Wednesday, January 16, 2013

That Top

Rick Krantz and I really hadn’t met before the Philadelphia show this year, although we knew of each other from online. He’s a self-declared "poor man in a rich man’s hobby," and with Chilton as his favorite brand, it’s easy to see how anyone’s wallet could be drained quickly. By the end of the weekend, after sharing dinner with him, his wife and kids both nights and solving the world’s problems (and creating a few) over scotch and cigars, by the end of the weekend it was like we’d been friends for years.

But when this odd bird caught my eye on Rick’s table at the Philadelphia Show, it was the first time Rick and I had met in person:


We chatted about it for quite a while and speculated on what it could be. The tip, color and clip all resembled Waterman, but it’s completely unmarked. And that top . . . that top . . . hmm.

We haggled a bit over the price, and I ended up fishing around in his junk box for a few other odds and ends so I could put together enough that the deal made sense. I showed it to a few other folks while I was in Philadelphia, and the general consensus was that it looks like a Waterman, but that top . . .

Back in Ohio, this one was the first thing I wanted to tackle. I first compared it to a Waterman Patrician I have in that same green and bronze celluloid, which Waterman called "moss agate."


The pencils are almost exactly the same size and girth, and the celluloid is identical. But the moss agate Patricians, unlike the other known colors, are not supposed to exist in a bandless ("first year") form. That’s because moss agate was introduced in 1932 – the last Patrician color introducted -- while the bandless models were made earlier in the Patrician’s production span (see page 163 of The Catalogue).

The mystery pencil has a longer tip section identical to the earlier Patricians, unlike the later and shorter one seen on my moss agate Patrician. Here is the new addition, in the middle, surrounded by the moss agate Patrician at top and an earlier black and pearl Patrician at bottom:


Now for that clip. I’ve never seen a clip like this on a Patrician, but there’s no question it’s a Waterman clip. It’s more commonly found on the Waterman Number 92, as shown here:


But that top . . . that top . . . it just wasn’t anything like a Patrician is supposed to be!  Here it is next to a Patrician with the top removed, at bottom:


and that’s when another one of those weird coincidences popped up. I was musing about that top, wondering what it could be from, when I happened to gaze back at my folder o’ finds from the Philadelphia show and I saw something.

Backing up a bit, what makes this an odd coincidence is that I generally don’t buy Eversharp metal pencils anymore unless they are really special. With hundreds of them in the stable at home, there’s just no point to buying another one just to find out it’s a duplicate. On very rare occasions I will take a chance, and at Charles (Chuck) Cohn’s table, I saw something interesting enough to do so: one of the rare oversized Eversharp metal pencils with the fatter (.075 inch) lead. I splurged on it because it was in terrific condition and I didn’t think I had one sporting the fatter lead.  For once, I was right (I’ve bought tooooo many duplicate metal Eversharps lately):


At that instant, as I was pondering this goofy Watermannish pencil, I happened to look over at my folder of Philly purchases on a rare occasion when I also happened to bring home that rare oversized Eversharp.  And I wondered . . . could it be?



I unscrewed the bent-up cap from the new bird and whaddaya know . . . the Eversharp cap screwed right on there!



But how could this be? Why would Waterman put an Eversharp cap on one of its pencils? Or alternatively, why would Wahl Eversharp tempt the overly litigious L.E.Waterman Company by producing a pencil that so closely mimicked Waterman’s flagship line? Something just isn’t right here . . . so I tested the threaded section, and without much effort at all, it easily unscrewed from the barrel.  On closer examination, there’s no question in my mind that this is the hacked-off end of an oversized Eversharp mechanism, threaded into the back of a Waterman pencil so that an oversized Eversharp cap could be used to replace a missing or damaged Waterman cap!


So my last step was to see if the top section from a Waterman Patrician, which includes the eraser and spare lead magazine, would fit into the top of this pencil. There, the answer is no:


That’s as far as the Patrician magazine fits into the top of this pencil. Whatever this pencil originally had, it wasn’t a Patrician eraser and lead magazine. But with the magazine removed, the Patrician top button screwed right in for a perfect fit– too perfect, in fact, to be just a coincidence:


So there you have it. As production of the Patrician drew to a close at the end of the 1930s, Waterman did a number of strange things to use up leftover parts the company had on hand. In my opinion, what we have here is a bandless moss agate Patrician (which isn’t supposed to exist) with the earlier style Patrician tip and a Waterman 92 clip (which I’ve never seen on a Patrician before).

And now it’s all Waterman. Even the top.

2 comments:

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