Sheaffer Balance Blue N3TC c1931-1932

by Jim Mamoulides, January 14, 2010, updated March 10, 2017

Sheaffer BalanceSheaffer Balance Blue N3TC fountain pen open

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Blue was definitely not one of the popular colors for Sheaffer or Parker's top models in the 1930s. It was 1941 when Parker added Transparent Azure Blue to the Vacumatic finishes, the same year that the Vacumatic was bumped from the top spot in the Parker line by the introduction of the game changing Parker 51. No blue Vacumatics in the 1930s at all. Sheaffer only took one shot at blue in the Balance line, and only from 1931 to 1932, with this color, named simply, "Blue", and only offered on the lower rank non-White Dot pens. Though many collectors call this finish, "blue and black," examined in bright light the colors are actually a marble of different shades of blue.

Sheaffer BalanceOctober 8, 1931 Sheaffer's Review showing the Sheaffer Balance Blue short N3MC fountain pen with matching pencil set

One of the Sheaffer Balance Blues shown was an eBay find, and as it already showed typical discoloration due to the original ink sac, I did not mind having it restored to usable condition. I have another one with much better color, also shown, that I don't use. Sheaffer made Balance pens in this color in sizes from the "thin" standard size shown here down to the "petite" size. There is a matching pencil for both size fountain pens, as well as ringtop pens and pencils, and a very chunky, short ringtop golf or handbag pencil in this color scheme.

Sheaffer BalanceExcellent color Sheaffer Balance Blue N3TC fountain pen (top) and discolored pen (bottom)

Collectors also refer to these pens as "3-25" pens, referring to the stamping on the nib face, which indicates the part of the model number that indicated the nib type used. In 1931, $3.25 was the price of the pen, also. These were not Lifetime pens, having no White Dot or Lifetime marked nib. One Sheaffer catalog even states that "Sheaffer's No. 3-25 Standard fountain-pens are admittedly the best low priced pens on the market."

Sheaffer BalanceExcellent color Sheaffer Balance Blue N3TC fountain pen (top) and discolored pen (bottom)

Identification guide and features:

The Sheaffer Balance Blue N3TC was part of the 1931 and 1932 3-25 Balance line. The Blue color is offered in the Christmas, 1932 price list on a large model N3TC, short N3MC and short with ring N3MR pen each at $3.25 and a regular NTAC, short NMAC and short with ring NMAR pencil at $2.50 each.

  • Blue marble plastic cap and barrel - this is color code N
  • Gold filled clip with SHEAFFER'S stamped on the face
  • Gold filled cap band
  • Screw on cap
  • 14 karat gold nib stamped SHEAFFER'S over 3-25 over MADE IN USA
  • Available 3-25 nib grades included semi-manifold: extra fine, fine, medium, coarse, stub, bookkeeper, and oblique
  • Flexible nibs were available on request
  • About 5 7/16 inches long with the cap on and 6 1/8 inches with the cap posted on the end of the barrel
  • Lever filling mechanism
  • Each model had a matching pencil

Sheaffer BalanceExcellent color Sheaffer Balance Blue N3TC fountain pen (right) and discolored pen (left)


This Sheaffer Balance Blue is the large model N3TC, a lighter weight pen, typical for a slender all plastic model from the 1930s. It weighs 0.5 ounce and is 5 7/16 inches long with the cap on and 6 1/8 inches with the cap posted on the end of the barrel. I generally don't post older Sheaffer Balance pens as the pressure of pressing the cap onto the end of the barrel may crack these thinner, older, fragile plastics. These are simple pens to fill, simply insert the nib in an ink bottle, flip the lever, count to ten, wipe and write. The pen is slender in the hand, a bit overlong posted, and writes nicely, with an even wet medium line.

Sheaffer BalanceSheaffer Balance Blue N3TC discolored fountain pen nib and cap detail

This is an eye-catching pen, always getting attention at pen club meetings. They are not common and command a premium price, an interesting situation for a pen clearly situated at the bottom of the Balance line. The Parker "True Blue" is another low cost pen that has at lot of collector attention. I think they are nice pens and write very well, as should be expected from a Sheaffer. If you find one at a great price, don't pass on it.


Thanks to Roger Wooten for providing the Sheaffer's Review and Sheaffer 1932 Christmas price list scans.


Sheaffer's Review, Cover, October 8, 1931

Sheaffer undated Christmas, 1932 price list



Comments on this article may be sent to the author, Jim Mamoulides Bibliography

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