Tag Archives: fountain pen

Sheaffer VFM

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Sheaffer. I wanted to make sure I got a review of one of their pens this year, and I’m glad I did!

Sheaffer VFM Fountain Pen

I first saw the Sheaffer VFM while browsing my favorite local store, If Only…, looking for something else. I check the pen cabinets every time I go, and this time this little pen came home with me.

Now, when I say little pen, I mean visually. It is a very simple design that appears unobtrusive; a basic tapered cylinder for barrel and cap, and clip. Not a lot to it, yet even in its simplicity it has a rather elegant style. The barrel comes in a number of different colors.


This is a metal bodied pen with a weight you would expect from a metal pen of this size. The pen body comes in a number of colors to match any preference. I picked up a Maximum Orange body, which suited the Fall mood. The store did not have Shaeffer refills in the Universal cartridge that this pen takes. I filled it with a J. Herbin Universal refill in Bleu Nuit.

The nib is steel and can be found in Fine and Medium. The medium nib I chose writes with about the same width as Lamy’s fine tips.

Sheaffer VFM Nib

The Sheaffer VFM with ink cartridge weighs in at 20.4 grams. Closed, it’s just shy of 5.5″ long. Open and posted, it is a tad over 6″. Don’t post your pens? Open without the cap, it is 4.75″.

In Use

Before I open my mouth and reveal myself as the new-found Sheaffer fan-boy that I am, let me state that I bought this pen purely out of curiosity. I liked its clean looks, but that was all I knew about the pen. That said, this pen has become my daily use pen, pushing aside my Lamy Al-Star at home and my Parker Jotter at work. Let me tell you why…

First and likely foremost, this is one durable pen. The body has a nice, solid feel to it. There are few edges, and no sharp corners that could catch on anything, and this includes the clip. Its edges are all rounded, so nothing to poke. Why is this important to me? It makes it comfortable to carry in pants pockets. This means it is with me where ever I go.

While it took a bit to get the ink to flow the first time I inserted a cartridge, it has never skipped since. Lines are clean and react nicely to differing pressures, laying down a clean line. With the J. Herbin ink, this means you can shade letters and drawings.

Sheaffer VFM writing sample


Among many, it is an inexpensive pen. I see them on Amazon for between $15 and $17. I paid a bit over $16 locally, which puts it right in that range. Not a fan of fountain pens? The Sheaffer VFM can also be found in ballpoint and roller-ball versions. This is also one tough pen, a thick metal body making up the bulk of the pen. I throw mine in my pocket with loose change and it has yet to scratch the surface.


I’ve only found two items I would consider cons. First, the cap, when posted, seems a bit loose. I can wobble it around. The cap has a plastic inner liner that should hold it snug against the pen barrel, but even if I press it as tightly as I can, after a while it works loose and begins to wobble again. Not really that big a deal for me as I can write fine, posted or not. Usually, I simply don’t post the cap.

The second may be primarily an issue with local availability. Since this pen takes Universal cartridges, I’ve found myself oddly limited with the local shops. I can only find Universal cartridge ink by J. Herbin locally. While they do have an excellent selection of colors, I’d like to try other brands before settling on an ink. I’ll likely have to shop online to either find other Universal cartridges, or a piston/plunger converter.

Final Word

As noted above, this has become my work-horse pen. I carry it everywhere. If the style fits yours, it is definitely worth picking up. At less than $20, it certainly won’t break the bank.

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Lamy Refill Converter

Part of the fun of owning fountain pens is trying out the many different inks that are available. Unfortunately, if a pen has a specific refill cartridges, you may be stuck to a limited color set. Additionally, those cartridges are generally made of plastic and eventually thrown away. Combined with disposable pens, the amount of pen-based plastic thrown away in a year is likely a depressing statistic.

I love my Lamy pens and decided to order their refill converter for their Al-Star, Joy and Safari pens. It arrived recently and I immediately put it to use.

