frankenpen; or, a pen reborn

Oh joy of joys! A frankenpen for my very own from frankenpen creator Tom Overfield!

The term “frankenpen” is used by fountain pen collectors to refer to a pen that incorporates parts from other pens – say, a cap or a barrel. The prefix “franken-” comes from the fictional monster cobbled together by Dr. Frankenstein.

Tom, an IT expert and a FP user and collector, makes entire pens from vintage Sheaffer parts. Like works of art, his creations have titles or names. This is “Thinenstein”. It has other siblings, all Sheaffer Snorkels – the first one he made was called “Frankensnork”, followed by “Son of Frankensnork” and “Bride of Frankensnork”, and all in the collections of Filipino penfriends.

Thinenstein is made from Thin Model (TM) parts and has a Touchdown fill system and a Triumph nib. The parts are of different colors – the cap burgundy, the barrel blue, the end cap green, the section dark amber.

“Sheaffer TMs were made for only a few years,” wrote Tom in an accompanying note. A Penspotters article says that the TM pens were introduced in 1950 and were fitted with the Touchdown system until the switch to the Snorkel filling system in 1952. For the bodies of their pens, Sheaffer used Radite (celluloid) until 1948, then brought in a new synthetic cast resin called “Fortical”.


Thinenstein’s section is a translucent or “visulated” dark amber plastic, which could not be used later on with the Snorkel “because of the need to house the Snorkel tube.”


The 14k two-tone gold Triumph nib is a marvel of design and engineering. It is a firm and sturdy nail, without the slightest hint of flex, making it more than robust enough for daily use.  Slightly upturned at the tip like a Turkish slipper, it lays ink in a consistent line.


It is is steady, reliable writer, one that can be counted on to perform day in and day out.

Its appeal also lies in its origin. Made from rare, old, and unusual but discarded parts joined to create an object of function that is at the same time an original work of art, Thinenstein is a perfect road warrior, combining the charm of vintage things, the attraction of beauty and exclusivity, and the practicality of performance.

Thank you very much, Tom, for this token of friendship that I will always treasure!

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4 Comments on frankenpen; or, a pen reborn

  1. TAO
    13 April 2009 at 3:18 pm (4109 days ago)

    Some of my first pens were Sheaffer TMs. Like the Snorkel they don’t get all the respect they deserve which possibly is due to their workmanlike appearance. If they have one major flaw it’s the plastic. Sheaffer went from celluloid rod stock to the new injection molded materials for their pens around this time and the “fortical” plastic hasn’t always held up too well. There’s a tactile difference if you compare the plastic a snorkel is made out of with an earlier touch-down filling pen such as this. The older plastic feels warmer and softer (a bit like vinyl) and the newer hard and cold. I think the extra pliability was its downfall as this plastic often shows shrinkage and bulging. I’m not sure if this is due to a reaction to warm temperatures (soft plastic flowing) or just age. Almost all the TMs I’ve seen have a deformation near the blind cap where the o-ring grove is. There’s usually a bit of a circular bugle in the barrel here. It does not effect their functionality since these pens are really “over built”. Jenny, don’t bother looking for a bulge on the Thinenstein since it’s one of the few barrels I’ve seen that doesn’t have it. :D

    I don’t know if it’s a treasure, LOL. I’ve had all these old parts forever and finding a use for them again is great. It’s my own recycling program. I’m so “green” now! Putting them in the hands of such nice people who can appreciate them is really the reward.

  2. Brian
    13 April 2009 at 10:36 pm (4109 days ago)

    Nice pen! I think the whole Frankenpen concept is great. Who says everything has to match? (Boring!)

    Actually, last week, I was surprised when my father-in-law gave my wife an old “treasure chest” of her grandfather’s belongings (he died a few years ago at age 90+). In the box was, among other treasures, his old fountain pen!

    It is a Sheaffer TM, all-black with gold trim and visulated amber section. I am a big fan of Triumph nibs, and the big burly two-tone ones on TMs are awesome looking.

    Anyhow, your Thinenstein has inspired me to ink up Papa’s old pen and do some writing tonight (perhaps some Spencerian script practice with no flex…?)

    PS – Why is it that all the flex nib folks seem to live in the Philippines?

  3. Peter
    22 April 2009 at 7:28 pm (4100 days ago)

    I love Sheaffer pens but have never seen this before. What a great idea, your pen is unique and beautiful and being made from Sheaffer parts guarantees the quality.

    Very thorough review, you are very fortunate to own such a lovely pen. Keep up the great site.

  4. joan
    28 November 2009 at 9:16 pm (3880 days ago)

    hi! im joan.. was looking for inoxcrom in google then i found your blog! wow! may fp club pala sa pinas!

    Q: meron po ba dito sa maynila na colored disposable ink cartilages para sa aking mga chipipay na fp? salamat!

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