The Balance debuted with a long clip that featured a full ball at the end and a sort of hump in the middle. Over time, Sheaffer modified the clip to make it more streamlined. The final version of the clip, called the "radius" clip, fits the streamlined aesthetic of the Balance nicely, but the early humped clips have a quirky charm.
As a modern user of vintage pens, you can think of the Sheaffer Balance (at least the lever-filling versions) as a solid everyday user, maybe an upgrade from an Esterbrook J.
Note: Sheaffer revived the Balance line with the Balance II in the late 1990s. This article is concerned only with the original Balance.
Buying a Balance
If you're shopping for a Balance, you'll need to consider size, material, and filling system.
As with many popular vintage pen models, the Balance was made in a variety of sizes, which varied both in length and girth. The slender models are quite thin and some may find them uncomfortable, so make sure you know the dimensions of the pen before you buy.
While all of the materials used for the Balance were once attractive, some of them haven't held up well over time. Two of the three materials with which the line was launched in 1929 have aging issues. The lovely jade green often darkens unevenly, while the "pearl" parts of the "pearl and black" models have mostly turned a peanut butter tan. Early Balance models not so afflicted will not be cheap.
Happily, there are some beautiful later materials that are quite common, especially the various longitudinally striated finishes like Marine Green, Grey Pearl, And Carmine.