No, it wasn’t the ballpoint – that was a good idea poorly executed. It wasn’t the Eversharp 10,000 made during the time Parker was running the show, either – they might have been ugly as sin, but at least they worked..
My vote for the strangest thing Eversharp tried to do – a perfect storm of bad materials, bad engineering and bad marketing, is this:
At first glance, its easy to dismiss this as a later Skyline, until you notice the two most obvious differences: it’s a little bit shorter, and instead of a round barrel, these have a flat, ribbed front surface under the clip. . The squared off lines suggest this one might be earlier than the press clip Skylines of the 1940s, a conclusion which is also supported by the imprint found on the back:
That’s the same imprint you’ll find on a Coronet or Doric. Look closely at the clip, and you’ll notice a couple other things:
First, the clip lacks the characteristic "double check" symbol. And, if you look closely underneath the clip, you’ll see there’s a cutout in the barrel and you’ll notice something else. Here I’ve backed the mechanism out of the barrel a bit to show you what’s going on here:
The clip is attached to the mechanism itself, and slides up and down in that slot as the mechanism is advanced. That’s the weird part.
As for the bad engineering and materials, these were made from a material that feels a lot like rubber rather than plastic. Not a hard rubber, mind you – this feels more like real rubber, and over time nearly all of these barrels have shrunken to the point that the mechanisms are forever locked in place. In fact, this was the first one I’d ever seen that still worked.
To give you an idea of just how badly these barrels shrank, here are the other two in my collection:
That demi-sized one looks about to burst, doesn’t it? These two are brown, unlike the maroon new addition, and there’s one other difference:
Both of these have the double-check mark. There’s your bad marketing – a guarantee on something that was doomed not to work from the day it was made!