Sheaffer Lifetime

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 arrival of Sheaffer’s Radite brought patterned pens, in Lifetimes with flat-tops and, after 1929, in torpedo-shaped Balances. This pen, in black and pearl, is a pretty nice example of a shorter, full-girth Lifetime. Although the “flat-top” makes one think it’s an early pen, the clip places it in 1934 or later, so this pen was probably off-catalog production to satisfy an audience who preferred the older flat-top style (and yes, I had expert help on pinning that one down). History aside, this is a decent user pen, attractive with the two-tone appearance. It’s in sound condition, no deterioration or cracks from age, not chewed or deeply scratched. The clip is worn, with some missing plate but no deep corrosion. The nib is a Lifetime, large, quite firm, writing a wet enough very fine/almost extra fine line. This is the kind of pen I like to use (and did for a week…): fast writer, easy to carry in a shirt pocket.

This pen is not for sale.