Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Answer that Raises the Question

About a year ago ( http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-few-good-pencils.html ), I showed off a couple new pencils I’d picked up, including the larger red one shown in this picture:


These were made by Eversharp, as you can tell by their close similarity in appearance to Eversharp’s Doric line of pens and pencils. Close, that is, but not exact: the bands are a little thinner than what you'll find on a Doric, and the cutouts aren't the same, either. If you really know your Dorics, you wouldn’t need to turn over the pencil to see what’s imprinted where you’d expect to see the word "Eversharp" on the back side:


These pencils were made by Eversharp for Montgomery Ward and were imprinted with Montgomery Ward’s "Gold Bond" brand name. This red example has a curious feature, which I had casually noted in my previously article here: it lacks the diamond-shaped cutouts:


I didn’t say what I was thinking at the time. That’s because, with all the conflicting information I had about this feature rattling around in my head, I wasn’t really sure what I thought. All doubt was resolved in my mind with the publication of an article written by David Isaacson in the Fall 2013 issue of The Pennant, journal of the Pen Collectors of America ("Fountain Pens from the Monkey Ward," starting on page 27). This Gold Bond advertisement appears on page 32, dated 1935 by the author:


According to this ad, the standard line of plunger-filler pens cost $3.79 and had the usual cutout bands; the economy-priced lever-fill pens were a bit cheaper and lacked these cutouts. There aren’t any pencils shown in this advertisement, but I am sure to a moral certainty that’s my answer: my larger Gold Bond pencil was made to match a cheaper lever-fill pen.

That answer raises the obvious question about those scarce Eversharp Dorics – the real deal, that is – which are also found without cutouts in the bands:


The larger pink one is pictured on page 68 of The Catalogue, where I had noted, "the story that I have heard is that these were for rare 14k "presentation" Doric sets, but my example is not marked 14k." By the time I featured plain-band Dorics here at the blog on November 5, 2012 (http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2012/11/another-dorky-pencil.html), I’d taken a closer look at these and concluded that the bands are gold-filled and not 14k. If they were intended for special presentation purposes, they weren’t really all that special.

In light of the Gold Bond revelation, the obvious question is whether collector’s lore about plain-banded Dorics is absolutely wrong. I would theorize now that these were made to accompany a late production, economy-priced lever-fill Doric pen. Unfortunately, finding a plain-band Doric pen wouldn’t convince me either way, regardless of what filling system it has -- the caps would likely be interchangeable between plunger fill and lever fill pens.

The 1935 Eversharp catalog in the PCA’s online reference library shows only vacuum-filled models, so I’m left only with a theory. Until something better comes along, though, I think it's a good enough theory to ditch collector’s lore.

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