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

This very large Lifetime (5.25” long capped and .53” wide) dates from 1929-31, the appearance of Black and Pearl as a second celluloid color/pattern offering after Jade; as noted above, this is an important pen from the transition to celluloid Balances. There is some pretty significant deterioration in this pen’s cap, which happened frequently with these earliest celluloids, but the rest of the pen is completely intact. Yes, the barrel has darkened, a result of the very large latex sac gassing out generations ago, but there is no visible deterioration in the barrel. There is also almost none of the scratching of age on the entire pen. There is a scratch on the gripping section, clearly the result of pliers being used to attempt to separate the section from the barrel (the frustration is understandable; it took me an hour of steady heat to loosen it.) The trim is completely clean, no tarnish or missing metal. The imprint is deep and full legible. The nib is a very large Lifetime, and it writes a very firm fine to extra fine line. Note: the pencil has sold. Wait, there’s more! This pen comes with its matching pencil, in beautiful Black and Pearl celluloid, without discoloration or deterioration. The pencil works fine, and the trim is in perfect condition. The engraved imprint in the crown is complete and easily legible. The pencil was not included in the set’s pricing, so it is essentially free. All in all, this is a set that belongs in any Sheaffer collection and can be used without fear, if perhaps with some care to protect the cap.

Price: $85 Sold

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