About This Model
Sheaffer's Balances, both Lifetime and non-Lifetime, appeared in 1929 and were Sheaffer’s top production lines from the early 1930’s until after WWII. They were available in numerous lengths, girths, colors and patterns, filled by lever or plunger, and were well enough made that now, with a cleaning and filling system restoration, they make excellent and durable pens. There were two distinct levels, Lifetime and non-Lifetime, and numerous models at different times. The Lifetime designation was carried over from before the Balance's appearance, and was kept to designate higher level pens. They carried Lifetime nibs and a white dot to signify the pen as a Lifetime; in addition, they came with the Lifetime guarantee, which continued for many years until the courts struck it down. After WWII the White Dot was used to denote higher level pens, and then became Sheaffer's brand identifier. Non-Lifetime pens had lower trim levels but were made of the same components; their nibs were very good and were often much softer and easier to write with than Lifetimes. Balances were also designated with numerous sub-model names after the mid-1930s, and the use of Balance was ended altogether after WWII, with the obsolescence of lever-filled pens.
About This Pen
The Sheaffer desk bases were marketed for executives’ prestige offices and for home gifts, and their tagline was “Dry Proof”, for the pen’s secure fit in the trumpet. For Sheaffer, the celluloid era brought bases in black glass or onyx with black trumpets that matched their black Radite (celluloid) Lifetime pens. This Dry-Proof is model A-148: from the early 1940s, it is 3.5″ across and .5″ high, in what is called Pedrara Onyx, mined in the Baja peninsula of Mexico until the late 1950s. The trumpet is screwed into a brushed steel foundation in a modernistic shape. A small “Sheaffer” label sits on the rear left edge to remind one that it is the correct brand. The brand label is complete and present underneath, on the original felt. The chances of a 60-year old desk base not having a flaw or two are pretty small, and this one is no exception. There are two chips in the front edge; one small and the other is very small; neither of these is disfiguring in any material way. On the onyx surface there is, visible in bright light, the imprint of what I think was an ink bottle.
This base comes with its matching pen, a Lifetime Balance desk pen, lever-filled and complete with White Dot. For some unknown reason, there is a very small (.25″ long and .01″ wide) groove cut into the top of the gripping section; it is not through the celluloid and does not affect functioning in any way, and it’s not visible when the pen is in the trumpet or when it’s writing. The pen writes a full, smooth and wet medium, which makes sense for an executive’s emphatic signature of approval!