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 large Sheaffer Lifetimes in Jade Radite are always a delight to restore, because the inside beauty of the jade always emerges from the haze of years. This effect has been noticed many times, and it is unlike that in any other pattern. One can only imagine the effect that the new celluloid had on pen shoppers in the late 1920s when these first appeared. They were eclipsed in the model lineup by the Balances in 1929, but were still sold for several years, both to use up inventory and to satisfy traditional tastes.
This example is the largest size, the J8C, and while it isn’t perfect, it is still a beauty. 5.2″(13cm) long capped and .52″(1.5cm) wide just below the cap edge, it is a long and thick pen. The jade body is very shiny and mostly clear, with some expected darkening in the bottom half of the cap and top half of the barrel. There is also some deterioration at the very base of the barrel and around the top of the clip, but none of it is serious; there is no cracking or webbing. The gold trim is very shiny and tarnish-free. The nib is the appropriate Lifetime, and it could be the original. Like so many of the Lifetimes, this pen writes a very firm extra fine line. These pens are not always found, so enjoy it!
This pen is not for sale.