Monday, August 20, 2012

THE Best Eversharp

During my photo shoot of the pencils Joe Nemecek brought to DC, one of the boxes was unmarked and had a plain black velvet sleeve inside. When I went to remove what was inside, Joe suddenly sat up sharply. "Be careful with that one!" he said.

It wasn’t like I was throwing pencils around the room, willy-nilly, or that I’d developed a habit of dropping them while attempting to juggle them. It was just Joe’s instinctive (and understandable) reaction to someone about to handle what is arguably the rarest and most beautiful Eversharp ever made:

This is what Eversharp referred to as the "Lakeside" pattern. Over at Fountain Pen Network, Syd ("Wahlnut") Saperstein posted a copy of the advertisement introducing the new Lakeside pattern from the December 15, 1928 edition of in The Saturday Evening Post. That date is consistent with the ribbed clip . . .

as well as the imprint. The raised "Wahl" without "Co." beneath it was the last version of the imprints found on metal Wahl pencils:

By the time this was made, Wahl was experiencing an interesting transition. The venerable Eversharp, patented in 1913 and still virtually unchanged, was fifteen years old by this time, in a time when hundreds of pen manufacturers were patenting and manufacturing all sorts of new and interesting designs. Yet Wahl had long since ousted Charles Keeran, the pencil’s inventor, and the company lacked any real new ideas of its own. Wahl introduced a "new" line of hard rubber and pyralin (celluloid) pencils in some attractive colors in 1927, but inside the new pencils were all Keeran’s design.

The Lakeside is the pinnacle of Wahl’s resistance to change as the 1920s drew to a close. The intricately engraved pattern, accented with deep blue (and extremely fragile) applied enamel in the recesses, a process referred to as Champleve, is not only strikingly beautiful, it shows how desperate Wahl was to keep dressing up the venerable Eversharp rather than introducing a truly new line:

The Lakeside was the high watermark for Keeran’s Eversharp, and it symbolized the end of an era. A year later, Wahl introduced the Equipoised line – a truly new product inside and out – and metal pencils were relegated to the back pages of the company’s catalogs and wholesaled to supply houses. It was the dawn of a new day for Wahl Eversharp.

But the Lakeside was one truly spectacular sunset!

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