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Origins Of The Sheaffer Balance


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33 replies to this topic

#1 kirchh

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 20:21

Sheaffer Balance fans -

I have posted a new article examining the genesis of the Sheaffer Balanced fountain pen design (and name). I hope it is of interest:

Origins of the Sheaffer Balance

--Daniel

"The greatest mental derangement is to believe things because we want them to be true, not because we observe that they are in effect." --Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

Daniel Kirchheimer
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#2 Freddy

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 21:20

I'm very appreciative of the work you put into this
project..and for making possible for all of us to read..

Thank you!

Fred

#3 Ernst Bitterman

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 22:36

That is jolly interesting indeed. :clap1:

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#4 fountainbel

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 14:11

Revealing article, thanks for shearing Daniel !
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#5 wekiva98

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 14:32

Nice article. I like the insight that the shape likely has its origins in old-style quill pens. And the comparison of the Houston and Sheaffer pens makes a clear case that the J74TR was a "borrowed" design. Given Sheaffer's history of aggressively suing competitors who infringed on its patents, I'm surprised that the company would so shamelessly steal from another manufacturer. On the other hand, the presence of that odd lever on the side of the Houston pen makes me wonder if Sheaffer might have thought turnabout was fair play.

Edited by wekiva98, 15 February 2013 - 14:40.


#6 kirchh

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 15:34

Nice article. I like the insight that the shape likely has its origins in old-style quill pens. And the comparison of the Houston and Sheaffer pens makes a clear case that the J74TR was a "borrowed" design. Given Sheaffer's history of aggressively suing competitors who infringed on its patents, I'm surprised that the company would so shamelessly steal from another manufacturer. On the other hand, the presence of that odd lever on the side of the Houston pen makes me wonder if Sheaffer might have thought turnabout was fair play.

Good observation. But note that the Houston pens' shape was not protected by patent, so unless the case could be made that a consumer could be confused or deceived into thinking that Sheaffer's flat-topped J74TR was actually a Snapfil, there would be no basis for a lawsuit, I don't think. The choice to make the pen in Jade, but not in black, may have been due to an awareness of that possibility; the Snapfil pens, to my knowledge, were never made in green. The Snapfil filler superficially resembles a lever, but it's really one of the many variations on a captive matchstick filler (see patent here), so I don't think Sheaffer created their copy with malice aforethought, especially as the Snapfil was no longer in production at that point, as far as I can tell.

Sheaffer cecrtainly wasn't above deriving products from those of its competitors, or even attempting to take some customers through questionable marketing devices. The sub-brand name VACUUM-FIL is a clear attempt to sidle up to the popular of Parker's Vacumatic while staying just far enough away to avoid legal consequences, in my opinion. And the black-tipped Jade 7-30 and 5-30 pens must be a product of the existence of the Parker Duofold.

--Daniel

"The greatest mental derangement is to believe things because we want them to be true, not because we observe that they are in effect." --Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

Daniel Kirchheimer
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Authorized Sheaffer/Parker/Waterman Vintage Repair Center
Purveyor of the iCroScope digital loupe


#7 mhosea

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 17:12

Well written and well reasoned. Thanks for posting.

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#8 risingsun

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 21:56

I'm sold on the argument. A+, Daniel. :thumbup:

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#9 GardenCity-NY

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 17:17

Very interesting read. Thank you.
JC3

#10 mchenart

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 05:51

Your research has shed light on the Sheaffer OS Balance I just bought on the Bay. Thank you for posting your valuable findings.

#11 barleycorn

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 22:09

Was it before or after the 1928 taper model that the long desk style pen emerged? These pens are clearly designed to be used "unposted" but would, of course, be impractical to carry around.

#12 kirchh

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 23:01

Was it before or after the 1928 taper model that the long desk style pen emerged? These pens are clearly designed to be used "unposted" but would, of course, be impractical to carry around.

Sheaffer desk pens appeared several years prior to the pens with caps that bore short tapers. Note, too, that other makers, such as Waterman and Parker, made pens with long, tapered caps that served as barrel tapers when the pens were posted; also, Waterman in the late 1800s made a one-piece long, tapering desk model series (coded 4x, prior to the use of that designation by the safety pens) that came with a "cone" cap, but it was expressly designed to be left on the desk, not carried, and I am fairly certain the cap did not post. Edited to add: Note that the Sheaffer desk pens of the 1920s were not supplied with, and could not take, a cap at all.

--Daniel

Edited by kirchh, 19 February 2013 - 23:02.

"The greatest mental derangement is to believe things because we want them to be true, not because we observe that they are in effect." --Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

Daniel Kirchheimer
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#13 barleycorn

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 02:53

Thank you for the reply. I enjoyed this article as well as the one on Patents related to the time when the Balance pens came out.

#14 pescador

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 22:41

Hi Daniel
Well done.......I have a desk pen with one of those funky short tapers, earlier?

Edited by pescador, 21 February 2013 - 22:42.


#15 kirchh

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 23:43

Hi Daniel
Well done.......I have a desk pen with one of those funky short tapers, earlier?

The tapers on desk pens seem to have varied over the years, and quite odd-shaped examples pop up with some frequency, though I do not know why that might be. Some of them may be re-shaped tapers that sustained damage, but that's pure speculation.

--Daniel

"The greatest mental derangement is to believe things because we want them to be true, not because we observe that they are in effect." --Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

Daniel Kirchheimer
Specialty Pen Restoration
Authorized Sheaffer/Parker/Waterman Vintage Repair Center
Purveyor of the iCroScope digital loupe


#16 playtime

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 01:55

Trenchent. Thank you for this.

J

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#17 MLKirk

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 03:55

Nicely done, Daniel. Thanks for sharing your research as well as your credits, Roger and Jonathan.
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#18 pescador

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 18:29

Hi Daniel
Well done.......I have a desk pen with one of those funky short tapers, earlier?

The tapers on desk pens seem to have varied over the years, and quite odd-shaped examples pop up with some frequency, though I do not know why that might be. Some of them may be re-shaped tapers that sustained damage, but that's pure speculation.

--Daniel

The taper on my pen is the same material as you mention in your article. It does not appear to be a reshaped taper; materials are different than the body. I showed it to you once thinking that it was a phone dialer.
regards
Richard

#19 Ladynib302

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 08:05

Daniel,

Your article is a total delight, well-researched, and clearly presents your arguments. My husband loves & collects Balances. When I found your article, I read the entire text to him; both of us stayed fully-engaged in your presentation. You have made a significant contribution to our knowledge of both Sheaffer and additonal pen companies. Thank you. :notworthy1:

#20 kirchh

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 15:35

Daniel,

Your article is a total delight, well-researched, and clearly presents your arguments. My husband loves & collects Balances. When I found your article, I read the entire text to him; both of us stayed fully-engaged in your presentation. You have made a significant contribution to our knowledge of both Sheaffer and additonal pen companies. Thank you. :notworthy1:

I very much appreciate your kind words; notes like yours make all the effort more than worthwhile.

Thank you!

--Daniel

"The greatest mental derangement is to believe things because we want them to be true, not because we observe that they are in effect." --Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

Daniel Kirchheimer
Specialty Pen Restoration
Authorized Sheaffer/Parker/Waterman Vintage Repair Center
Purveyor of the iCroScope digital loupe







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