I had a thing for large pens and vintage Sheaffer fountain pens back in 2016, so when I saw a pen that was both I knew I had to have it.
Using Richard Binder’s site once again, I’ve dated this pen to between 1936 and the Early 40’s, and for a pen that is 80ish years old, this thing is pretty sweet.
When it debuted, this was the top of the line Balance. The barrel is marked “1000,” which isn’t a model number but rather the MSRP of $10, or around $180 adjusted for inflation. Identifying what model a Sheaffer balance is requires examining the clip, nib, the pen material, and its dimensions and comparing it to records like those found on Richard Binder’s website.
Now by modern standards, this oversized pen isn’t that big. It’s closer to what we would call a full size pen, like an Aurora 88, Pelikan m800, Sailor 1911 Large, and so on. Back then, huge pens weren’t in style; after all, in fountain pens’ heyday they were just pens, and not everyone wanted a flashy status symbol.
The Lifetime nib on this pen is stunning–14k two tone, heart shaped breather hole, and an up-swept medium point. It’s a very smooth writing experience. The nib is also one of the most rigid nibs in my collection, second only to an Esterbrook fine manifold nib. Gold nibs aren’t always softer than steel nibs. I like rigid nibs for most applications, but not everyone does.
The Balance pens were meant to be posted, but mine is a little warped from being posted over the years. I still like to post it, but I feel like I have to push it on harder than I’d like to get the cap to post because of the warping. When I post it, I do so cautiously to avoid cracking the cap lip.
This particular pen also suffers from ink starvation–it writes perfectly for a page and then starts writing drier and drier until finally it stops writing altogether. This isn’t a particularly difficult thing to fix, depending on what’s causing the issue, but I’m not in a huge hurry to correct it. I consider it a quirk of an 80 year old pen rather than a flaw. Maybe I’ll send it out, eventually.
I have a lever filler, but vacuum filled Balances were made towards the end of production. My Balance holds a sizeable 1.4mL of ink.
Sheaffer Balances are widely available in a bunch of different sizes and finishes, so they’re pretty accessible to someone looking to pick one up. They are good pens.
- Light and well balanced.
- Writes well.
- Holds a bunch of ink and has a visulated section to check ink levels.
- Vintage Americana.
- Old pens have quirks.
- Twist cap.
- 1.25 turns to remove.
- 14k Lifetime nib, in Medium.
- Other nibs came on Balances. The most common nib grade is Fine, but Medium and Extra Fine are somewhat common. They aren’t marked, so it takes some guesswork to figure out what’s in one’s hand.
- Sheaffer also made Broad, Stub, and Accountant nibs–those range between pretty uncommon to exceptionally rare.
- Filling System:
- Lever fill.
- 1.4mL ink capacity.
- Vacuum fillers were also made towards the end of the pen’s life.
- Capped: 143mm
- Uncapped: 124mm
- Posted: 165mm
- Total: 20g
- Pen: 12g
- Cap: 8g
- Section Diameter: