Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Oxford's Beginnings

Wahl Eversharp, unlike most other companies, was proud of its subbrands. Usually it takes quite a bit of detective work to sort out which company made which subbrand, because quality manufacturers generally didn’t want to be associated with low-end products, although most gladly competed in the low-end market for dollars that were every bit as green as the ones they brought in on their flagship lines.

When Wahl decided to introduce a lower priced line, it was the Wahl Oxford, and if using the Wahl name with it weren’t enough, many were stamped "Made in USA from the makers of Eversharp." Wahl Oxfords – at least as far as the pencils went – tended to be every bit as good as the company’s Eversharps, and they were even in many cases identical.

Here are about the earliest Wahl Oxfords I’ve been able to find. They surfaced as a pair in an online auction a couple months ago:

While they don’t have an imprint, they have the words "Wahl Oxford" emblazoned on clips that are nearly identical to the clips found on first-generation Dorics:

The styling and colors of these strongly resemble the Wahl Eversharp "Round Vacuum Filler" line of pens and pencils, which were introduced around 1935 (collectors refer to these as "Round Dorics"). Here’s the Oxfords next to their comparable Round Dorics:

And here’s a closer view of the clips and trim bands. Note that the center trim band on both is identical, with the Round Doric simply adding two smaller bands on either side. The Round Doric has the same clip as the second-generation Doric, but with the word "Evesrharp" imprinted on it:

The parallels between these two and the evolution of the Doric are undeniable. Here’s a side view comparing the Wahl Oxford and the Round Doric:

The Oxfords share the inserted clip found on 1931-1934 Dorics, while the Round Dorics have the pressed clip seen on 1935-1941 Dorics. Although I haven’t seen company catalogs or other information to prove it, I’m fairly convinced these Oxfords date to the early 1930s, which makes them about the earliest I’ve seen.

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