The Balance is utterly gorgeous. It looks like a blob of green-grey Atlantic sea that has been persuaded into solidity. The celluloid is wonderful to hold: it's smooth but unslippery, warm, and light. The large gold nib and gilt complement the green celluloid perfectly.
Possibly the Senior Size Balance just happens to fit my hand perfectly and would be a nightmare for anyone else... But for me, this really does seem to be the perfect writing pen. It's lighter than I expected but gives a very secure effort free grip due to its curves and finger-friendly celluloid.
Nib Design and Performance 5
Richard Binder's nib width chart says that my Balance is an extra fine, but it doesn't seem to know what scratchiness is. The word "buttery" could have been made for it. Without ever forcing through more ink and than I'd like, it can keep up with any speed of stroke I can make. Perhaps a fencing master could twitch the pen fast enough to produce a dry stroke, but I can't.
To me the nib seems to have a nice semi-flex cushioning to it, but the pens I'm used to are extremely rigid - my only other fountain pens are Chinese Parker 51 clones with their stiff little tubular nibs, and an Esterbrook with a 9550 extra fine steel nib nib. In some ways the nib feels almost brush-like. But most of all it has an amazing "do what you're told" quality - when I use other pens now I'm aware of how of the motion of the nib is the result of momentum, friction, or an imperfect grip.
The pen possibly is fussy about ink - it loves Aurora Black, but hated the Herbin Ivy Green I bought to complement its colour. With the Herbin it was scratchy and dry, and I wouldn't write with the pen for love nor money if I had to use this ink. But I'm still giving the nib a perfect 5, because with the right ink it is sooo good, and I'm told this incompatibility with some modern inks is typical of pens from this period. (Conway Stewart inks are said to be a good bet.)
The Filling System 4
It's a boring lever fill. Works perfectly well. (The lever is the one to buy on vintage Sheaffers, I'm told - their vacumatics, unlike Parkers, tend to be shakey.)
Amazingly low for such an amazing pen - about £35. (And let me just say now to several other Forum users: hahaha - you really should have bid more!) The ebay seller, njoyingaz, was terrific - if anything his ad understated the quality of the pen, detailing really quite minute faults, his restoration work is excellent, communications were good, posting was fast and my pens were extremely well protected by their packing, and he refunded the postage discount I forgot to claim for buying two pens. He lists pen about weekly, I believe, and I'll certainly be checking his auctions regularly.
If the Balance was a Scotch, it would be Glenmorangie - deeply coloured, sweet tasting, with no rough edges. Writing with it is like performing a zen meditation ritual - both calming and uplifting. And my handwriting really has improved since using it!
I'll add some photos when I work out how to use Photobucket or something similar.
Edited by meanwhile, 14 June 2006 - 22:20.