August 2008: Targa Mania! (Part 2 of 3)

Extra Fine Points Index  ]


BY DON FLUCKINGER • The great thing about Sheaffer Targas, having been made for a 23-year span across three continents, is that there are literally hundreds of different designs from which collectors can choose today.

They all can be had at some price, be they $25 for a used, basic 1001 brushed steel — some people might call this “Flighter” or “Flighter style,” even though Flighter was a Parker trademark from 32 years previous to the 1001’s 1980s release — to who knows what four-figure number for the rare and cherished prototypes and 1067a and 1083a, very limited (in the low three figures combined) emerald and ivory laque Harrod’s-only pens — especially if you’re a U.S. citizen buying from a European buyer, your weak dollars getting sucked into the exchange-rate chasm.

Richard can’t get away from 1989’s Medici Targas, the 682-684s, which don’t trip my trigger for the prices they command, but someday I’m sure I’ll wheedle my way into some sort of deal for them as I liquidate the rest of my collection except for a few vintage and modern keepers. Extra Fine Points

In fact, that’s the holy grail for many collectors, the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle of Targas, or the Snake Pen of the 1980s, if you will, even counting the prototypes swirling around in the rare air of the world’s Targa uppercrust. The Harrod’s pens were limited editions that were limited for reasons other than to titillate collectors. Forced to choose a favorite Targa, Sheffield, England, pen dealer Gary Ellison, who maintains SheafferTarga.com, would call the Harrod’s pens his top Targas — but partly because they’re so elusive and the thrill of the chase has put them at the top of his list … until he gets them.

Forced to choose a favorite, likewise, he points to his latest acquisition, then: A 1083 2nd edition laque black spiral.

Fountain pen
Targa 1083 (first edition). All photos on this page © Gary Ellison. Used with permission.

”I’m not sure that’s a fair question,” he says. “How can you pick one just one?”

Another favorite among some collectors is the 1065, the 23K gold plated pen with fluted lines (like the very common and nice 1005 Targa), except it has a twist: The cap is fitted with an opal on the crown.

Fountain pen
Targa 1065

Neither Ellison nor I are hot on this particular Targa, perhaps because it’s an island unto itself with the jeweled top, or maybe because this legendary pen’s been so heavily hunted, the price for acquiring even a ball pen topped with an opal often costs an absurd $300-plus on a good day, when the international money-changers are being kind to us Americans.

Of course, Richard can’t get away from 1989’s Medici Targas, the 682-684s, which don’t trip my trigger for the prices they command, but someday I’m sure I’ll wheedle my way into some sort of deal for them as I — like Ellison recently did — liquidate the rest of my collection except for a few keepers as the Targa mania gets more acute over the years and the symptoms overrun my doctor’s ability to control the condition through prescription medications.

Fountain pen
Targa 684

(Wearever collectors, don’t think I’m turning my back on you; I’m slowly converting my entire collection to Targas, Wearevers, and a dozen or so great writers, both vintage and modern).

Me, I still think one of the best Targas is the 1020 Imperial Brass, to which I devoted an entire Extra Fine. The 1068 Copper is creeping up my list of favorites, as I recently pried Ron Zorn’s set away from him after years of trying. But call me boring — the favorite is the standby of many Targa collectors and non-collectors alike, that 1004 Sterling Silver straight-lined classic. That one also fetches good money on eBay and at pen shows, beyond what one would think it should be worth. Ellison’s got a theory as to why:

”It has a solid body and the finish cannot be rubbed off, like a laque pen can,” he says. “It would also be near the top of the range which would make it more desirable, and [sterling silver is] a classic finish for a lot of models.”

At his shop back when the Targa was still in production, the most popular was the 1022 classic black laque, not to be confused with the 1002 and 1003 matte black pens now plentiful on the secondary market, so many that we can’t help but assume they were produced in quantity for most of the quarter-century Targa run.

Fountain pen
Targa 1022

He’s referring to the gloss-black pens, which are less common, but not rare. I’ve got one, myself, and I can see the appeal. Of course, few Targas don’t appeal to me, so that’s not so unusual. It’s gotten to the point where I gotta get — for my favorite Targa finishes — the ballpoint, rollerball, pencil and multipoint thingy that takes a marker point I’ll never even pretend to want to use. Such is the advanced state of my Targa mania.

July: Sheaffer Targa: The next Parker “51” for pendom

September: Advice for Collectors, and More


cover Further Reading: Fountain Pens of the World, by Andreas Lambrou

Andreas Lambrou’s magnum opus includes an amazing array of Targa models photographed in brilliant detail. If you like Targas, you’ll love the book, semi-recently updated. Printed from new plates on better paper than before, the 2005 edition has wonderfully clear print and tremendously improved color accuracy, brilliance, and depth in the photos.

Freelance writer Don Fluckinger lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, and is the son-in-law of Richard Binder. His articles have been published in Antiques Roadshow Insider, The Boston Globe, and on the Biddersedge.com collectibles Web site. Please note: Any opinions stated in this column are Don’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Richard Binder or this Web site. Don Fluckinger
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