And, with only one exception, that’s exactly what I did.
The only piece during that time that caused me to break radio silence came to me in an online auction along with a bunch of other things. Here’s the whole lot:
I was hoping that this would be a sleeper, but even though the auction listing wasn’t well photographed, described or written, the one piece that made this lot special still managed to attract a lot of attention, and by the time it was over I was several hundred dollars poorer after fending off all of the last-minute snipes.
And it was sooooooo worth it!
The star of this group is the large red pencil, which is a top-of-the-line Wahl Eversharp "Deco Band" pencil from around 1928 or 1929. What makes it really special is the color, which is known as "flamingo" (whether that’s a collector nickname or an official Wahl name for the color I don’t know).
Any model Wahl pen or pencil in this color is a real rarity. A Deco Band pen and pencil set is pictured on page 144 of Schneider and Fischler’s 1992 book, The Book of Fountain Pens and Pencils. The authors date the set to 1930, with the comments that they are "possibly unique" and "the existence of this unusually colored pen was unknown until 1990."
Since then, time and focused attention to the flamingo color have brought a few other examples to light – but still, only a handful of them. Cliff Harrington offered me one of these at the Ohio Show a couple years ago for $600.00. I was tempted but I passed, because it had an overly deeply engraved name on the barrel. I’m not as averse to engraved names as Joe Nemecek is, but if I’m going to pay that kind of money for one of these I don’t want something that’s almost exactly what I want – it’s going to be exactly what I want!
Of course, the condition of this one as it came to me wasn’t exactly what I wanted. In fact, I was concerned from the pictures of the auction that it might actually be missing an upper band:
But the barrel was unmarred by any engraving, and there wasn’t anything I could see about this one that couldn’t be fixed. Even at the hefty price I ended up paying, I knew there would still be plenty of room to have some pros refine things a bit more if needed. Fortunately, that upper band was just brassed and darkened, not missing, so all I’ve had to do is give her a good buffing, being sure to stay clear of the typically faint imprint at the top of the pencil. With that little bit of attention, she’s looking a lot better:
In the classic car world, we refer to cars that look perfect until you get up close as "20-footers," meaning that they look great from 20 feet away. To use the analogy, I’d say this one’s a solid 10-incher now:
Here she is now, posed alongside the other flamingo pencil I’ve found (it’s pictured on page 60, frame 7a of The Catalogue) as well as a flamingo "purse pen" from 1931 that turned up at the Ohio Show:
I know, I know . . . I don’t collect pens . . . but a flamingo? I had to make an exception when the opportunity presented itself!