Something wonderful came through the courier this morning. It’s the Sheaffer Lifetime Jade Senior that I bought from Mr. Penman himself, Butch Dalisay. My first impression on this pen is that it is in really great shape even if it is over 90 years old. This pen truly speaks of an era when things were made with great pride and care, and were made to last for a very long time.
The Sheaffer Lifetime Jade Senior is more commonly known as Sheaffer’s flattops, which differentiates it from the Balance line from the 1930’s. While Sheaffer is not the first pen manufacturer to use celluloid, it is important to note that they were among the first to make significant improvements on the pen-making process using this material.
The pen just feels like it’s been carved out of solid jade. It’s imposing and it feels substantially solid in my hand. It has some heft to it and does not feel flimsy at all. It does show some brown spots on it, which is the chemical reaction of the jade celluloid resin over time. Still, it is a strikingly beautiful pen with a distinct old-timey feel to it.
Aside from being the first Sheaffer pen to use celluloid, it’s also the first pen to have the iconic white dot on it, which represents the company’s lifetime guarantee on their nibs. The nibs have some serial number etched on them, it’s all very pretty but from what I’ve been reading, it’s mostly for marketing purposes and not of any practical use.
The pen’s design is what classic American-made fountain pens are all about. It’s very representative of vintage US fountain pens. The cap is (as described by the name) flat on the top and the end of the barrel if also flat but tapers a bit about a half inch towards the end. I love the simple details of the clip on the cap.
Isn’t that nice? Just a simple, gold-plated metal clip that has the old-timey “Sheaffer’s” logo on it, and a little ball at the end to help it slip on coat pockets easier.
The pen can be used posted, and given the size of the pen (5 1/4 inches capped and 6 3/4 inches posted), it looks a little funny in my hand when I post it. I don’t post my pens, so I’m pretty happy that the unposted length is more than enough for comfortable writing.
The pen is a lever-filler, and I’m so delighted that this pen is in such a great shape, there’s not even the beginnings of brassing in its lever. The mechanism is snappy and smooth, and it makes no creaking sound.
The nib on this pen is very beautiful. As mentioned earlier, it had some serial numbers which started a wave of hallmarks on nibs and caps among first-tier pens. This 14k Lifetime nib has a very cute heart-shaped breather hole on it.
It is quite prone to nib creep, at least for the ink that I tried with it. I filled it up with my favorite vintage-looking ink which is Noodler’s Burma Road Brown. It’s a perfect match in color; green with touches of brown. It can be a bit dry on startup, but once you get it started with a few strokes, its true flow comes out. It’s a nice, wet, fine line and the nib is very smooth and firm. It gives a very pleasant writing experience that matches how beautiful it looks. The nib does not disappoint.
Here is a close up shot of the writing samples:
And a writing sample video:
All in all, I am very pleased with this pen. At first I thought I would just “retire” it and store it in my pen box because it’s my oldest pen to date. However, it feels like a grave misuse of a very beautiful pen to just leave it in a glass box. It’s been around for over 90 years and it looks like it’s good to use for many more years, with proper care and attention.