Waterman’s Ideal No. 7 
Conklin’s Crescent-Filler 
Sheaffer’s Jade Flat-Top Lifetime 
Wahl-Eversharp Skyline 
Depression-era No-Name 
Esterbrook Dollar Pen and Model J 
Parker Jack-Knife 
Moore Fingertip 
Sheaffer’s Balance 
Moore’s Non-Leakable Safety Pen 
Parker Vacumatic 
Parker 51 
Sheaffer’s PFM 
Sheaffer’s Desk Set 
Vintage Pens, Page   1   2   3   4 
Birth of the Ergonomic Pen
The year 1929 saw the stock market crash, and it also saw the introduction of Sheaffer’s famous Balance fountain pen. The modern, streamlined Balance was light, with the weight concentrated toward the nib to make the pen smoother and easier to handle. Initially produced with the Lifetime guarantee and White Dot trademark, the design spread throughout Sheaffer’s model range — and, very quickly, through the ranks of cheap imitators. In 1931, Sheaffer introduced a new color, Marine Green, as seen here on my superb 1933-34 Balance, which has a serial-numbered two-tone medium nib. This pen, a Lifetime model, is 53/8” capped and 61/8” with the cap posted. Next is a Marine Green Balance from 1931 or 1932; notice the longer clip. This older pen is also the last Balance model with a lever fixed by a visible pin as in Walter Sheaffer's original 1908 patent; in 1933, Sheaffer's began using a circular spring within the barrel. My third Balance is a Lifetime military-clip model with a medium two-tone Lifetime nib, from the World War II era. It is 51/8” capped and 63/32” with the cap posted. My fourth Balance is a Statesman TM model with a “Touchdown” filler and a fine Feathertouch nib, from the 1950s. It is 55/16” capped and 61/16” with the cap posted. It also writes very well. (But its band is dented.) In the 1990s, Sheaffer reintroduced the Balance, and the 70-year-old design is once again popular.
An Old Safety Pen
Early “safety” pen designs were based on such features as retractable nibs to keep from leaking in the user’s pocket. One of the more popular models was the Moore’s Non-Leakable Safety Pen, made from 1899 through the mid-1920s. To fill this pen, you use an eyedropper to put ink into the opening that is left when the nib is retracted. My Non-Leakable “Tourist” model has a flexible American Fountain Pen Company nib. Only the barrel is chased. Although it writes better than any other fine-point pen in my collection, I carry this inconvenient pen only infrequently. It’s a small pen, 45/8” capped and 53/4” with the cap posted and the nib extended.
Janesville’s Flagship of the 1930s
In 1933, Parker introduced its stylish new Golden Arrow, with a radical new “sacless” plunger-style filling system and a transparent barrel. The pen was a great success. Parker quickly changed the name to Vacuum-Filler and soon theareafter to the more mellifluous (and marketable) Vacumatic. The early Vacumatics, like this burgundy one from 1937, featured a short blind cap covering a plunger that locked in the depressed position. Beginning in 1937, Parker redesigned the filler so that it was extended when at rest; the new design, with a much longer blind cap, was easier to use and was called the Speedline filler. Some years later, the jewel was eliminated from the blind cap. This pen has a great medium nib. It’s 51/8” capped and 63/16” with the cap posted.
Fast and Smooth — the Magnificent “51”

The Parker “51,” introduced in the United States in 1941, heralded a new age in pen design. With its streamlined shape like a miniature jet fighter airplane, its hooded nib, and its unique ability to use Parker’s new super-fast-drying “51” ink, it rapidly became one of the most popular pens of all time. Until 1948, the “51” used Parker’s proven Vacumatic filling system; in that year, Parker introduced a short model called the Demi, with an aerometric filling system that soon became standard across the line. The “51“ was famous for its exceptionally smooth performance, and even today few pens are smoother than a well-maintained “51.” My medium-nibbed pen, a Vacumatic filler, was made in 1944, and its cap is sterling silver. On its gold-filled clip it bears the "Blue Diamond" mark, Parker’s answer to the Sheaffer “Lifetime” guarantee of quality. It’s 57/16” capped and 513/16” with the cap posted. (Click the thumbnail for a larger image of the nib and shell.)
Vintage Pens, Page   1   2   3   4