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Vintage Sheaffer OS Balance – Retipped & Stubbed by Minuskin


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8 replies to this topic

#1 JRodriguez

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 08:36

I ordered this vintage Sheaffer Oversized Balance in Black and Pearl from David Isaacson along with another OS Balance – the Marine Green Balance pictured below, which has become my all around favorite pen – while I was in India in 2007. I waited something like 9 months to get to see these pens – it was brutal. I’d have had them sent to me, but I was staying in a place where the success rate of mail delivery was less than 50% … and so I waited … and waited … and waited …

The Balance was introduced in 1929. The streamlined shape is a hallmark of this pen, and I’m a big fan of the lever filling mechanism. The two pictured here are both from the 1930s. (For more reference info, here’s a review that compares a vintage and contemporary Balance - http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/in...howtopic=55429). I fell in love with the size and heft of this Pearl and Black Balance (I think this one is the biggest size OS ever made). Now, I like a lot of pens, but I think the only modern pen I enjoy holding as much as a Balance is the Aurora 88 piston filler. I know this is a matter of taste, but these OS Balances feel like they were made for my hand. And that celluloid has a warmth that I think very few modern celluloid pens can rival. The only problem with the Black and Pearl was that the nib was a nail, and I just couldn’t get used to it. The pen was in fantastic condition, and it wrote very smoothly … but try as I might, it just wasn’t working for me. Nothing wrong with the pen itself, just a matter of individual proclivity.

In any case, because I love the size and weight of this pen, and given its excellent condition, rather than sell it I decided to send it off to Greg Minuskin to see if he could retip it and grind it as a BB stub. I’ve had him work on two other pens – a Lamy 2000 that I sold because I felt guilty about never using it – and a Pelikan M800. His work on both was absolutely phenomenal, and the turnaround time was less than two weeks for both – in fact, from the time I sent them, I had them back in hand in 10 days! And the Pelikan M800 is hands down my favorite pen for letter writing, and second only to the Marine Green Balance as an all around, everyday writer.

The Lamy and the Pelikan were both reground from BB nibs to stubs. The Balance would require both retipping and regrinding. I was a bit uncertain as to how this would come out considering that the nib was going from a fine to a BB stub. But given my past experience with Greg, I couldn’t imagine it would come out bad. Well … when he sent the pictures, I could hardly believe my eyes (I’ve included two of his great photors from that email at the bottom – and I apologize for my less than stellar photos … I’m using a cheapo digital with no macro function).

I mailed the pen on July 30 (USPS 1st Class) and got it back yesterday, August 9 (USPS Priority – NOTE – that’s only 10 days!). I'm simply blown away with Greg’s work. Really. The nib looks absolutely incredible. I immediately filled it up with Nooder’s Black and it writes astoundingly well – smooth, great ink flow … and look at that hunk of iridium! Is that not amazing? Additionally, Greg fixed a small spot of discoloration on the nib – free of charge. Could you ask for better customer service? To sum it up, I am as happy as can be with this pen. And I’m loving the hybridity of the contemporary craftsmanship with a 70+ year-old writing instrument. Plus, there’s something about the pen being a one of a kind that very much appeals to me … and, of course, that it’s mine smile.gif.


Both Balances 1

Both Balances 2
Pics #1 and #2 both the Black & Pearl and Marine Green Balances

Pel Nib
#3 the Pelikan M800 BB Stub by Greg Minuskin

Balance Full 2
Sheaffer Full 1
#4 & #5 the Black & Pearl with writing Sample on Rhodia paper

Nib Close Mine
#6 the Black & Pearl Stub by Greg Minuskin

Nib Close 1
Nib Close 2
#7 & #8 Pictures of the Black & Pearl Stub from Greg

Quemo para ti
#9 Another writing sample (a tidbit of “Quemo para ti”, by yours truly) on 100% Recycled New Leaf paper

If you forget me #10 Last writing sample (from Neruda’s “If you forget me”) on Clairefontaine paper.

Edited by JRodriguez, 12 August 2008 - 02:05.


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#2 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 08:43

I want one OS balance but with the vac fill because I dislike lever fillers.
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#3 ruud2904

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 17:10

Thanks for your review. I am very curious after your pictures, is there a writing sample as well ?
I am glad to hear that you love the vintage OS balances too.

Ruud
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#4 JRodriguez

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 18:28

Thanks guys. I do have a writing sample to post as well. I just tried uploading them again, but without any luck. Perhaps I'll have to post them on photobucket and then link to them.

#5 JRodriguez

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 18:53

Alrighty, I did end up having to go html and link to the pictures. If anyone can tell me why I suddenly can't post pictures, I'd appreciate it - I've never had this problem before. Anyway, the two close-ups of the nib were in the email Greg sent letting me know that he'd finished. I was simply blown away by those images, and every bit as much once the pen arrived.

Edited by JRodriguez, 12 August 2008 - 01:59.


#6 ruud2904

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 16:20

Impressive !! I personally would hesitate to have a balance nib reworked to such a stub, because in one way or another doesn't seem to fitt. But if you like that kind of nib on your balance, congratulations ! The writing looks good. Ia there any flexibility in the nib or is it still a nail ?
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#7 JRodriguez

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 03:20

I think a lot of folks would agree with you, Ruud, and hesitate to make such an alteration to a vintage pen. But I kind of pride myself on being a fountain pen user (and boy do I use 'em), rather than a collector, and so the pursuit of maintaining the original/authentic setup on vintage pens in pretty uninteresting and inconsequential to me. Since I don't keep a pen unless I like using it, my options were to sell it, or to alter it, and so I chose the latter given my affinity for everything about the pen other than its nail like writing characteristic. Had this pen been in NOS condition, then I might have considered it of historical value, but despite it being in pretty darn great condition, it's not a mint condition pen; certainly not one that anyone would want to put up as an exemplar piece in a museum exhibit. Anyway, the nib remains rigid, but it certainly doesn't any longer feel like a nail. I'm liking it tremendously thus far.

#8 ruud2904

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 05:27

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one. I am much of a user myself. Today I have five of them with me in the office.
Although the number of my FP's is modest when compared to some other members, I have not a single pen that I have both for collecting purpose only. The majority is in working condition and being used. The few that don't work is because they need restoration again or are still waiting for me to take action. And I am certainly not against altering nibs. Most of the early balances were fitted with F or XF. And may be its because one seldom sees such an early balance with a broad or specialty nib, yours made an unusual impression to my eyes. lticaptd.gif

I wonder if it is possible to retip a stiff balance nib with the purpose to increase flexibility. I know it takes longer tines and problably of a more springy type of material that you would have to weld on the remaining stiff body....

Anyway, glad you like your balances !!!

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#9 JRodriguez

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 06:55

I'm pretty sure the vintage F and XF Balance nibs could be made flexible - it'd be a matter of thinning the tines - it could probably be done by just thinning the sides, rather than the top/bottom width, but I'm not 100% ...






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