Saturday, March 17, 2012

One That Got Away: Parker Cobra

You can't win them all.

Most of the time, what you see here at the blog are the things that I've successfully chased down.  It's a lot easier to write about the things that are in my collection, since I don't have to negotiate with other people for permission to use their pictures or waste a lot of money shipping things back and forth. 

But sometimes, buying a pencil just doesn't pan out for one reason or another, whether the seller just wants too much money or I've just spent too much money for the day.   In the past, I've just had to content myself with the memory of "the ones that got away." 

I'm trying to get a little better about that.  At the Ohio Show last November, I actually had the foresight to bring my camera with me and thought to take pictures of some of the things that I just couldn't bring myself to take home with me.  No, I didn't have the foresight to photograph Cliff Harrington's Flamingo Deco Band pencil, and I'm still kicking myself that I didn't.

But when a fellow stopped me to show me this one and told me he wanted a thousand dollars for it, I did have the composure to remember my camera:


I've heard that the collector's nickname for this pattern is "cobra," and I suppose I can see some shedded snakeskin overtones to it.   The plastic was used by Parker in the mid-1930s, around the time the company was producing the "Golden Web," "Geometric" (or "toothbrush," as collectors call it) and Royal Challenger plastics.   But these are much more rare.

Are Cobra pencils worth a thousand dollars?  I don't think so, and that's why I didn't bring this one home.  Did he get it?  Yes, I think that he did, but I think the guy that bought it is probably the only one that would spend that kind of money on it.

So what are they really worth?  I supppose as long as that one guy is out there and still wants another one, a thousand bucks.

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