Walt Disney and the Sheaffer pen Balance
Walt Disney was a great fan and was often seen in pictures with Sheaffer pens, vintage pens or not.
A well-used Sheaffer Balance was found in Walt Disney’s desk in 1970 when his office was being inventoried. For me it became instantly ‘the creative pen’.
The stories of Walt Disney and Walter Sheaffer have more in common than their first name. They represent both the real American success stories: from rags to riches. Walt Disney, grandson of an Irish immigrant, needs no introduction but it is always good to remind that he had not an easy start. His initial dream of becoming newspaper artist drawing political caricatures and comic strips did not work out. He started up not less than 2 companies before he had some success within the company we know today. He also lost the rights of his first characters before he invented and secured Mickey Mouse. And it is only when he is in his end thirties that he will receive his first full length movie, Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs for which he receives an Oscar. Actually one full length Oscar and 7 little ones. He had his creative Sheaffer pens throughout this whole period.
The story of the man behind Sheaffer
Walter A. Sheaffer (1867 – 1946) had a similar life. He was a drop-out of school and his first job as a young lad was a printer’s devil, then a grocery boy and in the summer he operated a peanut stand. He next worked at a jewelry store in Iowa and later at a store in Missouri. He later returned to Bloomfield, his native town when he was only 21 years old, to become a partner with his father in the family business. It was only when he reached the end of his thirties that he became financially more secure and that he purchased his own jewelry store in Fort Madison, Iowa.
Inspired by the success of self-filling fountain pens, like the Conklins and leaving the eyedropper period behind he worked on his own self-filling mechanism. He patented the side-lever filler, had to wait 4 years before he start production but this filler system was to be widely used for the next 50 years production until 1912. The new business was incorporated two years after production started as the W.A. Sheaffer Pen Company. He was then 47 years old. Its success was rapid, and the jewelry store was soon sold. Within ten years, the company had joined the top rank of American pen manufacturers, and was advertising nationally.
This was also a time where so many technological advances were made. Materials changed like rubber to celluloid and filing systems were innovated regularly. But most collectors will agree during the inter-war period some of the most notable fountain models were introduced and these vintage pens are still collectible. The Parker Duofold and Vacumatic, The Pelikan 100 and the Sheaffer Lifetime Balance Series are amongst the most famous vintage pens.
Although the Balance Sheaffer pen can not be purchased new but the Sagaris Sheaffer pen has a resemblance. Here is a picture of a vintage Sheaffer Balance and below is a Sheaffer Sagaris.
The Balance had a relaunch in the nineties, but today it is no longer part of today’s production. The Sagaris has the same gloss black, comes with Sheaffer ‘Skrip’ cartridges. The Skrip ink has been around since the 1920’s. But for the Sheaffer Sagaris, you will need the cartridges with the same name, Skrip.
The famous dot, added in 1924 is located on the exact place. This Sheaffer pen has all the class of his grandparent. Sheaffer would say it is somewhat inspired by the Sheaffer Triumpf. It is surprisingly light-weight and somewhat slimmer than what I originally thought. The nib comes in polished stainless steel or two-tone polished stainless steel with 22k gold plate highlights. It is available in Fine or Medium grade. The luxury gift box and its 3 year warranty add to the tick box, because this Sheaffer pen is sold at a very reasonable price and puts this great classic pen right at the bottom of the price range. It does surprise us since the company is now in the hands of the French group Bic. This little guy comes as American as it gets. You will hold true americana in your hands, and I have to admit for me this adds to the charm.
You can find more information, reviews and the price of a brand new Sheaffer Sagaris or vintage pens, here.