This story from the Keokuk, Iowa, Daily Gate City surprised me, not because of the news that the plant had closed, but because it had managed to stay in business for so long. Last week, equipment from the former Sheaffer Pen Co. plant in Fort Madison, Iowa, was auctioned. The plant, on the Mississippi River, made fountain pens, and the equipment included injection molding presses. Sheaffer is a unit of Clichy, France-based Société Bic, the lighter, pen and razor giant. Bic had planned to close the plant three years ago, but it managed to stay open until a few months ago. According to the story, the company's history in Fort Madison dates back to 1912, when Walter Sheaffer, who had patented the refillable fountain pen in 1908, opened a small plant with seven employees in the back room of a jewely store. I know some people still use fountain pens -- I've seen some beautiful ones in jewelry stores. But I don't know anyone who uses one on a regular basis. So hats off to the former Sheaffer workers, as we, unfortunately, note the end of a chapter in U.S. manufacturing.
Signing off on fountain pens
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