Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Quarter Inch That Makes All The Difference

"Executive" – few things have a nicer ring as far as the online hucksters are concerned. You can put this adjective in front of nearly anything, and poof! You can dress up even the crappiest Bic ballpoint. In fact, it ranks high among the other overused adjectives in online auctions, such as:

4. Early (or at least, earlier than yesterday’s breakfast)
3. Rare (sometimes I seriously believe the seller means undercooked)
2. Stunning (but they never say whether you should be stunned in a good way or a bad way)
1. Solid, as in gold (used as if even the lead installed in it is 14k – nothing like seeing a gold plated piece on a scale to make you want to take a shower).

But I’m getting off topic. In today’s episode, "Executive" has a very specific meaning when it comes to the Eversharp Skyline. Here’s the picture from page 72, frame 29 of The Catalogue:

The Skyline Standard I (striated celluloid upper barrel, thin center band) is the only variant of the Skyline I’m aware of that came in three sizes. In addition to the demi and standard sizes found in most of the other series, the Standard I series also came in a large size known as the Executive. Executive Skylines are really easy to miss, because unless you are looking at one next to a standard size model it’s difficult to visualize the difference. I hate to think how many executives I’ve breezed right by without giving a second thought!

So, when an online seller advertised an "Executive Skyline" pencil, as the opening of today’s article suggests, I was a little skeptical. Was he using "Executive" the same way that the Chinese are slapping the name on so many cheap imports? Was he referring generically to the quality of it? Or had he simply heard that an Executive Skyline is worth more, so he decided to use that in the title regardless of whether it actually applied?

But then again, he might actually know what he’s talking about, right? So casually, I sent in the question: how long is the pencil, from the end of the tip to the top of the button. The answer came back . . . 5 ½ inches! Fantastic! That extra quarter of an inch makes all the difference in the world – and showed he really knew what he was talking about. So I threw in a bid and ended up bringing this one home:

When you are holding an Executive Skyline in your hand, without a regular sized one to compare it to, it feels just a little bit different, but you probably won’t be able to put your finger on why – I usually can’t, and I’ve handled thousands of these.  True, in addition to the overall length, I suppose you could note how the end of the clip is much higher up on the barrel (since the same sized clip was used on the regular and executive sizes):

But then again, with no point of reference, that's hard to see the difference.

So why, after handling so many Skylines, did I seek this one out, engraved initials and all? The answer comes from the first picture in this article.  I've had every one of the pencils in that picture for at least five years. Maybe if I reset the group this way it will make more sense:

There’s the five colors, in all three sizes, except for that blasted brown Executive size. It’s been driving the OCD part of my brain absolutely bonkers, knowing that brown Executives just HAD to be out there somewhere. Now . . .

I feel much better. Stunning, in fact.

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