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(This page published January 1, 2019)
This article is a slightly revised and expanded version of one that first appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of the Pennant Magazine, published by the Pen Collectors of America.
|This Ventura advertisement appeared on the inside front cover of Home Journal’s June 1954 issue. The Ventura set‘s price was $8.75, while the sterling silver Slim Ventura set was priced at $25.00.|
This pen “BURPS” before it drinks… but never afterwards!
Possibly the worst advertising slogan ever written for a fountain pen, those words might have doomed the Eversharp Ventura before it even got out of the gate. That they did not is witnessed by the pen’s run from its 1953 introduction until the Parker Pen Company bought the tottering Eversharp, Inc., in 1957. On the other hand, seeing advertisements like the one to the right has cast the Ventura, otherwise known as the “Burp Pen,” in a poor light in many people’s minds. It is commonly accepted today that the Ventura’s predecessor, the Symphony, was the last premium pen made by Eversharp, but that is not really the case.
There were two members in the family, the Ventura and the Slim Ventura. The former (shown below, upper) replaced the Symphony as Eversharp’s mid-line model; the latter (below, lower) was the new upper-line model, filling the space left by the Envoy, which had remained in the lineup for only a brief time after its 1948 introduction:
Both the Ventura and the Slim Ventura were offered with extra-fine, fine, medium, or broad 14K “osthenium tipped” nibs in flexible and manifold styles. Despite both bearing the Ventura name, the two models — unlike the later Sheaffer Targa and Slim Targa — were dramatically different, and we shall consider them individually.
The Ventura, Model No 715, was not really a new pen as such. A slight restyling replaced the Symphony’s rounded cap crown with a blunt shape, but internally the Ventura picked up where the Symphony had left off. It was a lever filler using the unitized lever and pressure bar assembly (U.S. Patent No 2,325,069), now trademarked as the “Flip Fill,” that had first appeared in the Skyline, along with the same Magic Feed (U.S. Patent No 2,255,093, first used in the Doric), fitted with the Skyline’s full-length breather tube.
The sameness extended even to the construction of the cap, which was a metal shell with a tab-secured clip and a molded plastic inner cap.
The Ventura’s barrel appears to have been identical to that of the second-generation Symphony, with the same distinct swelling a little aft of the barrel threads. The interior of the Ventura’s cap was slightly revised from that of the Symphony, and it was able to post a little farther down on the barrel than the Symphony’s cap did. This difference yielded a posting length that was about 1⁄4" (6.3 mm) shorter shorter than the Symphony’s. Shown here for comparison are a Dubonnet Ventura (upper) and a black second-generation Symphony (lower):
As shown below, the Ventura’s cap styling (upper) took a step backward as well, reaching back a decade to the laterally grooved design of the most common gold-filled Skyline cap style (lower).
When all is said and done, the Ventura retained the excellent writing qualities that had been associated with Eversharp pens since the founding of the company. It was, to put it simply, not a bad pen, but not a great pen, either. The single quality issue that might take it out of the running to be rated an excellent pen was the cap. Not only does there exist today the same problem with a loose inner cap that plagues the second- and third-generation Symphonys, but both gold-plated and chromed cap finishes have also failed to held up as well over the decades as the gold-filled or stainless steel caps of contemporaneous Parker pens, and some examples show a light stippling of shallow pitting. Given that these two issues were not anticipated in the 1950s, the Ventura, with its 14K Eversharp nib, stands as a surprisingly good pen when compared to the contemporaneous steel-nibbed Sheaffer Craftsman, which sold for the same $5.00 sticker price.
The real news from Eversharp’s fountain pen department in 1953 was the Slim Ventura. Other than its retention of Eversharp’s proven nib and Magic Feed, the Slim Ventura was pretty much new from the ground up — and there were even changes to the nib and feed to enhance the slender look of the pen, in the form of a downward arch running the whole length of the nib and a “backwards” taper in the profile. As shown to the right, the shoulders of the nib were narrower than the base, and the feed was tapered to accommodate this new profile. Shown here are a green Slim Ventura pen and pencil. Unlike its competitors, Eversharp designed the Slim Ventura so that the pen and pencil had the same girth (and, when the pen was capped, the same length). This design made the two pieces appear much more a matched set than other pens and pencils of the time. To emphasize the slimness of the pen and pencil, the cap (and the barrel of the all-metal models) featured groups of four longitudinal engraved lines separated by spaces.
