Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Bit of Red and Green . . . Well, Red Anyway

The last time I came around to these, I came so close to telling you what I meant to say about them:

It was a little more than two years ago when I noted that the plastic on that Deco Eagle at bottom matched exactly what you’ll find on an Eversharp Varsity.

What I should have said was that I learned the name for these pencils after I wrote The Catalogue. I do have this one pictured in the book, on page 71, squeezed in on the left side of frame 26 amongst a bunch of Wahl Oxfords and "tire pencils," but the only reason it was there was that I didn’t know where else to put it. The pencils were an interesting deviation for Eversharp – a budget line that was a little nicer than the Wahl Oxford line, but still made with a twist mechanism.

The Varsity is more closely related to the Eversharp "Air-Lite" pencils shown on page 69 at the center of frame 21: both have that same, clunky squared-off clip and both were lower-end Eversharp lines from the late 1930s. There are a few differences them, starting with the colors: Air-Lites come in grey and in green-gray:

In The Catalogue, I refer to these incorrectly as "Airliner or Air-Lite" pencils – the latter is correct, and the former was something I’d heard that wasn’t. Note that the Air-Lites share the repeater mechanism used on the Coronets and half-Coronets (and, with some minor differences, also seen on Skylines, Dorics and all the other Eversharp flagship lines), and the trim is a bit different: the Air-Lite has chrome-plated trim, the name "Eversharp" on the clip, and two thin equal-sized bands

The Varsity line has gold-filled trim, plain clips and – most distinctively – two bands of different sizes that look almost like the cap is a mismatch.

Over the years, I’ve had a couple red Varsity pencils for one stupid reason – every time I see a red one, I convince myself it’s the green one I have at home. I do have that green plastic, but unfortunately it isn’t on a Varsity:

Here’s a couple of Eversharp "Square 4" pencils, which was Eversharp’s dumpster line – seems like just about every leftover plastic the company had turns up on these. The green one, unfortunately is missing the clip, but you can see what a green Varsity would look like. I show the black one to correct one other thing I said in The Catalogue – the statement that some Square 4 pencils share the Air-Lite clip. The clips are close, but they aren’t quite the same:

Maybe now that I’ve written this article, I’ll finally remember that it’s the red Varsity I’ve got down there, and the next time I see a green one I won’t pass it over. In the meantime, however, when this one showed up in an online auction, I knew without looking I didn’t have this one:

The mechanism and trim configuration on this one left me no doubt this is a Varsity, and I didn’t know they came in black. The spot of corrosion on the tip doesn’t bug me – I think somewhere I’ve got another red one I’ve thrown into one of my parts bins in disgust. For now . . .

I figure red and black is festive enough.

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