Thursday, March 1, 2012

Eversharp Week Part 4: The Other Transition

The dawn of the 1930s was a fascinating time in Wahl Eversharp's history.  Since Wahl had gotten into the business in 1917, the company had been producing pencils that almost universally used the same basic design, invented by Charles Keeran in 1913.  The Tempoint line of pens and pencils only dressed up Keeran's design in attractive new plastics.  By the end of the 1920s, while other manufacturers were introducing a wide variety of innovations, Wahl's product line was beginning to go stale. 

Looking at the company's history in a simplistic way, Wahl's next big move was the "Equipoised" line of pens and pencils, made more streamlined to reflect the dramatic impact the introduction of the Sheaffer Balance in 1929 had on the design of writing instruments industry-wide.  The Equipoised pencils featured an entirely new mechanism -- in fact, it was the only original pencil design Wahl ever came up with (remember that Eversharp's repeating pencil design was "lifted" from the Gilfred Corporation). 

At page 61 of The Catalogue, I illustrate three pencils in frame 7e that match the Tempoint pens of the late 1920s, but which instead use the mechanism that would later be used on the Equipoised line and also on the Doric series:


I called these "transitional models" and state that they represented the first time Eversharp had deviated from Charles Keeran's 1913 design in a regular line pencil.

Now that I've looked more closely at these, I suspect I may have been wrong:


Both of these surfaced in online auctions, and what attracted me to both of them was the odd mix of a gold-filled bell top, which was abandoned with the introduction of the "Tempoint" pencils, and the roller clip, adopted for use on Eversharp's pencils beginning around 1928:



Somehow, the black one found its way into the picture of the Equipoised pencils on page 63 of The Catalogue, probably because I didn't know where else to put it at the time.  After a closer look, now I do know where to put it, although it's not quite with either the Equipoised nor the Tempoints.

Here are these odd ducks shown next to comparable Tempoint pencils:


A tug on the top reveals that there's more that's different between them than just the top:


The eraser holder is the same "No. 5" eraser holder found on the later Equipoised and Doric lines.  Here's the black one, compared with an Equipoised:


The Equipoised and Doric pencils have a curious feature:  the tips are reverse threaded.  On a hunch, I tried to tighten the tip on the hard rubber example, and it spun right off:


Unlike the transitional models I had pictured in The Catalogue, our hard rubber example uses a similar mechanism, to the Equipoised, but not the same one.  But at the business end, there's no denying what it is:


This is a Tempoint pencil with an early version of the Equipoised/Doric mechanism.  While the versions I had identified as transition in The Catalogue were transitional on the outside, it is these pencils that truly represent the missing link.

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