Terry Mawhorter loves it when I go to his auctions. It's not that I'm a big spender that will drive the price of a $2,000 pen up to $5,000 or anything, it's because usually, assisted by a couple of drinks, I'm bidding on stuff when nobody else is just because I think something's going a little too cheap.
But at the Raleigh show, I had to make a special effort not to indulge in liquid encouragement before auction time, since Terry had asked me to help out auction and I was not sure what level of sobriety would be required for the job. I assumed that my newfound lucidity would dampen my enthusiasm and keep my hand from flying up in Pavlovian response to the words "Lot Number . . ."
I was wrong. Well, ok, I didn't buy a bunch of things that are completely unrelated to my collection (I'm still wondering what I was thinking at the Ohio Show's auction last November), but I did bid on some things that I wouldn't normally go for, like these:
The top one is a Parker Duofold Vest Pocket pencil (pages 112-113 in The Catalogue), and the other is an oversized Parker first generation Duofold flattop pencil (page 111). These came up in two separate lots, and they are nice pencils, really -- I just normally don't go after them because Parker guys usually are willing to spend a lot more than I am on them. But on this night, the only two serious Parker guys in the room were Joe Nemecek, who has scads of things like these and was saving his pennies for the last lot in the auction (more on that later), and Frank Tedesco, who prefers much wider profit margins than could be had with these.
The Vest Pocket I hadn't looked at during the preview, but when the bidding stalled out at $45, I couldn't resist throwing in a fifty dollar bid and bringing it home. What I was primarily interested in anyway was the clip, which is unique to the vest pockets and makes a vest pocket in any condition worth that price just for the part. Turns out that if I hadn't thought in those terms, I might have been disappointed, since there's a single gouge in the barrel that happens to be right in the middle of the imprint!
Still, I'm happy to have it, and if I ever run across a yellow one missing the clip on the cheap, I'll fondly remember the day I bought this one.
The flattop is a large, impressive pencil, and even if it's in the most common of the colors, I couldn't help paying $40 for it. I've commented that the bells on these are notoriously fragile and dent in anything more than a stiff breeze, but this one must have been sheltered from the wind for the last 90 years:
I was also struck by how clean the clip was. Normally, there's at least some brassing on the ball of the clip, since it sticks out so much, but not so here:
But the thing that really got me going with this pencil was the imprint. It's a later style imprint, but unlike the vast majority of the pencils I buy, I didn't have to highlight this one:
That's original gold leaf in the lettering!