Sheaffer Taranis Review
The Sheaffer Taranis was introduced in 2013 and is a devisive design, intended to make you take a stand… you either love it or hate it. Is this model going to reinvigorate the 100 year old brand or flop? You decide…
Watch My Short Video On The Taranis!
Sheaffer Taranis Fountain Pen Design
Sheaffer Pen Company
Walter A. Sheaffer founded Sheaffer Pen in 1913 and introduced the world’s first lever-fill fountain pen. The Sheaffer brand is recognized by the White Dot on all of their pen clips.
The Sheaffer Taranis was introduced in 2013, on the company’s 100th anniversary, and named after the Celtic God of Thunder. It was designed by renowned U.S. architect Charles Debbas, and I think he did a striking job walking the fine line between classic and modern design.
Debbas designed and launched the Ergopen, a unique, almost kidney-bean shaped, ergonomic pen in 1997 according to Stanford University where he lectures. Debbas then sold the company to BIC in 2001 but continues to be one of their main product designers, which makes sense since Sheaffer is a division of BIC USA.
The Sheaffer Taranis is available in five finishes:
- Stormy Night with Chrome Plate Trim (reviewed here)
- Icy Gunmetal with Chrome Plate Trim
- White LIghtning with Gold Plate Trim
- Stormy Wine with Gold Plate Trim
- Sleek Chrome with Chrome Plate Trim
Presence With A Capital “P”
The Taranis fountain pen has Presence with a capital “P” when the cap is removed. Not so much when capped.
It’s hard to capture the presence of this pen in photos. I did my best here. Even the catalog photos from Sheaffer don’t do it justice. It is an “in person” pen that you just need to hold.
I wasn’t impressed or drawn to this fountain pen when I first opened the box. It just looks like any other insert brand here fountain pen with an elongated pen clip in the box.
Oh, but wait and keep reading, the magic happens when you remove the cap.
First impression: when opening the Sheaffer gift box, the first thing I noticed was the design is quite understated when capped. I’m reviewing the Stormy Night finish, featuring chrome plate trim, which is Sheaffer-marketing-speak for black.
Sheaffer Taranis Fountain Pen Branding
The only Sheaffer branding you see when the Taranis is capped is the famous White Dot for their brand at the top of the pen clip and very small brand name engraving on the side of the pen clip. Speaking of the clip, it’s a long, non-descript chrome pen clip.
There’s no drama-building cap design here, just the visual heft of solid design.
The only hint of what’s under the cap is its non-traditional shape: it tapers into soft square ends at the cap and barrel.
Where The Magic Happens
The magic happens when you post the cap on the Sheaffer Taranis fountain pen. This is one beautiful pen when you pop the cap off and see the unique semi-hooded stainless steel nib poking out of a resin and metal grip section.
The Sheaffer Taranis is reminiscent of the 1940sSheaffer Snorkel except that the Taranis nib doesn’t run the width of the section, it’s thinner than the section and completely separate.
The body is somewhat thin and tapered at both ends like the Snorkel, although the Taranis ends square off as opposed to rounded ends.
I say it’s semi-hooded because the nib is not fully integrated into the barrel, it is a separate thin nib poking out of the barrel. Here’s a sampling of Sheaffer Pen nibs so you can see what I’m talking about…
I’ve never been attracted to hooded nibs before, but this one is magnetic. Parker 51s, the old design with a completely integrated nib that was supposed to look modern, just don’t appeal to me. The Taranis is different, it just draws you into staring at it, like great art should.
The grip section has SHEAFFER printed down the front of the grip in large lettering embedded in chrome and wrapped up in black resin. While there are no indents in the grip to thin the grip section, it slowly tapers off, this is one comfortable pen to write with.
At first, I found it odd that Sheaffer didn’t overlay the lettering with paint to make the brand stand out, it almost looks like diamonds in the grip in photos. But the more I wrote with it, the more its beauty grew on me, and painting the lettering would’ve been overstated and tacky.
The width of the Taranis’ grip section is average at 8.5mm, 11mm at the widest point of the pen. If you write without the cap posted, the pen is on the shorter side at 113mm.
- Posted it’s 141mm
- Capped 138mm
- Capless 113mm
What I like most about the design of the Taranis, aside from the unique branding on the barrel, is the balanced feel of this pen. It’s 1.2 ounces, with only .3 of those in the cap. This pen is one of the most well-balanced I’ve written with.
Sheaffer Taranis Fountain Pen Performance, How’s The Nib?
The Taranis fountain pen performs well on all types of paper, although it does bleed and feather slightly on thinner journal paper. I tested the medium nib, so that’s a function of a wider nib as well. I experienced absolutely no bleed-through to the back of the page when using this fountain pen.
The Sheaffer Taranis performed exceptionally well on notebook paper, no bleed-through to the back of the paper and no feathering. I liked the depth of color the Sheaffer blue ink cartridge laid down from the Taranis medium nib.
It’s neither a wet nor a dry writer. It’s pretty perfect in ink delivery. When I first began using it, it skipped a little, but after a break in period of a few paragraphs, it delivered ink consistently and reliably.
This is one smooth writer. It has very slightly more tooth than the Prelude which wrote like butter on glass, but one of the smoother fountain pens I’ve had the good fortune to write with. It didn’t skip or act ink starved at all.
In fact, I thought it was interesting that the Sheaffer Legacy was a wetter writer than the Taranis even though the Legacy I tested was a fine nib, the Taranis was medium! I personally would prefer a fine nib if I were to purchase one, I just like the flexibility of thinner lines on any size of paper.
What I find interesting is the medium on the Sheaffer Taranis was similar to the fine on a Lamy Al Star. I still get a kick out of how different brands classify different nibs in line width. Sheaffer’s medium and fine are very slightly different line widths, but definitely perceptible.
The Sheaffer Taranis is well-balanced and you can write for hours without hand fatigue. Weighing in at only 1.2 ounces, it’s a mid-weight fountain pen. The difference between this fountain pen and some others at the same weight, is that the Taranis is extremely well-balanced.
Many pens are made with quite heavy caps due to the clip and cap band, this makes some pens feel unbalanced and top heavy when you write with the cap posted. The metal ring that separates the cap from the barrel stays on the barrel when you pull off the cap which leaves you with an extremely light cap weighing in at .3 ounces and makes writing with it posted extremely comfortable.
The cap fits well onto the barrel and doesn’t wriggle off as you write. It is a stable pen and the cap stays where you put it when posted.
Sheaffer Taranis Fountain Pen Weight
The Sheaffer Taranis Total Weight: 1.2 oz
Sheaffer Taranis Cap Weight: .3 oz
All Sheaffer pens come with converters and cartridges. All of the Sheaffer pens I’ve tested use the same standard Sheaffer cartridge or you can buy an ink bottle to experiment with more fun ink colors than blue and black. Sheaffer blue ink is a decent color with nice depth on paper, and the cartridges are amazingly easy to change and interchange with other Sheaffer fountain pens.
Overall Value – Who’s This Pen Best For?
The Sheaffer Taranis is a fantastic fountain pen for anyone. From its understated elegance when capped to its more flamboyant grip section and extremely thin semi-hooded nib when writing, this is an eye catcher when the cap is posted. It’s not only a beautiful fountain pen, it performs well and is well-balanced. This pen looks like any other pen in a shirt pocket, but remove the cap and write and it’s a conversation starter.
I love the Taranis! The only thing that could make it any better would be a solid gold nib for a little more flex.
Price: Get a price on the Sheaffer Taranis at Amazon.
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