Thursday, December 4, 2014

Oh Crap

That’s exactly what I said when I opened up the package containing this one:

"Vacumatic Desk Pencil" was the title of the online auction – words that are like ringing a dinner bell to me. They aren’t all that rare, but this one, from the somewhat fuzzy pictures online, looked a little different. In particular, I thought the narrow center band was interesting. What I didn’t notice in the picture was that the taper is black, rather than striped like the lower barrel:

I was sure that in my haste, I’d wasted a bit of money. Not really, I suppose . . . even if someone took an ordinary black taper from a Challenger desk pencil or something and stuck it onto the front half of an ordinary Vac pencil, the taper is worth what I paid for the whole thing. I was, however, a little disappointed that I hadn’t at least glanced before I leaped.

Even though I’d written this one off, I thought it was worth looking to see whether Vacumatic desk pencils were ever made with black rather than matching tapers. I checked the Pen Collectors of America’s reference library (, and there on the cover of the 1936 Parker Desk Pen catalog was my answer:

Best of all, when I looked more closely at the imprint on my example:

That’s not 26, as in 1926... that stands for the second quarter of 1936. Looks like this one is right, after all!

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