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Fort Madison Museum Searching Archives for Future Displays

Sheaffer Pen Museum
The Sheaffer Pen Museum is open three days a week in downtown Fort Madison.

The Sheaffer Pen Museum in downtown Fort Madison re-opened its doors this summer with about 25 active displays. Organizers expect that number to grow as more items related to the local pen manufacturer are catalogued.

The Sheaffer Pen Plant in Fort Madison closed in 2008. The museum opened in 2011 but closed last summer, citing financial instability.

Tim Gobble is the President of the museum’s new Board of Directors. The group includes the great grandson of the company’s founder and several former Sheaffer Pen employees.

Credit Chuck Vandenberg /
The Sheaffer Pen Museum officially re-opened last month in downtown Fort Madison.

Gobble said when the plant closed, pens, documents, and other materials were simply packed into boxes. He said some of those boxes have yet to be opened.

“There’s a basement to the museum that’s full of different things ranging from patents to stock holds and just a lot of information,” said Gobble. “A lot of it is paper, but there are a lot of things that have yet to be discovered.”

Gobble said several people, including a local high school student, are searching the archives and documenting what they find. He said the items discovered during this process will eventually make their way into the displays.

Gobble said one of the hurdles to reopening the museum was the availability of items to display. He said the company that now owns the Sheaffer Pen brand asked for the return of all Sheaffer-related items. Gobble said that request was part of the reason why the museum closed last summer.

He said the company eventually changed its mind and only requested a few pens and paintings after learning of the volume of memorabilia in Fort Madison.

The museum is open from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.