Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Putting A Name To It At Last

Eversharp pencils like these show up on page 78 of The Catalogue, in frame 48 ("Eversharp in Decline"):

Although I’ve lumped these in with the other end-of-the-line Eversharps as "simply awful," these simple nose-drive pencils do have interesting clips:

The design elements are taken from the matching ballpoint pens. At the Baltimore show last March, Terry Mawhorter had this group of five of them:

I had mistakenly thought he wanted $12.50 for the set of five and was embarrassed after I handed him $15 and waited for change. Turns out I’d misread his price tag by a decimal point, and he was looking for $125.00 for the set. We did ultimately settle on a price somewhere between the two – after all, when am I going to find a set of five of these?

The pens have an interesting mechanism – the button on the top advances the tip, while the button that sticks out of the clip, when pressed, releases it:

At one point, I had a boxed pen and pencil set of these in black with chrome plated trim, complete with a pair of cufflinks, which I parted with just because I thought the cufflinks were so darned ugly! I wish now I had at least photographed them first.

Matt McColm, being the keen observer that he is, read my Baltimore show report and sent me an email asking me what on earth a pencil collector was doing picking up a bunch of "Small Ball" pens.

"Small ball?" I asked. I’d never heard them called by name before – the 1953 repair manual refers to them only as "ballpoint pens" and "propel-repel" pencils. So Matt sent me a link to an advertisement offered by an online seller, and sure enough he’s right. I couldn’t get permission to use that photograph (the seller wanted to sell me the ad instead, for what I thought was waaay too much), but thanks to Google Books (again), I did track down another ad that appeared in the November 29, 1954 issue of "The Deseret News and Salt Lake Telegram":


The ball on these pens was smaller than the ballpoints Eversharp had been producing prior to the introduction of these pens, but comparable in size to the Parker Jotters and the hundreds of other ballpoints that followed. It was an innovation by Eversharp standards, but in retrospect, it was a dying company simply catching up to what everyone else was already doing.

If this set is complete and correct, it looks like the Small Ball either remained in production or leftover stock was sold after Parker acquired Eversharp’s writing division in 1957:

The markings on the pen and pencil are no different from those made as early as 1954, but the box these came in bears the Parker logo:

Unfortunately, there was no paperwork with this set to tie the pen and pencil to the packaging in which it was found – however, it would stand to reason that if Parker was buying the company, it would have at least acquired some leftover stock and sold it under the Parker name, even if Parker didn’t continue to produce them.

Matt wasn’t finished with me on these. Armed with the knowledge that I was a sucker for an Eversharp ballpoint, a couple weeks later he sent me a link to another auction, with the comment that there should be a matching pencil for this one:

Yeah, I had to bite. This one shares the "Small Ball" design, but it’s all chrome plated, with a pair of black stripes reminiscent of a Cross (the lower one actually being the threaded plastic bushing that joins the upper and lower barrels):


I agree. There should be a matching pencil. The hunt is on!

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