Sheaffer 5-30

About This Model

Pre-Balance 1920’s Sheaffer pens have been commonly, but not properly, called “flat-tops”, for their flat-ended caps and barrels. Properly, they were called by their model names.  They included Lifetimes, with the white dot, 14k trim, and Lifetime nib; “Regular” line without the white dot and with plated trim; and “Ebony” line, of black hard rubber, both chased and unchased.  Lifetimes and Regulars came in hard rubber and Radite, Sheaffer's branded celluloid, in jade and then various patterns. And, there were 46's, a line of flat-topped clipped and ringtop pens made for secretarial use. These were made in black and bright scarlet Radite, and were very solid, well-made pens.

In particular, 1928-31 were very important years in American pens: the main shift from ebonite to celluloid. Parker and Sheaffer both made significant innovative and strategic shifts. 1928 marked the first appearance of Jade celluloid, and 1929 the first Balances. Sheaffer continued its production of the “flat-top” Lifetimes throughout the 1930s, but as of 1929 they were no longer the premier model.

About This Pen

The late pre-Balance Sheaffers, particularly the shorter 5-30s of the late 1920’s-early 1930’s, are among my favorite pens.  I like them for the same reasons that I like the very similar Parker Duofold Jr’s: they fit my hand and my pockets well, and are outstanding writers. These are very attractive pens, jade between black crown and tassie with jade section between. As an added attraction, the crown in this series of 5-30’s has a top face of jade surrounded by a black ring. The barrel is characteristically, but not unpleasantly, discolored, as happened with all of the early jade celluloids. With a notable exception, it is remarkably free of scratches and nicks. The exception is an imperfect cap crack repair, which was successful but the celluloid slurry unexpectedly into a dimple, which I decided to not redo. One lives with one’s imperfections, it’s a happy pen anyway. The imprint is deep and complete, including the model imprint in the crown. The trim is clean, not missing any plate. The lever is quite strong. Finally, and most important, this is a delightful writer: fast, smooth, just firm enough, a wet fine. This is a great smaller pen.

This pen is not for sale.