responding to the evolving desires of the consumer.
If we look at the Parker 75, one can say that the Parker 180 is the slimmer model to attract a wider clientele. In the same way the regular Targa by Sheaffer has the slim Targa for a wider audience. While the 75 was launched in the USA in 1964 and was then produced also in Europe, the Targa by Sheaffer was launched a little later, in 1976, and again European production catered for most of the needs there.
The early models of the Targa by Sheaffer were a little conservative in finish, such as the 1004 Sterling Silver with thin vertical lines. Traditional guilloche engraving patterns such as Fine Barley, Square Cut, Fluted, were also offered. During this time period, almost every manufacturer offered similar designs in one form or another. But with time, Sheaffer began introduce some more unusual, and in a way more exciting guilloche patterns, such as the Spiral, Vannerie (Basketweave), Foxhead and so on.
In fact the different finishes offered were only limited to the Sheaffer marketing function at the time and many unusual and very beautiful finishes lost out. A superb example is a Sterling Silver frosted pattern with small individual, vertical lines which imparts a jewelry effect on the pen.
Then we have the lacquer finishes. Apart from the range of solid colors, the Targa by Sheaffer was offered in a series of beautiful finishes of marbled lacquer called, Ronce, and it is said that it is Sheaffer who first introduced the term, 'Thuya' for woodgrain, a term that has since been used by other manufacturers.
The French operation produced, in 1989, a small number
using the noble wood, Palissandre de Rio. Even the ornament (cap top)
of these fountain pens was made of wood. I understand four experimental
pieces were actually made and these had a gold plated ornament. They are
all extremely rare but add a dimension to the model 'Targa by Sheaffer'
and a dimension which so many other fountain pens models lack.
Contrary to the philosophy of Parker with their 75 - always mounted with a solid gold nib, Sheaffer took a broader attitude and offered the Targa by Sheaffer with non solid gold nibs to cater for a wider price range and hence audience. A range of finishes with these nibs included matt coating in black, blue and gray.
The combination of black lacquer and guilloche engraving was perfected by Sheaffer with the Targa model. The engraving was first created on brass, then black lacquer applied and wiped off the raised surfaces, thus leaving the lacquer in the engraved grooves and then the cap and barrel covered with a clear varnish. The Medici Line is a particularly good example and the Diamond (Losange) finish is in my view one of the most attractive.
Apart from the standard gold plate, silver plate and lacquer finishes, the Targa by Sheaffer was produced also in some unusual and more rare designs. The two specifically made for Harrods of Knightsbridge include the Emerald in 1988 and Ivoire in 1989. The former has translucent green lacquer over Moire guilloche engraving and it is said that almost 250 pieces were made to produce 60 which passed quality control. We see more of these styles of finish nowadays in a few manufacturers' products. Sheaffer did it in 1988. With the Ivoire we have a beautiful finish with a Spiral guilloche engraving and covered with an opaque white lacquer.
The Fred Force 10 is another example of a customized finish. It has a nautical theme, unusual trim and is palladium electroplated. Then of course we have the very unusual and very rare 'Leather Look' with a matt brown finish and a pattern resembling leather grain. The Fluted design had a special variation with an Australian Opal on the cap top of the pen. And while the regular Targa was also produced in solid brass, the finish called Imperial Brass, this finish was also customized for Concorde.
The jewelry series was part of the Slim Targa whereby precious stones were applied on the clip. Even a Maki-E Slim Targa was produced with a butterfly on the cap, but unfortunately only five pieces were ever made. The Masterpiece Targa by Sheaffer in 18 carat solid gold was produced with the regular larger model and two finishes were marketed, the more successful being the Vannerie (Basketweave) design. With this gold piece, the surface of the ornament (cap top) and barrel bottom are solid gold and do not have the black liners/plugs showing as with the regular finishes. The engraving is a variation of the Vannerie developed specifically for the CP1 - a limited edition series through the fruitful cooperation between Sheaffer and Classic Pens.
Size wise the Targa by Sheaffer is comparable to the Parker Premier (up market version of the Parker 75) and the Waterman Gentleman. Three all metal models with rectangular form and very popular in the 1980s. Having said that, in my view the Parker 75 is in fact a more efficient writer than the Parker Premier. And while both the Parker 75 and the Targa by Sheaffer are tremendous models, efficient writers and excellent value for money, if I had to chose a desert island fountain pen, my choice would be the 'Targa by Sheaffer'. Just my personal choice.
Targa by Sheaffer: #1 Geometric Gold Plate c.1990, #2 Foxhead Gold Plate c.1990, #3 Masterpiece Vannerie 18K gold c.1982, #4 Medici Diamon Lacquer on Brass c.1989, #5 Frosted Sterling Silver Prototype, #6 Straight Lines Sterling Silver c.1976, #7 CP1 Sterling Silver Vannerie 1990, #8 Straight Lines Sterling Silver c.1981, #9 Laque Green c.1994, #10 Dark Brair Wood Prototype c.1989
* All the fountain pens photographed are
from my collection. In fact, I have over 90 different finishes of the
Targa by Sheaffer, albeit some are mild variations of others.