these sheaffer balances unbalance me…

…with their lovely tapered design, unusual colors and pattern, and best of all, semi-flexible nibs that offer a range of line variation.

From balikbayan businessman Butch Palma’s mahiwagang baul comes this gorgeous boxed Petite fountain pen-and-refillable pencil set in Carmine Striated. Sheaffer used this particular color from 1939 to 1945.

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This pen also comes from Butch’s large collection. It’s a Standard Balance Lifetime in Pearl and Black (1929 to 1934), and is heavily amberized (discolored) from the rubber sac within it that contains the ink. It is engraved with a name, probably the first owner’s.

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The top of the cap, beside the white dot, still bears its true color. The image below shows what the pen would have looked like when new.

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A pen in condition this excellent would cost hundreds of dollars. (Image from rickconner.net)

The Jet Black Junior (1929-1945) from Leigh Reyes (second from the top), and the Petite Ebonized Pearl (1934 to 1939) at the bottom (also from Butch), are good examples of those particular colors.

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Gold was the preferred material for nibs as it withstood corrosion from iron gall inks that were in use into the twentieth century, until synthetic dyes were developed. And gold, being softer than many other metals, molds itself to the user’s own handwriting pressure, angle, and other individual characteristics. That’s why many FP owners don’t let other people use their pens, as this might throw their nibs off. So don’t be offended if you borrow an FP user’s Wahl or Esterbrook and he hands you a ballpoint instead.

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Sheaffer nibs are mostly semi-flexible, though I do have a nail or two. The Carmine is stiff, but that might be due to years of disuse. It’s the one in the center, above. It’s visulator window is clear, with no discolorations.

Read penmeister Richard Binder’s article on the Balance, as well as Rick Conner’s. Find more about iron gall ink at the Ink Corrosion website.

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