Profile: Targa by Sheaffer

(This page revised December 11, 2013)

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Targa Advertisement, 1979 Magnifying glass
This 1979 Targa advertise­ment appeared in Playboy Magazine. it features a Bar­ley­corn fountain pen (prob­ab­ly a 1026 in sterling sil­ver) with its matching me­chan­ical pencil.

Arguably the best Sheaffer pen since the PFM, the cartridge/converter-filling Targa by Sheaffer is a sleek metal-bodied postmodern pen that features the PFM’s reliable and elegant Inlaid Nib™, and Sheaffer produced it in a tremendous range of lacquer colors and metal finishes, more than 70 in all. The incredible range of finishes has contributed to the Targa’s lasating popularity with collectors. Adding to the pen’s appeal is the fact that most Targas are superb writers.

Interestingly, the name initally proposed for the pen that became the Targa was “Genesis.” Just before the product launch, Sheaffer changed the name — supposedly because there was a chance that the Genesis name could hurt sales among writers of the Muslim faith through an implied link with Judaism.

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Targa 1001, Brushed Stainless Steel

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In 1906, wealthy pioneer race driver and automobile enthusiast Vincenzo Florio, who had started the Coppa Florio race in 1900, created the Targa Florio. Run as a time trial with individual cars starting at two-minute intervals, the Targa Florio grew from 277 miles in 1906 to about 450 miles in later decades and was a wild endurance run around the hills and valleys of Sicily, one of the most challenging events in Europe. In 1976, Sheaffer introduced the hastily renamed Targa by Sheaffer (never advertised as the “Sheaffer Targa”) to commemorate the great Italian event. Discontinued as an outright race in 1977 over safety concerns, the Targa Florio is today a mere shadow of its former self, a TSD rally — but the Targa pen held a proud place in Sheaffer’s catalog until 1998 and is today one of the most popular fountain pens among collectors.

In the 1970s and 1980s, slim and sleek were “in.” Sheaffer answered the call again six year after the Classic Targa’s début, in 1982, by introducing a skinnier version known as the Slim (or Slimline) Targa. Shown here is a Targa 1009s:

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Targa 1009s, Gold-Plated Barleycorn

Targa finishes range from a steel-nibbed brushed stainless steel pen (the Targa 1001, shown above) at the low end of the price scale to the two solid 18K gold Masterpiece models (Milleraies 1095 and Vannerie 1097). There were several bare metal versions, including gold-plated, silver, chrome-plated, and palladium-plated patterns, the brass Targa 1020, and an unusual copper model, the Targa 1068.

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Targa 1000s, Chrome-Plated Milleraies
 
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Targa 1004, Sterling Silver Milleraies
 
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Targa 1001xg, Brushed Stainless Steel, GP Furniture
 
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Targa 1007, Gold-Plated Crosshatch

Lacquers abounded in amazing colors and patterns, including transparent colors over guilloché engraving; there were also matte lacquers.

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Targa 1035, Amber Ronce Lacquer
 
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Targa 1086, Green Moiré (Guilloché) Lacquer
 
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Targa 1040s, Prestige Gray Marbled Lacquer
 
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Targa 1181, Flame Red Palette Swirl Lacquer
 
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Targa 675, Regency Stripe (lines engraved through lacquer)

You will note the consistent use of numbers here to denote finishes; Sheaffer’s catalog numbers are well known and are the most usual way for serious Targa collectors to identify a given pen.

In addition to the broad line of standard finishes, Sheaffer produced a few special editions, including two made for Harrods of London. The first Harrods pen, produced in 1988, was an edition of 250 fountain pens with translucent emerald green lacquer over moiré guilloché engraving. Only 60 of these pens left the factory for retail sale; the whereabouts of the others are unknown, and they are presumed destroyed. The second Harrods pen came out in 1989; produced in an edition of about 100 pieces, this “ivoire” fountain pen featured spiral guilloché engraving covered with an opaque white lacquer.

Many Targa finishes, but not all, appeared both on the Classic Targa and on the Slim Targa; and there are finishes that may have appeared only on the Slim. As with any pen model, the uncertainty of such things adds to the excitement of collecting Targas; until 2008, Gary Ellison, perhaps the world’s most knowledgeable Targa collector, listed the Slim Targa 1019s but not the Classic Targa 1019. This model, illustrated here, is known by a single example:

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Targa 1019, Vintage Black

Other companies also chimed in with their own Targa finishes. During the period when Sailor of Japan was a Sheaffer distributor, Sailor produced a very small issue (probably five pieces) of black lacquer Targas decorated with maki-e butterflies. Classic Pens Ltd of England inaugurated its CP series of sterling silver guilloché limitd editions with the CP1 (250 serially-numbered pieces), a Targa. Among the most desirable Targas is the Fred Force 10, produced by Sheaffer in coöperation with Fred Joaillier; it features a unique cap crown atop a palladium-plated body with a nautical cable twist pattern.

For a comprehensive look at Targa finishes, visit Sheaffertarga.com, Gary Ellison’s extensive site devoted to the Targa.

The Targa Today

The great numbers of Targas available on the market, the wide variety of finishes, and the pen’s excellent writing characteristics and broad range of nib sizes and styles make the Targa an ideal focus for a collection. In fact, many collectors and users have lamented Sheaffer’s apparent unwillingness to reissue the Targa. According to Sheaffer engineers, the Targa was a very expensive pen to manufacture and would hardly be a profitable venture in today’s market. But rumors of a reissue circulate continually; and, after all, who really knows what will happen tomorrow?


The information in this article is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative. If you have additions or corrections to this page, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information. Some of the information here is taken from Sheaffertarga.com; used with permission.

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