In addition to the slender styling that required a new cap interior with metal threads, the Slim Ventura included a host of other new (or new-seeming) features, each with a snappy “marketspeak” name to beguile the public with its novelty:
Duo-Angle nib. A new name for the duo-point nib, which Waterman had patented as the Duo-Tip nib back in 1915 (U.S. Patent No 1,154,498), the 14K Duo-Angle nib was actually an attempt to reintroduce a feature that had largely grown stale by the 1950s. Its heyday had been in the 1930s and 1940s, when Sheaffer’s Feathertouch nib and Parker’s Vacumatic ruled the roost, but by the 1950s, ballpoints and a faster lifestyle had virtually obsoleted it. That said, it was still a feature that was not entirely useless. (Accountants would have found it useful; accounting practice was to write with a finer nib in ledgers but use a somewhat broader nib for signatures.)
Protecto-matic Clip. Spring-loaded pivot-mounted clips had been around since at least 1913, when the young Walter Sheaffer received U.S. Patent No 1,064,098, but Sheaffer had improved on its own idea and made it popular immediately after World War II (U.S. Patent No 2,473,690). Eversharp’s spring-loaded clip was a significant improvement over Sheaffer’s; it was much springier and easier to use than the fairly stiff postwar Sheaffer version, and because the Slim Ventura range did not include a plastic cap, there was no problem with cracking the edges of the opening in the cap as occurred with certain other brands. Unlike Sheaffer’s, the Slim Ventura’s clip could also be removed easily should it need replacement.
Concealed Diamatic-Filling. Abandoning the lever filler that had been the company’s stock in trade since its founding, Eversharp created a more polished and less cluttered external appearance by using a squeeze filler. The filler the company’s engineers developed was more elegantly designed than those of the competition. Squeeze-filling pens with rigid breather tubes run the risk of breakage if the tube is bent too forcibly to one side. To eliminate that problem, the Slim Ventura’s filler (U.S. Patent No 2,749,883, by Raymond L. Dostert) had two pressure bars, one on each side of the sac.
Because the pressure bars were on opposite sides of the sac, squeezing them did not displace the breather tube sideways. The most interesting feature of the filler, however, is that the pressure bars were mounted at opposite ends of the sac guard. This is easier to see in a drawing from the patent, showing the sac guard in its blank form, before being rolled into a tube:
With the pressure bars (callouts 16 and 17 in the drawing above, colored pink for easy identification) mounted at opposite ends of the sac, pressure over the length of the sac was more uniform; and because each pressure bar had a loose end, the sac was more uniformly compressed along its length. A potential concern, in the form of a pressure bar mounted at the forward end of the sac such that its free end could “wave in the wind” and be caught by the barrel when the pen was reassembled after filling, was cleverly solved by adding a tab that lay over the end of the upper pressure bar (callout 16) to keep it from flopping outward. In this drawing, the tab is not labeled; but when the blank was rolled up to form a tube, it would lie over the end (callout 25) of the pressure bar.
Air Jet Exhaust. Here was the central feature of the “Burp” concept. With its extra-long breather tube, the filler did a better job of controlling air pressure in the sac — and after a couple of squeezes to fill the pen, one last extra-good squeeze would eject the last remaining air in the sac, allowing the pen to take in up to “40% more ink” than a pen without a breather tube. That last bit of air came out with a burping sound as it bubbled up through the ink in the ink bottle.
As listed in the following table, there were five models in the Slim Ventura family, three with plastic barrels and two all-metal models. Shown below the table are a 723 and a 725.
|717||Plastic||Gold plated||Gold plated||$7.50|
|719||Plastic||Sterling silver||Gold filled||$10.00|
|721||Plastic||Gold filled||Sterling silver||$10.50|
|723||Sterling silver||Sterling silver||Sterling silver||$15.00|
|725||Gold filled||Gold filled||Gold filled||$18.00|
The Ventura’s color palette featured the same four dark colors that had graced the third-generation Symphony. The Slim Ventura offered six colors, adding two to the palette of the standard Ventura. The green of the Venturas seems to be somewhat bluer than the green on the Symphony, but that difference could easily be due to the pens’ having been made from different lots of plastic. The Slim Ventura also appeared in two all-metal colors featuring groups of four parallel longitudinal lines separated by spaces the width of one line. These metal finishes were not offered for the Ventura. The color chips here were made from photographs of actual pens. 3D highlighting added with a computer.
|Brown (Slim Ventura only)|
|Silver Gray (Slim Ventura only)|
|Gold Plated (Slim Ventura only)|
|Sterling Silver (Slim Ventura only)|
In Eversharp’s December 15, 1953, parts list, the entire part (sac guard with two pressure bars) was identified as Part No 8679, Presser Bar.
The information in this article is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative or complete. If you have additions or corrections to this page, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information. My thanks to Jim Mamoulides, who provided some of the information and lent several of the pens for for photography.