This Sheaffer Balance is another vintage pen that I picked up from Dan Smith, my go-to vintage pen supplier of late. As I’ve said, I’m a total novice when it comes to vintage pens, but I liked the look of the marine green striated celluloid and I trust Dan, so I happily plunked down a little bit of money for this Lady Balance. I don’t have many green pens, so that might be what caught my eye initially, but what really tugged at me was the engraved name on the barrel— MILDRED F THAYER.
Though we all know that vintage pens once belonged to someone else, I apparently have a soft spot for pens where the original owner is named. Especially if the name is as “vintage” as the pen. I mean, how many babies named “Mildred” do you run into these days?
The pen arrived in very good condition (to my eye), and the green striated celluloid looks as good in person as it does in Dan’s photos. It’s a petite thing— measuring 4.75″ capped and 5.78″ posted—and weighs a mere 12.2 g, thus the “Lady” designation. Dan noted in his description that there’s a small amount of wear on each side of the ball at the end of the clip, but to the naked eye that’s not visible. For being 70-ish years old, it’s in great shape, with a crisp SHEAFFER imprint and an easy-to-read engraving of Mildred’s name.
The Sheaffer’s Feather Touch nib is very fine and was initially on a little on the dry side, just as Dan noted in his post. As I’ve been using it, though, it seems to be getting just a bit wetter, while still putting down an extra-fine line. Despite its fineness, the nib is quite smooth, with just a hint of feedback— very pleasant. Dan was able to coax some flex from the nib, but I haven’t been able to do that as yet— which I’m sure is more a reflection of me and my light touch than the nib.
The blind-cap reveals a narrow piston which I’ve used to vacuum fill the pen with Montblanc’s Jonathan Swift Seaweed Green— a very dusty/vintage looking green that I initially wasn’t all that crazy about. But as I hoped, it’s a perfect match for the pen. I mean, c’mon— seaweed colored ink in a marine green pen. And over time, I’ve come to love the ink as much as the pen. It’s a muted, antiquey green— not a screaming green— which matches my personality and the way I use my pens.
So those are the pen’s details, but back to Mildred. Where did she live? What did she do? Who gave her this pen? I googled her name and found a 12-year old Mildred F Thayer in the 1940 census who lived in Petersburg, Virginia with her father (William), mother (Janie), one sister, and three brothers. Is this MY Mildred? I’ll never know. And I’ll never know if she used the pen to do school work or office work; if she used it to write grocery lists, letters, journal entries, or poems. If only the pen could talk. If only it could tell Mildred’s story.
But since that’s not possible, I’ll use Mildred’s pen to tell mine.
Wow – that is so cool!
You’ve perfectly captured the allure of vintage pens. The one I just won on Ebay has “A.C. Judy” on it and I wonder who she was and how she used her pen. It was probably an everyday thing for her….it does make the pens fascinating doesn’t it?
Sure does! Enjoy your “Judy” pen!
Absolutely lovely review, Mary. As always.
Beautiful pen. I too am a sucker for vintage, and I have a thing for engraved pens (my Waterman with the music nib is engraved too!). I think it’s so cool and I’m so curious about the story behind the name. That makes me think we really should engrave a pen because 100 years from now, there may be someone like us out there who may acquire our engraved pen and they may want to know about US!
I was thinking the same thing! Great minds…
I really enjoyed your article. I love the colors. Great job!
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This pen is a beauty. Enjoy!
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