Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Baby Bear Finally Stops By

A few years ago I found this one at a pen show.  It’s been so long I don’t even remember which one:

What attracted me to it was that it has an enameled and faceted barrel – a combination I hadn’t seen before – and the condition of the enamel is about a 9 out of 10, with just a little chipping next to the clip:

Best of all, since it was missing the cap I got it for next to nothing.  What a deal, I was thinking to myself.  I’ve got tons of these at home,, and I’ll just switch the cap from a common round example.  Right?

Wrong.  I switched I switched and I switched, over and over again with every stinkin’ Eversharp pencil I had from that decade, and nothing fit.  “This one is just a little too big,” said the papa bear . . . “This one is a little too small,” said the mama bear.   And as I waited patiently for baby bear to pop around the corner and say “but this one is juuuuust right” . . .

nothing but the sound of crickets chirping.   After a frustrating hour or so I noticed what I figured must be the problem:

That’s every other pencil I had on hand on the right, shown with the top removed – note the crescent-shaped openings, which are where spare leads are stored on typical pre-1924 Eversharp pencils.  The example I was trying to fit the cap onto is just a little bigger, and is simply open underneath.   With the mechanisms removed, the differences are more obvious:

The example on the top, which came out of my octagonal pencil, is a post-1924 Eversharp mechanism.  All of the other utility pencils I had were made with pre-1924 mechanisms like the one shown at the bottom.

1924 was a major dividing line in the evolution of Eversharp metal pencils, as discussed on page 57 of The Catalogue.  In that year, the tip was elongated, the clip was reinforced with a center rib, and the mechanism was modified so that the spare leads were accessed from a slot in the side of a hollow upper mechanism, rather than inside the legs themselves.  Here’s the picture from page 57:

The patent for the second generation Eversharp mechanism was filed by John C. Wahl himself on September 26, 1923, although the patent wasn’t finally granted until September 24, 1929 as number 1,729,142:

While the tops are interchangeable between comparable pre- and post-1924 Eversharp pencils generally, not so in the case of the company’s utility pencil line!  And so, with no post-1924 utility pencils on hand to swap caps, the octagonal Eversharp I had been so excited to find slipped quietly into my no-mans land of projects to be completed – when or if replacement parts could be found.

It may have been out of sight, for a couple years, but it wasn’t far out of mind.  I was excited a few weeks ago when a group of pencils in an online auction included the example at the bottom in this picture:

Shown as it is next to one of my pre-1924 models, you can see the longer tip, the ribbed clip and a top piece that has two bands of ribbing rather than a wider knurled area.   I bid stupid money on the chance to redeem my octagonal pencil, and when it arrived I was thrilled to see I was right – this one has a post-1924 mechanism and the cap fit juuuuust right on my octagonal pencil.

But as there always seems to be, there’s a problem.  Yes, this donor pencil has an ordinary round barrel, but there was something special about it, too:

On the side of the upper barrel are the traces of the Goodyear logo.  I’ve shown an array of Eversharp “tire pencils” on page 71 of The Catalogue (frame 26) – Eversharp made advertising pencils for Goodyear, Goodrich and Firestone.   But all of the tire pencils I’ve seen were made in the mid- to late-1930s, making this one the earliest one I’ve ever seen.  Even with the poor condition of the painted logo, my donor pencil is important in its own right.

Oh well.  I guess they are just going to share a cap for now.

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