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Richard Binder's website

Clips: Sheaffer's Balance

Created by Richard Binder
Clips: Sheaffer’s Balance
Dating a Balance: Over its long life, Sheaffer’s original Balance design underwent several changes. One of the most visible was an evolution in clip design. This article shows you the different clips used on Balance pens and gives you hints about determining the age of a Balance. It is important to understand that new variations were first used on Lifetime models and then extended to lesser pens; thus, a Balance without the White Dot is likely to have been made as much as five years after the periods described here. The information here is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative.
In the Beginning: When Sheaffer introduced the Balance in 1929, the pen bore a long humped clip that was essentially the same as the clip used on later models of the flat-top pen that preceded the Balance. Here is an early Balance cap with the long humped clip. Note the round ball; the shape of the ball becomes important later.
Image of Balance cap, to show the clip
Subtle changes: In 1931, Sheaffer modified the clip very slightly, shortening it a little and rounding its top so that it doesn’t stick out straight, as shown on the clip here. Like its predecessor, this version is referred to as a long round ball humped clip.
Image of Balance cap, to show the clip
A shorter clip, but still a round ball: In 1933, Sheaffer shortened the clip further and slightly streamlined its top. This new clip, called a short round ball humped clip, was used for two years, 1933 and 1934.
Image of Balance cap, to show the clip
The flat ball appears: In 1935, Sheaffer flattened the top surface of the ball, leaving the remainder of the clip unchanged. This flat ball humped clip was used for only one year. This clip is the prime example of a design that continued long after it was discontinued on Lifetime pens; it was still in use on lower-priced pens into the 1940s.
Image of Balance cap, to show the clip
The clip loses its hump: In 1936, Sheaffer redesigned the clip, streamlining it. The flat ball remains, but it is smaller. This clip was used for about three years, from 1936 to 1939.
Image of Balance cap, to show the clip
The war years: In the years immediately before and during the Second World War, Sheaffer offered a military version of the Balance. This clip is essentially an ordinary streamlined clip with no visible ball, but it wraps over the top of the pen so that the user can button his pocket flap without having the pen show.
Image of Balance cap, to show the clip
The final version: The last clip version, appearing at about the same time as the military clip, is fully streamlined, with no visible ball. This clip remained in use until the basic Balance design was discontinued.
Image of Balance cap, to show the clip
Post script: When Sheaffer reintroduced the Balance in the 1990s, the company chose to bedeck the new old pen with the 1935 flat-ball humped clip. Well done, Sheaffer!
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