Sheaffer Pre-Balance


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

I love restoring the late 1920s Lifetimes for their next owners. These are solid, well-made, beautifully balanced, and handsome pens that have reached the age of 90 with grace and durability. This example, in Sheaffer’s Black and Pearl, is among the better ones presented here. It is full-sized, 5 ⅜” long capped and a touch over ½” thick below the cap. Close inspection will reveal the occasion nick, but this pen is shiny, its finish is clear, its gold plated trim is complete except for, as expected, around the clip ball. The handsome white dot in the top of the cap is not to be missed. This was an executive pen during the days just before the great Depression, and it shows it. Oh, and the nib? It’s the correct, very large Lifetime nib, so inscribed but without all of the numbers of the Balance era. In the style of the day, it is firm, but not a roofing nail, and it writes fast and well, a wet full medium that will give a little bit of extra line width with pressure.

Price: $105 Sold

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