Sheaffer Balance Vac-filler Oversize, XF

(SOLD) This is a late 1930s Sheaffer Balance Vac Oversize in Jet Black with a striated transparent barrel, with a 14k gold, two-tone Extra-Fine Lifetime nib. This is the Oversize model, the largest in the Sheaffer catalog, and very rare as a Vac (plunger) filler. It measures 5.52" capped and 0.52" in barrel diameter. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a thorough cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, nib tuning, and a gentle hand polish. I work according to current "best practices" in the area of pen restoration and I use high-quality replacement materials and specialized tools.

Sheaffer Balance Vac-filler Oversize, XF, with the cap off and plunger partially extended

This pen is as rare as it is beautiful! The vast majority of vintage pens (say, made before 1960) are rather small and slender compared to modern fountain pens. There are many reasons for that. First of all, people's handwriting (taught in schools and commonly used) required a light touch, so a slender, lightweight pen was beneficial. Also, there were severe material shortages throughout the 1930s and 1940s, so larger pens were more expensive to make. Today, fountain pens are designed primarily as luxury goods, so a larger, heavier pen fits that designation better. Besides, a larger pen provides a bigger canvas for ornamentation in many modern high-end pens, such as Japanese Maki-e and Italian celluloid pens. Finding a large vintage pen, therefore, is a real treat to a lot of fountain pen enthusiasts. This pen is definitely it!

The phrase I wrote comes from a Sheaffer advertisement, and it captures the essence of this pen perfectly. The pen is so beautifully balanced, so comfortable to hold. Whether your write unposted or posted, the pen will fit your hand like a glove, regardless of your hand size. The slightly tapered, thick section, with a rounded lip, offers a sure grip, no matter how you hold the pen. The huge Lifetime Extra-Fine nib, with a slightly upturned tip, has a superbly shaped tipping geometry, writing at the lightest touch, and feeling as smooth as a conventional medium nib. Today, it's virtually impossible to make a nib that writes so fine and yet feels so smooth, while being self-assured and consistent. A true marvel of technology and art, much of which is lost to us. The ebonite feed, with its huge surface area, provides an effective ink buffering and delivery mechanism, one of the best such systems ever made, in my opinion. The nib writes a life between 0.3 mm and 0.4 mm, depending on ink, paper, and writing pressure.

Sheaffer Balance Vac-filler Oversize, XF, showing the profile of the Lifetime nib and barrel transparency

Cosmetically, this is a very interesting pen, made of Jet Black celluloid, with a longitudinally striated transparent section, with only very slight "ambering," or discoloration, but still showing your ink in its full glory, as it sloshes around inside the barrel. The cap comes fitted with the so-called "radius" or streamlined clip and the eponymous White Dot. The orange stripes that you see in the barrel are the warm background showing through the excellent transparency. The pen is free from any flaws or defects, with only very faint surface wear, difficult to see with the naked eye.

The filling mechanism, restored with materials of, arguably, higher quality and durability than Sheaffer's original components, can be easily filled to capacity with a two-stroke method, holding an astonishing 3 ml of ink. That is the equivalent of nearly five International ink cartridges. That's a lot of ink! This is a large mechanism, so you should expect a bit of resistance while pushing the plunger, which is perfectly normal, as the plunger needs to create a strong vacuum to fill the barrel with ink. The thing to remember is that the cap takes only a single rotation to screw on and off, so please, be careful not to damage it by over-tightening.

Sheaffer Balance Vac-filler Oversize, XF, capped