Lamy Refill Converter Z25

Lamy Converter SlottedThe converter snaps into place in the pen using small posts that fit snugly into small clips on the front portion of the pen. A small rubber gasket at the front of the converter prevents leaks. There is not a lot of wiggle room here, the converter, at least in my pen, was secure with very little movement.

Once inserted, it is very simple to use. Dip the pen in your chosen ink up to the grip. Turn the red portion of the converter counter-clockwise to lower the piston until it stops. Now turn the red portion clockwise, and it will draw in fresh ink. Like I said, pretty simple.

When done, you can wipe off the nib with a soft cloth or tissue. You may need to wipe the grip, as well, if you got it into the ink like I did when I first tried this.

Some things to note about these converters. First, you will not get the volume of ink as you would with a disposable refill. I don’t mind that trade off, since I am no longer wasting plastic. Second, be sure to clean it from time to time, and particularly if you are switching ink types or colors.

Lamy RefilledLamy Converter Installed

I really like this converter and they are now in place in my three Lamy pens. They have opened up a whole new world of inks, all of which I hope to write about in the future.

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Filed under Accessories, Lamy Refill Converter Z24

Lamy Joy

As its name implies, the Lamy Joy is a fun pen. The Joy’s unique design brings to my mind a modern take on old quill pens. And while it is an all plastic pen, the body is very resistant to scratches. The black body of the pen is offset by red accents in the clip and tail end of the pen.

Lamy Joy

This is a very comfortable pen, having the same ergonomic grip as the Lamy Al-star. It sits well in the hand and is quite light. Like many Lamy fountain pens, a small view-port gives you a visual indicator of ink levels remaining in the pen.

You can get the Joy in three different tip widths. I have it in both the 1.1mm and 1.9mm, but there is a middle size at 1.5mm. The fine tip produces a nice, flowing script that I find perfect for letter writing. The broader tips, as one would expect, are excellent for calligraphy, a skill, I’m sad to say, I do not excel at to put it mildly. I will keep trying, though. No fault of the pen, this is one you can chalk up to user error.

The Lamy Joy uses the same T10 refills as the Lamy Al-star. Lamy also sells a piston refill converter, allowing you to use other brand inks. A nice feature if you enjoy colors beyond the standard colors offered by Lamy.

This is definitely a pen I would put on any Top 10 list for pens. The Lamy Joy is an affordable, stylish fountain pen designed to bring out your best writing.

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Lamy AL-star

The Lamy AL-star is a minimalistic, yet stylish, fountain pen. The look is similar to the all-plastic Lamy Safari, but with a metal barrel that comes in several color variants. It utilizes the Lamy T10 ink refill cartridges that, like the pen body, come in a number of different colors. A plunger style converter, the Lamy Z26, allows you to use other inks, as well.

Lamy AL-starMy Lamy AL-star tends to be my letter writing and journaling pen. I purchased an Al-star with the fine point, which best suits my writing style. The nib is tough and doesn’t show signs of wear after several years of use. Ink flows smoothly and consistently, though, like many fountain pen inks, takes some time to dry. When using it, I tend to keep a blotter on hand in case I write faster than it dries, which is often.

A well placed port on either side of the pen allows a quick assessment of ink levels in the pen, a handy feature for those who write often.

When I saw this pen, I wLamy AL-star niborried the barrel was thicker than I liked. The beveled grip alleviates this issue and it turns out to be quite comfortable, even when writing for extended periods of time. The aluminum barrel isn’t that thick and proves to be quite light. I have, infrequently, taken this pen out with me camping or on photo shoots, and find that the aluminum barrel, while fairly thin, fares quite well. It has a couple small scratches and one tiny dent, but these do not detract from the simple elegance of the pen.

The Al-star cleans easily in warm water, and I do recommend it from time to time. I’ve found that if I leave mine sitting for extended periods (say, a few weeks) the ink in the nib has a tendency to dry and clog. I recommend distilled water, particularly if you, like me, have very hard water at the tap.

Lamy, itself, is an innovative company that I hope to profile in a future article. The Lamy Al-star was my introduction to the company, and I have since purchased several more of their models, all of which I have been pleased with.

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